Jamaica Restaurants

Probably the most famous Jamaican dish is jerk pork—the ultimate island barbecue. The pork (purists cook a whole pig) is covered with a paste of Scotch bonnet peppers, pimento berries (also known as allspice), and other herbs, and cooked slowly over a coal fire. Many aficionados believe the best jerk comes from Boston Beach, near Port Antonio. Jerk chicken and fish are also seen on many menus. The ever-so-traditional rice and peas is similar to the moros y cristianos of Spanish-speaking islands: white rice cooked with red kidney beans, coconut milk, scallions, and seasonings.

The island's most famous soup—the fiery pepperpot—is a spicy mixture of salt pork, salt beef, okra, and the island green known as callaloo. Patties (spicy meat pies) elevate street food to new heights. Although patties actually originated in Haiti, Jamaicans excel at making them. Curried goat is another island standout: the young goat cooked with spices is tenderer and has a gentler flavor than the lamb for which immigrants from India substituted it. Salted fish was once the best that islanders could do between catches. Out of necessity, a breakfast staple (and the national dish of Jamaica) was invented. It joins seasonings with saltfish and ackee, a red fruit that grows on trees throughout the island. When cooked in this dish, ackee reminds most people of scrambled eggs.

There are fine restaurants in all the resort areas, many in Kingston and in the resorts themselves. Many restaurants outside the hotels in Mo'Bay and Ocho Rios will provide complimentary transportation.

What to Wear: Dinner dress is usually casual chic (or just plain casual at many local hangouts, especially in Negril). There are a few exceptions in Kingston and at the top resorts; some require semiformal wear (no shorts; collared shirts for men) in the evening during high season. People tend to dress up for dinner; men might be more comfortable in nice slacks, women in a sundress.

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  • 1. Evita's Italian Restaurant

    $$$ | Eclectic

    Set in an 1860s gingerbread house fronted by an old convertible roadster, Evita's–-an island institution and the self-proclaimed “Best Little...Read More

  • 2. Ivan's Restaurant

    $$$ | Caribbean

    Upscale Caribbean cuisine, stunning cliff-side dining, and romance make this one of the best places to eat on Negril's West End. Watch the...Read More

  • 3. Toscanini

    $$$ | International

    At Harmony Hall, this longtime favorite offers seating in the dining room and on the garden veranda. The menu features classic Italian dishes...Read More

  • 4. Almond Tree

    $$$ | Eclectic

    Named for the massive almond tree growing through the roof, this Ocho Rios restaurant has been serving dishes "Back A Yard" (the way things...Read More

  • 5. Bongos Restaurant

    $$$ | International

    A grand piano and a well-stocked premium bar add to the upscale feeling at this restaurant, with stylish indoor seating and patio tables. The...Read More

  • 6. Le Vendome

    $$$ | French

    The Charela Inn's pretty restaurant is lit up with strings of Christmas lights, with tables set out on the beach (there's also a covered patio...Read More

  • 7. Mille Fleurs

    $$$ | Jamaican

    Enjoy European, Jamaican, and Carribean cuisine while watching the sunset on a terrace surrounded by tropical vegetation. Dishes made with local...Read More

  • 8. Pier 1

    $$$ | Caribbean

    After tropical drinks at the deck bar, you'll be ready to dig into the international variations on fresh seafood; the best are the grilled lobster...Read More

  • 9. Rick's Cafe

    $$$ | Caribbean

    A Negril institution since the hippie days of the 1960s and 1970s, Rick's is one of the resort town's best-known landmarks and attracts busloads...Read More

  • 10. Green Market Cafe

    $$$ | Jamaican

    For lunch, this casual hotel restaurant serves a decent buffet of mainly Jamaican food; an à la carte menu is also available. Green Market is...Read More

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