You can eat every meal at your resort or a fine dining restaurant, but if you really want to feel the soul of a place, you need to get out there and eat the local delicacies. We’ll help you get started on your culinary adventure with this list of five uniquely Caribbean treats and where to find them.
1. Conch Salad
This ceviche-style combination of raw conch, onions, green peppers, and lime juice is a refreshing must-try in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. Da Conch Shack on Provo, Turks and Caicos serves up a great bowl — with that name, you’d expect nothing less. At Billy Joe’s in Freeport, Bahamas, you can enjoy made-to-order conch salad in a laid-back beach location.
Doubles is the ultimate Trinidadian street food. It consists of two pieces of bara, a fried flat bread; chana, a curried chickpea stew; and the condiments of your choice, most commonly Trinidadian pepper sauce (made of Scotch bonnet peppers), kuchela (spiced green mango) or a thin tamarind sauce. Tony’s Doubles at the bottom of the Lady Young Road, Morvant is considered by many locals to be the best. But, that discussion is a lot like New Yorkers choosing the best pizza — everyone has a favorite. So, pick a stand and try for yourself.
No, we’re not talking mushrooms. Caribbean fungi is a polenta-like dish of cornmeal cooked with okra that’s typically served as a side dish with fried fish. You can find a really good example at Gladys’ Cafe, St. Thomas, where they serve up some of the best West Indian cuisine.
4. Jerk Chicken
Don’t even bother going to Jamaica if you’re not going to try the jerk chicken. Sure, it can be almost incendiary, but it’s practically the official dish of the island. Scotchies in Montego Bay simmers their chicken slowly in jerk sauce over pimento tree wood, so the sauce itself tastes smoky — and it’s not impossibly hot. Grab a Red Stripe beer, a pile of napkins, and sit down at one of the long picnic tables to enjoy your jerk feast.
5. Meat Patties
Sure, we said you have to eat jerk when you go to Jamaica, but you also have to eat the meat patties. They’re filled with curried ground beef or chicken and are flaky, aromatic, spicy, and delicious. Juici Patties has the typical beef and chicken, as well as shrimp, ackee, soy, and vegetable patties. You can’t go more than a block in Jamaica without stumbling over one of their locations.
Start with our list of local delicacies and explore from there. You can’t go wrong by asking local cabdrivers, shop owners, and vendors where — and what — they eat.