Well-known for its culinary scene, Caribbean cuisine combines unique cooking techniques, diverse dishes, fresh ingredients, and fascinating flavor combinations. Attracting chefs from around the world and boasting homegrown cooking innovators, the best Caribbean food just does not disappoint.
Tasting the best food the Caribbean has to offer is essential, so whether you are planning your next Caribbean cruise, honeymoon, or tropical getaway, these are the must-try foods you should definitely make time and room for.
Don’t leave the Caribbean until you try…
One of the most well-known Caribbean cuisines, and Jamaica’s signature flavor, jerk is a spicy wet or dry rub that is applied to chicken and any other meat. After the meat absorbs the flavors, it is grilled and/or smoked to burning perfection.
Jamaican jerk chicken is what everyone thinks of when they hear the term “jerk” (and is some of the best), but it actually has endless variations.
With so much ocean, it should be no surprise that you cannot leave the islands without giving the seafood a try.
Grilled flying fish and whitefish are very most popular in Barbados and grouper, a pretty big fish, makes for excellent steaks and stews. Stop at any beachfront bar and there will be a variety of delicious shellfish to try.
Squash, okra, aubergine, potatoes, and meat are just a few of the ingredients in this Caribbean dish.
Throughout the Caribbean, this thick, rich stew is simmered in large pots containing pretty much anything that particular island nation grows. The most common meat is beef but fungi, yummy cornmeal dumplings, are sometimes used to add texture.
In the Bahamas, pepperpot is called souse, thought to be a reference to how much the cook has imbibed, seeing how no two batches are the same.
Large sea snails, often in gorgeous shells, conch can aptly be thought of as sea escargot. Akin to a huge clam, conch meat makes some truly magnificent fritters, a staple in the Cayman Islands, Bahamas, and cruise-ship ports.
In Turks and Caicos, conch served with peas and rice is the national dish, and if you can tear yourself away from the picturesque views and pristine beaches, you’re in for a treat.
Brought to the Caribbean by West African slaves, callaloo is a vegetable dish made of leafy greens that are boiled until a thick stew is created, and can contain coconut milk, okra, scotch bonnet peppers and every manner of seafood and meat.
In Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Dominica, it is an essential component of their diets.
A standard across the Caribbean, its presence is especially felt in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and other islands with a strong Spanish legacy. Typically served with staples like plantains and rice and beans, the juice pork drippings richly flavor everything on your plate.
In Puerto Rico, the street food, Lechon Asado, spit-roasted suckling pig, is a roadside favorite to grab, and the Cuban sandwich, layered with roast pork, should be on your list of the best Caribbean food to chow down on too.
Visit these islands for the most delicious culinary scenes
Turks and Caicos
It is simply unfair that this archipelago has so much going for it. If you can tear yourself away from the luxury, pampering, white sand beaches, and warm waters in every shade of blue, you will get a chance to taste some incredible ocean to table Caribbean cuisine.
The popular island of Provo, short for Providenciales, has some of the best all-inclusive resorts and hideaways offering seriously tasty eats. For those wanting to keep away from the crowds, Sailrock Resort, in South Caicos, offers gorgeous private villas and suites and mouthwatering dishes.
Referenced as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, there are very few people who think otherwise. The 35-mile nation of Anguilla has over 100 restaurants featuring established and emerging chefs cooking some of the most delicious food on the planet.
The island’s cuisine culture is influenced by the native Caribbean, African, Spanish, French and English cultures and fresh seafood, of course!
Saint Martin/Saint Maarten
The gourmet capital of the West Indies is going to truly test your willpower. With bakeries serving breakfasts that rival those you’d find in Paris and restaurants marrying French and Caribbean flavors into blissful unions expressed through conch fritters, you may really find yourself wondering if the beach is where you should spend your time.
One thing is certain, this destination lives up to its reputation, and then some.
Jerk chicken, oxtail, roti, meat patties, saltfish and ackee, the list goes on. Jamaica has always been a place to go for food lovers, and with the recent interest in agriculture growing locally, there is even more of a reason to visit.
Farmers are providing a never-before-seen variety and quality of ingredients for the nation’s cuisine, which even includes the stalls on the roadside – something foodies will love.
Don’t beat yourself up for eating, looking out the window, eating again, and then looking at the scenery again. St. Lucia is actually that gorgeous of an island and the food is as good as the locale looks.
Thankfully, you don’t really have to choose because some of the best restaurants are in the most beautiful settings. When you’re here crispy breadfruit, saltfish, and green figs and souse stew (the meaty version) should all be a priority.
An island that attracts the famous and wealthy to its swanky neo-Creole dishes, for master chefs around the world, St. Barts is their home away from home.
With plenty of glitz and glamour in its culinary scene, you will want to indulge in the annual Gourmet Festival for a weekend of island-inspired ingredients that showcase the very upscale, very chic French cuisine St. Barts has to offer.
There’s not much you’ll dislike in the Caribbean, but for those with a more discerning palate, the best Caribbean food is worth the trip alone.