Sure, you’ve had the best Caribbean food in NYC and it was delicious, but when you have the opportunity to go to the Caribbean, you get the chance to taste the elements that set one culture’s food apart from another.
You should not miss the chance to eat everything in sight.
Each island has its own spices, ingredients, and varied influences that, when brought together in a dish, tend to be some of the most enticing, mouth-watering cuisine you’ll taste.
If you’re the type of traveler who starts planning your next meal as soon as you’ve ordered your last, these destinations offer some of the best Caribbean food.
The beaches and weather brought you to the Caribbean, but the Caribbean cuisine may be the reason you never leave.
Not long ago, Anguilla was without phone service and electricity. Anguilla now has more restaurants per acre than Manhattan and is the culinary capital of the Caribbean.
The island has over 100 restaurants featuring established and emerging chefs, and the island’s traditional cuisine, which focuses on local, fresh seafood, has Caribbean, African, Spanish, French and English influences.
- Must-haves: crawfish, coconut cake, plantains
- Top restaurants: Blanchards, Smokey’s at the Cove, Scilly Cay
Jamaican jerk chicken and meat patties have always been a part of Jamaica’s delicious cuisine offerings, but the island has recently experienced greater interest in its local agriculture, resulting in an unparalleled level of variety and quality ingredients being used in Jamaican food – even when dining at roadside stalls.
You’ll find lots of traditional foods like salt fish and ackee, but a new crop of chefs continue to roll into Jamaica doing lots of innovative things. One of the best Caribbean islands for local food, if you stay near Montego Bay or Kingston you’ll be able to easily taste the best of what Jamaica has to offer.
- Must-haves: festival bread, ginger beer, jerk chicken, callaloo stew, Jamaican patties
- Top restaurants: Scotchies, The HouseBoat Grill, MVP Smokehouse
Turks and Caicos
As if the infinite shades of light blue water and powdery white sand covering the shores weren’t enough to make you wonder if affordable Caribbean real estate is available on the popular destination, their ocean-to-table cuisine, where the seafood is king, maybe enough to do it. Conch, the national dish, can be found in any of their must-try dishes.
- Must-haves: conch everything – stew, fritters, salad, chowder, pigeon peas and grits
- Top restaurants: Coco Bistro, Magnolia, Crackpot Kitchen, Bugaloo’s Conch Crawl, Da Conch Shack
Known for its fine dining, Bajan restaurants highlight their amazing seafood, along with their national dish cou-cou.
Visitors in November should not miss the chance to go to the Barbados Food and Rum Festival. This festival celebrates the island’s love for rum and their best cuisine. Featured at the festival is an eclectic fusion of American, Asian, and European influenced cooking.
- Must-haves: Scotch bonnet chile sauce, cutter sandwiches, panna cotta and, of course, cou-cou
- Top restaurants: Atlantis Hotel, Cuz’s, Oistins (they have a weekly fish fry), My Friends Place
Trinidad and Tobago
There are few places in the world where you’ll be able to experience the culinary adventure that awaits in Trinidad. Roti is their most well-known food; there are roti eateries and stands throughout Port of Spain, the capital. You’ll find a wide selection of cuisines and cultures that blend to create a Caribbean and South Asian fusion.
Roti is a rolled flatbread that contains local vegetables, curried meats, seafood, and various condiments. This dish reflects the strong influence East India has on Trinidad. Furthermore, Trinidad is also where you can find some of the best Caribbean street food.
- Must-haves: roti, jerk meats and barbecue, Creole corn soup, homemade ice cream, and fruit punch
- Top restaurants: Go to St. James area on the western edge of Port of Spain. It is the place to be for some of the best nightlife and street dining. In the early morning hours, it’s bustling with vendors selling all types of delicious treats.
Don’t let snorkeling with sea turtles and stingrays, world-class shopping, massages at the spa, or walking a few miles of Seven Mile Beach keep you from eating delicious Caribbean dishes on Grand Cayman. There is too much to do on this amazing island that you may forget it has a wide-ranging mix of influences – Jamaican, Central American, and British – in their Old Caymanian fare.
The Cayman Islands has over 200 restaurants. Many of these restaurants have world-renowned chefs.
Grand Cayman is wonderful, but Cayman Brac and Little Cayman will still guarantee you access to tasty and memorable meals.
- Must-haves: Cayman-style ceviche, which is fresh fish that’s been marinated in Scotch bonnet sauce, lime and orange juice; heavy cake
- Top restaurants: Le Vele offers an Italian taste with island flair; Pani Indian Kitchen gives you a Caribbean twist on India’s traditional food; Camana Bay Flavour Tour, a walking tour that takes you to three signature restaurants featuring small plates that have been matched with cocktail pairings
Hopping from table to table through this volcanic island is an adventure in itself. Navigating the hilly terrain and hairpin turns is well-worth the risk.
Most of the ingredients used to create the French Creole food cuisine of Martinique are grown in the rugged land and picked by chefs that are just as homegrown. Accordingly, the results are a Caribbean cuisine that is both provincial and Haute, an experience you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
- Must-haves: blanc manger au coco dessert, Boudin Creole sausage, Colombo de Martinique curry stew
- Top restaurants: Plein Soleil, La Table de Mamy Nounou, Ziouka Glaces
Eat Your Way Through the Caribbean
If there is such a thing as the best Caribbean food, it would have to be up to you to decide for yourself. There are so many fusions of taste and culture colliding in this region that it’ll be hard for you to truly rank all of your favorites.