Jamaica

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Eating well is one of Jamaica’s great pleasures. While you’ll pay top dollar in restaurants that make creative use of Jamaican cuisine’s African, indigenous, and British influences, you’ll find the splurge worthwhile. At the same time, don’t shy away from roadside “cooksheds,” which are the best places for inexpensive (but authentic) treats like jerk chicken and pork, fish, and roast yam. Jamaicans know their food, so stop where it’s busy.

Top Restaurants in Jamaica

Evita's

Italian meets Rastafarian cooking at this quaint, gingerbread-trimmed cottage overlooking the resort town of Ocho Rios. Pastas are the main draw, but don’t underestimate the pull power of Venetian chef Eva Myers's inventive creations, like her lasagna with ackee and spinach-like calaloo, which are a hit with locals as well as visiting celebs.

Eden Bower Rd., 876-974-2333, www.evitasjamaica.com
Tags: moderate | celebrity hangout

Gloria's Rendezvous

Fresh fish soup or “fish tea” from the fishermen across the road and “bammy” (cassava flatcakes) are a Kingston tradition at this simple sidewalk eatery in the old pirate capital of Port Royal. Every weekend the plastic tables fill the street and sound systems pump out the reggae as people pack in for lobster and shrimp either grilled or “honey jerked” as well as fried, stewed, or steamed fish.

5 Queen St., 876-967-8066
Tags: budget | seafood

Ivan's

Have your obligatory sunset cocktail at Rick’s next door, but head to Ivan’s to dine (and continue drinking, if you’re so inclined) under this funky, friendly palapa supported by the limbs of a gigantic almond tree – one of the few that survived Hurricane Ivan. Specialties include jerk shrimp, mango or coconut-pimento chicken, and medallions of beef in red wine sauce. Reservations required.

West End Rd., 876-957-0390, www.catchajamaica.com
Tags: moderate

Jack Sprat

A fabulous DJ and bonfires on the beach enliven the scene at this colorful, super-casual spot that’s a favorite with local families and hip guests from the adjacent Jake’s Resort. Fare includes locally caught seafood like conch, crab, and ‘sea puss (aka octopus) – request your dish curried for a real treat. Surprisingly, Jack Sprat also serves up the best pizza in Jamaica.

Jake's Hotel, Calabash Bay, Treasure Beach, 876-965-3435, www.jakeshotel.com/dining.htm
Tags: family | moderate | seafood | great value

Little Ochie

A destination in itself, this expanded Jamaican cookshed serves its finger-licking delicacies in thatched fishing dories set on an expansive beach. Succulent ”jerk” shrimp, fish either fried, “jerked,” or steamed with vegetables, curry or garlic lobster, and “festival” (small, cruller-like johnny cakes) cooked to order over wood fires are an invitation to linger in this dreamlike spot all day.

Alligator Pond, 876-610-6566, www.littleochie.com
Tags: moderate | seafood | editor pick | great value | waterfront

Mille Fleurs

A loving commitment to local ingredients and classic technique along with gorgeous tropical gardens and mountain views combine to create one of Jamaica’s most sublime dining experiences. Arrive in time for an awesome “martini-on-fire”-enhanced sunset from the terrace, then linger into the night for mahi-mahi flavored with sage and coconut milk, or tangy orange-tamarind glazed chicken. Stretch your dollars with the excellent $60, four-course “chef’s choice” menu (pre-set selections change regularly). Reservations required during peak season.

Hotel Mocking Bird Hill, Mockingbird Hill, Drapers, 876-993-7134, www.hotelmockingbirdhill.com
Tags: expensive | editor pick | smart splurge | views

Scotchies

Line up with locals and tourists for authentic Jamaican “jerk” at this pleasant barbecue pit with its picnic tables under zinc-roofed sheds. Order a 1/4 pound of succulent pork, chicken, or sausage, add some pleasingly bland roasted yam or breadfruit to soak up the heat, and revel in the marvel that is roadside dining in Jamaica. The original Montego Bay location was so popular that they eventually opened up a second location, Scotchies Too, in Ocho Rios (876-794-9457).

Coral Gardens, St. James parish, 876-953-8041
Tags: budget | seafood

The Sugar Mill

Set next to a softly-lit, 19th-century waterwheel, this charming country restaurant served as a romantic trysting-place in the Bond thriller Live And Let Die. The kitchen's Jamaican-continental repertoire of paper-thin smoked marlin, subtly-curried pumpkin soup, and grilled dishes are as elegant as the surroundings. Reservations required.

Rt. A1, Rose Hall Estate, 876-953-2314, www.halfmoon.com/sugar-mill.php
Tags: romance | expensive

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