Jamaica lures most travelers with scenic beaches and hard-to-resist reggae rhythms, but a visit to the island’s bustling capital of Kingston reveals a foodie paradise waiting to be explored. We’re diving into an important aspect of Jamaican culture with a look at our five favorite local foods -- and the best places to find them.
1. Patties from Tastee or Juici
The ultimate Jamaican street food is a flaky, savory pie stuffed with an assortment of fillings -- from traditional beef or saltfish to veggies or curried chicken. The locals take their patties so seriously that there’s even a rivalry between the two main shops, Tastee and Juici. At Tastee, you’ll find a wide variety of patty flavors, plus options for classic meals like curried goat, while Juici’s menu includes soups, sides, and seafood options like shrimp. There are multiple locations for both businesses throughout the city, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to join Jamaicans for their daily patty break.
2. Jerk at Scotchies
Although the original Scotchies restaurant is located in Montego Bay, the Kingston version lures just as big a crowd with a scenic garden setting, bar, and expertly grilled jerk meats. Choose from jerk pork, chicken, sausage, or roasted fish (grilled over open pits of pimento and sweet wood).
3. Coconut curry shrimp at Redbones
This elegant restaurant, cafe, and performance spot is a Kingston institution thanks to gourmet Caribbean fusion cuisine and a lively atmosphere. The menu features creative takes on Jamaican classics, like ackee (bland fruit), callaloo (spinach-like veggie), and feta pasta and escovitch (vinegar and spices) chicken salad. No matter what you order, be sure to save room for Redbones’ most popular dish: shrimp drenched in a rich curry and coconut sauce.
4. Stew beef at Tracks & Records
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt’s sprawling restaurant and sports lounge delivers a dizzying selection of Jamaican dishes, but none stand out more than the “yaad style stew beef” -- a traditional beef stew that’s braised and spiced to perfection. We like to order it with a side of potatoes and roasted local vegetables.
5. Ice cream from Devon House
Heralded across the island as the creator of the country's best ice cream -- or "i scream," as it's called there -- the historic Devon House serves up an array of creamy goodness to hordes of locals and visitors. The small shop offers 27 flavors that include rum raisin, soursop, coconut coffee, and Bordeaux cherry, among others.