One of the first things you’ll notice about the islands of Trinidad and Tobago – besides the rolling mountains, romantic beaches, and endless palm trees – is the deep love of local food by those who know it best. With a unique blend of flavors that come from the islands' mix of Indian and African cultures, “Trinbagonian” cuisine offers delectable eats, many of which can be affordably enjoyed at roadside stands. Below is a list of must-try street food for your first visit to this Caribbean country.
A staple in the country's street food scene, “doubles” consists of two main components, bara – a fried, yet soft, flour-based flat bread – and channa – a curried chickpea mixture. This vegetarian dish got its name in 1951 when a vender used two bara to hold the channa filling following a request from local students. It can be enjoyed at any time of the day and is widely eaten after a night out on the town. Alternate versions can also be found, including “gourmet doubles” that use a meat filling, and “Chinese doubles” with chow mein. For the standard dish, check out Arabay Ali’s Doubles at 71 Fifth Street in the town of Barataria, just outside Port of Spain.
This wrap-like snack is on par with doubles as the most beloved street food originating from Trinidad and Tobago, and has multiple variations to try. Named after the flat bread used to make it, roti can be filled with a wide range of vegetables or meat – goat and chicken to name a few – all curried to perfection. A healthier option, sada roti, is made with thicker flat bread and has a vegetable filling. While many enjoy this food on the go, spots like the Alpine Restaurant and Bar in the center-island town of Preysal serve an open-faced version that you can enjoy sitting down.
Bake and Shark (or Shark and Bake)
Don’t let the name scare you: This sandwich is a simple yet tasty local delicacy made of fried shark meat on a light bun, with an array of self-serve condiments generously used to dress it. This includes cabbage, carrots, pineapple, ketchup, mustard, cucumbers, tomatoes, and indigenous pepper and green sauces – the latter being a mix of the local herb chadon beni and plenty of other spices. If eating shark is not for you, there are other fish or vegetarian options that are served in similar fashion. For the ideal island experience, travel to Maracas Bay in northern Trinidad where several Bake and Shark food stands, such as the famous Richard's Bake and Shark, sit across from a white-sand beach and the Caribbean sea.
Crab and Dumplings
For some savory grub that clearly illustrates the fusion of cultural cuisine in Trinidad and Tobago, look no further than the curried crab and dumplings. Found largely on the smaller northern island of Tobago, this dish incorporates a local curry using coconut milk – much evolved from traditional Indian versions – and parts of whole crab with the shells still intact. Get a little down and dirty with your hands to enjoy the meat and large chewy dumplings on the southwestern coast of the island near shops, beaches, and turquoise waters surrounding Store Bay.