Finding the best places to eat in Jamaica

Jamaica boasts an array of restaurants and cookshops. Just about every street corner in any town will have a number of small restaurants. Deciding where to eat can be quite tricky. There is a simple way to get around this…
1. Ask around
If the food is that good, people will talk about it. The converse is equally true. They say bad news travels fast and good news reaches eventually. We Jamaicans love to talk about food. Three major conversation topics we have are sex, politics and food. You’re sure to find someone who knows somewhere. As for the trust issue, we don’t generally lie about food. If we enjoyed it, we’ll say so, if not, we’ll definitely say so.
2. Check for reviews online
Social media now allows for people to easily post reviews on food they had at different restaurants. It’s now possible for a restaurant’s reputation to be in tatters with one single tweet or a Facebook post. Some blogger, like myself, may decide to write about what their experience was like dining at a particular establishment. These comments are immortalised in cyberspace and they’re accessible to the world. My new rule of thumb, “When all else fails, try Google.”
3. Trial and error
Sometimes you have to take the plunge. If no information is available and you feel adventurous, then go ahead and experiment. Just ensure you have a bottle of Pepto-Bismol nearby. At the end of the day you may have a truly gastronomic outing to last a lifetime or you’ll discover where not to eat. Also, never experiment with food when you are really hungry. Every thing tastes good to a man who is famished.

From my Travels
Breakfast at Kuyaba.

Located on the hipstrip in Negril, Westmoreland, Jamaica, is this cozy little eatery with a rustic look. Most of the furniture is made from wood which is ideal for a spot so close to the beach. It opens up to a portion of the famous Seven Miles beach stretch. The thatch roof is a reminder of the huts that Taino Indians used to live in. 
The order did take a little while longer than expected but that’s as bad as the service got. The Jamaican breakfast was the meal of choice – ackee and saltfish, callaloo, fried plantain and fried dumplings (Johnny cakes). It’s been my experience that Jamaican food is typically salty. The callaloo did not disappoint. Surprisingly, the ackee was perfect. It wasn’t swimming in oil neither was it salty. To be honest, this is the best tasting ackee I’ve had.

Jerk at Rick’s Cafe, Negril

Rick’s Cafe in Negril, Jamaica, is simply a beach bar on steroids. There’s the bar on the ground floor which has an open view allowing you to see the beauty of the ocean and there’s the famous cliff. The most notable feature here is the cliff. The sunset is also quite picturesque. The food? Well, I suppose the food is not what you visit Rick’s Cafe for. I went for jerked chicken served with rice and peas and vegetables.

The food was quite good actually. Its customary to serve large portions of carbs and large portions of protein with a small portion of vegetables. This time around, it was the complete opposite. Take a look….

I’d say the taste was a 9/10. The balance between flavor and saltiness was pretty good. The vegetables were tender but still firm. Vegetables should never be overcooked, you lose more than you gain. The chicken was well seasoned, thoroughly cooked and retained some moisture.  I still can’t see what about this meal that’s costs $20 USD. But hey, I guess you pay to eat here. Got to see a diver jump from the highest point into the ocean.

This the first part in series of articles on Jamaican restaurants. One monthly publication will carry a different set of restaurants. Stay tuned.

As always, style is personal.  Do you.

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