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Best Dishes in the Caribbean

In addition to luxurious resorts and seemingly endless, pristine beaches, the Caribbean is also known for its decadent, tantalizing dishes.

Updated:

January 27, 2020
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When it comes to the beautiful, natural Caribbean islands, many people will think about luxurious, vacation resorts and beaches as far as the eye can see. Yes, both are aspects of the Caribbean to be talked about, but one feature that can’t be missed is the food. As great as Caribbean amenities are, the food is something that’ll be just as memorable, with its combinations of spices and flavors that will leave your tongue tingling when you return home.

And we know you’re posting your meals to Instagram, and more than one-third of our readers are traveling just to eat (of course, we don’t blame ‘em). Dine on these local favorites from our list of the best Caribbean dishes when you’re on one of these islands next time.

Caribbean fish
Caribbean flying fish Zach Stovall

“I eat fresh fish every single day,” said Tony Brannon, a Bermudan musician who has called Barbados his second home since 1981. “When your dinner was swimming in the sea the same day as you, there’s just nothing better.”

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And he’s right. While Barbados might be known for its savory salt breads, curried goat roti and coucou –– a side dish similar to grits with the addition of okra –– the real star of Bajan cuisine is what’s splashing in its waters, including mahi-mahi, barracuda, spiny lobster and flying fish, a key ingredient in the national dish of Barbados.

For a taste of some of the best Caribbean food, head to Oistins, a fishing town on the island’s southern coast, which hosts a lively fish fry every Friday night.

“No one should leave Barbados without trying the flying fish,” Brannon said. “There’s a reason it’s on the $1 coin.”

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And he’s right. While Barbados might be known for its savory salt breads, curried goat roti and coucou –– a side dish similar to grits with the addition of okra –– the real star of Bajan cuisine is what’s splashing in its waters, including mahi-mahi, barracuda, spiny lobster and flying fish, a key ingredient in the national dish of Barbados.

For a taste of some of the best Caribbean food, head to Oistins, a fishing town on the island’s southern coast, which hosts a lively fish fry every Friday night.

“No one should leave Barbados without trying the flying fish,” Brannon said. “There’s a reason it’s on the $1 coin.”

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trunkfish
Grilling trunkfish Zach Stovall

In Anguilla, locals routinely catch and grill trunkfish, a spotted red fish, for one of the best Caribbean dishes around.

conch with rice and peas
Cracked conch with rice and peas Zach Stovall

Served with rice and peas, cracked conch and conch salad are two favorites at Twin Brothers in Nassau, Bahamas.

Lennox Cadogan
Executive chef Lennox Cadogan Zach Stovall

Here’s Executive Chef Lennox Cadogan of Lighthouse Bay Resort in Barbuda.

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Lobster and chicken
Lobster and chicken Zach Stovall

The lobster and chicken entree from Scilly Cay, an islet off the coast of Island Harbour, Anguilla.

Sada roti
Sada roti Zach Stovall

This traditional sada roti is made with smoked herring and fried plantains near Port of Spain, Trinindad.

shrimp
Tequila-lime shrimp Zach Stovall

Succulent tequila-lime shrimp in New Providence, Bahamas, at the Indigo Cafe is a must-try.

red snapper
Freshly caught red snapper Zach Stovall

Freshly caught red snapper is prepared at the Graycliff Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas.

empanadillas
Lobster and shrimp empanadillas Zach Stovall

Lobster and shrimp empanadillas from El Schamar in Boqueron, Puerto Rico (pro tip: Try them with “pique,” a popular island hot sauce, and a cold Medalla beer).

crab empanadas, bone-sucking barbecue ribs and seafood soup
El Resuelve Zach Stovall

At El Resuelve, a family-owned restaurant in Vieques, Puerto Rico, order the crab empanadas, bone-sucking barbecue ribs and seafood soup.

whole fish with rice and peas
Grilled whole fish with rice and peas Zach Stovall

Nosh on grilled whole fish with rice and peas from O.J.’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, an open-air rum shack in Southwest Antigua.

Lechon
Lechon getting weighed Zach Stovall

At Lechonera Restaurante El Pino in Trujillo Alto, just south of San Juan, Puerto Rico, a slab of “lechon” is weighed before hitting the oven.

Channa
Channa Zach Stovall

A common street food in Trinidad, doubles are made by filling “bara,” fried bread, with curried chickpeas called “channa.

arepa
Breakfast arepa Zach Stovall

A breakfast arepa at El Carey Café in Isabela, Puerto Rico, made with ham and eggs has a familiar aesthetic akin to a breakfast sandwich found stateside, but it’s got its own unique Latin American touch.

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