Eat Like a Local: Jerk, Parrotfish and Rum in Jamaica
Making soup roadside. Jamaican men and women sell everything from fruit to steamed fish out of shacks and tents.
All photos by Laine Doss
Recently, Short Order was invited to sample the food and farms of Jamaica. In this three-part report, we shared a visit to several farms and the Bob Marley museum. If you missed the first two parts, you can read them here and here. In our last installment, we're going to show you where you can get eat like a Jamaican. Next time you're on the island, step away from the hotel buffet and try one of these local joints for fresh fish, spicy jerk, and plenty of rum.
Prendy's catches its own fish and serves it practically still swimming
Prendys on The Beach -- This shack located near the docks in Kingston has but one motto -- if it swims, eat it. The seafood is as fresh as possible because Prendy's employs a team of fishermen to go out and catch fish specifically for the restaurant. This no-frills joint is actually an outdoor lot with a plastic tarp roof to shelter guests from the alternate bouts of sun and rain. Grab a Red Stripe and let your waiter bring you the catch of the day, which could be parrotfish, snapper, grouper, kingfish, cod or lionfish. Conch, usually chewy, is tender in a pumpkin stew. Meals come with traditional sides of rice and peas, bammy (cassava flatbread), festival (fried cornmeal bread with sugar), and yuca. Prendy's on the Beach, Hellshire Beach, Kingston
Bartenders at Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records know their rum
Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records -- Three time Olympic gold winning
sprinter Usain Bolt is a national hero in Jamaica. Ask anyone on the
street in Kingston, and they'll say how much he did for their country's image.
Indeed, never since the Jamaican Bobsled Team, have we seen so much of
the Jamaica flag in the Olympics. The 25-year-old Bolt recently opened
his own sports bar, filled with tributes to...himself. Videos of Bolt's
races play on flat screens as bartenders ply locals with rum and Red
Stripe. Usain Bolt himself is said to party down on a regular basis
when in Kingston. Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records, 67 Constant Spring Road, Kingston
Chickens smoking under a tin roof at Scotchies
Scotchies -- A
series of chickee huts makes Scotchies look like a small village. Walk
through the wood portals of this outdoor restaurant and be prepared to be
hit by the smoke of dozens of chickens and slabs of pork grilling on
open flames. Yes, those are slabs of tin shack on top of the meat.
They're holding in the smoke and the flavor. Order from the simple menu
at the window -- jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk fish. Bammy, breadfruit,
festival and rice and peas are your sides. Grab a Red Stripe or a Ting
(Jamaican grapefruit soda) and dig into your meal. Prepare to
sweat....a lot. The jerk here is hot and authentic. Think you can take
the heat? We dare you to slop on some of Scotchies' scotch bonnet
pepper sauce. The combination of pain and pleasure from the spice and
heat makes your body react much the same way as being drunk. Scotchies Drax Hall, Jamaica
IRish Rover's Winston Samuels brought a bit of Irish charm (and stout) to Jamaica
Irish Rover --
The only Irish Pub in Jamaica and your best bet for a pint of Guinness
on the island. Owner Winston Samuels spent more than 40 years in Ireland as a
musician in one of the country's first interracial bands. Samuels
decided to retire in his homeland of Jamaica, but brought a bit of the
Emerald Isles back with him. The Rover is next door to Scotchies, making this
the perfect place to douse the fires of a jerk lunch with a pint or two. Irish Rover, Drax Hall, Jamaica
Jerk fish shack in Jamaica
-- They're all over Jamaica. Roadside shacks and tents set up by men and
women who sell everything from fresh fruits to jerk pork. We stopped
at several on the main road from Kingston to Ocho Rios where we sampled
fruit, coconuts topped with brown sugar, and a soup made from river
shrimp (crawfish), chicken feet, and corn. We suggest stopping at
several locations. Smell the food, talk to the people and taste the real
Jamaica. And -- as Bizarre Foods' host Andrew Zimmern would say, "If it
looks good - eat it". Yea mon.
Jamaican food truck
Fruit and vegetable stand stocked with tropical delights
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