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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.
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
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
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
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'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
Jerk fish shack in Jamaica

Street Stalls

-- 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
Jamaican food truck
Fruit and vegetable stand stocked with tropical delights
Fruit and vegetable stand stocked with tropical delights

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