Jerk chicken is the most well-known Jamaican dish to have been exported from the island. The Jamaican Maroons developed a blend of herbs, spices, hot peppers, and pimento leaves which they used when cooking the animals that they captured. Today, jerk chicken is an essential part of Jamaican cuisine and a delicacy that is enjoyed by people around the world. Still, Jamaica has the best jerk chicken in the world. Here is a list of the best places in Jamaica to enjoy the famous dish.
Sweetwood Jerk Joint
Restaurant, Jerk, Jamaican, $$$
Sweetwood Jerk Joint, conveniently located beside Emancipation Park in Kingston, offers a wide menu of mouth-watering jerk meat: pork, chicken, sausage, lamb, fish, and conch, and delectable sides that surely will suit your taste buds: sweet potato, yam, breadfruit, and corn.
The Ocho Rios Jerk Center is a good place to sample some of Jamaica’s traditional food, jerk. The restaurant serves barbequed jerk chicken, pork, fish, and conch. The restaurant is open air and has a casual, relaxed environment, although unlike most jerk stalls, the food is served to you at the table. The Ocho Rios Jerk Center is also a good place to hang out and enjoy a couple of drinks while listening to local music over the sound system.
The international renown Boston Jerk Centre in Portland is the place for traditional and authentic jerk meals. Here is the place to find jerk closest to how it originally tasted, as well as taste jerk chicken made by the men whose parents/grandparents were the ones responsible for making it a global favorite. It is focused around seven jerk pits, but they also sell fresh fruit juices, fruit, and jewelry, and there’s even a resident DJ.
Pepperwood Jerk Centre (once named Scotchies Jerk Cente) located in Kingston is one of the highest rated jerk centers in Kingston. The smokiness and spiciness of the meat leave guests indulging in more than they planned. The restaurant boasts a rustic setting with individual huts and a bar area. There, guests can enjoy jerk chicken and party with a couple of Red Stripes.
Jojo’s Jerk Pit in Kingston is the perfect place to enjoy jerk chicken while hanging out with friends or blowing off some steam. JoJo’s serve jerk chicken, pork, lamb, and many more delightful meals that are guaranteed to make you drool. The pit offers bucket seating under trees and subtle background music amid easy conversation. Live music also entertains guests every Saturday from 7-10 p.m.
Formerly a gas station, Red Gal Ring is known for being a pit stop on the way to and from the country—whether Port Antonio, St. Thomas, or St. Mary. The most popular restaurant there, Chateau 7 Gourmet Jerk Centre, is located five minutes away from Manor Park. The menu consists of jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk conch pasta, and many other jerk delicacies with an array of sides and drinks.
3 Dives is a restaurant and bar located on the cliffs of Negril, Jamaica and is one of the hidden gems of the parish. Three Dives serves jerk chicken with a homemade granny sauce people insist on taking home, grilled lobster in season, Jamaican fish dishes, and seasonal specials. The restaurant’s rustic appearance features a woodland setting, surrounded by painted picnic tables and decorated with graffiti-style murals. Live bands play once a week (every Tuesday at the time of writing) and there is a bonfire often lit at night.
Drax Hall Scotchies is located just outside of Ocho Rios on the left side of the highway heading towards Discovery Bay and Montego Bay. This branch of the Scotchies restaurants has been praised by international chefs and travel companies for its excellent jerk chicken. Plates of jerk chicken, sausage, fish, pork, and ribs at this open-air restaurant are all decorated by festival, bammy, and some fire-breathing hot sauce.
Ultimate Jerk Center is right on the main highway on the way to Runaway Bay, opposite the world-famous Green Grotto Caves. This popular rest stop and bar caters to jerk chicken lovers on the island and those that get hungry after a tour of the Caves.
The Chelsea Jerk Centre is an indoor jerk emporium on Chelsea Avenue, close to the center of New Kingston. The trademark dishes of Chelsea Jerk Centre are jerk chicken and jerk pork, and side orders such as festival and dinner rolls are also served. You will also be offered some very hot pepper sauce to add to the meat, but proceed with caution.
Pepper’s Jerk Center is one of the best restaurants in Falmouth for authentic Jamaican jerked chicken, jerked pork, and many other dishes. The meat is spiced perfectly crispy and flavorful and the homemade sauce is superb. Pepper’s is a great spot to bring the entire family to have jerk chicken.
Located in Toll Gate, Clarendon, Murray’s is the quintessential Jamaican jerk hut serving Jamaican and fish dishes. Jerk chicken and jerk rabbit, the two most popular dishes at Murray’s, are seasoned to perfection and further enhanced with the bold flavors of the pickled vegetables. The Jerk Hut is a popular food and rest stop for those heading to the north coast of the island and has few neighboring restaurants in its environment.