There are all-out jerk wars in Montego Bay. Restaurants fight fiercely for the title of the best jerk joint in the city, and no trip to this Caribbean destination is complete without trying at least a few of them. Of course, it’s not just Jamaican food available in MoBay: there are places that specialise in seafood, steaks and fusion cuisines, too. Here’s a round-up of the top places to dine, whatever you’re in the mood for.
Siren-blue waters surround this floating restaurant in Bogue Lagoon, not far from Montego Bay Cruise Port. Take a table on the open-air top deck and you can look out over the water as you eat. Seafood is the star of the menu here: July to March is lobster season and you can try dishes such as scotch bonnet-spiked lobster linguine, as well as classics like lobster thermidor and surf ‘n’ turf.
The patties in the name of this fast-food restaurant are half moons of pastry stuffed with everything from beef to ackee. Owner Jukie started making them in his mum’s kitchen when he was 16 and now there’s a Juici Patties eatery in almost all of Jamaica’s parishes – testament to the taste. You’ll find the Montego Bay outlet on St James Street, a 10-minute walk from the Hip Strip.
Food is cooked on grills the size of kitchen tables at the Pork Pit on the Hip Strip. Chicken and pork are rubbed in own-recipe jerk seasonings and served fresh from the coals to diners sat at picnic tables. Side dishes include fried plantains, rice and peas, roti, and bammy (a Jamaican flatbread made from cassava). For the full Jamaican experience, wash your food down with a cold bottle of Red Stripe beer.
The terrace at Marguerites overlooks the Caribbean Sea near Doctor’s Cave Beach. The best time to book a table is sunset, when the sky turns the water red. The menu revolves around locally sourced seafood, such as reef snapper and tuna, and prime cuts of meat. Unusually for Montego Bay, it’s wine rather than rum that’s the star of the drinks menu – the curated wine list features bottles from around the world.
This fine-dining eatery is part of the Half Moon resort, a few miles outside Montego Bay to the north. The best tables are draped in white linen and set in a foliage-filled courtyard lit by lanterns at night. Jamaican and European cuisines mingle on the menu – think duck breast with jackfruit chutney and cannelloni made with callaloo coconut sauce. For a little bit of theatre, try the brochette kebab – it’s set alight at the table.
Try all the Jamaican classics at the Pelican Grill on the Hip Strip. Jerk chicken, curried shrimp, ackee and saltfish, rice and peas and callaloo – a spicy green vegetable dish – are all there to taste. If you can’t decide what to go for, try the calypso platter – it gives you a little bit of everything. Unexpectedly, the restaurant also has a reputation for making great milkshakes.
Ten acres (4ha) of former sugar plantation envelop Bellefield Great House – explore the gardens before you sit down to a meal in the restaurant. The menu here mixes and matches Jamaican dishes with foods from around the world, so you’ll find options such as Jamaican red pea soup and smoked marlin with bammy sticks alongside Greek salad and quesadillas. There’s a cocktail bar, too. The martinis come highly recommended.
Not got a place to stay yet? Book one of the best hotels, or one of the top budget hotels, in Montego Bay now with Culture Trip. And when you’re here, make your way around the best markets in Jamaica, or catch some waves at the finest surfing spots in the country, before ending your day at one of the liveliest nightlife spots in Montego Bay.
This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Nabila Khouri.
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