jamaican food

Jamaica Crowned Culinary Champion of the Caribbean

Tuesday 21st Nov 2023 |

For 2023, Jamaica’s culinary excellence has been honoured with not one, but two prestigious World Culinary Awards, celebrating multi-category success. Achieving global recognition of the rich and diverse origins of Jamaican cuisine, the island has received the prestigious World Culinary Awards’ Top Caribbean Culinary Destination, while the gastronomic scene of Montego Bay has earned the coveted title of Caribbean’s Best Culinary City Destination.  

Testament to the vast range of gold standard eateries on the island, Summerhouse at Harmony Hall, and Oleander at Sandals Montego Bay won Best Restaurant and Best Hotel Restaurant of the year in Jamaica, respectively. The island also boasts the World’s Best All-Inclusive Culinary Resort 2023, with Sandals Dunn’s River securing the top spot. 

From breathtaking natural beauty to a booming nightlife, Jamaica makes for a perfect getaway. However, this island’s rich offering extends far beyond this to its vibrant culinary landscape.  Providing an additional layer of allure to an already captivating destination, Jamaica’s award-winning array of restaurants and dishes are set to satisfy every hungry traveller’s craving.  

The cultural fusion that defines Jamaican cuisine can be seen through its African influences, in the use of spices, herbs, and the beloved fruit, ackee, while the Taino people (Jamaica’s original inhabitants) left their legacy on the cuisine through ingredients like cassava, yams, sweet potatoes, and tropical fruits, such as pineapple and guava.  

These influences have shaped Jamaica’s unique blend of flavours, and cooking techniques, into a distinct vibrant and diverse culinary heritage celebrated all over the world. In celebration of Jamaica earning the coveted Caribbean top spot, Visit Jamaica rounds up the island’s most popular national dishes and where to find them. 

Ackee and Saltfish 

Jamaica’s national dish combines the soft and mild ackee fruit with salted codfish. The exotic fleshy fruit takes on the savoury fish flavour along with peppers and spices and is typically enjoyed at breakfast with a delectable fried dumpling. Synonymous with Jamaica, a particularly tasty version of this iconic dish is served up at Smurf’s Café, Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth, alongside a buzzing atmosphere which will have you coming back for a second serving. 

Curry Goat   

A delicious combination of spicy, melt-in-your-mouth meat and chunky diced potato in a rich gravy, Jamaican curry goat ranks among the top eats in Jamaica. To create the ultimate depth of flavour, the meat is marinated overnight before being slow cooked in a mix of herbs and spices. Visitors to Miss T’swill experience the warmth of Jamaican hospitality and a contemporary twist on traditional cuisine. With an expertly crafted, custom spiced curry goat, Miss T’s is a great location for an authentic and memorable dining experience in Jamaica. 

Jerk Chicken  

Jamaican food would be incomplete without the finest Jerk, where meat is marinated in spices and slow cooked over a fire or grill resulting in its iconic, mouthwatering smoky flavour. Scotchie’s, located across the island in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Kingston, is renowned for its finger-licking delicious flavours and authentic Jamaican jerk chicken. Cooked over an open pimento wood fire following a punchy spice marinade, Scotchie’s serve this up alongside traditional sides for a satisfying gastronomic experience. Jerk cooking’s incremental role in Jamaican cuisine is recognised by its own festival every August: Mobay Jerk & Food Festival provides holidaymakers and foodies with a complete ‘day out’ from food to performances. 

Jamaican Beef Patty   

Jamaican beef patty is a perfect lunchtime meal or beach snack, washed down with a crisp, cold Red Stripe beer. Coated in buttery pastry, Jamaican beef patty is easily recognised for its yellowish colour thanks to a combination of tasty turmeric and creamy butter mix, creating this flaky delight. Jam-packed with fragrant beef infused with herbs and spices, this snack-sized taste of Jamaica is named the most popular convenience food on the island and proves to be a national favourite. Juici Patties is renowned for serving up perfect Jamaican patties across the island across decades, offering a range of mouthwatering patties comprised of quality ingredients and authentic flavours, that even includes a vegetarian version. 

Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee 

Considered one of the best coffees in the world, Blue Mountain Coffee is grown on the Blue and John Crow Mountains in eastern Jamaica, the longest mountain on the island at 7402 feet. Loved for its fragrant aroma, Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee has a rich, sweet taste without the bitterness found many other coffees. Beyond its exceptional taste, the coffee’s boasts a number of potential health benefits, thanks to its vitamin and nutrient content.  

The highly anticipated annual Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival takes place every March, providing coffee enthusiasts with the ultimate farm to cup (and plate) experience. Visitors can learn about Jamaican coffee and culture, with arts and crafts showcases, music performances and tours to some of Jamaica’s best kept secrets. 

With an abundance of globally acclaimed destinations and dishes to enjoy, this Caribbean Island is a true melting pot of fresh food, flavours, and warm hospitality. Jamaica’s award-winning culinary scene offers something to satisfy even the most discerning of palates. 

To book your trip and immerse yourself in Jamaica’s food culture see www.visitjamaica.com.