Jamaican food sizzles with sunshine and heat. Ocho Rios is served well by the food of all nations and the usual restaurant chains.
But it would be rude not to focus on the blessed island cuisine, the best of the bunch. So for ‘when in Rome’ reasons we do not as yet list the cuisine of different lands on offer, though there are many fine examples across the town.
Some of the big so-called ‘all-inclusive’ hotels and resorts prefer their guests to not venture beyond the gates, taking much business away from local restaurants and bars. Frankly, to sample the real local food certainly beats queuing three times a day like ants at a picnic with the same crowd for yet another ‘all-inclusive’ ho-hum buffet.
Street Food To Die For
Come early evening, the sounds and smells gather roadside as jerk carts are fired up to fill the street with the sweetest smoke and the most chickenous of temptings.
Street food is fresh and delicious. Hot jerk chicken straight off the grill, freshly chopped and wrapped in foil (with an extra squirt of sauce and a piece of white bread to cool your boots) will blow your socks off.
Overnight boiled dumplings, fried
On weekend nights around the Market area the chefs come out to rumble your tummy in a dark, smoking frizzle-fest of dutchie pots, bubbling away over charcoal stoves repurposed from the wheels of cars.
Look out for fry chicken, fry fish, steam fish, bammy, festival, fry dumplings, curry goat and red bean soup. Jamaicans love a generous helping of rice ‘n’ peas, mix veg and callaloo on the side too. But if you can find that elusive guy who does the bully beef sandwiches, your cup of experience will overflow.
Restaurants We Love
While it’s convenient enough to grab a quick, delicious spicy patty or two from one of the island chains, there is an abundance of cookshops and restaurants to make your mouth water and your belly full, serving up real island fare all the way down the busy strip of Main Street and beyond.
For those we heartily, hungrily recommend for a real Jamaican sit-your-batty-down experience, tuck in your bib and read on...
MISS T'S KITCHEN
Our first-up foodie heaven at 65 Main Street with its open-plan, all-Jamaican crazy decor (pictured). This gorgeous award-winning ‘restaurant to the stars’ has dished up “Nice Jamaica Country Cookin’” since 2009. For more adventures with Miss T and the gang, keep up-to-date at their Website and/or Facebook and Instagram. Look on the map for Yellow 1 ►
Main Street (formerly Center Spot), opposite the Singer store. Small, cosy, no-frills restaurant, run by the same family since 1989. Serving the national dish of ackee and saltfish, brown stew pork, fry chicken, mackerel and red bean soup. And Wilson’s favourite breakfast: kidneys and callaloo with a couple of saltfish fritters. Yellow 2 ►
Just inside the Market off Main Street, this homely cookshop, family-run since 1984, is always bright and cheery, and usually packed with market folks spooning down the delicious red bean soup. Yellow 3 ►
This diner on Evelyn Street is just opposite the Police Station, so behave yourself. Decor is simple but the tasty food is bargainous: oxtail, curry goat, fry chicken, steam fish, and a rainbow of fresh juices. Yellow 4 ►
Delightful little Ocean Village hole-in-the-wall in with friendly service and daily-changing menu. There are tables outside under the large gazebo where you can sit and eat with the locals. Yellow 5 ►
Right at the heart of James Avenue so expect a bit of revelry from the street... it’s Jamaica after all! With an emphasis on seafood, the cooking and service is excellent and the place is a popular gathering spot for families on Sundays — always a good sign. Yellow 7 ►
OCHO RIOS JERK CENTRE
At 14 DaCosta Drive, just past the gas station, a dedicated haven for jerk lovers. Take away or sit down to stuff your face in the big wooden atrium or front bar area. The succulent jerk pork is sublime, the jerk platter will freak you out. Feast your eyes over on Instagram and Facebook. Yellow 8 ►
PIZZA KING & GOLDEN LOAF
59 Main Street. A sort of Jamaican pizzeria with bakery, but — here’s the big deal clincher — they do a truly top notch hot jerk chicken sandwich and are Wilson’s #1 provider of emergency cheesecake. Yellow 9 ►
There are not many places on earth where James Bond fans can feast on amazing seafood whilst gazing upon the headquarters of Dr No! A dozen small cookshops to tickle your fancy, below we list our two favourites so far. Yellow 10 ►
Bright colours and rustic decor grace this spotless den with a side order of reggae, near the top of James Avenue at the Jack Ruby Plaza, by the site of the great man’s famous recording studio. Yellow 11 ►
Main Street, to the east of the town. The restaurant part of Hibiscus Lodge has a gorgeous clifftop location and garden walkways. A daytime visit is most preferred before the views are diminished when the Jamaica sun sets around six o’clock each evening. Visit their Website or find them on Instagram and Facebook. Yellow 12 ►
Off Main Street, weekend nights. A riot of chefs’ stalls selling steaming goodies in styrofoam boxes, this street food gathering may be too much of a commotion for some (and there’s nowhere to sit). Watch your step on the rubbley ground. Yellow 13 ►
HEALTHY WAY (Veggie/Ital)
Ocean Village is home to this cute veggie cookshop and health food store... let them big up themselves: “We specialize in teas, vitamins, herbs, juices, grains and books.” Yellow 14 ►
CALABASH RASTARANT (Veggie/Ital)
DaCosta Drive. Ital is vital and the healthy Rastafari food of choice. Lovely veggie food and fresh juices abound in this hallowed joint, which sells gift items, packaged foodstuffs and befitting items of clothing too. Yellow 15 ►
REGGAE POT (Veggie/Ital)
Head up east Main Street, to right opposite the Hibiscus Lodge, to find this sweet, no-problem restaurant with its revitalizing menu of freshly prepared Ital/vegan/veggie goodies. Yellow 16 ►
Of the Jamaican restaurant chains you will see everywhere, MOTHERS offers breakfasts, fried chicken and patties; ISLAND GRILL serves breakfasts, jerk and amazing BBQ; JUICI PATTIES and JUICI—BEEF put the emphasis on the delicious staple patty (you’ll need two, washed down with a bottle of grape soda); and CAPTAIN’S BAKERY for typical Jamaican fast food fare but with extra points awarded for their pastries and yummy cakes and stuff.