The most important tip I can give you on Barbados local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Barbados, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in Barbados
Flying fish, the icon of the islands is found on coins, bills, and menus. Flying fish is usually served lightly breaded and fried, with a yellow sauce. Be warned that this yellow sauce consists of very hot Scotch Bonnet peppers with onions in a mustard sauce. Pepperpot, a must, a dish of long tradition and great pride among the Bajans, a pork stew in a spicy dark brown sauce.
Try cutters, a local sandwich made using Salt Bread (not regular sandwich bread). Varieties include flying fish cutters, ham cutters and the popular bread and two (two fishcakes in a salt bread). Visitors seeking fast food will probably be disappointed; the burger chains of the US failed miserably upon introduction to Barbados (Bajans eat nearly no beef). However, chicken and fish sandwiches are wildly popular, so KFC and the local chain Chefette are ubiquitous.
Try the rotis at Chefette. Bajan cuisine is a strange mix of spicy, flavorful treats along with bland traditional English fare. So be prepared for meals where fiery stews sit side-by-side with beans on toast. Every Friday night the place to be is the town of Oistins (on the south coast) for the “fish fry”. This is a market where you can buy fresh fish cooked according to local recipes. Locals stay there late and dance until the early hours of the morning. This is now the second most popular tourist attraction on the island, after Harrison’s Cave.
There are many fine restaurants on the island with the top two being The Cliff (on the west coast) and Cin Cin by the Sea (also on the west coast). Both are quite expensive, but serve beautiful food and a wonderful dining experience, overlooking the sea. Still, you can find many hidden gems if you look hard enough. For inexpensive local dishes try Cuz’s Fish Stand near the Hilton Hotel, Sand Dunes restaurant on the east coast and Lemon Harbor in the St.John countryside. Fish cakes, BBQ pig tails, fresh coconut, and roasted peanuts are offered by the many street vendors.
What to Drink in Barbados
The legal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 16. Barbados has some of the purest water in the world that can be drunk straight from the tap. Cruise ship employees are often seen stocking up on their water supplies while docked at the island. Rum and rum drinks are featured at every bar. Perhaps the most famous domestic brand offered is Mount Gay Rum, which is very delicious. Modest cost tours of the distillery are available on weekdays. They offer samples of all their rums, also sold at attractive prices.
Small establishments called rum shops can be found all over Barbados. They are where local citizens (95% men) meet to catch up on the local news. Drop in, and you can easily have a conversation with a real Barbadian. Rum Shop in Barbados Beer and wine is easy to find as well. Banks beer is Barbados’ own beer and very good. Tours of the Banks brewery are also available. While the tour itself is very hot and only moderately interesting an unlimited amount of beer is provided to those waiting for the tour to begin.
Try to show up a few hours early and take advantage of a very good deal. 10 Saints is the first craft beer to be brewed in Barbados. This unique lager is aged for 90 days in Mount Gay ‘Special Reserve’ Rum casks, combining the rum heritage of the island with a refreshing lager to produce a truly ‘Bajan’ beer. It is available at bars and shops, throughout the island.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.