Eat Like a Local: Jerk, Parrotfish and Rum in Jamaica

Categories: Travel Hog
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All photos by Laine Doss
Making soup roadside. Jamaican men and women sell everything from fruit to steamed fish out of shacks and tents.
Recently, Short Order was invited to sample the food and farms of Jamaica. In this three-part report, we shared a visit to several farms and the Bob Marley museum. If you missed the first two parts, you can read them here and here. In our last installment, we're going to show you where you can get eat like a Jamaican. Next time you're on the island, step away from the hotel buffet and try one of these local joints for fresh fish, spicy jerk, and plenty of rum.

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Prendy's catches its own fish and serves it practically still swimming
Prendys on The Beach -- This shack located near the docks in Kingston has but one motto -- if it swims, eat it. The seafood is as fresh as possible because Prendy's employs a team of fishermen to go out and catch fish specifically for the restaurant.  This no-frills joint is actually an outdoor lot with a plastic tarp roof to shelter guests from the alternate bouts of sun and rain.  Grab a Red Stripe and let your waiter bring you the catch of the day, which could be parrotfish, snapper, grouper, kingfish, cod or lionfish.  Conch, usually chewy, is tender in a pumpkin stew.  Meals come with traditional sides of rice and peas, bammy (cassava flatbread), festival (fried cornmeal bread with sugar), and yuca.  Prendy's on the Beach, Hellshire Beach, Kingston
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Bartenders at Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records know their rum
Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records -- Three time Olympic gold winning sprinter Usain Bolt is a national hero in Jamaica.  Ask anyone on the street in Kingston, and they'll say how much he did for their country's image. Indeed, never since the Jamaican Bobsled Team, have we seen so much of the Jamaica flag in the Olympics.  The 25-year-old Bolt recently opened his own sports bar, filled with tributes to...himself.  Videos of Bolt's races play on flat screens as bartenders ply locals with rum and Red Stripe.  Usain Bolt himself is said to party down on a regular basis when in Kingston.  Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records, 67 Constant Spring Road, Kingston

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Chickens smoking under a tin roof at Scotchies
Scotchies -- A series of chickee huts makes Scotchies look like a small village. Walk through the wood portals of this outdoor restaurant and be prepared to be hit by the smoke of dozens of chickens and slabs of pork grilling on open flames. Yes, those are slabs of tin shack on top of the meat. They're holding in the smoke and the flavor.  Order from the simple menu at the window -- jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk fish. Bammy, breadfruit, festival and rice and peas are your sides. Grab a Red Stripe or a Ting (Jamaican grapefruit soda) and dig into your meal.  Prepare to sweat....a lot.  The jerk here is hot and authentic. Think you can take the heat?  We dare you to slop on some of Scotchies' scotch bonnet pepper sauce.  The combination of pain and pleasure from the spice and heat makes your body react much the same way as being drunk.  Scotchies Drax Hall, Jamaica

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IRish Rover's Winston Samuels brought a bit of Irish charm (and stout) to Jamaica
Irish Rover -- The only Irish Pub in Jamaica and your best bet for a pint of Guinness on the island.  Owner Winston Samuels spent more than 40 years in Ireland as a musician in one of the country's first interracial bands. Samuels decided to retire in his homeland of Jamaica, but brought a bit of the Emerald Isles back with him. The Rover is next door to Scotchies, making this the perfect place to douse the fires of a jerk lunch with a pint or two. Irish Rover, Drax Hall, Jamaica

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Jerk fish shack in Jamaica
Street Stalls -- They're all over Jamaica. Roadside shacks and tents set up by men and women who sell everything from fresh fruits to jerk pork.  We stopped at several on the main road from Kingston to Ocho Rios where we sampled fruit, coconuts topped with brown sugar, and a soup made from river shrimp (crawfish), chicken feet, and corn.  We suggest stopping at several locations. Smell the food, talk to the people and taste the real Jamaica. And -- as Bizarre Foods' host Andrew Zimmern would say, "If it looks good - eat it". Yea mon.

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Jamaican food truck
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Fruit and vegetable stand stocked with tropical delights
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Really glad to read this! You wrote about the Jamaica that the wife and I went in search of!Unfortunately, all we found was an extreme amount of danger right outside the gate at our Hotel! Physically assaulted and mentally broken, we dared not leave the safety of the Sunset Jamaica Grand in Ocho Rios! My heart was broken as I feared that the real Jamaica that we came in search of did not exist any more! Thank you for showing me that it does!


Wow BigKahuna, you sound like you live under the Pentagon protected by 50 guards at all times. Get the fuck over yourself. I went to Jamaica last year and had just about the best time I have ever had. Never stayed in a resort, drove all around the island and rented out a house. Every country has violence and bad neighborhoods just stay clear of them. Ever been to Overtown? Or Little Haiti? Get the fuck over yourself.


I'm Jamaican - born and bred. Obviously Bigkahunabrew is still hopeful and maybe the article will nudge him and his wife to come back to our paradise and find what they were searching for. This disrespect is totally unnecessary. Why not stay positive with your comments instead of bashing someone over the head just because you had a different experience from theirs. Everyone has completely different experiences here and everywhere - I'm so very glad yours was great - and many people will agree with. Unfortunately Bigkahunabrew's wasn't.


That's how much you need to get over yourself that I said it twice. You douche.

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