Eating out is an essential part of any trip, but sometimes finding the best restaurants in Barbados to have a great and affordable meal requires research or experience. It can be tricky manoeuvring on the Caribbean cuisine scene for the first time, and fantastic food can sometimes be pricey! However, Barbados has a wide range of dining options to suit every palate and every pocket. In Barbados, an exciting mix of local, regional and international flavours are well represented throughout the island. Whether you're looking for a sophisticated five star, fine dining experience or more lowkey and comforting delights; here are a few of our foodie favourites.
The Bajan Way
Barbadian food or traditional Bajan food has a mix of both African and British influence, a testament to the history of our island. The African people who were brought to Barbados adapted recipes from their home to suit the resources available. Food crops were also brought and they included ground provisions & fruit trees which became staple ingredients in the culinary style of Barbadian food.
There are many traditions associated with eating in Barbados; Saturdays are usually designated for special meals such as pudding and souse or pigtails, Sundays are for elaborate spreads with family. And we have a series of festivals that satisfy the local foodie needs - the oldest being Oistins Fish Festival, dedicated to our fishing culture and the spectacular fish dishes prepared from locally caught fish.
Just in case you were wondering, the most popular dishes found in Barbados are cou cou and flying fish (the national dish), macaroni pie & baked chicken, pudding & souse, pigtails and fried or grilled fish. Further, the best restaurants in Barbados to sample these Bajan delights include the famous Sand Dunes Bar and restaurant in the breezy and beautiful St. Andrew countryside, Mustor’s Restaurant in Bridgetown as well as Marco Polos and Cutters of Barbados, both located in St. Philip.
The island has a plethora of varied styles of cuisine and dining experiences, each with something pleasant and exciting to offer. It's tough to grow tired with the many options made available by these restaurants, bars, small shops and canteens.
When thinking about seafood, Oistins automatically comes to mind. They “take the crown” for fresh, delicious fish. The preparation of fish caught in local waters is one of the most appealing charms of the stalls & shops in Oistins. However this authentic Bajan food flavour extends to several fishing villages across the island. In fact, many of these villages have seen dining spaces develop over time to offer the same warm friendly and infectious climate that Oistins has always been known for including Moontown and Six Men’s fishing villages. There the tastes of mahi mahi, flying fish and codfish among others, along with the casual, welcoming local atmosphere merge to create an authentic island vibe.
Fine dining establishments across the island also offer a wide range of seafood options including restaurants such as Seacat, Fishpot, Lobster Alive and Tides Restaurant where delicacies such as oysters, lobster and Mussels are prepared to absolute perfection.
Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten-Free
Even though there are few exclusively vegan restaurants in Barbados, there are several vegetarian and other establishments that offer vegan options. Ital food or “Rasta food” is as natural as it gets, and luckily there is an abundance of mobile and street vendors selling ital food around the island. Roots Reggae Vegetarian Cafe and the Good Life Cafe are both great examples of the Ital style cooking - offering lentil burgers, vegetable stews, bean and plantains, natural juices and scrumptious salads.
Conversely, more formal, upscale dining options are also available and include Champers Restaurant, Harlequin restaurant, Island Plates and Salt Cafe. These more established dining options provide a range of dietary choices, including gluten-free food.
The rich smoky flavours of grilled meats and vegetables, soft succulent meat falling from the bone and tantalising aromas can be found at many of our local eateries. Including Castaways Bar and Grill, Just Grillin, Sahara Arabi Grill and Falafel, Shakers and Sharkey's Grill. These are just a few of the places where you can get your hands on great grilled food. Apart from bars and grills, grilled food can be found on the menus of various other restaurants, as well as several street food vendor stalls like Cutters Bar & Grill, Baxters Road & Oistins.
Barbadians have a weakness for sweet treats, and this sweet tooth is evident in the number of bakeries, ice cream parlours and snack shops on the island. You can find guilty pleasures just about anywhere! Jam puffs, turn overs, doughnuts, cake, meat rolls, meat and veggie patties among other things can be found roadside or all across the island at Barbadian styled bakeries including Crumbs Bakery, Purity Bakery, Nicholls and others.
Further, there is no shortage of places to indulge in the creamy delight of ice cream or gelato as it is served at several locations as a part of their dessert menu. Others like R-tic Melt, Chilly Moos and Chillz Delight treats are exclusively ice cream parlours. Agapey Chocolate Factory Tours and Shop produces gourmet chocolate and is heaven for chocolate lovers. Other desert outlets include Pastry Box and Magnolias Chocolatier.
If you are visiting the island, it may quickly become evident that Bajans simply LOVE Chicken! And there is one fast-food chain that is exclusive to Barbados, is treasured by locals and visitors, and meets all our chicken needs - Chefette restaurants. With more than 10 locations island wide, Chefette is one of the most significant Barbadian fast food outlets. Revered by locals, as the best, reasonably priced place to grab delicious and easy meals. This successful franchise boasts signature fried chicken meals, an ice cream parlour, an array of pizzas or healthier options at the Barbeque barn section.
International Fast food chains are also present in Barbados if your appetite fancies something familiar and easily accessible; KFC, Burger King, Subway and Little Caesars Pizza have established franchises here and they have become popular among locals.
Other beloved fast food establishments include Chicken Barn, TNT Barbecue Hut, Just Grillin and R.A Mapps. Local pizzerias also pack a big punch, especially places such as Johno’s Pizza, Pizza Man Doc and De Clay Oven - they put a unique spins on pizza with mouthwatering results.
A World of Tastes in Barbados
Several restaurants in Barbados serve mouth watering international food and can take you on a journey from the islands around the world and back. The inclusivity of many of the dining options is a welcome feature that makes dining an easy affair. Notably, culinary delights are not the only things offered by restaurants in Barbados - entertainment is also featured through live music, karaoke, trivia, delightful decor and of course romantic island views.
Even though we are in Barbados, the colourful cuisine of Jamaica is well represented by restaurants such as Irie Foods, Jamaica 246 Restaurant, Olive’s Jamaican Cuisine, Jamaican Grill kitchen and Tastees’s Jamaican patties - which has become a Barbadian household favourite. Jamaican food is notably more spicy than Barbadian food, and their world-famous jerk chicken is usually a ‘hot topic’. Jerked food is where meats are specially prepared with a signature blend of spices to create heated flavours. The mouthwatering and intense island flavour is a trademark of the food at any of these restaurants. The traditional Jamaican menus may also include jerked pork, escovitch fish, curried goat, ackee and saltfish and Brown stew fish or chicken.
Over the past few years, Sushi, an acquired taste to some, has become a very popular dinner option for the Bajan populace. Bajans have traditionally had very cautious palates, being quite skeptical of the more unusual foods. However, this has not hindered the popularity of the incredible sushi restaurants Nishi, Naru, Bento Box, Zen Restaurant and Umi Asian Fusion. While sushi has begun to find its way onto several menus across the island, if you want to experience the freshest and most divine Sushi platters those are precisely the places to go.
Another beloved style of cooking appreciated by people around the world and in Barbados is Italian - delightful, fun and full of flavour. The renowned tastes are created by skilful hands at Tapas, Mama Mia’s, Mimosas and Buzo Osteria Italiana. These are the most authentic, and true to Italian tradition, foods prepared on the island. Gourmet pizza and exquisite pasta dishes are the highlights of these amazing restaurants.
Indian food is an integral feature of various Caribbean cultures; though it's not a significant part of Bajan culture when compared to neighbouring Caribbean islands like Trinidad. However, Barbadians do enjoy the spicy and earthy flavours of Indian food. Assortments of curried foods like chicken, fish, shrimp and beef, as well as rotis, channa and chutneys, are among the things that are readily available for you to try. The most outstanding Indian food establishments include Apsara Samuda - from dining to decor their food could have been plucked directly from India; Chutneys - for scrumptious rotis; Indian Grill a timeless classic; Tagore's Kebabs and last but not least Curries which embraces East Indian culture and cuisine through genuine flavours and textures. There are also small rotis shops like K’s Roti & Grill where you can take out food.
Most people appreciate a good Chinese meal; the unique flavours are enjoyable and distinctive. There are a few places that offer the traditional favourites and others that serve the more exotic and sophisticated dishes. In Barbados, the favourites include options like sweet and sour chicken, chow mein and fried rice, but there are those among us who also try to consume those menu items that are out of the ordinary. For that clientele, a variety of chicken, beef, soups, jiaozi (dumplings) and seafood like octopus are also available.
Some of the most highly recommended places to dine at for appetising Chinese include; Jade Garden Chinese restaurant located in Oistins which has the tastiest chicken chow mein, New China Garden in Speightstown, the most delicious fried wontons are served at Dragon house in lanterns mall along with an extensive variety of other great food and Wild East Wok in the food court at Sky Mall has the most mouth-watering spring rolls. What will you discover when you venture to China?
We encourage you not only to experience Barbados through its history, sights and culture but through taste. Don't be shy; treat your tastebuds to a culinary adventure! Immerse yourself in the essence of Barbadian culture and history through colourful presentations and intoxicating flavours. Always keeping in mind that food is one of the best ways to experience a different culture.