Island Foodie Tour: A Guide to Iconic Dishes from the Caribbean

The Caribbean is one of those places worth visiting simply because of the food. Because when the cuisine is that good, the rest is just a bonus. Palm trees - nice. White sandy beaches - great, love them. But doughy dumplings, spicy shrimp soup, sun-drenched mangoes and creamy callaloo - all prepared with fresh island ingredients? Now that's real bucket-list stuff.

Best Islands in the Caribbean for Food Lovers

Ranking Caribbean islands by their cuisine is a dangerous game.

Trini’s will back their baigan choka and sada roti, Dominicans will vouch for their sancocho (meaty, peppery, deeply iconic), and Jamaicans will come after anyone with a beef patty who dares to disagree that their food comes first.

We’re not here to take sides.

The truth is, many of the most iconic Caribbean dishes can be found on multiple islands. Each Caribbean country also has its own unique food culture with a few standout dishes that serve visitors a taste of each island.

Island Foodie Tour

Doubles — Trinidad & Tobago

A simple but sensational street-food, doubles are loved all over Trinidad and Tobago.

Made with two small fried rotis (bara) and a generous dollop of curried chickpeas (channa), they're served on a waxed paper wrapper that fits perfectly in the palm of your hand. Chewy and slightly spicy, this is an amazing comfort food.

You'll find them served with tamarind chutney, green mango chutney, spicy pepper sauce, cucumber and coconut and more. A humble Caribbean delicacy.

Food Inspiration for when travelling in Trinidad and Tobago: @foodnationtt

Oil down — Grenada

Oil down is a famous Grenadian stew and the island's national dish.

The stew is made from a medley of Caribbean superfoods: breadfruit, pig's tail, callaloo, dumplings, salted meat or fish, coconut milk and a ton of spices and herbs. The name comes from the flavoursome coconut oil that's produced when the stew is cooked down.

Oil down is also more than just a dish, as when the mood strikes, islanders will host "an oil down" -  a community cook-up on the beach or street that turns into a party. One big pot of oil down is cooked outside on an open flame for everyone to share.

For a sweet treat: Nutmeg trees are everywhere in Grenada. It's a spice that defines the island and the local nutmeg ice cream is a must-try.

Habichuelas con dulce — Dominica

From savoury stews to sweet ones - habichuelas con dulce is a totally unique dessert stew, native to the island of Dominica.

Traditionally eaten around the Easter period, or what the locals call Cuaresma, "habichuelas con dulce" translates to "sweet beans". The combination of red beans with sweet potatoes, coconut milk, condensed milk, sugar, raisins, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves is what creates this dish. Finished with milky Dominican biscuits  - it's normally prepared in huge pots and ladled into mugs to be shared with neighbours and family members,

Lambis — Martinique

For a true Caribbean seafood experience, go to Martinique and try lambis - the creole name for sea snails

From casseroles to crêpes, Lambis pops up in quite a few of the island's dishes. To truly experience their full flavour order them as "brochette de lambis", aka skewered sea snails! Grilled on an open flame and drizzled with lime juice, parsley and chilli, you'll be in for a real Martinique culinary experience.

Drink this: Ti’-Punch is a very Martinican cocktail. It's made from the island's legendary liquor, rhum agricole, which is distilled with fresh cane juice.

Cocoa tea and hot bakes — St. Lucia

Image Source: The Star, St Lucia

Cocoa is grown all over the island of St. Lucia, and it's the special ingredient for this sensational St. Lucian breakfast: cocoa tea and hot bakes.

The hot bakes are basically fried dough (heavenly and highly dunkable) while the cocoa tea is a combination of local ingredients: cocoa, vanilla, nutmeg, bay leaves and cinnamon.Keep your eye out for an equally delicious variation of this dish: cocoa tea and dumplings, where flour dumplings are stirred into the tea, soaking up the chocolatey goodness.

Make it yourself: Brew your own cocoa team at home with this recipe.

Flying fish & Cou Cou — Barbados

Image source: Everything Paulette

Bajan cuisine is represented by flying fish and cou cou - the island's national dish.

Native to Barbados, flying fish is seen as a symbol of the country and found on coins, logos, and local artwork. Cou cou is a Caribbean version of polenta, made by combining cornmeal and okra until they bind into what can best be described as a very tasty lump!

Here is a round-up of the best street food spots in Barbados.

Ackee and Saltfish — Jamaica

You can't say you've experienced Jamaican cuisine until you've scoffed a plate of ackee and saltfish.

Eaten for breakfast, brunch or whenever you please, it's the national dish of Jamaica and made by combining the delicate ackee fruit (which originally looks like this), with salted codfish, scotch bonnet and spices.

Snack Shoutout: Beef patties (go to Tastee’s)

Watch an epic Jamaican street food tour here.

Blan Manje — Haiti

Image source: tchakayiti

Blan manje is a classic Haitian dessert found in bakeries across the island. It can be made in many different ways, but the foundation of this dish is always coconut. Vanilla and nutmeg are also normally incorporated, and adding a splash of rum to the dessert is not uncommon.

If there is one dessert that gives you a big tropical taste of Haiti, it's this.

Conch Fritters — Bahamas

Conch Fritters are a beloved Bahamian snack. Even though they're found all over the Caribbean, the Bahamas are the proud birthplace of these ever-so-flavoursome little nuggets which are made from frying conch meat in batter.

Locally loved and crunchy in all the right places, you'll be tempted to pocket some for the flight home.

Check out the conch king of the Bahamas:

Top foods to try in the Caribbean

You'll find certain foods all around the Caribbean. Keep an eye out for these:

  • Johnny Cakes - a tasty cornmeal flatbread.
  • Accra - delicious fritters that are normally made with saltfish.
  • Fried plantains - sweet, gooey, order extra.
  • Breadfruit - boiled, fried, roasted, baked, a true Caribbean staple.

Starting from Skratch? Here Are a Few Tips to Get Started:

Iconic Island Dishes

Trinidad & Tobago

🇹🇹 Doubles


🇩🇲 Habichuelas con dulce


🇧🇸 Conch Fritters


🇯🇲 Ackee and Saltfish


🇧🇧 Flying fish & Cou Cou

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Amy Drayton
August 30, 2023
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