It may be known for its stunning beaches and hot Caribbean climate, but Barbados also offers a great food scene. A jug of spiced bagan, a delicious pasta pie, and sweet, crumbly coconut bread (or as the locals call it sweet bread) are just a few of the dishes you can expect in the land of flying fish. Here is our guide to where to go and what to eat in the culinary capital of the Caribbean.
Must try local sites
Nothing quite hits the spot like a traditional Bajan chopper: a thick Barbados sandwich made with pillowy Bajan salt bread and packed with succulent fillings, it doesn’t make for like a cob fish stand on the West Coast. This easy-to-spot bright blue shack is always lined with locals eager to get their hands on a flying saltfish cutter, but there’s a reason people stand in line. Choose a classic and enjoy thin slices of soft, savory bread stuffed with warm fish, lettuce, tomatoes and our special pink pepper sauce.
For more delicious bucket-list treats, head to RA Mapp in Bridgetown, a popular takeaway restaurant serving juicy grilled chicken with the same specialty spices that have been used for over 20 years. Other excellent local spots include Granny’s Restaurant in Oistins for Bajan and Creole classics, as well as Brown Sugar, located in a beautiful Barbadian heritage house, and serving an all-you-can-eat buffet of traditional Bajan food.
Street Food Classics
If you’re not quite fish-fried (impossible already), the outdoor Oistins Fish Fry on the South Coast is a must. Enjoy fresh fish grilled or fried cooked right in front of you to the sound of Bajan soca where locals and weekend tourists are welcomed with live music and dancing. They start serving food from about 6pm, but if you arrive early you can stroll along the pier and collect some scraps from local fishmongers to feed the turtles with. However, if you find yourself in Bridgetown, another meat you can’t miss is Waving Mate, home of classic Barbados bread bowls: croutons stuffed with minced fruit meat, and topped with the special garlic butter of Waving Mate. With different fillings like pickled pigtails and pulled pork.
If you prefer to stick to fine dining, or are looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion, the island also has its fair share of fine dining restaurants that promise an unforgettable experience. The first is the Champers located on Skeetes Hill in Hastings. This chic beachfront spot is located inside an old traditional Bagan house overlooking one side of the picturesque Accra Beach. You’re guaranteed to get mouth-watering, well-seasoned portions here, with dishes like oven-roasted barracuda and lobster tacos stealing the spotlight.
For oceanfront dining with 180-degree beach views, you can’t get much better than QP Bistro, a restaurant carved into a cliff on the West Coast. This distinctive establishment offers an international menu of dishes made with the highest quality ingredients, such as coconut shrimp and Baja burritos. The space itself is very private and was recently completely renovated; You’ll find private tables overlooking the Caribbean Sea, a luxurious cigar lounge and an elegant new menu headed by Michelin-starred Chef Matt Warswick.
Or for a chance to sample a plethora of delicious local dishes, head to Bajan Blue on Sandy Lane. This beachfront restaurant is known for its themed buffets, from the Sumptuous Sunday Brunch to the Taste of the West Indies dinner on Tuesdays. Seafood is also a specialty, with its Wild Caught Red Snapper bread, Madras Spiny Lobster Curry, and Salmon Sumo Crunch sushi among its many must-eat treats.
One way to really get to know the cuisine and culture of the destination is to attend a local food and drink festival. In this case, the most famous is the Barbados Food and Rum Festival. This annual event is a nod to Caribbean culture, creativity and cuisine, and is a celebration of all things rum. Sample some of the island’s best desserts before choosing a spot for fresh, delicious Caribbean food. Many restaurants across the island curate menus specifically for the event, from street food and alfresco fish fries to fine dining.
If you’re in Barbados when the Oistins Fish Festival, which is traditionally held on Easter, is taking place, it would be a crime not to go there. This vibrant festival honors all those who contribute to Barbados’ thriving fishing industry and beautifully captures the essence of Bagan culture. Here you can sip bottles of beer and punk jam to the tunes of reggae and traditional Bajan Tok before buying a souvenir or two at one of the many local handicraft stalls.
For more ideas and inspiration for your Bagan vacation and great deals on everything from accommodations to excursions and experiences, head over to Visit Barbados