You already know that Barbados is a remarkable blend of cultures. As a Caribbean island, it is home (or has played home) to a surprising range of people over the years. As one expert said, “with its eclectic mix of African, Indian, Irish, Creole and British influences,” it is an island that deserves special attention. This includes attention to its food, and the island’s status as a culinary capital in the entire region. As that same expert continued, this is not only due to its “many gastronomic restaurants but also all the distinctive Bajan specialties on offer, which are often best sampled in rum shops and street stands.”
That tells us that any traveler to Barbados is well-advised to give themselves an opportunity to sample a bunch of that street food, but also the various beach huts and shacks offering such amazing things as fish fries, conkie, mauby, roti, and so much more. Yet, you cannot miss out on some of the island’s hottest, most popular, and famous sit-down dining establishments. Below are three of the most highly rated and well-worth a visit.
Note that some are so well-known and famous that it is a good idea to book ahead before even your date of departure to ensure you get a table at the time you want. In fact, this is 100% true of our first recommendation.
Torchlit, Seaside Dining
The Cliff is, “one of the most famous restaurants in the Caribbean,” not just the island of Barbados but the entire region. This has to do equally with the amazing setting as well as the deliciousness of the food. It is above a cove where visitors can often glimpse stingrays meandering their way around the water. A flood of torches illuminate the scene and meals include an array of creative fusion dishes, signature desserts and more.
First course might include Thai red curry mussels or a carpaccio of tomatoes and goat cheese. Mains might include chargrilled dolphin fish (not the mammal but a popular fish taken from the local waters) or Cajun Salmon. Dessert might be the gingersnap basket or the daily jelly. And if you don’t get a table when you arrive, there is also the low-key and more casual Cliff Beach Club right next door serving dishes from the same kitchen!
There is only a single restaurant with “on the sands” dining, and it is Lonestar, which is actually part of a boutique hotel and restaurant on the island’s glorious Platinum (western) Coast. It is the place where celebrities go to see and be seen, and yet it also has a very laid back setting. It offers, “a fusion of European fare with Caribbean influences,” in addition to signature dishes.
It is family-friendly, too with a children’s menu and an array of wood-fired pizzas sure to satisfy even the most finicky eaters. The crowd at Sunday lunch is huge, so it is a good idea to book a table well in advance if that is the intended time of your visit. The Star Bar is home to some of the most famous and carefully made cocktails in the region as well, and a signature drink is a must.
Serving three meals a day, it is a perfect choice for almost any solo, couple, or group and the dinner menu is an impressive collection of that eclectic blend already mentioned. Enjoy asparagus gratinee or an assiette of seafood to start. Move on to one of the restaurant’s signature classics like their shredded duck or their shepherd’s pie.
Desserts are an event and include everything from banana doughnuts and a sticky toffee pudding to a coconut tart and an ice box cake.
This restaurant can be seen as a sort of casual but upscale option, but if you are eager for one of the island’s most opulent and popular among tourists and islanders alike, it would have to be Cin Cin By the Sea.
Platinum Coast Dining
Cin Cin By the Sea is situated along the island’s coveted west coast and is a favorite with almost anyone who appreciates fine food that reflects the island’s heritage and culture. It focuses primarily on a Mediterranean style menu, and offers fresh and innovative dishes in a gorgeous seaside setting. It is a relative newcomer and includes a lounge bar with sea views as well as the dining room area.
The menu is a no-nonsense affair and speaks plainly of the delicious cuisine at work. There are shrimp buns or vegetable fritto misto options to start, a chicken liver parfait or a pan-fried gnocchi with jerk pork among further appetizers. Main dishes include bouillabaisse, fresh market fish, and even seared fresh lochfyne scallops on Israeli cous cous.
So, whether you are eager for Mediterranean inspired, island fusion, or something else, these three restaurants are great options. They are popular and rather scenic, and yet they are well worth the planning to get a table. Don’t overlook all of that street food, and other recommended options like The Restaurant at Animal Flower Cave with its house made Shirley biscuits, Red Door Lounge with its amazing beverages, The Tides with its indoor and outdoor eating and signature bread pudding, Crumbz Bakery with its endless options for amazing pastries, Brown Sugar for Sunday Lunch, Bubba’s Sports Bar for its sliders, Champers for its mini fish cutters, and Oistins Fish Fry that is the most frequently recommended of all of the island’s fish stalls.
Can you eat your way from one end of Barbados to the other? Yes, and you are unlikely to have a negative experience, but particularly if you take the suggestions here and try the signature dishes that make Barbados the food capital of the Caribbean.