Eating My Way Through Kingston, Jamaica

Kingston is home to Jamaica’s finest dining scene, and you can get food from many of the world’s most distinct cuisines– Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, West African, Greek, French and of course, Jamaican cuisine. I try to eat in much more than I dine out because it’s cheaper, healthier and I like knowing what went into my food, how, and how long ago it was prepared. I also enjoy cooking even if I don’t get the time to do so as often as I’d like. I’ve been cooking more since coronavirus though and you can see what I’ve been up to in the kitchen here. That being said, once in a while I love dining out! Something about having food made for me by someone who makes a living from cooking and in a different ambiance from my humble abode gets me excited. I often find myself going back to old favourites– those places which have never let me down– but trying new places can be fun too. Here’s a list of my five favourite restaurants in Kingston, and five more I’m excited to try once it’s safe to dine out once more.

1. Tamarind Indian Cuisine (πŸ“Shop #28, Orchid Village Plaza, Liguanea) Tamarind is my favourite restaurant in Kingston, hands down. A lovely ambiance, delicious food which has never disappointed, great portions, reasonable prices and excellent customer service, I have absolutely no complaint with this place except maybe too extensive a menu if that’s even a valid point to have. They specialize in Indian and Asian-fusion cuisine, they have extensive vegan options and their sister restaurant Saffron in Marketplace is equally as exceptional. My favourite dishes are their sweet & sour chicken, butter chicken and garlic naan. Yum!

2. South Avenue Grill (πŸ“20A South Avenue, Kingston 10) This elegant poolside dining spot serves up local and international fare. My favourite dish is certainly their savoury succulent baby back ribs! Their menu is a bit pricey and walk-in dining during peak hours on weekends may leave you with a lengthy wait for seating but otherwise, South Avenue Grill has earned its place as one of my favourite places to dine in Kingston.

selective focus photography of beef steak with sauce

3. Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records (πŸ“67 Constant Spring Road, Market Place) Sports-bar vibes meet delectable authentic local cuisine and memorable cocktails, Ubtandr for short is a must-stop on the Kingston night scene for couples, friends and families alike. Their dishes range from a jerk platter with the heat and flavour profile unique to Jamaica, juicy ox-tail and curried goat, to other crowd favourites like their pastas and the U-burger, the U coming from you-guessed-it: Usain Bolt, the 8-time gold medalist for whom the restaurant is named. Ubtandr has earned a place in the hearts and bellies of Jamaicans and fans of Jamaican cuisine across the island and in the UK, its only location overseas to date.

hamburger and fries photo

4. Chilitos JaMexican Food (πŸ“88 Hope Road, Kingston 6) Chilitos is that restaurant which will always have a place in my heart no matter how long the waiting time for to-go burritos on Burrito Fridays gets, no matter how pricey the tacos get or how long the wait is at the bar for my margarita on Margarita Mondays. Why? Well, I like to think that I grew up with the place. I attended high school just up the road at 105 Hope Road to be exact, so the occasional after-school Friday treat and hang-out spot with my friends and  during Restaurant Week was Chilitos. Over the past decade I’ve seen their customers grow in both quantity and affluence, and their dingy but somehow cozy location has been replaced for a glitzier one with a rustic trendy finish. They stay true to the Mexican theme but with a Jamaican flair, and if you’re craving tacos, burritos, chimichangas, quesadillas or my favourite go-to cocktail: a margarita, Chilitos is your best bet!

5. Pepperwood Jerk (πŸ“Chelsea Avenue, New Kingston) I’ve eaten at several jerk joints in Kingston, and Pepperwood usually gets it right the most. Spicy and succulent jerk pork and chicken are their most popular dishes and are served with sides of bammy (cassava cakes), festival (fried dough, slightly sweet), breadfruit, roasted sweet potato or hard-dough bread. It’s always exciting unwrapping the foil and being greeted with that irresistible aroma of jerk over pimento wood. Their prices are reasonable, wait-time isn’t usually too unbearable and there’s no table service charge or tips required as you order, collect your meal then dine, similar to the set-up at a fast food restaurant. I especially love the rustic feel of the restaurant with wooden tables and benches by several gazebos nestled among the foliage of verdant shrubs and trees.

Restaurants I’m Looking Forward to Trying

1. Sora Japanese Cuisine (πŸ“9-11 Phoenix Avenue, off Hope Road) Sora is the first restaurant I plan to visit once indoor dining is allowed again. Something about dining open-air on a rooftop under the night sky sounds so alluring, and where better for me to try sushi for the first time? E-x-c-i-t-e-d! I’ve heard nothing but good reviews about Sora.

asian food bowl chopsticks cooking

2. F&B Downtown (πŸ“107 Harbour Street) Food and Beverage Downtown, or F&B for short, is located in the centre of the capital city’s reviving art and culture district. Enjoying fine dining alongside fine jewelry and art is the main selling point of this restaurant, and I think a place which manages to do that successfully is certainly a must-see. They offer a wide variety of cuisines, including local, Italian and Asian dishes. Also, F&B is the monthly meeting point for the Kingston ArtWalk, an event which showcases the best of Downtown Kingston’s street-art.

3. Chive Restaurant (πŸ“Shop 15, Orchid Village Plaza, Liguanea) A restaurant I’m excited to try mainly from social media, I hope I’m not left disappointed like I have been at several other food establishments I’ve only heard about this way. Their marketing team is truly top notch; you should see their Instagram account! The restaurant looks gorgeous and romantic with soft lighting and sleek decor, and the food which includes both local and international cuisine looks very tasty. I hope to enjoy a dinner-for-2 here some time later this year.

blur close up cutlery dining

4. Cafe Africa (πŸ“2 Trafalgar Road, New Kingston) Jamaican cuisine is heavily influenced by our African heritage, but sadly there are few places in Jamaica to enjoy authentic dishes from the Motherland. Well, at Cafe Africa, eastern Africa meets western African cuisine and you can enjoy dishes from over 20 countries on the continent. If it’s anything like the jollof rice and puff-puffs I’ve eaten from a Nigerian roommate and another colleague thus far, I have reason to be excited. Yum-meee!

5. Moby Dick (πŸ“3 Orange Street, Downtown) I’m convinced the best food in Jamaica comes from the places without an online presence. Word-of-mouth is enough to keep business booming and Moby Dick is one such place. If you ask any Jamaican where have they had the best jerk in Jamaica, they’d tell you Boston in Portland and similarly if you ask where to get the best curry chicken or curry goat and roti, you’d hear Moby Dick in response. I absolutely love anything curried, so it’s about time I visit the place which is often touted as having the best.

Wrap Up

I hope you don’t mind me veering off topic a bit since I really have no new outdoor adventures to share, so I’m sharing other experiences, opinions and ideas in the mean time until that fateful day when it’s safe to resume exploring my island home once more. How are you coping during this pandemic? Let’s chat.

Also, do tell. Which restaurants are your favourites in Kingston and why?  I’d love to hear from you. If there are any topics you’d love me to write about  as well, feel free to share too.

Read next: 10 things to do at Devon House besides eat ice cream.

Ten things to do at Devon house

Catch Elle on FacebookPinterest and Instagram. Also, help us reach 500 followers on Facebook by liking the page! πŸ™‚ Thank you.

‘Til next time! ✌🏽 Walk good.

Published by

Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle

Adventures from Elle is a blog for locals & visitors who want to experience the best of Jamaica, one adventure at a time. Also a budget travel blog, Adventures from Elle is written by Rochelle Knight, a junior doctor who began this blog as a student & wants to see the world, starting with her own country. She frequents off-the-beaten-path waterfalls, beaches and places with interesting history. Join her in Jamaica!

22 thoughts on “Eating My Way Through Kingston, Jamaica

    1. Thank you! You could be right. πŸ˜€ There are very few major world cuisines not offered in Jamaica, even if you have to search a bit to find some.

      I haven’t heard of suya before so I looked it up. It looks really delicious and the process is similar, except jerk isn’t done on skewers. That and maybe the spices are different too but otherwise, yup. Very similar. In fact, while the technique of jerking comes from our Amerindian pre-Colombian heritage, I suspect the flavours could be similar between jerk and suya too because we’re heavily influenced by West Africa since that’s where most Jamaicans descend from. Thanks for stopping by and sharing Amarachi! πŸ™‚

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    1. Is it bad I didn’t even know they had vegetarian tacos on the menu? Sorry to hear about your disappointment.. my last disappointment was me still feeling hungry after 3 tacos and nearly $1,000 on Taco Tuesday, plus a long wait time on top of it so I haven’t been back in about a year. I love tacos and quesadillas though so I get my fix from making them at home. πŸ™‚ I’ll be back someday though eventually. Chilitos has a special spot in my heart and I always love their Restaurant week menu and beergaritas.

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    2. Haha, nope. Mine are though. I use veggie mince and make vegan tacos. I don’t even use cheese. I ran out of cheese once and made tacos anyway and didn’t miss it. I try to do things like that. If I can cut out an ingredient, I do. It’s amazing the extra crap we shove into our meals that we can do without!

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  1. Fingers crossed you get to try that sushi real soon! We are looking forward to a very special dinner on Monday night (there is no quarantine in Cambodia). The owner comes from a little island called La Reunion, so the dishes are a combination of Creole cuisine from his native island and Asian flavors.

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    1. I hope so too! I take it you love sushi then? How are things in Cambodia since there’s no quarantine? Jamaica has began having community spread, not just sporadic imported cases, and our ventilators/ICU spaces are few so self-imposed quarantine and only leaving home for absolute essentials like getting medications from the pharmacy or groceries at a market or supermarket are the only things “allowed”, but for now the government is trusting us to use our own discretion. Many people have still been going about their regular day as if nothing is happening, but sometimes it’s not easy for everyone to stay home. Not everyone’s work can be done online e.g. farmers, fishermen, vendors, drivers etc. and if they don’t leave home, then they can’t earn anything.

      Anyway, that sounds great. Trying new food from other cultures is always exciting. I hope you have a lovely time, and thanks for visiting my blog! πŸ™‚

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    2. Officially, Cambodia has seen only about 120 infections since the beginning of the outbreak, mostly cluster infections, and no deaths so far. However, we are mostly staying inside and venture out on rare occasions (supermarket runs, pharmacy visits and couple of times a week we eat out or go for a coffee). Lot of places had to close down due to the abrupt end of the tourist season which is very sad. We try to support those who manage to stay open. This was basically the inspiration behind my new series of travel articles about the cafes and restaurants of Siem Reap. Sorry to hear about the situation worsening in Jamaica. These are such hard times. I know you are a frontline worker, hence I wish you all the best. Stay safe. P.S. Sushi is great, you’ll love it!

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  2. Ha! Pepperwood Jerk is popularly called suya across Nigeria and it can be made in variants like Chicken, Beef and Pork like you mentioned. Over here, it is usually garnished with pepper, cucumbers and onions. Very yummy too.
    Any African themed restaurants in Kingston? Just maybe you’ve heard of Jollof Rice.

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    1. Oh that’s interesting! Thanks for sharing. There’s Cafe Africa which is on the list of restaurants I’d love to try later this year, but unfortunately that’s the only one which comes to mind. They make dishes from over 20 African countries, so I’m sure they’ll have a good jollof rice. πŸ™‚ I’ve had it twice from Nigerians I’ve met during my studies.

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  3. This is a lovely change as I salivate in anticipation of trying some those places you mentioned. Unfortunately, being from way up in the hills of Manchester, I haven’t had the chance to try any of those although I do venture out every chance I get when in Kingston. A few of those eateries are now on my list for sure. Thanks for highlighting those locations for us.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! You’re most welcome. My next post is actually going to be about the eateries in Mandeville as I’ve been living here for several months now. Admittedly, their restaurant scene pales in comparison to Kingston but there are still several options which make a good excuse to leave the house once in a while for lunch or dinner. Perhaps you could dine at a place closer to home in case you don’t get around to Kingston, but if you do I’m sure you’d love several of these spots. Take care and stay safe!

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  4. Oh take me with youuuuu! Especially Chive and Moby Dick! I’ve been to Chive on the first day they opened couple years back for Restaurant Week and I was not disappointed. Yes! Theyre IG is awesome, I could literally eat the meals off the phone screen if I could!

    Sora… I love that place! Hands down best service and food for Japanese cuisine. Love them! Chilitos for JaMexican food is a must! If I could eat there weekly, I would! Its been a while for Pepperwood and I have a longstanding craving for some good jerked pork…sooo….

    You have selected the top notch in the dining industry here. A few more could be added to my take on this list, but I love your selections!!! Sure to have a fantastic experience at any and all of these places!

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    1. Thank you so much Vanessa! Now I’m more excited for Chive and Sora. πŸ™‚ Perhaps we could make a blogger date out of one of these options. I can’t wait until it’s safe to start dining out again once more. Trying new restaurants is a pasttime I never appreciated as much until it was gone.

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