10 Cuisines to Enjoy in Kingston, Jamaica

Do you want to travel the world but don’t have a lot of money to do so currently? Well, let me let you in on a secret. A good restaurant is like a vacation. Its food can transport you to another part of the world. I’m not discounting that the best place to eat authentic food is in the actual country of course, however it is still possible to get food close to the real thing nearer to home. That’s especially true in Jamaica which has a melting post of cultures– a legacy of our colonial past as well as a recent booming culture of expatriates and internationally trained chefs settling in Kingston. Here are ten international cuisines you can enjoy in Kingston without a passport.

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Cuisines Included

  1. Chinese
  2. Japanese
  3. Indian
  4. Trinidadian
  5. Greek
  6. Lebanese
  7. Pan African
  8. Thai
  9. French
  10. Mexican

1. Chinese Food

Jamaica’s Chinese heritage dates back to the 1800s where Chinese indentured labourers were imported to replace the labour force after slavery was abolished. Chinese Jamaicans only constitute 0.2% of the population, however there’s a strong Chinese presence in the Jamaican restaurant and culinary scene. There are dozens of Chinese restaurants in Kingston and across Jamaica. Some are formal à la carte restaurants, while others serve fast food. Their portions are generally quite large, making Chinese restaurants a hit for Jamaicans. Several also offer dim sum on Sundays in true Cantonese style. A good Chinese dumpling, chow mein, congee, wonton soup, sweet and sour pork, Peking duck or spring roll is sure to transport you to China.

  • À La Carte: Dragon Court, Taurus Garden, Taurus Court, Ming Cuisine, Jade Garden, China Garden, China Express and Northside Kitchen are the most popular ones.
  • Fast Food: Tsang Fast Food Restaurant, Sakura Express, Little Tokyo and Yao.
  • Dim Sum: Dragon Court (personal favourite), Ming Cuisine, Jade Garden.
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2. Japanese Food

The most recognizable Japanese dish is sushi but there are many more Japanese foods to try. A bowl of ramen, udon, soba, sashimi or tempura is sure to please. Have a glass of saké, a sweet Japanese alcohol made from fermented rice, to accompany your meal. Enjoy these Japanese dishes right here in Kingston at the following restaurants:

  • Oceano in Marketplace ($$$)
  • East Japanese: New Kingston at 30 Dominica Drive, HQ on Constant Spring Road, Annex on Lady Musgrave Road and Majestic in Stony Hill.
  • Sora Japanese Cuisine (temporarily closed, Barbican Road)

“Food is the central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.”

– Mark Kurlansky

3. Indian Food

Indian cuisine is vibrant and spicy, making it another Jamaican favourite. Like the Chinese, East Indians also came to Jamaica as indentured workers after the abolition of slavery. Therefore, curries such as curry chicken and goat are apart of Jamaican cuisine. However, these authentic restaurants will give you a virtual trip to India with their delicious samosas, naans, butter chicken and masala.

  • Tamarind in Orchid Village Plaza (my favourite restaurant in Jamaica), and its sister restaurant Saffron at Marketplace
  • Nirvana on Lady Musgrave Road
  • Pushpa’s
  • Tandoor
  • Little India (great for takeout)
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4. Trinidadian Food

Doubles from Tawah Restaurant

If any Caribbean country had to beat Jamaica in the category of “Most Delicious Food”, it could be Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad is even more of a melting pot than Jamaica with an almost even number of African and East Indian descendants. As a result, they have even greater Indian influence in their cuisine and Indian food almost monopolizes the street food scene in Trinidad. Their dishes include doubles, aloo (potato) pies, pholourie, dhalpuri and paratha roti. There’s also bake and shark, corn pie and macaroni pie. This is a full list of Trini foods to try from my 2019 visit, but thankfully you don’t have to travel across the Caribbean Sea to get Trini food. Get it in Kingston at:

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5. Greek Food

Greek cuisine is founded on the Mediterranean triad of wheat, olive oil and wine. Greek cuisine also features lots of vegetables, fish, poultry, veal, beef, lamb, pasta, cheese, lemon juice, fresh herbs, olives and yogurt. Opa is the only Greek restaurant in Jamaica to date, located at Devon House in St. Andrew. Their menu features a Jamaican twist and popular dishes include pizzas, penne pasta, souvlaki, pastitsio, a Greek salad and the lamb gyro burger. Close off dinner with Greek baklava.

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6. Lebanese Food

Jamaica has a thriving Lebanese community. Most arrived in the 19th century from not only modern day Lebanon, but also Syria and Palestine, having fled their homeland due to religious persecution under Ottoman rule. Many have established businesses and gone on to become very affluent members of Jamaican society. The Lebanese share their food with us at four main restaurants in Kingston. Lebanese food includes tabbouleh, chickpeas, falafel, kibbeh and gyros.

  • Beirut Mediterranean Cuisine in Marketplace (personal favourite)
  • Chez Maria, delightful rooftop restaurant in Liguanea
  • Aladdin Restaurant in Liguanea Plaza (temporarily closed)
  • Y Not Pita

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”

– James Beard

7. Pan African Food

For a country with 91% West African descendants, it’s surprising that there’s only one restaurant which serves African food. Anyway, Café Africa serves authentic pan African food and is located on Trafalgar Road in New Kingston. An affordable way of experiencing the Motherland, Café Africa serves decadent dishes such as Gambian domoda, Mozambican piri piri chicken, Kenyan bunny chow, South African chakalaka and Ugandan matoke to name a few. You can easily tour half of the continent with Café Africa. They’re only offering takeout currently but I’ll update this post the very second indoor dining resumes.

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8. Thai Food

Kingston’s first Thai restaurant is opening later this year and I cannot wait to try it out. According to the Jamaica Observer: “Orchid Thai Pad Thai and several specialty dishes from the northern and southern parts of Thailand will be offered. These specialty dishes include Chiang Mai Khao Soi (Curry Noodle Soup) and curries from the south.” The restaurant will be located in Orchid Village Plaza.

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9. French Food

Experience the joie de vivre of the French at Eleni’s Bakery, located in the Sovereign North Plaza in Liguanea. Eleni’s has an intertwined local, continental and French menu, with the French offerings including the croque madame, quiches, crepes, croissants, macaroons and eclairs. Other places in Kingston which serve crepes include Tea Tree Creperie on Lady Musgrave Road and Crepe House Ja at Devon House Shop #23.

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10. Mexican Food

Ackee and plantain burrito wrapped in foil
An ackee and plantain burrito

Chilitos JaMexican Restaurant, located at 88 Hope Road, is a Jamaican and Mexican fusion restaurant. They serve tacos, nachos, burritos, burrito bowls, enchiladas, chimichangas and churros. Chilitos is one of my favourite Jamaican restaurants. The food is always good, and the crowd is trendy, vibrant and bohemian. The ambience is rustic and brought alive by bright orange paint and murals. Let’s not forget their drinks! I have a weakness for Chilitos margaritas– they make the best margaritas I’ve ever had.

Wrap Up

Bookmark or pin this post for elegant restaurant ideas in Kingston, Jamaica. How many of these cuisines have you tried? I love food and believe it has an incredible ability to transport us to bygone eras, connect us with our ancestors and travel the world. While nothing beats trying the dish in the country, food has allowed me to visit more countries than I currently have stamped in my passport. I still have 3 more countries from this list to visit through food. Bon Appetit! Remember to subscribe for new adventures and check out my Amazon store.


‘Til next time.


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Published by

Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle

Adventures from Elle is a travel blog for locals & visitors who want to experience the best of Jamaica, one adventure at a time. The blog is curated by Rochelle Knight, a junior resident (M.D.) in internal medicine and published author. She began the blog in 2016 as a medical student & wants to see the world, starting with her home country. Purchase her book 'SIGHTSEE JAMAICA' on Amazon and join her in Jamaica!

13 thoughts on “10 Cuisines to Enjoy in Kingston, Jamaica

  1. I’m a huge foodie, and Jamaica is the ultimate foodie paradise, according to your post! Super happy to see a notable Chinese/Japanese influence, and I’d be keen on trying the Pan-African cuisine (which I can’t get as readily in Los Angeles, actually!). So much to taste that it’d take a lifetime to try them all out– hope you can, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rebecca! I’m shocked by that. I guess the demand for African cuisine isn’t that great, but hopefully that changes eventually. I’ve only had Nigerian food so far from Nigerian colleagues and it was great! Our Chinese influence is definitely strong. They’re a small group but their presence is far-reaching 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m completely in love with the idea of traveling the world through your palate. This was a clever idea for a post. As a foodie I’m proud to say I was familiar with most of the featured cuisines and associated restaurants but you did surprise me with the Pan African and Thai cuisine. I’ve always wanted to try jollof rice. A newbie you could consider too is South American/ Venezuelan cuisine from Arepa House.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I planned to include them when I first had the article idea, but unfortunately they closed indefinitely 😦 In fact, I’m still disappointed I didn’t get to visit and try their arepas before they closed. Hopefully they’ll eventually reopen their doors. Thanks for stopping by, Candi!

      Like

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