I spent the last four days exploring the island of Barbados working on a project to discover the best Barbados restaurants and a local view on what made the island so special.
But I know it won’t be my last.
While the island itself is beautiful, what struck me the most was the sincerity of the people.
Barbadian Food: 23 Bajan Dishes You Must Try
I’ve traveled to a lot of places that depend on tourism for their economy and people are friendly everywhere. But sincerity is something you can’t manufacture.
Barbadians, or Bajans as they call themselves, have a small town culture.
When you walk by someone on the street it’s expected that you say good morning. When you enter a small bar, you greet everyone.
Coming from a small town myself, I really missed this when I moved to big city Toronto.
Yet Barbados has that small town friendliness with the food culture you want of an urban city.
It’s widely considered to be the culinary capital of the Caribbean and its also the birthplace of rum.
I arrived in Barbados with 46 things to eat in Barbados. It was a pretty daunting task so in between interviewing local ambassadors about their home.
My kind hosts at Barbados Tourism took the extra effort to stop by traditional Bajan food joints so I could cross as many items off my list as possible.
Barbados Restaurants Locals Love
My trip included meeting a diverse cross section of Bajans with lots to say about Barbados.
From Chelsea Roett competitive surfer, to DJ Puffy who plays all over the world, to Lesley Chapman-Andrews Ms. Universe Barbados.
Then the experts came in with Mixologist Shane McClean and Chef Damian Leach but my driver also chipped in with his own thought that I had so many great suggestions.
Then I took a downtown Bridgetown food tour with Lickrish Food Tours that blew me away with so many great local Barbados restaurants.
Yet no matter who I spoke to all their accolades there was such a sense of humbleness and sincerity.
Someone told me that Barbados has the highest rate of return year after year in the Caribbean and I can absolutely see why.
I didn’t eat all 46 items on my list. I missed so many great Barbados restaurants but that just gives me a reason to go back.
But it did give me a great sense of where to eat in Barbados. I had so many people giving me advice on where to get traditional Bajan food.
I didn’t have a single bad meal but here’s what I learned.
Oistins Friday Fish Fry – Pat’s Place
I listed Oistins first because it is the most obvious answer for where to eat in Barbados.
The Friday Night Fish Fry is an iconic event in Barbados and everyone goes.
Held on one side of a small street in Oistins, there are tables upon tables of people eating fresh fish hot off the grill.
It can be chaotic but in a delicious way. At the centre of it all is a stage with local music and lots of people dancing.
I spoke to Rosita Precod-Bartlett, owner of Pat’s Place (named after her mother who owned it originally) and she shared that you can actually make reservations at Pat’s, just call ahead.
If you’re not in Barbados on a Friday don’t worry Pat’s Place is open all week.
Oistin’s Main Road, Oistins
Open seven days a week 6pm-2am
Home to the 2018 Chef of the Year Damien Leach and the Junior Chef of the Year.
However, it’s located on the South Coast where the food is stellar but the expectation is a lower price tag.
On this side of the island you’ll get incredible food without the fine dining atmosphere. It’s perfect for a night out on a girls trip.
The menu is very approachable but also has lots of interesting local food like Barbadian lamb – did you know Barbados has its own lamb?
Neither did I. It’s not easy to get but Cocktail Kitchen has it.
Chef Leach recommends the pina colada catch, featured above: pan seared catch crusted with coconut, pineapple and cilantro, accompanied with ginger & scotch bonnet sweet potato puree, vanilla braised plantain cream, coriander emulsion, pickled pineapple and beets.
St. Lawrence Gap, Bridgetown BB15018
Open 7 days a week 5pm-12:30pm
This was my favourite spot on the island because I think most people miss it yet all the locals rave about it.
While everyone is jammed in for the Friday night fish fry, Granny’s Restaurant is tucked away across the street with a steady stream of locals.
It’s been a mainstay of Creole and traditional Bajan food for over 30 years first serving fishermen from the market down the street and local students.
I met DJ Puffy after I visited and he was so excited about talking about Granny’s I really wish I had gone with him.
Today the restaurant hasn’t changed much and many of the dishes are still based on Granny Walcott’s recipes.
If you’re adventurous you must try the famous deep fried chicken necks, gizzards and livers served with amazing Bajan hot sauce.
I loved the chicken necks, liked the chicken gizzards but I’ve never been a fan of liver.
Personally I think this is one of the must-visit Barbados restaurants to get a sense of the local Bajan cuisine.
Oistins Main Road, Oistins
Open Monday-Saturday 10:30am-10pm, closed Sundays
Brown Sugar Restaurant
Just steps from the beach is a beautiful heritage Barbadian home serving an incredible all-you-can-eat planter’s buffet lunch.
If you’re looking to sample local Creole and Bajan food this is a great opportunity as there is everything from kid friendly macaroni pie to traditional Bajan pudding and souse.
It was one of the Barbados restaurants buffets with the most traditional Bajan food so if you’re looking to try everything Brown Sugar is a great place to start.
Bay St, Bridgetown, Barbados
Open Sunday-Thursday 12pm-9:30pm, Friday 12-2:30pm, Saturday 6-9:30pm
Tapestry is located on the Platinum Coast of Barbados, also known as where celebrities such as Rhianna and Simon Cowell own homes.
While it’s at the adult only Treasure Beach Hotels, it isn’t like a typical hotel restaurant.
Sure there is the impressive wine cellar, handcrafted signature cocktails and themed dinners but what struck me most was Chef Javon Cummins.
Although he’s won many awards as a chef and for his dessert (insider’s note: most chefs refuse to “do” dessert and often offload it to a pastry chef) he’s actually quite soft spoken and thoughtful.
Although there are tables with an oceanfront view, the best seats look into Tapestry’s open kitchen.
While there’s no Gordon Ramsay-like yelling and screaming it’s still the best view.
Above is Chef Cummings fine dining interpretation of pudding and souse and it reminded me so much of eating at Chef Massimo Botturo’s Osteria Francescana. Botturo was initially rejected by locals for his modern take on traditional Italian food.
Cummings took the most traditional Bajan dish and while most locals would never recognize his dish, my dining partner, a self-proclaimed pudding and souse aficionado proclaimed it had all the notes and flavour of the traditional Bajan dish.
While I travel for traditional food I really appreciate chefs who try to interpret the classics. It’s worth coming here at the end of a trip after trying the classic Bajan dish.
Treasure Beach Hotel Paynes Bay, Saint James 00000
+1 (246) 419-4200
Open for dinner every day 7pm-9:30pm
I first visited the East Coast of Barbados to see surfer Chelsea Roett in Bathsheba and I immediately fell in love with this side of the island.
It reminds me a lot of Maui, especially on the road to Hana.
The views are spectacular and Atlantis overlooks the water. While it’s a fine dining restaurant it’s most well known for its West Indian Buffet Lunch on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Normally a buffet doesn’t tempt me as I’m not one for all-you-can-eat but this is more of a fine dining meets buffet experience with Bajan and Caribbean cuisine.
But don’t expect tired food under hot lights. Say yes to the server who offers to bring fish cakes (some of the best on the island) then head to the buffet which features hot stations to order and lots of healthy salads
Atlantis Hotel Dining
Tent Bay, St. Joseph
Breakfast: 8am-10am, Lunch: 12pm-3:30pm, West Indian Buffet Lunch: Wednesdays and Sundays, Dinner: 5pm-8pm Monday thru Saturday
Cuz’s Fish Shack
Next to Oistins this is often the most recommended restaurant in Barbados, although it’s not so much of a restaurant but a fish shack off the beach, which is known for its fish cutters.
A Bajan cutter is like a ѕаndwiсh made with salt bread and filled with anything savoury.
After spending time on Pebbles beach I visited the shack, located in the parking lot, at 2pm for a fish cutter with cheese and local Banks beer and no one was around.
However, I’ve heard that lines can be as long as 45 minutes.
The fish cutter was great, I’ve heard it’s even better with egg. However, I would not wait in lines for 45 minutes, there are too many other amazing Barbados restaurants to try.
So my advice is to go early or late. Besides the staff are great and you’ll get a chance to chat instead of feeling like another tourist in line.
Cuz’s Fish Shack
Pebbles Beach, Bridgetown
Open 7 days a week 7am-3pm
Hunter’s Restaurant and Bar
Located in the historic downtown centre of Bridgetown, it’s well worth wandering around as this is where locals work and shop.
Hunter’s has been around for years, with two locations, one across the street from the other.
While there’s plenty to eat and drink it’s known for its ham cutters. Cheap and delicious, it’s a great snack.
Hunter’s Restaurant and Bar
4 Tudor St Bridgetown
I also loved S&J Deli’s ham cutter, which was a favourite of my driver. The hot sauce was killer even though I used far too much.
Corner Greenidge & Hindsbury Road, Bridgetown
Open for breakfast and lunch 6:30am-4:30pm
Don’t be afraid of pig tails! These tails may look bigger than the curly ones you’ve seen or eaten and that’s because it’s actually the vertabrae that is boiled then barbecued until it gets “shackley” and then tossed in delicious sauce.
If you like ribs you’ll love pig tails at Tim’s.
Tim’s is located downtown Bridgetown but it’s upstairs and so easy to miss. Look up for the sign then follow the stairs up past the barber spot and to the right.
One of the best Barbados restaurants for cheap and delicious eats. It is filled with locals from nearby businesses looking for traditional bajan food.
For the best view and lots of air, get your meal inside then sit out on the balcony overlooking the main street.
33 Broad Street, Bridgetown, Barbados
Open Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm
One of the best Barbados restaurants according to locals include Ryanne’s which is packed at lunch for its traditional Bajan buffet just a few doors down from Tim’s.
It’s a great cheap eats option and is well known for its daily soup.
Like Tim’s it has a great balcony but it gets packed quickly by local Bajans on their lunch break so get there before the lunch rush.
RyAnne’s Restaurant and Bar
Broad St, Bridgetown, Barbados
Mustor’s Bar and Restaurant
Opened in 1941, like many, this is one of the Barbados restaurants that looks like it hasn’t changed much other than a few coats of paint and colourful signs and free wifi in the upstairs dining room.
It’s a no nonsense, food first kind of spot and Lickrish Tours took me here for the iconic cou cou and flying fish along with my first taste of the mauby drink, which despite my face below I really do recommend trying.
Mustor’s Bar and Restaurant
McGregor Street, Bridgetown
Open Monday-Friday 7am-3pm, Saturday 7am-2pm, Closed Sundays
Normally I wouldn’t recommend fast food as one of the best Barbados restaurants, actually that’s a lie.
While it’s similar to fried chicken its a bit healthier as it’s only deep fried for a minute and then pressure cooked.
Chefette opened in 1972 by a Trinidadian immigrant and now there are 14 Chefette locations on the island.
Locations throughout the island including the airport, with varying hours.
Where to Stay in Barbados
I stayed at the all-inclusive Sugar Bay Resort, although I didn’t have much time to eat there other than breakfast.
I did like that they had both international and traditional Bajan food options for breakfast – who can turn down beans?
It’s why I I prefer, a smaller resort with only a few stories and it was central to all the best beaches and restaurants.
Sugar Bay Resort
Garrison Historic Area, Hastings, Bridgetown BB15156