Food in Barbados
- The flying fish, the symbol of the islands, can be seen on coins, banknotes and menus. The flying fish is usually served lightly breaded and fried, with a yellow sauce. Be aware that this yellow sauce is made from very hot scotch bonnet peppers and onions in a mustard sauce.
- Coo-coo and flying fish – often considered the national dish. Coo-coo (or cou-cou) is a cornmeal and okra porridge similar to polenta. Coo-coo goes perfectly with flying fish, which is either steamed with lime juice, spices and vegetables or fried and served with a spicy sauce. The Flying Fish Restaurant, overlooking St Lawrence Bay, claims to be the birthplace of Barbadia’s national dish.
- Pepperpot, a must, a dish with a long tradition and great pride among Bajans, a pork stew in a spicy brown sauce.
- Try the cutters, a local sandwich made with salted bread (not regular sandwich bread). Varieties include flying fish cutters, ham cutters and the popular bread and two.
- Visitors looking for fast food are likely to be disappointed; burger chains from the US failed miserably when introduced to Barbados (Bajans hardly eat beef). However, chicken and fish sandwiches are very popular, so KFC and Chefette are ubiquitous.
- Bajan cuisine is a strange mix of spicy, hearty food and traditional English dishes. So be prepared for meals of fiery stews and beans on toast.
- Every Friday night, the town of Oistins (on the south coast) is the place to be for a fish fry. This is a market where you can buy fresh fish cooked according to local recipes. The locals stay late and dance until the early hours of the morning. It is now the second most popular tourist attraction on the island after Harrison’s Cave.
- The island has many good restaurants, the two main ones being The Cliff (on the west coast) and The Restaurant at South Sea (on the south coast). Both are quite expensive, but serve wonderful food and an exceptional dining experience overlooking the sea. Nevertheless, you can find many hidden gems if you look hard enough.
- The many street vendors offer fish cakes, grilled pork tails, fresh coconuts and roasted peanuts.
- Sandy Lane, a luxury hotel on the west coast, serves an extensive Mediterranean-style buffet for dinner.
Drinks in Barbados
Barbados has some of the purest water in the world, which can be drunk straight from the tap. Cruise ships are often seen docked on the island.
Rum and rum drinks can be found in every bar. Perhaps the best known national brand is Mount Gay Rum, which is very tasty. During the week, low-cost tours of the distillery are offered. They offer samples of all their rums, which are also sold at good prices.
Small establishments called rum shops can be found all over Barbados. This is where local citizens (95% male) gather to catch up on local news. Drop in and you can easily strike up a conversation with a real Barbadian.
Beer and wine are also easy to find. Banks beer is the beer of Barbados and it is very good. There are also tours of the Banks Brewery. Although the tour itself is very hot and only moderately interesting, there is unlimited beer for those who wait for the tour to begin. Try to arrive a few hours early and get a very good price. There are also tours of the three rum refineries, which are very informative.
10 Saints is the first craft beer to be brewed in Barbados. This unique lager is aged for 90 days in Mount Gay “Special Reserve” rum barrels and combines the island’s rum heritage with a refreshing lager to produce a truly Bajan beer. It is available in bars and shops all over the island.