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October 29, 2021

Eat like a local

People Eating

They say “You have to taste a culture to understand it”. That certainly holds very true for Barbados. While our fully outfitted kitchen in Shoreshire villa has been known to be admired by the culinary proficient, we understand that you’re on vacation so first of all I’ll give you some tips for, what we consider the best world class restaurants on the island. Then I’ll let you know where to go if you want great food but don’t need or want the extravagance, and actually want to eat like a local.

Fancy World-class Restaurants

Champers:

Top of my list of great restaurants in Barbados is Champers, which is located only about 5 or 10 minutes from Dover beach. It is patronized by locals and tourists alike. You could say it’s the go to place if you want consistently phenomenal food, an impressive waterfront ambiance, great service and, I’m going to single out, the best bread pudding dessert I’ve ever had anywhere.

Located in Rockley, on a cliff top, this restaurant offers panoramic views of Accra beach and the ocean. The owner, Chiryl Newman, has definitely made her mark on the island here. Bajans are a discerning people and they don’t mince words when it comes to food. The fact that this restaurant is still even there after 25 years is testament enough to add it to the history books.

I would describe the food as cosmopolitan with a Caribbean flair. When I last visited, here was what I ordered.

Cocktail Kitchen:

I had passed this place many times even after my friend had recommended it. I guess I somehow remembered a previous iteration of the place by other owners where it was more of a party place. Never would I have thought just looking at it from the outside that it would rival Champers and Primo in terms of food. Unknown to me though, the head Chef, Damien “Day Day” Leach, was named Caribbean Chef of the Year in 2016. I am told, he has also worked at The Cliff, Tapas, and the Mews which are all top class restaurants in Barbados. I guess after he mastered his “chops” he branched out and opened his own place.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was impressed when I finally went and this unassuming place jumped to my list of the top restaurants in Barbados.

The ambience leaves a bit to be desired since it’s not waterfront, it’s not luxury decor and the service staff, while very friendly, just aren’t the same calibre as the other fancy places. But the food here is to die for and you may prefer casual anyway. I am told the drinks here are great as well but I stuck to trusty New Zealand Sauvignon blanc. Here is what I ordered:

Primo:

Right at entrance of St. Lawrence Gap is this other restaurant pick. This one is comparable in most ways to Champers. It’s on a cliff with spectacular ocean panoramas and the food and service are consistent and great. It also has a great Barbados rum based bread pudding.

You won’t find as many Bajans here though as it’s a rather new in comparison. It’s former sister restaurant on the west coast, Cin Cin, has closed for reasons unknown. It does seem that they need some marketing help because the reviews I found are horrendous. They don’t at all match my experience and I’ve been multiple times. That said, things may have changed. In any case I currently recommend it and here is what I ordered:

Paul Owens at the beach house:

This restaurant, located on the west coast, is a rather new restaurant but it's lineage is solid since the chef here was the former executive chef at the former Cliff restaurant, once one of the most highly regarded restaurants on the island. I would say that the news about this restaurant is spreading quickly, and it won't be long before you have to struggle to get a reservation. I discovered it from a post from a tourist who had just stumbled on it by accident. When I heard though who the chef was it wasn't long before I called immediately to secure my reservation.

Just as in my former Cliff experiences I was impressed. From the firery lanterns, setting the atmosphere, to the beachfront dining, the mood was set. We starting our night with a delicious aperol spritzer while waiting for our table. We were seated cliff side by the very friendly and attentive staff and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal, the Whispering Angel rose and the experience. We will be back! Here is what I ordered:

Tides:

I should mention that since, west coast is a bit of a drive by car from Dover St. Lawrence gap, I hold them to a bit of a different standard. Since they usually also cater to a wealthier, more discriminating customer, I don't feel I'm wrong in doing that but let's frame it, in that if a restaurant makes the cut for this blog then not only did I enjoy their food, but I felt it was worth a drive.

With Tides, I have to admit that I would need to go again to fully decide on everything but the one thing they did have that was memorable for me and worth a drive was the pan seared Foie Gras since not many places on island have it.

I can't speak much to the rest, and I don't feel it's fair to review a restaurant based on one experience anyway. I'm sure the food was fine otherwise I will have remembered. Anyway, here is what I ordered:

L’Azure:

A bit off the beaten path, at Crane Resort in St. Philip, I was reminded by my wife that this other restaurant pick should not be missed. We got married at Crane and had one of the most fantastic weddings I could have imagined.

For memories we attend this place everytime we visit. The food though is hit or miss and considering it's location you may want to pick one of the other more reliable options.

The restaurant is located on a cliff overlooking a beach but it's pretty dark at night so you won't see much of it if you come on the later side.

The décor is elegant, intimate and perfect for date night though. Here is what I ordered:

Eat like a local

You can still go to a restaurant in Barbados and eat like a local. Two restaurants that come to mind are Shakers and Harlequin. I would say Shakers is the more authentic of the two. I must admit that I myself haven’t been there very often but locals like the price and tourists also give it a thumbs up. Since I haven’t been recently, I got some pictures from a tourist who has, and who spoke highly of their ribs.

I think though that to eat like a real local, that you’re going to have to think take out. At some of the vendors there is seating but it’s not like they are going to serve you. You buy the food and sit. Here are the places I go to do that.

SandDollar Cafe:

This place is right next to Shoreshire villa, by Dover Beach in St. Lawrence Gap, so if you don’t feel like cooking it’s the perfect spot to pick up some dinner for the family or you can sit there if you like.

Most of these local take out places serve a salad with the meal but it is usually a piece of lettuce and some tomato. If you are a vegan it’s quite sad really. But Sand dollar has the most wonderful salads with their meals and you can ask for an accompanying raspberry balsamic vinaigrette. I usually go for the swordfish, tuna or mahi mahi with either grilled potatoes or sweet potato fries.

Street Vendors:

A bit further to the end of St. Lawrence Gap, when nightlife is in progress, there are street vendors grilling food on the road. No place specifically to sit near these guys so you’ll be walking with your plate or foil paper if you just ordered a piece of chicken or fish. But again the food is excellent, the price is right and the cuisine is more reflective of what locals really eat.

During the day there are vans parked at Accra beach where you can also buy similar food but you have to figure out the right time to go because they are very popular and they run out of food.

People have also spoken highly of the fish cutters at Cuz which is also located at Accra.

In the last years the food stalls at Worthing Square have also become very popular with lots of variety and good value.

Oistins:

This is known for the weekly fish-fry event held on Fridays but you can really go any day and on other days you’ll get your food much quicker. Uncle George is the most popular for fish and Chillin and grilling is popular for chicken but I would say that all of the vendors in the market make pretty great food so try them all.

Some random lady’s house:

I didn’t mean to call out the gender here but I have never heard of a guy’s house in Barbados where you can buy food. Anyway this is going to be the most authentic of the eat local options. To find the random lady you’re going to have to talk to the bajan people. The person who rents you the beach chair, a jetski operator or a taxi driver are good examples. If you see them there, they are going to need to eat, so they know where to go. You tell them that you’re looking for someone who cooks food from their home in the general area.

I know it sounds dangerous to hear about someone’s home and go to it to buy food because someone you don’t know told you where to go. One option is to ask the person to pick up a meal for you so you don’t have to go there but then there’s a chance they don’t come back with your money. Also with this option you won’t see the lady and get the real authentic experience. So really it’s up to you and your comfort level but it’s also your responsibility and I’m just telling you what I do.

Chefette:

The sad truth is that with all this good food around Bajans love this fast food joint which is a mix between KFC, McDonalds and Pizza Hut. They do have good food as far as fast food goes and it’s a one stop shop where you can get a different thing for each one of your family. I like their rotis which is kind of like a wrap with curry chicken inside.

Chefette Roti
Chefette Roti

Coffee Shops

While you are likely perfectly happy with the coffee you brewed in your villa it is understood that some just require an actual coffee shop visit before their morning is complete. Here are the places I recommend for that:

SandDollar Café:

Yes this place comes up again since they also make a decent coffee and it's close.

Bliss Café:

This isn't as close but it's close enough and to the right leaving Shoreshire Villa about 5 minutes walk away where the road turns.

Italia Coffee House:

Before Starbucks arrived I'd say this filled the void for a dedicated coffee house.

Starbucks:

I haven't tried it yet but a new to island Starbucks café, located at Haggatt Hall St. Michael, opened in July 2021. Good luck to them.

Surfers Cafe:

Our favorite coffee shop for many years has been Surfer's Café. Great coffee and phenomenal views. Who doesn't want to have coffee in a comfortable coffee shop with a view of the ocean. None of the others can offer that. Plus they also have a decent lunch. I have been known to get a couple fried flying fish with my late morning coffee.

Surfers Café
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I grew up in Barbados and now reside in Boston primarily working as a software developer. I'm also a licensed real estate professional so I know what it takes to be a trusted responsive short term rental host. Hopefully i've hired the best on premise staff who have thought of everything, but I myself am always only a phone call away. Being a local (we go back frequently) I know all the things to do, when to do them and I can get you in contact with the right people to facilitate it. My wife, who is russian, and I love nice restaurants and drinks as well so we can point you to our favorite places to go. You can expect a reasonable and timely response from me should you need any assistance. Enjoy your vacation!

Category: Barbados, Holiday Ideas
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