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, and how long ago it was prepared.
I 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. Occasionally 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 favorites– those places which have never let me down– but trying new places can be fun too. Here’s a list of my five favorite restaurants in Kingston.
Tamarind is my favorite 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 favorite dishes are their sweet & sour chicken, butter chicken and garlic naan. Yum!
2. South Avenue Grill (20A South Avenue, Kingston 10)
This elegant poolside dining spot serves up local and international fare. My favorite dish is certainly their savory 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 favorite places to dine in Kingston.
3. Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records (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 flavor profile unique to Jamaica, juicy ox-tail and curried goat, to other crowd favorites 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.
4. Chilitos JaMexican Food (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 favorite go-to cocktail: a margarita, Chilitos is your best bet!
5. Pepperwood Jerk (Chelsea Avenue, New Kingston)
I’ve eaten at several jerk joints in Kingston, and Pepperwood usually gets it right. 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.
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 favorites 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.
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Adventures from Elle is a blog about experiencing the best life has to offer on a budget, curated by Rochelle Knight. Her adventures are mostly in Jamaica, occasionally abroad.