Stay tuned - we'll be posting regular additions, with lots
more to see, do, and eat in the islands.

Where to find great local food and atmosphere

Here are some casual spots that are favorites of Receta’s crew. They’re the sorts of places locals go to eat (you probably won’t find them listed in most tourist guides), and most of them offer just a few dishes. You can bet your beer that the menu (when there is one) won’t include a burger and fries, and that a meal won’t break the bank.

Check back often, since I’ll be adding to this list regularly.


Shiann’s is easily overlooked amongst its upscale restaurant neighbors on Cipriani Blvd. in the Newtown section of Port of Spain. Look for a small, nondescript pink house with a very modest sign out front, and join the line of downtown workers at the counter inside – always long at lunchtime – for a fantastic roti. When it’s your turn, the counterperson lays one of the hubcap-sized roti skins on a platter and then you direct him or her to fill it with your choice of curried meat (chicken or goat, say) and vegetables. When it’s on offer, the curried mango is a must, as is the sweet stewed pumpkin. Eating one of these overstuffed packages with one’s hands is an art – but you’ll be marked as a foreigner if you ask for cutlery. Steve and I usually order a buss-up-shut, essentially a deconstructed roti: A rich flaky flatbread is beaten with paddles to break it up into strips (like ragged cloth; hence the name, which derives from “burst up shirt”), which are then used to scoop up the curries served alongside. Open daily except Sundays until 3 pm. 3 Cipriani Blvd., Port of Spain; 868-625-1735.

Bypass the typical fast-food concessions in the main terminal at Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport. Instead, just beyond the terminal building, you can sample an excellent rendition of Trinidad’s national snack addiction, doubles. Facing the main doors of the terminal, turn right and walk to the very end of the building. Cross the street, look left, and you’ll likely see a cluster of airport employees, flight attendants, taxi drivers, and travelers queuing up. (A stop here is part of arrival procedures for returning Trinidadians who’ve been missing – longing for – this uniquely Trini fast food.)

Describing doubles as curried chickpeas sandwiched between two pieces of fried East Indian bara bread doesn’t come close to doing them justice. Each bite of a well-made doubles (like the ones at the airport) delivers an irresistible (yes, addictive) contrast in textures and flavors – the thin, freshly made bara dissolving in your mouth, the chickpeas melting into their curry sauce, the combo sharpened by its topping of kuchela (a spicy green-mango relish) and quick blast of pepper heat. (A word to the wise: Ask for “slight pepper” unless you like your food really hot.) Available sporadically day and night, seven days a week. As one vendor runs out, another usually takes his place.

The best place to have a Carib in Port of Spain
Our choice, hands down, is at a panyard lime – which translates to a casual party held at the outdoor practice area that a steelpan band calls home. The beer is super-cold and super-cheap, hearty snack food is available (the likes of corn soup, bake and shark, souse, and geera pork or chicken), and the music… well, we think there’s no better way to experience first-class pan up close and personal. There will likely be some tables and chairs, but you’ll want to be on your feet like the band’s other supporters, moving from vantage point to vantage point, to check out the various players (and everyone else at the party). Watch the local papers for announcements of these limes. Or, as Carnival approaches and the bands practice nightly, hire a driver to take you “liming” to several different panyards. A memorable, and typically Trini, night out.

St. Lucia:

Every Friday and Saturday night, the Pork Palace springs to life, and St. Lucians throng there to savor Uncle Joe and Miss Ina’s barbecued pig. Located in Babonneau, a short drive inland from the resorts and marinas at Rodney Bay, this very rustic, hilltop spot is more an open-air tent than a building. The beer is icy cold, the music makes conversation challenging, the cooking is done in plain view, and the menu is short and sweet. Steve swooned over the smoky, moist chops, served not with the usual tomato-based barbecue sauce, but with an herby green sauce. (Raised in a Kosher home, I can’t get my head around pork, but no problem: I called Uncle Joe beforehand and he offered to put some chicken on the grill, which was served with the same wonderful sauce.) The accompanying bakes (smoky, slightly sweet flatbreads) are cooked over a traditional coalpot, an hourglass-shaped clay cooker that burns charcoal in the bottom while a griddle or pot rests on top. Open Friday and Saturday nights only; 758-450-5261; 714-7078

The Old Plantation Yard in Vieux Fort, at the southern tip of St. Lucia, makes a good lunch stop on the way to or from Hewannora International Airport. A quick glance at its chalkboard of daily specials, with traditional Kwéyòl dishes such as salted pig-snout bouillon (a one-pot stew), is all it takes to tell you this place has a local clientele. Vieux Fort is one of the island’s main fishing ports, so there is usually fresh fish on offer – say, dorado simmered with green herbs over a coalpot – for the less adventurous. Miss Bessie was tending the coalpots on the day we visited, and without me even having to ask, joined us at our table under a long-fingered breadfruit tree in the courtyard to tell us how she prepared the fish.; 758-454-6040.

Every Friday night, the village of Gros Islet, just north of Rodney Bay, hosts a “jump-up”. Music blares from huge speakers set up on the main street, mouthwatering smoke rises from charcoal grills, and impromptu restaurants and bars sprout along the sidewalks. (The village has rough edges, so don’t stray by yourself too far from the street-party area.) When you start feeling peckish, there are dozens of places to buy grilled fish and barbecued chicken, but a tip from a friend had us searching out Jimmy and Morella Joseph’s cooking. (Go down the main street to the “bandstand,” turn left, and their stand is about three down on the left; ask and someone will point you to them.) We had our stomachs set on Morella’s octopus (which our friend described as “amazing”), but her husband told us “she vex,” because the fishermen didn’t have any octopus for her this week. So instead, we consoled ourselves with her kingfish steaks, cooked in their marinade in foil “boats” on the grill, then topped with her splendid green sauce (like an herb vinaigrette, strong with sive and thyme). Alongside the kingfish, she loaded our plates with cabbage salad, sautéed veg (christophene, green beans, and carrots), green banana salad (yum), rice, and just in case we still didn’t have enough carbs, hefty slices of provision: breadfruit, sweet potato, dasheen, and sweet plantain. I confess I ate everything. The Gros Islet jump-up starts slowly around 7ish, and goes until very late.

More islands and more eating places coming soon!

How Not to Eat Like a Foreigner

If you’re asking a local resident for a restaurant recommendation and you want typical local food, try phrasing the question this way: “Where do YOU go for breakfast/lunch/dinner? This is a learned-the-hard-way subterfuge to avoid being sent to an establishment that a local thinks foreigners would like – usually, the typical, popular tourist restaurant. If you’re looking for a more elaborate eating place, try asking, “Where would you take your mother for her birthday?”