Aside from the incredible beaches and friendly locals, food is a major reason to visit the island. There are cuisines to suit every taste and costs to suit every wallet capacity. If you wish to spend an inordinate sum on a dinner then you’ll find that very easy, but it is also possible to budget and still enjoy great-tasting, hearty meals. The list that follows is but a range of our favourite places to eat on the island, including some of the pricier and cheaper eating options which we tend to balance on our visits!
Zen, The Crane 🍍🍜
First of all, The Crane itself is a lovely place to visit. Alone on the south-east coast, it occupies a space where restaurant competition is minimal. There are at present four restaurants on site, three of which we have eaten at. Zen is by far our favourite. It has a fantastic, authentic feeling Japanese setting, from the approach past the Koi carp to the interior. Views from the main dining area over the beach are spectacular, especially at night as the sea and beach are lit by moonlight. From this area you can also see the chefs preparing dishes, especially sushi.
We, however, have never eaten in this area. There are private eating booths with tribal adornments and reed palisades to separate you and give real privacy. Book and request whichever sounds more desirable! Both have their merits, to be sure. On to the food. Zen combine Japanese and Thai dishes and we have always left eager to return on our next visit. We have both always opted for Thai curries, which are always delicious and filling! The waiters will bring additional rice if needed or if you request. Deserts are generally refreshing after a large curry. As mentioned, the quality is great and the portion sizes are generous.
There is nothing else really like Zen on the island. Some dishes are upwards of BB$90 though most mains are between $50 and $70. It is one of the more costly places that I would recommend, but it is highly recommended and worth making the trip out for! Finally, the cocktails pack a real punch; the Crane rum punch is not to be underestimated as Hannah can recall all too well.
This is another popular, though pricey option for eating on the south-west coast. We have only been once as a special treat. We both decided to have the BB$99 three-course dinner, which was excellent and actually decent value for the quality of food that you get. Otherwise a main dish can be anywhere between BB$55 and $99.
It is a romantic location with views across the beach. Book ahead to request a table at the beachfront. They cook mostly Bajan food with locally grown and caught produce, all done to a very high standard. I definitely recommend Champers; it lived up to the hype and I would go back for special occasions or perhaps once on a visit.
Just Grillin’ 🥗
In many ways the quintessential Bajan restaurant, Just Grillin’ caters to all. It is an ideal place to eat lunch or dinner with basic outdoor bench seating in two locations on the west and south-west of the island. Food is reasonably priced and there are always local fish specials with whatever catch is available (often mahi mahi) though there are usually around five different fish choices.
You can also order a range of sides and vegetables, or other grilled meats. I would have to say that this is not a great place for vegetarians, but would suffice for a good lunch. There just is not that much variety if you do not eat fish or meat. I doubt that this would be your favourite meal of the trip, but you would be remiss not to eat here! The food is tasty, filling and good value. Meals range between BB$15 and $38 at the time of writing.
Mommas’ Van Food 🥘
Here is one you won’t find in any guidebook. You can thank me later! When we are at Accra (Rockley Beach) I always get my lunch from one of the local ladies cooking from their van. When in Rome… This honestly is what the locals do and with good reason. There are usually a couple of vans near to the beach which you’ll find if you ask one of the guys renting beach loungers or if you just have a wander yourself. My favourite has been the lady with the blue van who operates a little way from the beach near The Good Life and the shops near the south-west Just Grillin’.
Food choices vary from day to day, but usually you can have one meat and two starches/vegetables. Meat will often be: fish, beef, pork, goat or chicken. Starches and sides are usually: rice and peas, macaroni pie, yam, salad, plantain and mixed vegetables. Portions are large, the food tastes great and by the end you will be scratching your heads and wondering why more tourists don’t do as the locals do. You honestly will not cook this for yourself at this price. When we last visited the standard price was BB$12 for a standard portion or $10 for a reduced size portion. I confess that I’ve never had the reduced portion! This meal will honestly keep you going all day; you may even wish to save some for later on.
University of West Indies 🥪
Similarly to the above, if you are anywhere near the UWI campus then you can pop into the canteen and eat like the students! Costs are similar to the above and the portions are absolutely massive. There are more options here for desserts as well. You will likely be taking some away for later. I could not finish my food, which is saying something. These are two great money saving options if you are trying to be savvy and, presumably, they give money to the locals directly rather than to big restaurants.
Oistins Friday Night Fish Fry 🍤
What can I say about the fish fry at Oistins that hasn’t already been printed in a blog or guidebook? I’m really not sure. You simply have to visit. The food is great, local Bajan fare, cooked to match the pace of life. For us it was worth going simply to see American tourists stewing in their own juices at having to wait for the local chefs to cook the fish. They move at their own pace, to say the least. I half think they were even slower than usual just to test this particular American guy to see if he would explode.
We normally get take away and the fish cakes are good for this. They can be spicy and peppery – you have been warned! They are tasty though and I believe are BB75 cents each. We usually freeze some and keep some in the fridge as snacks.
Oistins Fish Fry is a spectacle, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights where karaoke music and dancing will be taking place. Beers are ice cold and affordable (3 or 4 bottles for BB$10 for Banks and similar lagers). Guiness and Mackeson are more expensive, though worth it if you haven’t tried them. 🍺
Blakey’s on the Boardwalk 🍕
Thinking about it, it’s pretty criminal for me to leave this place so far down. Blakey’s is one of the best places purely from the point of view of the food and affordability. It cooks pizzas, pasta and burgers but you won’t find me ordering any of that. The pepper pot is the best I’ve tasted on the island, perhaps ever. There are plenty of other super local dishes on the menu. They also regularly have live music if that is something that appeals to you.
We have found service to be quite basic, something that we are not too fussed about. However, it is still a place that I’d say you must go to if only for the food. It’s really casual and won’t break the bank.
The Good Life Eco-Café 🍉🥙
You can probably tell that we like the south-west of Barbados. Another great spot to grab a bite near Accra beach is The Good Life. This one is Hannah’s favourite places to have lunch when spending the day on the beach. They have a great range of vegetarian/vegan and healthy options including pita sandwiches and salads. The best thing to order for just BB$10 is one of their smoothies, juice drinks or protein shakes made with a great range of Bajan fruits and other ingredients. Great to take back to the beach with you to cool you down! 🍈🍉🍌
Chilly Moo’s 🐄🍦
If you want to satisfy your sweet-tooth head over to Accra’s Chilly Moo’s for the best ice cream on the island. There are lots of well known chocolates and sweets to choose from with plenty of ice cream concoctions with catchy names on the board. Prices are fairly high (probably due to the well known imported brands of chocolate bars!) but still well worth a visit at least once on your trip!
Written by Alistair