Are you new to the wonderful wide world of Jamaican cuisine? Did you try some delicious authentic jerk or stew at a get-together and decide that you want to take it a step further by going to a Jamaican restaurant near me? Or are you simply someone interested in expanding your culinary horizons? If you’re new to Jamaican food, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure about what you should order the first time that you head out to a Jamaican restaurant. There are a lot of different options available at most Jamaican restaurant in Maryland, especially restaurants that cater to a wider range of Jamaican cuisine styles.
If you are at the best Caribbean restaurant near me and aren’t sure what to order, all you need to do is consider the following guide. This guide will help you break down the most important things to consider when deciding what to order at a Jamaican restaurant. Good luck—and enjoy the meal!
Meat vs. Vegetarian/Vegan Options
First, you need to decide whether or not you’d prefer a meal with meal or one that fits within a vegetarian or vegan diet. Jamaican food is versatile and you can find options for both meat-lovers as well as people who are abiding by a vegetarian or vegan diet, often without needing to modify the meal at all.
If you’re looking for a meat dish, consider something like ackee and salted fish, jerked pork/fish/beef/chicken, meat curry stews, meat patties with chicken or pork, Escovitch fish, meat-based pepperpot, goat stew and other meaty stews. Jamaican food has plenty of fish and chicken options, although pork is also fairly common.
If you’d prefer something vegetarian, look for dishes such as callaloo, a vegetable dish made mostly of leafy greens, onion, carrots, garlic and spices; rice dishes made with vegetables; vegetable patties filled with curry vegetables; some restaurants that cater towards vegetarian or vegan diets may even offer “jerk” vegetables, which are rubbed with the same spices as jerked meats and roasted for a robust flavor.
What Is Your Preferred Spice Level?
Contrary to popular belief, all Jamaican food is not spicy—nor is spicy Jamaican food necessarily tongue-blistering levels of hot. Jerk meat can be spicy but the basic heat level is not always hot, especially if you are being served at a restaurant that lets patrons requested a certain level of spiciness. If you like things spicy, look for dishes with some inherent spiciness such as jerk chicken/pork/beef/fish as well as most types of curry and curry stews. Ask the restaurant if they can kick up the spice a notch if you’d like to get things even hotter.
If you’re not a fan of spicy food, don’t worry: there are many, many options for people who don’t like things to get very spicy. Sweet dishes with fruits, vegetable stews, and minced beef patties are just some of the great options for people who prefer things on the less spicy side. As a general rule, you can ask the server if the spice can be toned down on dishes like jerked meats, so don’t be afraid to try them!
Rich vs. Lighter Dishes
How is your appetite? Are you looking for something light or something richer and more robust?
Lighter dishes include jerk chicken, callaloo, along with more basic rice and vegetable dishes which rely on fragrant spices rather than thick, creamy bases. You could also stick to sides such as lighter helpings of rice, fresh grilled fruits, etc.
If you’re in the mood for something heavier, then consider trying out stews, curries, fried fish and other fried sea foods. These are typically served with a host of vegetable and rice options to make the meal even richer.
Don’t Forget Dessert!
When you head out to a Caribbean restaurant, you should always leave some room for dessert. Jamaican cuisine has a range of delicious desserts which are the perfect finish to any classical Jamaican meal, so if you’re looking for a truly authentic cuisine experience, make sure to end your meal with at least one tasting of these amazing desserts. Must-try classical Jamaican desserts include sweet potato pudding, grizzada tarts, pink grater cake, mango cheesecake, bread pudding, and festival dumplings.