Ocho Rios Restaurants
Evita's - A 5-minute drive south of the heart of Ocho Rios, in a hillside residential neighborhood that enjoys a panoramic view over the harbor and beachfronts, this is one of the most fun restaurants along the north coast of Jamaica. Its soul and artistic flair come from Eva Myers, the convivial former owner of some of the most legendary bars of Montego Bay, who established her culinary headquarters in this green and white gingerbread Jamaican house in 1990. An outdoor terrace adds additional seating and enhanced views. More than half the menu is devoted to pastas, including almost every variety known to northern and southern Italy. The fish dishes are excellent-especially the snapper stuffed with crabmeat and the lobster and scampi in a buttery white cream sauce. Italian (or other) wines by the bottle might accompany your main course.
Ocho Rios, Phone: 974-2333
Toscanini - The three partners behind this place all hail from Parma, Italy. Coming from a long line of restaurateurs, they bring style and a Continental sophistication to their food service and preparation. The restaurant is set in an art gallery on the coast. The menu offers many classic Italian dishes, supplemented by ever-changing specials, depending on what's fresh at the market. The best specialties include marinated marlin, various homemade pastas, carpaccio, gnocchi, and a strong emphasis on fresh lobster and seafood. The chef also caters to vegetarians. All this good food is backed up by a fine wine list. Expensive.
located in Harmony Hall, Ocho Rios Phone: 975-4785
Scotchies Too - Probably the best jerk pork and chicken, steamed fish and other local dishes in Ocho Rios area. Outdoor dining at picnic tables in a hibiscus garden. On the west side of town right near the St. Ann's Polo Club.
Passage to India - This is the most visible and most desirable Indian restaurant in northern Jamaica, one of the preferred favorites of the expatriate British and American communities living along Jamaica's North Coast. Set on the second floor of a busy shopping mall in the center of Ocho Rios, it's airy, cosmopolitan, and sophisticated, featuring some of the most creative and interesting Indian dishes we've ever seen. Menu items are surprisingly imaginative: shrimp prepared either in the spicy Szechuan style or with ginger; tandoori-style filet mignon; a "Passage to India" sizzler, where chunks of your choice of meats are prepared on a hot griddle set directly on your table; Goanese-style shrimp or chicken curry; Punjabi-style chicken Pakora (accompanied with split peas and tamarind sauce); Goanese chicken curry; boneless chicken with garlic, ginger, capiscum (an Indian form of cayenne pepper), and spices; mutton roasted with spices and hot pepper, and lobster vindaloo. 876-795-3182
Almond Tree - The Almond Tree is a two-tiered patio restaurant with a tree growing through the roof. Lobster thermidor is the tastiest item on the menu, but we also like the bouillabaisse (made with conch and lobster). Other excellent choices are the roast suckling pig, medallions of beef, and a fondue bourguignon. Jamaican plantation rice is a local specialty. The wine list offers a variety of vintages, including Spanish and Jamaican. Have a cocktail in the unique "swinging bar"-with swinging chairs, that is.
Located in the Hibiscus Lodge Phone: 876-974-2813
Montego Bay Restaurents
Townhouse Restaurant - located in the Casa Blanca Hotel on Gloucester Avenue. This restaurant is on the water and is excellent. Pepper-pot or pumpkin soup is a delectable start to a meal. The chef offers a wide selection of main courses, including the local favorite, red snapper en papillote (baked in parchment). We're fond of the large rack of barbecued spareribs with the owners' special Tennessee sauce. The pasta and steak dishes are also good, especially the homemade fettuccine with whole shrimp and the perfectly aged New York strip steak. 876/952-0720
Houseboat Grill - The setting for this unusual and very laid-back restaurant is a houseboat built around 1960 that floats at permanent anchor from a pier beside Freeport Road. You can enjoy a pre-dinner drink and watch the sunset from a chair on the main deck before descending into the boat's innards for a meal that's composed of culinary ideas from virtually everywhere. Specialties include New Zealand mussels in a Thai-style red curry; pan-seared pork medallions with apple-pecan stuffing and a brandy-flavored cream sauce; and filet of red snapper with Thai-style tamarind sauce and garlic-flavored green beans. Although the kitchen closes around 10pm, the bar opens every day at 4pm and remains open until whenever the owners feel like shutting it down. Tues-Sun 6-10pm, Reservations recommended, 876/979-8845
Scotchies - Jerk may have been invented in the mountainous northeast coast, but the traditional pimento-wood-grilled, lip-stinging-spicy flavor reaches a sublime peak at Scotchies. There’s nothing the least bit fancy about this thatched-roof joint beside the coast highway where food is served in aluminum foil and everyone eats with their fingers, but the jerk chicken, pork, and fish are the best you’ll find anywhere. Wash it all down with a Red Stripe. Tip: Save room for the traditional side dishes, like sliced, roasted breadfruit and yam; and festival (deep-fried cornmeal dumplings). Coral Gardens, across the street from the Holiday Inn on the east side of town. (876) 953-3301