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Best Places to Eat in Barbados – 10 Recommendations

Barbados, Barbados - Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

In February, 2015 I spent two weeks in Barbados and dined at some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean. However, best does not necessarily mean expensive – some of the best meals were at beachside takeouts or out of the trunks of cars of local women catering to Bajan workmen. Here is my list of the ten best places to eat in Barbados sorted by category.

Best Places to Eat in Barbados – Fine Dining

Barbados has an abundance of really good high end restaurants, most of which feature al fresco dining in a seaside locale. I would not hesitate to recommend any of these that follow, but be prepared to pay for it. Remember menu prices are in Barbadian dollars which is roughly half a US greenback.

The Cliff

The Cliff – If you rate a restaurant as excellent on Trip Advisor it asks if this was one of the best meals you’ve ever had in a restaurant. In the case of The Cliff I clicked yes, but not for the usual reasons. The food was very good – in fact the desserts were off the charts, but it was the atmosphere and location that made the meal so memorable. Put simply The Cliff has the most romantic location of any restaurant I can ever recall dining at.

Looking at the website gives you some idea, but it is something that has to be experienced firsthand to really understand. Usually pictures speak a thousand words, but the flickering torchlight and underwater lighting make for very difficult photographic conditions. Most of the pictures I tried to take of the interior did not turn out due to under exposure so I’ll try to explain.

Imagine a beautiful small Caribbean cove with the gentle waves lapping at the foot of a cliff. Then imagine putting a restaurant on the side of that cliff where diners can sit and look down and, I kid you not, see tarpon finning below. Add in some great imaginative art work, torches and great leather chairs and you can see why people have to book months in advance to get these waterside tables. Fortunately friends who know Barbados did just that and we were able to enjoy one of the most romantic restaurant settings in the world.

Best Places to Eat in Barbados - Seaside tables, The Cliff
Seaside tables, The Cliff

I strongly advise starting a visit to The Cliff by having a drink at the second story bar where you can peer over the railing at the fish below and the diners whom you will soon join. If you can’t get a reservation for dinner just come here for a drink to soak up the atmosphere.

The service at The Cliff is similar to most high end restaurants in Barbados – by committee. You won’t get one person coming up to you and saying “I’m so and so and I’ll be taking care of you”. Here all the staff take care of you to a level of service that is very attentive, but not fawning or obsequious. Professional in every way.

So what about the food? By and large on a par with the atmosphere and service, but there are other Barbadian restaurants serving equally good meals.  Every one is presented beautifully and the only complaint I had was with my tuna steak which was slightly overcooked. The following were excellent – caesar salad (best we had on Barbados), carpaccio, snow crab cake, portobello and mesclun salad and mahi mahi.

Best Places to Eat in Barbados - Caesar Salad, The Cliff
Caesar Salad, The Cliff
Best Places to Eat in Barbados - Carpaccio, The Cliff
Carpaccio, The Cliff
Best Restaurants in Barbados - Snow Crab Cake, The Cliff
Snow Crab Cake, The Cliff
Best Places to Eat in Barbados - Portobello & Mesclun Salad, The Cliff
Portobello & Mesclun Salad, The Cliff
Best Places to Eat in Barbados - Mahi Mahi, The Cliff
Mahi Mahi, The Cliff

The desserts here are original, entertaining and taste as good as they look. The exploding mercury was really something as a round ball explodes when dripped with a hot sauce. Also great were the baba au rhum (don’t see that much anymore), a beautiful looking chocolate basket and chocolate hot pot.

Best Places to Eat in Barbados - Exploding Mercury Before
Exploding Mercury Before
Best Places to Eat in Barbados - Exploding Mercury After
Exploding Mercury After
Best Places to Eat in Barbados - Chocolate Pot, The Cliff
Chocolate Pot, The Cliff
Best Places to Eat in Barbados - Chocolate Basket, The Cliff
Chocolate Basket, The Cliff

If the photos don’t make you want to eat there then I don’t know what would. Yes The Cliff is extremely expensive, but if you splurge for one meal in Barbados I would do it at The Cliff.

The Tides

The Tides – The Tides is right in the small village of Holetown and has a wonderful location overlooking the calm, crystalline waters of the west coast. There is a boardwalk between the seats at the railings and the water, but that does not diminish the experience.

Best Places to Eat in Barbados - Entrance to the Tides
Entrance to the Tides

The first thing you notice going in through the open wooden doors is the art gallery and it is definitely worth exploring if you are a few minutes early – bright Bajan colours predominate. The bar area is decorated with many of these fine paintings.

The dining room has a roof which has been constructed around four giant Australian pines that grow right through it. Not sure if that’s a great idea for insurance purposes, but it does add an unusual touch.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Interior of Tides
Interior of Tides

Here’s the view from a railings table.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - View from the Tides
View from the Tides

The menu has, not surprisingly, a lot of seafood, but also enough meat and poultry to satisfy most diners. We ate at The Tides with another couple who had eaten here many times before. These are the dishes I can certify are well worth ordering. I include pictures of each. Ahi poke – this was the only restaurant we ate at in Barbados that offered this Hawaiian specialty to which I am addicted and it was beautiful to look at and better to eat. Maybe not as good as the very best you will find in Hawaii, but darn close.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Ahi Poke, The Tides
Ahi Poke, The Tides

Calamari Friitti Salad – Calamari seems to be a staple of every high end Barbadian restaurant and The Tides version is right up there with the best.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Calamari Fritti Salad, The Tides
Calamari Fritti Salad, The Tides

Crispy Oriental Salad – Exceptional flavour.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Crispy Oriental Salad, The Tides
Crispy Oriental Salad, The Tides

Pan fried Supreme of Chicken – a delicious stuffed chicken dish.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Stuffed Chicken Supreme, The Tides
Stuffed Chicken Supreme, The Tides

Rack of lamb – This is on the menu at all of the top restaurants we visited and usually someone in our group had it. Tonight was my turn and it was done to perfection.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Rack of Lamb, The Tides
Rack of Lamb, The Tides

Barbados’ restaurants are big on desserts and The Tides was no exception, delivering big time with the old classic creme brulee, but as well as a real winner in the triple combination of a banana tart, banana milk shake and banana ice cream. The Tides Tidation which comes in the shape of a T is a chocoholics must eat.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Creme Brulee, The Tides
Creme Brulee, The Tides
Best Restaurants in Barbados - Triple Banana dessert, The Tides
Triple Banana dessert, The Tides
Best Restaurants in Barbados - Tides Tidation
Tides Tidation

Once again service was impeccable. Expensive, but worth every penny.

Cin-Cin

Cin Cin – Cin Cin (pronounced Chin Chin) by the Sea was the last of the many great restaurants we dined at on a recent trip to Barbados and if it was not the best it was a close second. We were very fortunate to get a table for two at the railings overlooking the ocean when another diner cancelled their reservation – I hope they had good reason because they missed a fantastic sunset.

Like most of Barbados seaside restaurants you can’t really tell how great the view will be until you are shown to your table. On the way you pass one of the nicest looking bars in any of the restaurants and come out to a fabulous ocean view.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Bar at Cin Cin
Bar at Cin Cin
Best Restaurants in Barbados - Terrace View Cin Cin
Terrace View Cin Cin

We asked for a 6:00 reservation just so we could see the sunset with a cocktail in hand which is exactly what we did. The sun set directly into the water with the shadow of a cruise ship looking like it was headed directly into the sun. Amazing!

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Cin Cin Sunset
Cin Cin Sunset

So with a perfect setting and accommodating sunset, was the food up to the challenge? In a word yes. For starters I had the chicken liver pate and it was creamily delicious. My wife had the warm shrimp salad which was equally good. The two were a good combo to share.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Chicken Liver Pate, Cin Cin
Chicken Liver Pate, Cin Cin
Best Restaurants in Barbados - Warm Shrimp Salad, Cin Cin
Warm Shrimp Salad, Cin Cin

For mains I had the best short rib I’ve had in a long time – not overcooked or stringy like so many versions of this. The accompanying garlic potato puree and caramelized onion in jus made it a meat and potatoes smash hit.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Short Ribs, Cin Cin
Short Ribs, Cin Cin

My wife had the mahi mahi with couscous which was the daily fish special and it too was cooked to perfection.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Mahi Mahi with Couscous, Cin Cin
Mahi Mahi with Couscous, Cin Cin

For dessert it was an unusual choice for me – iced nougatine and a classic one for my wife – caramel ice cream. Again a perfect duo for sharing.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Iced Nougatine, Cin Cin
Iced Nougatine, Cin Cin
Best Restaurants in Barbados - Caramel Ice Cream, Cin Cin
Caramel Ice Cream, Cin Cin

This was the only dinner out we had by ourselves and I can’t think of a better place for a romantic sunset meal just about anywhere.

Cafe Luna

 Cafe Luna – Rather than dining right by the water as we did on most nights in Barbados  one night we headed to the rooftop of the boutique Little Arches hotel just south of Oistins where fellow Canadian Mark de Gruchy is responsible for Cafe Luna. The name is very apt. The moon was full and we could hear the waves break on Enterprise Beach below. The decor is clearly Mediterranean inspired and you could be excused for thinking you had been transported to southern France or maybe Italy.

While all the dishes were great there was one so good that I would come back to Barbados just to have it. The Bajan fish stew was completely unlike other great fish dishes like bouillabaisse, cioppino or traditional chowders. The cream fish broth base was unlike anything I have ever tasted and as far as I can tell this dish is unique to chef de Gruchy. Simply amazing.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Bajan Fish Stew, Cafe Luna
Bajan Fish Stew, Cafe Luna

Also great was the luna crepe which was stuffed with shrimp, fish and crab in a white burgundy cream sauce.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Cafe Luna crepe
Cafe Luna crepe

Cafe Luna is doing things that no other restaurant in Barbados does and should be on every visitors must eat at list.

Best Places to Eat in Barbados – Medium Priced

Tapas

Tapas – Tapas is a very popular restaurant with a beautiful location beside the boardwalk at Hastings which you should definitely make a point of walking to even if you are not dining out.

Most of these waterside restaurants have retractable roofs that can be rolled out if there is an unexpected shower which there was the night we visited. We still had the advantage of sitting only a few yards from the ocean. We were a party of six and on the whole there were more hits than misses.

For appetizers the chorizo stew was simply amazing – an explosion of flavour.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Chorizo Stew, Tapas
Chorizo Stew, Tapas

Equally excellent was the beef carpaccio which came as a dome of carpaccio enclosing a salad within. Carpaccio seems to be on the menu in most of the better Barbadian restaurants, but this was by far the best our group had sampled.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Carpaccio, Tapas
Carpaccio, Tapas

The calamari was well presented, but not up to the level of the other appetizers.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Calamari, Tapas
Calamari, Tapas

For mains my wife had the mahi mahi which she declared to be the best she had ever had, and she’s eaten a lot of it.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Mahi Mahi, Tapas
Mahi Mahi, Tapas

My grilled seafood platter looked wonderful, but frankly didn’t have the zing I expected.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Grilled seafood platter, Tapas
Grilled seafood platter, Tapas

The rack of lamb met with approval by my friend who ordered it.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Rack of Lamb, Tapas
Rack of Lamb, Tapas

For desserts the tiramasu and lava cake were absolute hits, while the panna cotta had a thick coat of jelly on top that really didn’t add anything.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Tiramasu, Tapas
Tiramasu, Tapas
Best Restaurants in Barbados - Lava Cake, Tapas
Lava Cake, Tapas

It appears that two out of three appetizers, mains and desserts were excellent. As Meatloaf famously sang “Two out of three ain’t bad”.

The wine list was reasonable and service great. Prices were a little less than other Barbadian waterfront restaurants. You do have to pay a premium for seaside dining. I happen to think it is worth it, others may not.

Apsara Samudra

Apsara Samudra – Barbados is famous for its seaside dining rooms where a seat by the ‘railings’ as they are called guarantees that you will be dining with the ocean just a few feet away, lapping at the oceanside of the building. I’m not talking about close to the water I’m talking practically in it. The Apsara Samudra is one such restaurant in St. Lawrence Gap and if you feel like Indian cuisine then this is the place on the south coast.

From the exterior it looks more like a small colonial manor house than a restaurant, but after entering and being taken through the interior to the oceanside patio any thoughts of this being somewhat stodgy evaporate. The staff are pretty well all native Bajans as opposed to the East Indians who usually run such places. While we didn’t have a table right over the water we were close enough to see and hear the surf breaking.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Apsara Samudra Restaurant
Apsara Samudra Restaurant

The cuisine is not restricted to the Indian sub-continent as there is also a Thai menu. In our group of four we ordered and shared such traditional dishes as butter chicken, tikka masala and lamb curry as well a green Thai curry.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Lamb Curry and Butter Chicken, Apsara Samudra
Lamb Curry and Butter Chicken, Apsara Samudra
Best Restaurants in Barbados - Butter Chicken, Apsara Samudra
Butter Chicken, Apsara Samudra

Mixing the various dishes up over a bed of basmati rice produced great results which paired well with a New Zealand pinot gris. Dessert of coconut ice cream helped the palate calm down after the heat of the main courses.

Service was excellent, prices fair and the ambience perfect. The only reason I don’t give this place the highest rating is because I am judging it against some other Barbadian railings restaurants that are truly among the best in the Caribbean, but then again it is much cheaper.

The Round House

The Round House – Bathsheba is one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean. You can only get there by way of a long winding descent to the wild eastern shore of Barbados. The beach is breathtaking, but deadly for swimming. There are few tourists and most of them head to the storied Atlantis Hotel, but there is a great alternative – Round House has been around since 1832 and has a dedicated following. We were on a private tour of the east coast with a knowledgable taxi driver and he suggested Round House for lunch.

It has a great location about sixty feet above the beach and you can sit on an outside patio or inside if you want it cooler. We sat at an inside table that had an open window from which we could watch Barbadian children playing in natural ‘soup bowls’ carved out of the coral – a safe haven on an otherwise dangerous shoreline.

Barbadian kids playing from Round House window
Barbadian kids playing

The reason I am recommending The Round House is not just because of the location, as great as it is, but because of one dish – the pulled pork sandwich. I wasn’t paying much attention when it came, watching the beach below and listening to the guy playing guitar and singing softly at the front of the room.

Biting into it my mouth suddenly exploded with pure flavour. Not vinegar. Not barbecue sauce. Not tomato. Just pure umami. The pulled pork is braised in local 10 Saints beer and topped with aioli and caramelized onions. Sorry southern U.S.A., I’ve never had better pulled pork – anywhere. When Round House says its pulled pork sandwich is famous they are not BSing. I’d travel a long way to eat this again. Also the only fries I had in Barbados came as a side and they were very good as well – thin and cooked right through until crispy.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Pulled Pork Sandwich, Round House Restaurant
Pulled Pork Sandwich, Round House Restaurant

My wife had the mahi mahi sandwich which was excellent as well, but she found out there is a reason great fries are made out of potatoes and not breadfruit as she had ventured to try.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Mahi Mahi sandwich, Round House Restaurant
Mahi Mahi sandwich, Round House Restaurant

Best Places to Eat in Barbados – Bajan

These are the places to eat that you are only going to find on Barbados serving traditional Bajan cuisine at prices that in some cases are incredibly cheap. If you are looking for value and bang for your buck try these.

Mullins Bay Beach Bar and Grill

Mullins Bay Beach Bar & Grill – Mullins Beach is one of the prettiest on Barbados and Mullins Bay Beach Bar which sits at the north end of the beach is a Barbadian institution. The clientele is a mix of tourists and locals who are here for the laid back atmosphere, Bajan cuisine and of course the unbelievable views. If I could think of one bar in Barbados that you might find Jimmy Buffett at, it would be this one.

Beside the bar you’ll find brightly coloured signposts pointing the way to various Barbadian locations like Jack in de Box Gully and Hangman’s Bay.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Signposts in Mullins Bay Beach Bar
Signposts in Mullins Bay Beach Bar

A mural featuring green monkeys dressed as gentlemen covers the entire back wall.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Monkey Mural, Mullins Bay Beach Bar
Monkey Mural, Mullins Bay Beach Bar

Or you can look at this.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Mullins Bay Beach
Mullins Bay Beach

If there is one place you should try the Barbadian national dish, flying fish and cou cou, it is here. Cou cou is a simple combination of cornmeal, okra and spices that is the perfect compliment to the fish. Sitting back and relaxing with a Banks beer or rum punch while listening to Bajan music, you won’t want to leave.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Flying Fish & Cou Cou at Mullins Bay Beach Bar
Flying Fish & Cou Cou at Mullins Bay Beach Bar

Daddy’s

Daddy’s (no web site) –  Daddy’s is but one of dozens of tiny take out places that serve Bajan food at great prices. Most of them have pretty much the same menus and almost always feature cutters which are sandwiches on a round bun called a cutter. Although you can get Bajan ham and chicken cutters, the best by far are the fish cutters, usually made from battered flying fish and served topped with an assortment of vegetables or pickles depending on the place. Barbadian hot sauce is an almost mandatory condiment. Wash it down with a cold Banks beer and you’ve got yourself a great lunch.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Daddy’s St. Lawrence Gap
Daddy’s St. Lawrence Gap

Daddy’s is one of about five or six tiny places clustered together in central St. Lawrence Gap. There is a lot of local colour and quite a few ex pats and fewer regular tourists who seem to stick to the much pricier beachfront establishments. However, the area is perfectly safe and so is the food.

How about $27.00 BDS for two fish cutters, two beers and an order of rice and peas. That’s less than $14.00 US folks and you can put the money you save towards paying for dinner at one of Barbados more tony restaurants.

Oistins Fish Fry

Oistins Friday Night Fish Fry – Barbados only has four actual towns – the capital Bridgetown, Holetown where the rich and famous hang out and Speightstown and Oistins which are essentially fishing villages. Oistins is just south of St. Lawrence Gap which is the most popular tourist destination on the island. While there is not much to see in Oistins (although Enterprise Beach just south of town is very nice) it does have a weekly tradition that attracts tourists and locals alike.

The Friday night fish fry in Oistins is a pretty simple idea – you sit outside on picnic benches at one of the many small establishments that are based just behind the fish market where I presume they have their favourite sources of fresh fish. What you eat was swimming in the Caribbean only hours before.

I would say 95% of the people who attend have some type of fish – flying fish is the favourite, but you’ll also find barracuda, kingfish, snapper, mahi mahi and other varieties, although not necessarily all on the same Friday. The other 5% can get chicken or pork or vegan rice and peas.

Prices are quite reasonable and it usually doesn’t take long to get your order. Most patrons wash the fish down with local Banks beer.

The most important thing to decide about going to the fish fry is are you more interested in eating the fresh fish or participating in the local scene. If it’s eating you need to get there by 6:00 because the places fill up fast. If it’s listening to music, watching Bajans dance or just soaking up local colour then that really gets going after 8:00 although there will be some drummers and other spontaneous entertainment as early as 6:00.

Oistins Drummers
Oistins Drummers

The most popular eatery is undoubtedly Uncle George’s which was recommended to us by several locals and lived up to its reputation. Have a look at the picture of the whole grilled snapper that my wife found delicious.

Best Restaurants in Barbados - Grilled Snapper, Oistins Fish Fry
Grilled Snapper, Oistins Fish Fry

A couple of hints about getting the most out of a visit. Starting at about 5:30 the one road to Oistins from St. Lawrence Gap and above is going to get packed. If you leave any later you could spend a long time sitting in a taxi. Save the money and spend $2 BDS on a bus or ZR. Alternatively if you are staying anywhere from Dover Beach south you are just as well off to make the 20 minute walk. This would include those staying at Turtle Beach, Sandals or the Bougainvillea.

The Oistins Fish Fry is a victim of its own success. If you think you are going to be one of the few tourists mingling with a lot of locals forget it. The place will be packed with mostly white faces.

If it is the fish you are really there for, most of these places are open most of the week and more and more people are going on Thursday to avoid the crowds and traffic jams.

These are my choices for the best places to eat in Barbados, but don’t be afraid to try the food trucks. Mr. Delicious on Enterprise Beach has great fish cutters. Also have at least one meal served out of the trunk of a car or van. These are hearty meals of Bajan food at great prices.

Enjoy!


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