Trinidad’s dining scene is a heady mix of African, Indian, Chinese, Syrian/Lebanese, European, and Amerindian cuisines. Use this short guide to go beyond the hotel restaurant and experience local dishes like callaloo, pows, curry done many ways, gyros, crab & dumplings, oil down, coo coo, corn soup, bake & buljol and of course doubles.
BREAKFAST THREE WAYS: Doubles, a Breakfast Institution and a Taste of France in Trinidad
DOUBLES – Start your day like a real local with a $4 doubles (about $1.40 US) for breakfast. Comprised of two pieces of bara (fried bread) and curried channa (chick peas), doubles are Trinidad’s most popular street food. And, like all great street food, strong opinions abound on where to find the best doubles. Unless you can make a run to Curepe for D’ Original Doubles or Debe, known as the doubles capital, the ‘bess’ doubles vendor is likely the closest one to your hotel. Three tips, be prepared to consume your doubles on the spot (request additional napkins), ask for slight pepper, and try a little cucumbers and kuchela. (Three resources for more information on doubles — our post on the Best Doubles in Trinidad & Tobago; Recent article in Trinidad Express on doubles; and the TriniBerry doubles app, ‘Eat Ah Doubles,’ available on BlackBerry and Android.)
BREAKFAST SHED – Local Creole food is the focus at the Breakfast Shed, a long-time institution on Port of Spain’s bustling waterfront. Pick a vendor (don’t stress just go with the one with longest line), order and slide in at the communal tables and enjoy your coconut bake & buljol (salt fish cooked up with tomatoes, onions & peppers) or sada roti with chokas. Don’t forget to check the punch lady for a cup of freshly-made punch. Serious lunch at a great price is also available here (think macaroni pie, coo coo, pigeon peas & rice, curry lamb, crab & dumplings, chow mein, stewed chicken, and boiled eddoes, yam and cassava) . (The Breakfast Shed is located two buildings down from the Hyatt Regency Trinidad on Wrightson Road and is open daily from 6:30am to 4pm.)
PECHE PATISSERIE – You can’t go wrong with the combination of classic French pastries and local fare at Peche Patisserie, our favourite sit-down breakfast spot. Must-try dishes on Peche’s breakfast menu include the Cassava & Saltfish, deftly transformed into a creamy provision accented by crispy saltfish, and the Local Trio – Buljol, Bhaji & Tomato Choka (bhaji is a local spinach). Grab a cardamon-dusted palmier and a cappuccino on your way out. Peche Patisserie also serves lunch along with tea, coffee and lovely house-baked pastries and desserts.
LUNCH with a spot of tea, at the beach, in a cup or in a proper restaurant…
AFTERNOON TEA at THE HOUSE OF JAIPUR – Retreat to the House of Jaipur for endless pots of hot tea and savoury and sweet treats or full-on entrees, if you’re really famished. Nibble, sip and repeat as you prepare mentally for Carnival. (House of Jaipur is at 14 O’Connor Street in Woodbrook, (868) 624-7465).
THE VERANDAH RESTAURANT – One of the grand dames of the restaurant scene, Verandah is ensconced in an old St. Clair house with a wrap-around porch and pretty dining room. Lunch is the draw here with menus of Shrimp Sauteed in Cajun Butter with bhaji rice, plantains and veggies and the Pork Tenderloin with a Mustard & Cream Sauce served with breadfruit oil down, plantains and veggies.
SHARK & BAKE MARACAS BEACH – Take the short drive to Maracas for a swim and the renown Shark & Bake. This delicacy amounts to no more than pieces of fried shark slapped inside a ‘fry bake,’ but it is delicious! Be prepared for long lines at the most popular stand, Richard’s Shark & Bake, or try Uncle Sam’s, which by all accounts is equally good or better according to your belly. No matter where you buy your shark & bake, head to the condiment bar and drizzle it with garlic sauce and chadon beni dressing and then top it all off with cucumbers, cabbage, pineapple, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.
SOUP – Trinidad & Tobago has a strong soup tradition with soup being a stand-in for Saturday lunch or the perfect after-party/late night meal. Soup like doubles is everywhere, get a bowl (or cup) from the man on the street or in most restaurants. Check De Boss Ah Soup, The Breakfast Shed, Veni Soup or the lady at Lady Young lookout for a bowl of filling corn soup with dumplings, fish broth, dhal, beef , lentil, or cow heel soups.
DINNER TIME on the Avenue, pizza with local toppings!
CHAUD CREOLE – Home-style local cuisine meets fine dining at Chaud Creole in St. Anns. Under the tutelage of uber-chef Khalid Mohammed, the kitchen turns out to-die-for Crab & Dumplings in a delicate coconut curry sauce; Sancoche, a soup with corn, dumplings and provisions added tableside; and Choka Sliders where tomato, melongene (eggplant) and pumpkin receive the slider treatment with sada roti standing in as the bun and toppings go local thanks to kuchela and crispy channa. Mains are also fantastic here and the comfort-food sides are usually served family style. Other local favorites include the tender Braised Oxtail and Oil Down that melt in your mouth. Chaud Café also makes its desserts in house – Bene Ball Ice Cream (inspired by a local bene ball candy) and a Chocolate Mousse, which incorporates local Cocobel Chocolate. (Chaud Creole also does a fantastic Sunday buffet brunch and a buffet lunch on Fridays, if you can’t make it for dinner.)
PIZZA PIES at BUZO, CHOP CHOPS, LA CANTINA or BACCO – You’re probably saying “I didn’t fly thousands of miles to T&T to eat pizza.” Well this recommendation is for those seeking an inexpensive meal and Trini-inspired pizzas like the Saltfish at Chop Chops and La Cantina’s The Trinidad with pineapple & pepperoni. The bonus is that T&T’s has one of the Caribbean’s best pizza scenes thanks to several authentic Italian pizza spots. (Buzo Osteria Italiana, Chops Chops Bistro and La Cantina Pizzeria are in the Port of Spain area; Bacco Pizzeria is in San Fernando’s Duncan Village, but we’ve listed it just in case you’re staying with family and friends beyond the POS area.)
BELLA ON THE AVENUE or FLAIR RESTAURANT – Make a reservation at Bella or Flair to dine on Ariapita Avenue, the hottest liming scene in Trinidad & Tobago. Both restaurants meet the criteria for a limin’ spot on the Avenue with their stylish dining rooms, comfortable outdoor seating for a birds-eye Avenue view and solid food. Plus the cocktails at Bella and Flair are not to be missed!
SPECIAL NOTE: Shop the Markets for Local Gourmet Goodies!
UPMARKET - Curious about where the local food scene is going? You must visit UpMarket, which boasts the largest group of Trinidad’s leading food artisans under one roof. This is the place to sample home-grown gourmet goodies – chadon beni pesto, pows, local Italian cheeses, chocolate, dreamy ice cream in tropical flavours, and of course tons of chutneys and pepper sauces (look for Dek’s pepper sauce made from T&T’s Moruga Scorpion pepper, the world’s hottest chili pepper). Plan on purchasing a few souvenirs including wooden housewares (crafted from local woods), handmade aprons and other culinary accoutrements. Artists and jewelry makers also sell hand-crafted products at this monthly market.
COCOBEL TRINI PASSION - ”Indulge in totally local single estate true Trini chocolate, full of all our lusty tropical vibes.” Cocobel Chocolate, one of Trinidad’s most popular chocolate brands, is co-located with Medulla Art Gallery in Woodbrook. (Call ahead to check the gallery’s hours.)
SAN ANTONIO GREEN MARKET - Make the drive to Santa Cruz for the San Antonio Green Market‘s local fruits, vegetables, sauces, preserves and fresh juices. (The San Antonio Green Market is open every Saturday from 6am to 2pm.)
- Top Picks for Roti in Trinidad; Sterling’s 6 Must Try Foods in Trinidad (and locations); Ed’s 5 Must Try Foods in Trinidad
- 5 Perfect T&T Food Souvenirs and 7 Best in Sando: BBQ, Roast Pork, Pizza, Roti, Black Pudding, Indian Food & Ice Cream
- 10 Delicious Ways to Taste Tobago and 12 Hours in Tobago: Good Eats & Great Sights!
- Trini-born beauty blogger Afrobella’s recent post on 3 Things You Must Do in Trinidad Besides Carnival