Beef Sha Bhakleb
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Antigua, the main island of the country of Antigua and Barbuda, is a postcard-perfect type of place, all white-sand beaches and serene turquoise water, rocky coves and handsome harbors. Like many of its fellow Caribbean islands, its economy relies upon tourist dollars to thrive; countless hotels and resorts line its coast and cruise ships dock daily in the capital, St. John’s. But where tourism has thrived, agriculture has been all but abandoned—nearly everything short of pineapples is imported! But that’s not to say you can’t find local food here. We’re talking about dishes drawn from the island’s long history and melting-pot, creole culture, stretching back to the Arawak Indians, who first cultivated sweet potato and corn—(now imported) vegetables that still figure prominently in Antiguan cuisine—and West African slaves; European colonists and, more recently, islanders from Trinidad, Jamaica, and other Caribbean nations. True, you have to do some legwork to get past the burgers and Caesar salads on the mostly continental-type menus you’ll encounter, but here’s tip number one: Saturday is local-food day for many restaurants, even touristy beach-bar cafes, around the island. Tip number two: Get off the resort, even for just a day (make it a Saturday!). Adventurous types will enjoy navigating the narrow potholed roads. Tip number three? Don’t forget to drive on the left.
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