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Any hounds been to Port Antonio area, Jamaica?

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Heading to the wonderful-sounding Port Antonio (northeast coast) area of Jamaica after Xmas, I've been reading up on some restaurants/food stalls etc., I know we'll be close to Boston Beach where jerk was invented, and I've found this listing of mid-high range places from Frommer's: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/.... Just curious really as to where the best everyday type local food can be had, or of course can't-miss hound-type destinations. Anyone?

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  1. My husband and I are heading there this xmas for vacation. If there are any restaurant suggestions, it would be most appreciated. We're planning on doing the Blue Mountain Bicycle Tour - any other culinary tours that are worthwhile?

    We'll also be in Kingston for a few nights, so if anyone has suggestions for the Kingston area, that would be great too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mandy Lin

      First of all, food aside (but as part of the whole), you will love it!!! As far as the food, quimbaya is right, the open-air cafe at Winnifred's was a major highlight. I would go further and say heavenly, even. You place your order for meat or lobster or fish (whatever the young boys have caught and sold to the cook that day), curried or grilled or jerked. Then about 20 minutes later she will send a rasta out to get you as you're rocking in the gentle clear blue waves--wrap a towel around you and enjoy your simple, delicious and fresh feast in a setting that just doesn't get any better. Yep I'm waxing cliches over it as I would dearly love to go back to Winifred's this winter.

      We hit the marina (it's called Norma's at the Beach/at the Marina) a few times for dinner out of desperation. The problem is that there are very few places that are dinnerish if you want to have a nice relaxing meal, or we didn't find them, and wound up paying too much for just okay food at the marina. The setting is really wonderful though and worth at least one meal/drinks, especially if they have the area nearer the small beach open. Another night we tried Dickie's Best Kept Secret (read about it here: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/... experience that was not at all about the food. I'm not even sure what to say about it--I'm still perplexed by the experience. They did have a great veg omelet though.

      For the dinner problem, we finally learned that it was a good idea to ask our landlady ahead of time if she could prepare it for us in the guesthouse. We stayed at Ivanhoe's--a beautiful, relaxing place to enjoy a home-cooked meal and some Guinnesses with your neighbors on the terrace. Wouldn't want to stay in every night but it's a good option.

      Besides the beach place, the other culinary highlight was a place up the road in PA away from the coast--I think I read about it in a NYT article but I can't find it now for the life of me. I dragged my SO there--it's this bizarre place on the outskirts of town that seems something like a church banquet hall/ersatz nightclub plonked in the middle of a barnyard with horses and goats roaming about and a smell to match. Flyspecked, cavernous, odorous and completely empty aside from us on the later side of lunchtime... but the food was soooo damn good. Try any of the specials plus don't miss the fresh "pine" juice--fresh squeezed pineapple + ginger--oh my god, that is a taste memory that will always stay with me!

      If you're interested in that sort of place let me know and I'll keep looking for that article. By the way, we stopped in Kingston but wished we hadn't, other than to lessen the blow of coming back to NY.

    2. We were in Portland and elsewhere in Jamaica last February. Mostly just ate at the very simple places along the road, which serve quite tasty food but lacking on the variety side. The shack on the left side (if facing ocean) of Winnifred beach was a highlight, comparatively.

      In Port Antonio itself the most pleasant area is the marina, and that restaurant in there that gets rave reviews is good not great and rather expensive, sorry don't remember the name. Do get a piece or five of the rum cake from the ice cream place in the marina. Also get some patties at the bakery next to the gas station/bus terminal. Also right there is a really wordly guy selling sugar cane, you can talk to him about getting some cane juice in a bottle, he's not easy to understand though.

      Did the jerk at Boston Bay, left totally underwhelmed. Chicken was edible, but pork was totally dry. Maybe just hit the wrong shack.

      Interestingly, although goats are everywhere, trying to find goat milk did not yield any result, and not for lack of trying.

      Another highlight was the African culture heritage festival called Fi Wi Sinting, at Somerset Falls. Going first thing in the morning was a good idea, since there were still not many people and we got to try some specialties that are otherwise hard to find, like rundung, a kind of sweet tamal so to speak, and yati, a whole wheat patty with veggies. Listened to the drummers etc., but around noon the sound system came on and then you can't hear anything at all, so we just left and went to see the falls.

      Skipped Kingston entirely.

      3 Replies
      1. re: quimbaya

        Don't miss the food/experience/view at Hotel Mockingbird Hill in Drapers, just east of PA. Incredible, expensive, but well worth it. Another great experience we had in PA (Drapers) was at Woody's Low Bridge. Woody and his wife Sheri are great hosts. They will fix you dinner of your choice, just make a reservation so they know ahead of time. We thought the food at Norma's at the marina was overpriced for the quality, but the location had a great a view. Boston Beach is the luck of the draw. We had great pork but the chicken was so so. We're going back next month to PA and looking forward to checking out Dickies Best Kept Secret, Anna Bananas, and a little vegetation restaurant with (apparently) no name on Bridge Street. Irie mon!

        1. re: lincj

          Oh lucky one!! I really wanted to check out Woody's Low Bridge Place. Remember seeing that veg (Ital--not short for Italian--the Rasta diet that is) but never remembered to go.

          Anna Bananas was hugely disappointing for us. If you wondered where all the Americans of the type you were glad to leave at home were, it's there. It seemed like a sort of a lifeboat situation where folks who would have been better off going to an all-inclusive clung to a sense of familiarity. Because it could easily be a theme restaurant in a mall--the food tastes like Jamaican as interpreted by US Airways and costs as much as the marina. I think my lobster salad was covered in Kraft Italian dressing (not Ital this time). It hurt to part with that money. Oh and I think they were out of everything.

          I did hear that the pork (or wild boar?) was the thing to get at Boston.

          1. re: hennybee

            Thanks so much for all this information! We're getting really excited for our trip...just a few more days. We will report when we get back.