The Caribbean region is usually considered as a beach and hotel destination. It is true that in Trinidad and Tobago there are good beaches and wonderful resorts, but it also has many other attractions that you should not miss: nature, culture, history and, as we will see hereafter, a delicious gastronomy.
Bringing the Trinidadian gastronomy closer
Before starting with the dishes and restaurants, let’s take a moment to look at the following map. Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelago formed by those two principal islands and other minor ones. It is within the Caribbean islands, it belongs to the Lesser Antilles and it’s very close to the American continent, about 10 kilometres away from Venezuela.
With their similarities, Trinidad is the most developed of the sister islands, with a large expat population and a greater influence from the United States. Trinidad is an important port of entry into the Caribbean and a connection point with Tobago. This last one is more relaxed, more independent and, at some point, more alternative also. They share a strong imperial past, easily visible in its inhabitants and its food.
Little remains of the indigenous population that lived there before the arrival of the Spanish people. The Spanish colony and the British one afterwards brought explorers and new landowners, along with slave labour from Africa to exploit the sugar cane and tobacco plantations. After the abolition of slavery, workers from other parts of the world immigrated to the islands, bringing with them their gastronomy and culture. Nowadays, the flavours that were originally African, Hindu, Asiatic or Arabic have mixed with local products to create a very peculiar cuisine.
Richard’s Bake and Shark
From Port of Spain, in Trinidad, every tourist road route northbound should stop in Maracas Beach. This is the kind of Caribbean beach that the visitor expects to find, with crystal clear waters and white sand. But apart from that, the most famous food stand of the country is in this beach, Richard’s Bake and Shark.
Its signature dish, Bake and Shark, is something similar to a sandwich. But instead of bread, it has fried dough and a piece of marinated and coated shark, lettuce, tomato and some sauce inside. It is a kind of street food usually eaten on some particular occasions: at concerts, events and during Carnival time. And, of course, during beach days at Maracas Beach.
The strange accent of the islanders can be confusing; if you hear “Bacon Shark” they are not talking about bacon shark, this is a Trinidadian ordering their typical dish.
Caribbean food in Tobago
If Richard’s is the most popular restaurant in Trinidad, other two stand out for their prices and good quality in the neighbour island Tobago. Their simple menu prioritizes fish, seasoned with spices that won’t always taste familiar, but they will be hard to forget.
Jemma’s Seaview Kitchen is on Tyrrell’s Bay, right beside the beach, built on the roots and trunk of a tree. It has unbeatable views for eating buttered lobster, shrimp or fish cooked in different styles and even the unique Caribbean curry goat.
The Fish Pot is another authentic restaurant from Tobago, with a very reduced menu that depends on the catches of fish of the day. You only have to look for the slate board with the menu and decide between marlin, barracuda or amberjack, seasoned with strong Caribbean sauces.
Always roti and curry
Not only in Trinidad and Tobago, but all over the Caribbean the hindu influence is quite obvious. That characteristic spicy smell, those pots in line and local people waiting for their roti or their bowl of curry are frequent images in the Caribbean area.
The curry is a filling dish and it is usually served with rice or potatoes. The meat is cooked with vegetables, many spices, and, of course, curry powder.
The roti is a kind of bread also cooked in other parts of the world. It is a thin dough without yeast that is toasted directly on the griddle and eaten with curry and other stews. There are two variations in Trinidad and Tobago: dhalpuri and paratha, the first one has dhal in its dough (a kind of lentil).
Es una comida de restaurantes hindúes y de puestos callejeros, donde siempre hay opciones para vegetarianos. El más cutre de los puestos puede que sirva el mejor roti de la isla, o no. Hay tantos lugares donde elegir que resulta complicado recomendar uno concreto, mejor dejarse recomendar por algún trinitense.
Doubles, a chickpeas sandwich
If you say it like that, it doesn’t sound very appealing. But doubles are just the opposite. Trinidadian doubles are made of bara, channa and chutney. Bara is the fried dough made of flour, curry powder and cumin. Channa is a chickpeas curry. Doubles are the street food par excellence in Trinidad, where they were invented in 1936. It is served like a sandwich with two baras or with one folded, with the chickpeas curry inside and sided with chutney or spicy sauce. Where to eat them? You can either look for a stand with many customers or ask for advice to the locals.
We could be keep describing Trinidadian typical dishes for many more articles, but we will let you be surprised by other delicious dishes from the island such as aloo pie, saheena, chow, pholourie, jerk chicken or the salad saltfish buljol.
Your trip to Trinidad and Tobago
In Travel and Exchange, we have published several articles about Trinidad and Tobago, so you can expand your knowledge before arriving to Port of Spain or moving between the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. We also have available for you a specific travel guide.
Take into account that, even if the country is quite advanced country and payment with credit card is widely accepted, you won’t be able to pay like that rotis or doubles at street stands. You will need to carry with you some Trinidad and Tobago dollars. If you want to know how to get them, keep reading!
Where can I change money for my trip?
You will be able to exchange your money at the Piarco International Airport, in Trinidad, where you will find a perfectly located Global Exchange branch. There you can get Trinidad and Tobago dollars or East Caribbean dollars, if your travel continues through the Antilles.
If you want to change it before your trip, Global Exchange has foreign exchange branches at the principal airports of more than 20 countries. Check the branches in your country and travel without any worries, always without the money ready to pay anything you may need.