If you talk to people who have visited any Caribbean island, they’ll go on poetically about the sun, sand and their fantastic culinary experience. More often than not, the food is fresh and free of the pesticides and additives we are familiar with in the US. Also, while many of the dishes incorporate meat or fish, there are tasty options for vegans and vegetarians if you know where to look. Rice, beans and vegetables can go a long way with the right preparation and seasoning!

Here are the national dishes for 6 Caribbean islands.

1. Jamaica

When it comes to tasty dishes, Jamaica consistently knocks it out of the park. The national dish is ackee and saltfish, which is typically had for breakfast. But it can be eaten any time of day and paired with festivals, boiled banana and/or dumplings (boiled or fried).

For a vegetarian and vegan friendly spin, some suggest swapping out the saltfish with mushrooms or jackfruit.

2. Cuba

Cuban food explodes with flavor and you can’t go wrong with the classic Ropa Vieja!

It translates to “old clothes.” According to legend, there was a man long ago who couldn’t afford food, so he shredded his old clothes and cooked them for sustenance.

The shredded meat visually resembles shredded clothing. Pair this with rice and  beans and your stomach will surely thank you. Got space? Have flan for dessert. 

3. Dominican Republic


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La Bandera, which means “the flag” consists of meat, red beans and rice.

You’ll find that while rice is often a side dish in the US, it tends to make up much of the plate in DR.

This meal, which is popular at lunch, is meant to vaguely symbolize the Dominican flag.

The red is the beans, the white is the rice and for a dash of creative license, the meat is linked to the blue- the color of liberty.

4. Trinidad and Tobago


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Pelau is popular in Trinidad and according to Go Trinidad, “many consider it to be the national dish,” along with callaloo.

Like some of the other dishes you’ll find in the Caribbean, the flavor is as rich as the diversity of the islands themselves.

Bon Appétit writes, “pelau is a meal that incorporates the culinary legacies and cooking techniques of the two most dominant ethnicities on the islands: Africans and East Indians.”

5. Antigua and Barbuda

The national dish of this dual island nation is fungee and pepperpot.

Fungee resembles cornmeal or polenta which is usually rolled into a ball shape.

According to National Foods of The World, “it is eaten alongside vegetable mash and a sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, and salted codfish. Fungi can also be served with Antiguan pepper pot (a spicy meat soup).”



6. St. Lucia


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Green Figs (green bananas) and Saltfish is the national dish of St. Lucia.

According to Islander Keys, it dates back to the 19th century or so.

Back then, “green bananas were in abundance on the island and saltfish was imported cheaply to use as food for the slaves. As time passed, the slaves and other inhabitants of St Lucia added their twist to the dish with various spices and seasonings.”

You can pair it with bakes and cucumber salad with avocado.