There has never been a better time to feast your eyes on the fine fare and foodie delights of the multi-cultural Caribbean island of Tobago, where you can tuck in to popular island dish ‘doubles’, or let a local cook you some ‘Buss Up Shut’.
Colourful street-food, home-cooked creole cuisine and irresistible Indian-inspired dishes mean you can try a new dish every day if you wanted to while visiting this paradise for foodies.
Enjoy the world famous laid-back Caribbean lifestyle with a refreshing Carib beer whilst snacking on plantain chips under the palms in Speyside, or head down to one of the sandy coves to soak in the sun and enjoy the cool sea breeze around Charlotteville while tucking in to a freshly caught haul of fish.
Tobagonian cuisine perfectly captures the island’s multicultural and diverse heritage, with influences from Caribbean, Indian, Chinese, European and African cooking all found in its unique and delicious food. In every dish you try you can expect rich flavours, sensational seasoning and, of course, plenty of spice!
And, with British Airways currently offering flights and a seven-night hotel stay from £579pp, there’s never been a better time to visit.
Here are five foodie favourites you shouldn’t fly home from Tobago without trying first…
1) Incredible curries
Fragrant curries full of flavour are a staple in Tobago, and you can expect to find popular dishes such as curried lamb, chicken or shrimp on many menus throughout the island, or being served up hot and steaming from street-food stalls.
Curried crab is the island’s signature dish, and you shouldn’t leave Tobago without sampling their famous crab and dumplings one lunchtime.
Curried crab with dumplings
Tobagonian curries are often served with rice, pigeon peas, vegetables and seasoned potato, and you may also be offered roti (one of the island cuisine’s many east Indian influences) with your dish to soak up the delicious sauce at the end of the meal.
Similar to roti and curry, ‘Buss Up Shut’ is a plate of channa (chickpeas), potato, bodi (green beans) and pumpkin. Also known as paratha, the explosion of flavours wrapped up in a light and buttery roti-style bread makes a mouth-wateringly unmissable meal for anyone visiting Tobago.
2) Famously fresh fish
It wouldn’t be an island holiday if you didn’t enjoy the fabulous taste of fresh fish whilst soaking up the sun and sea air close to the beach. Red Snapper, tuna and codfish are all common in Tobagonian cuisine and are readily available on the island, with fresh fish caught daily by local fishermen (pictured top).
Don’t miss the chance to enjoy fresh lobster during your stay at incredibly reasonable prices – a heavenly find for foodies. There are few places in the world where such quality and value can be found for seafood.
A fresh lobster dish served at Jemmas Restaurant in Speyside, Tobago
3) Comforting Calalloo
Dip into Creole dish calalloo to experience the country’s ultimate answer to comfort food. A staple for a family meal on a Sunday, calalloo is a hot and spicy dish that often accompanies some of the island’s other most popular dishes such as chicken stew, rice and peas, or macaroni pie.
Callaloo is a traditional dish made on Tobago and its sister island of Trinidad, and is popular across the Caribbean. While the core leafy vegetables central to the dish vary depending on which country you visit, in Tobago callaloo is traditionally made with leaves from the dasheen bush mixed with coconut milk, pumpkin, garlic and plenty of seasoning.
Served up as a soup with freshly caught crab, or as an accompaniment to coo coo (a cornmeal and okra based dish similar to polenta) you can expect to be offered calalloo with a variety of dishes on the island – especially if you’re grabbing food on the go with the locals from a street-food stall or from a market.
Rice and peas with callaloo chicken and vegetables
4) The freshest fruit
There’s no doubt that the islands of the Caribbean provide the opportunity to enjoy some of the freshest and most delectable fruits in the world – and Tobago is no exception.
Watermelon, mango, grapefruit, bananas, passion fruit and pineapple are just some of the fruits that can be found in plentiful amounts on the island. Ready, ripe and bursting with flavour, your favourite fruits will often have only had to travel mere meters between the place they were picked and your plate – the height of ‘farm to table’ eating.
Foodies shouldn’t leave Tobago without visiting one of the big local food markets in Scarborough to discover and try some of the wonderful local fruits found on the island.
To enjoy your tropical five-a-day with a Tobagonian twist and a little Caribbean kick, give ‘Chow’ a try. Made with pineapple, mango (or perhaps local fruit pommecythere when mango is out of season), the fruit is marinated in lime, pepper (beware the scotch bonnet) and garlic with a handful of coriander.
Grab it on the go from roadside stalls or try buying some from beach vendors in Store Bay and tasting the sweet and salty dish down by Tobago’s azure blue sea.
5) Island sun-downers
A Caribbean holiday wouldn’t be complete without barrels of rum, so don’t skip on the rum punch cocktails, often mixed with fresh coconut water and plenty of ice or served up with Angostura – the famous bitters from the neighbouring sister isle of Trinidad.
For a refreshing and hydrating alcohol-free version, buy a coconut from a street vendor, who will deftly slice the top off using a machete or cutlass and serve you the coconut fresh with a straw.