The first time you try a certain cuisine, you really want to stick with the basic, classic dishes. This gives you a more complete, overall view of the cuisine before you dive into trying more specialized foods. So what are the classics you should be ordering at a Caribbean restaurant? Take a look.
Caribbean cuisine in general uses a lot of goat and a lot of pork. Many dishes consist of these meats stewed with various seasonings and sides. Goat curry is a classic that you'll see on a lot of menus. It's quite similar to Indian curry, but tends not to be quite so spicy. You'll also see jerked pork and chicken pretty often. These are good choices if you're not that into stews and mixed dishes. Basically, the meat is tossed in a really flavorful blend of herbs and seasonings, including cinnamon and cayenne pepper, and then roasted or grilled until it's very tender.
As the Caribbean consists of many island nations, seafood is really popular. But Caribbean countries use different seafood than you might be used to. Conch is quite common. It can be pounded thin, coated, and fried, or it might be stir fried with various vegetables. You'll also see a lot of saltfish, which is various species of fish that have been preserved in salt. Ackee and saltfish is a common dish; ackee is a sweet red fruit with yellow flesh.
It's pretty easy to eat vegetarian at a Caribbean restaurant since there are a number of vegetable-based main dishes. Pepperpot is one of these dishes. It's a thick vegetable soup made from peppers, various root veggies, and sometimes beans. You may see some vegetable-based dishes listed as "ital." This means that they are made without salt — something that is called for by certain Rastafarian groups.
Snacks and Desserts
Do not skip dessert at a Caribbean restaurant. This cuisine is known for its sweetness, and there are a few delicious ones to choose from. Bun is a spicy-sweet bread that makes the perfect light dessert. Cassava pone is a pudding made from cassava, which is a root vegetable, and bulla are cookies made with lots of brown sugar.
Hopefully you now have a better overall understanding of Caribbean cuisine and what to order at a Caribbean restaurant. The dishes are varied and enjoyable, and you can expect a satisfying meal.