The sun is starting to set as your waiter at comes over with a cold glass of locally brewed Kubuli, a beer made with fresh water from a natural spring and found only on Dominica. As you savor the moment from your perch at Sunset Bay Club’s Lobster Palace, the most delicious-looking lobster you’ve ever seen is set down in front of you.
There are lots of reasons to visit Dominica, from beautiful hiking trails to thoughtfully designed resorts that have made the Nature Island a new hot spot for luxury travelers. Adding to its appeal is a vibrant mix of local dishes sure to inspire your taste buds.
From handmade cassava bread to small-batch rum, a mingling of native cuisine and European and African influences offers a taste of the island’s rich history—a story told through spices and local ingredients.
One of those influences comes from the Caribbean’s only remaining population of pre-Columbian Carib Indians, the Kalinagos, who have been preserving their heritage for thousands of years through passed-down recipes and traditions. Today, the breadth of cultures has expanded, and the mix is something you can see reflected in the village names—a jumble of Kalinago, French, and English—as well as taste. Here’s where to sample the delicious results.
On the east side of Dominica, about 20 miles from the capital city of Roseau, the Kalinago Territory, or Carib Reserve, is a 3,700-acre district owned by the indigenous Kalinago people. Within the area, the Kalinago Barana Autê is a model village showcasing traditional life around a series of small huts, or ajoupas. On a tour, you might see demonstrations of canoe building, cassava processing, basket weaving, calabash carving, and herb collecting.
To sample a slice of modern Kalinago life, however, head to Daniel’s Cassava Bakery, a rustic shop nearby that specializes in authentic cassava bread. Owner Daniel Frederick, who sits behind the counter wearing an apron over a casual T-shirt and baseball cap, has worked hard to preserve this island tradition, making the bread from manioc (a local term for cassava) grown on a farm close to his store.
A longtime staple of the Carib diet, cassava is a starchy root tuber used in cooking (it’s also the source of tapioca). Each day, Frederick, who adds coconut and sugar to his dough, bakes the round, pancake-like breads over a wood-fired grill. The result: a treat that’s brown and crispy on the outside—and absolutely delicious.
Islet View Restaurant & Bar is one of those magical places that one finds only through word of mouth—or happens to stop at on a whim. But it’s one of the most scenic dining options on the island, with a spot overlooking Castle Bruce beach.
Every meal is prepared fresh and served with fresh fruit and juice. Locals will recommend the cocoa tea with coconut milk for breakfast—which is as yummy as it sounds—but the curry chicken and stewed chicken for lunch are also must-tries. Their simple-yet-sweet dessert plate features sugarcane, mangoes, and pineapple.
For rum lovers, the real draw here is the impressive rum selection, which features more than 50 varieties of homemade tipples. The creative bush rums, most of which are flavored in-house, are displayed in different size bottles with handprinted labels; you’ll find everything from mango and cherry to even more unexpected tastes like beet and carrot.
After kayaking or snorkeling on Toucari Beach, a small fishing village on the northwest coast, you might want to kick back with a cold Kubuli beer—the unofficial national beer of Dominica, made with water from the island’s Loubière Springs—and some fresh local seafood.
Do it at another super-local hot spot, Sunset Bay Club’s Lobster Palace on Batalie Beach, a small restaurant painted in bright turquoise and peach with casual outdoor seating overlooking the water. On the menu, you’ll find the namesake crustacean prepared several ways, including flambé and pan fried, as well as seasonal crayfish. Or opt for one of the mouth-watering steak, chicken, or vegetarian dishes. There’s also a selection of wine, beer, and cocktails—perfect for savoring the view.
Check out even more amazing places to eat on Dominica.