The Best Restaurants and Places to Eat on Antigua

These 5 restaurants may be the best authentic eateries in the diverse melting pot of the Caribbean. Whether it’s eating in an extended family’s back yard, learning how to be happy with a rum-loving German, or sitting on some steps tucking into a local lunch plate—you can’t go wrong with any of these Antiguan restaurants. And if you want to give back to the Antigua community with your gourmet dinner purchase, well, there’s a place for that, too!

Five Islands Village, St John's, Antigua & Barbuda
My first night at Galley Bay, I decided to take in their signature dining experience at Ismay’s. This is their top-of-the-line restaurant. Menu items include baked escalope of mahi mahi with olive and pine nut crust parsley; roasted cherry tomatoes, chilled caponata, sweet potato wafers, and balsamic reduction; and gratin of shrimp, crimson grapes, fresh dill, and champagne cream. Certainly impressive names, but perhaps the most impressive is the name of the restaurant itself. You see, when the then unnamed restaurant was being built in 2008, employees overwhelmingly suggested it should be named after one of their own: Ms. Ismay Mason. Ismay had been with Galley Bay for 45 years at that time during which she’d never called in sick and was a steadfast member of the team and community at large. Five years later, when Ismay finally retired, the tribute to her contribution toward the exceptional vibe of Galley Bay continued with the formation of The Ismay’s Foundation which provides for further career training and education within the community. Incidentally, I had the grilled beef mignon and sauté of shrimp, fondant potato, lemon, parsley and white wine emulsion.
St John's, Antigua and Barbuda
The moment you walk into Buba’s, you feel like family. It’s easy to understand why when you consider that surrounding this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hillside restaurant are Buba’s house, Buba’s sister’s house, and Buba’s Brother’s house across the street. Buba’s own two daughters, nephews, cousins, and other miscellaneous family either host, help in the kitchen, play dj, man the bar, or simply greet visitors from their porches with welcoming, West Indian waves. This homegrown approach extends beyond hospitality to deliciously impact the food as well. Nearly every fruit, vegetable, and herb used in the dishes at Buba’s are all grown on the sloping overgrown gardens surrounding the restaurant. The result is a quintessential island restaurant with no real set menu. Instead, expect the freshest ingredients of the day lovingly coaxed into a collection of authentic Caribbean fare like rice and peas, stew chicken, steamed veggies, salad, and more.
Dickenson Bay St
At Pappa Zouk’s rum bar in Antigua the truest path to happiness is through a mix of rum, fresh fish, new friends, and zouk music. First you should know that Pappa Zouk’s is not a restaurant. It’s a rum bar with a dizzying array of rums, rhums, and rons from across the Caribbean and beyond. Yes, lucky rummies can supplement their rum intake with a full menu of authentically prepared fresh fish and other seafood delights, but first-and-foremost this quirky little space is dedicated to drinking and being merry. Secondly, you should know Pappa Zouk is not the mad German owner and bartender. No, that curmudgeon with a penchant for abruptly ending the night’s festivities with a hearty “Get the f**k out!” is Bert Kirchner. He named his place after a deaf, dumb, old man he met on Dominica who would transform from a shuffling ancient to a lithe dancer with pure joy radiating from his gap-toothed smile down to the tips of his barefoot toes any time zouk music was played. He couldn’t hear the music, but he certainly felt it. And his pure happiness in the face of his meager existence was something that always stuck with Bert. Now he spreads happiness his own way — with rum, fresh fish, and zouk playing in the background.
Tottenham Park ,Jolly Harbour, Valley Rd, Antigua and Barbuda
Cavell’s Cook Shop hides in plain sight along the road that hugs the shore on Antigua’s southwestern coast. Its humble, nondescript outward appearance bears every likeness of a simple storage shed or roadside workshop. Thick, encroaching foliage on either side further suggest its owner might prefer his or her place to maintain a low profile. The long line of cars regularly parked astride the road outside Cavell’s at all hours of the day, however, tells a different story. So too do the savory aromas emanating from beneath her galvanize roof, and the smiles on the faces of her steady stream of people filing in and out of here. You see, small and simple though it may be, Cavell’s is the prime spot for real local food in Antigua. The sun pounding down on the galvanize roof combined with the heat put forth by the various cooking apparatuses maKe standing inside Cavell’s feel like limin’ in an oven. No one was complaining, though. Cold Wadadli’s and good company have a way of keeping things cool here. Come to Cavell’s with a smile, some patience, and an open mind and you’ll make friends of the broad swath of local Antiguans, representing all walks of life, easily.
Old Road, Antigua and Barbuda
All across Antigua you can find what may, at first glance, appear to be regular pineapples, but if you pass up on sampling the Antigua Black Pineapples, or just Antigua Blacks for short, you’d be missing what many call the sweetest pineapple on the planet. It’s said that Arawak Indians brought the first pineapples to Antigua’s shores more than 1,000 years ago. Upon cultivation in the island’s unique environment, these early pineapples soon adopted the distinctive flavor, appearance, and make-up of the Antigua Black we know today. The flavor being crisply sweet, not cloying, thanks in part to the Antigua Black’s low acidity. The appearance is so diminutive that you may think these pygmy pineapples aren’t ready for primetime compared to their oversized cousins from Hawaii, but one taste and you’ll change your tune. Check out Cades Bay Agricultural Station down south on Old Road to learn the history and explore the Antigua Black’s cultivation first hand.
Saint Mary's Street
What’s a roti? The simple answer is the ultimate comfort meal of curry wrapped in a thin dough—borrowed from India and perfected in Trinidad and Tobago. You have to understand — making roti is not an easy task. Like many other traditional Caribbean foods, it takes a lot of time and effort to make something this comfortingly delicious… And perhaps those hours of anticipation actually added a little something to the flavors when you finally got the finished, hot roti in between your hands. It starts with the “skin” or roti (officially, only the skin is called roti, but in the Caribbean, we apply the name to the whole package). This is where a roti becomes a success, or literally falls apart. Any time you buy a roti, this is always the thing most people comment on. “Skin’s too thin.” “Skin’s too thick.” “Skin’s too dry.” Etc. The roti skin has to be just right, or the whole thing will fail. My favorite type of skin is dhalpuri which is just what you’ll find at Roti King — now just ask them to fill it with goat, chicken, or shrimp and you in business!
Dockyard Drive, Antigua and Barbuda
Goat water is basically a thin soup. Swimming in its brown depths you’ll find lumps of practically any part of a goat (usually bones and all), there’s clove, thyme, plus some other assorted herbs and spices, and depending on what island you find yourself sampling goat water, don’t be surprised to find some additional items in there like small dumplings, yams, and potatoes.

You can find goat water on many islands in the Caribbean from Antigua, Grenada, St. Kitts, Nevis, and many more. It’s even the national dish of Antigua’s neighbor: Montserrat!

On islands like Jamaica, expect a cousin of goat water to be served at weddings… Especially to the grooms. Why? Well, that version also goes by the name “mannish water” so can imagine what the expected results of slurping up a bowl!
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