Readers often complain of the high price of dining out at night in Montego Bay. Of course, for a huge percentage of visitors, this is not a problem, as many vacationers stay at an all-inclusive resort.
Montego Bay has the best restaurants in Jamaica, but the upper bracket ones are very expensive. Add to that the cost of a taxi there and a taxi back, and your price of your dinner will rise dramatically.
If you're not staying at an all-inclusive, and you want to dine around, here are some tips:
- On island, look for daily specials posted, which are often cheaper than the regular fare on the a la carte menu.
- The cost of imported liquor such as Scotch can cause your dining tab to rise rapidly. Many diners settle for a tropical rum punch instead. Also, you can order cocktails before happy hour ends (usually 7pm at most joints).
- For a change of pace, go to a local dive such as the Pork Pit. The food is tasty and affordable.
- Having a light lunch of sandwiches or a hamburger at one of the many beach bars and cafes during the day can save you money.
- Note that many restaurants in Montego Bay add 10% to 15% to your tab to cover service. There is no need to leave something extra unless the service has been exceptionally good.
Of course, these tips for Montego Bay will also apply to other beach resorts in Jamaica as well, especially Negril and Ocho Rios.
Going Native on the Street
Mo Bay has some of the finest and most expensive dining on the island. But if you're watching your wallet and have an adventurous streak, try the terrific street food. The densest concentration of street food in Montego Bay is available at the junction of Gloucester Avenue and Kent Road. (The .8km/ 1/2-mile strip of beach-fronting boulevard stretching along both sides of that junction is also known as Bottom Road or, less formally, as "the Hip Strip.") The Hip Strip is lined with bars, food stands, and shops catering to the beach trade. At any of these stands, you might try authentic jerk pork or seasoned spareribs, grilled over charcoal fires and sold with extra-hot sauce. To complete the experience, order a Red Stripe beer to go with it. Cooked shrimp are also sold on the streets of downtown Mo Bay, especially along St. James Street. They don't look it, but they're very spicy, so be warned. And if you have an efficiency unit with a kitchenette, you can buy fresh lobster or the catch of the day and make your own dinner.