Turks and Caicos is a wonderful place to explore the very best that Caribbean cuisine has to offer with the food showcasing influences from West Africa, South Asia, Europe, and South America. From grilled lobster tail to johnnycakes, callaloo soup, to jerk chicken, read on for your guide to the best foods you simply must try on your next visit to Turks and Caicos.
It would be a crime to have a list of the best food in Turks and Caicos without first paying homage to the island nation’s national dish: Cracked Conch. And, if you enjoy conch fritters, you will be sure to love the deep-fried variation on this iconic Caribbean cuisine, which features less batter and more conch. While conch fritters are traditionally served with hot sauce, cracked conch often comes with fries and a spicy dipping sauce.
We recommend ordering the dish at Da Conch Shack, a Providenciales institution that happens to be one of the best places to feast on this pastel mollusk in the entire West Indies.
Peas and Rice
Peas and rice is a popular side dish throughout the Caribbean nations and is a traditional accompaniment to the delicious seafood on Turks and Caicos' islands. (It’s also often enjoyed while blended with coconut milk).
We recommend visiting SandBar in Grand Turk for lunch or dinner and ordering peas and rice as an accompaniment to your meal of lobster, conch, or mahi-mahi—you will find the flavors to be very complementary.
Callaloo is a traditional Caribbean vegetable dish with roots in West Africa that was first introduced in the West Indies during the triangular slave trade in the 16th century. Callaloo stew is comprised of vegetables, coconut milk, and okra. You’ll notice okra is a much-loved ingredient in many recipes through the Turks and Caicos Islands. Regular visitors to the Bahamas may recognize the taste, as it is a culinary staple on those islands as well—though, in the Bahamas, it’s called souse.
Enjoy this delicious starter dish while dining beneath the stars at Triple J’s Grill in Cockburn Harbour.
Though jerk chicken was invented in Jamaica, the tasty poultry dish is a staple throughout the Caribbean—Turks and Caicos included. While you can enjoy various jerk dishes (including pork), we suggest opting for the original classic jerk chicken at Chinson's Grill Shack. Order the “Jerk Chicken-Just Da Meat” at this beloved shack in Providenciales to discover what all the fuss is about.
Grilled Lobster Tail
The rocky coasts of Maine and the tropical beaches of Turks and Caicos may not seem like they’d have much in common, but on one seafood dish, they are entirely aligned: You can’t visit either place without sampling some of the local lobster. Though Caribbean spiny lobsters differ from their North American counterparts (notably lacking those oversized claws), they are equally tasty. Order the grilled lobster tails, a Turks and Caicos specialty, on the lobster menu at Mango Reef Restaurant in Turtle Cove Marina.
The preferred method of serving this dish in Turks and Caicos is by grilling and you'll often see it served whole. This dish is second only to conch in its popularity throughout restaurants and cafes on the islands, so we suggest either heading to the Great House Restaurant (located in Sailrock Resort on South Caicos) and ordering the Caicos Bank red snapper or checking out the Local Snapper Sandwich on the menu at Bay Bistro in Providenciales.
This pan-baked cornbread keeps well was often used as a replacement for wheat and a main force of sustenance during long trips at sea. Hence the name, which originally derives from “journey cake.” For a thoroughly modern take on this Caribbean mainstay, order the Johnny Cake waffles at Crackpot Kitchen in Grace Bay, Providenciales.
If you're not in the mood to have your conch fried, then conch salad is for you. The conch is marinated in citrus juice (usually lemon or orange) and tossed with diced with cucumber, tomato, and other vegetables. Head to Bugaloo’s to enjoy “The Best Conch Salad in Provo,” a bold claim indeed but the dish certainly lives up to the hype. Or check out the Conch Trio at Hemingway's to enjoy conch fritters, conch salad, and cracked conch, all at once. When in the islands, after all.