The Caribbean island of Antigua is famous for its fantastic food scene. With international influences from West Africa, Spain, Britain, Jamaica, China, India, Lebanon, and Syria, the island is a true melting pot of cultures, as is apparent in the variety of unique dishes.
Get to know the culture of Antigua through the vibrant flavors and spices of the island’s gastronomy. From fresh seafood to jerk chicken, there’s a wide array of dishes to appeal to every palate. Of course, cocktails made with the world-famous Caribbean rum shouldn’t be missed either.
Make unforgettable memories on your vacation by exploring the best food in Antigua. Here are 17 dishes and drinks to try during your visit.
Although jerk chicken originated in Jamaica, its popularity made it a staple recipe throughout the Caribbean. Found all over the island, this spicy chicken is one of the most popular Antiguan dishes to try during your vacation.
Dry-rubbed or marinated and slow-cooked to perfection over a grill or a fire, this chicken is known for being so tender that it falls right off the bone. The strong flavor is a result of the allspice and Scotch bonnet pepper mixture, making it spicy without being too much to handle.
Try jerk chicken from roadside food stands or casual seaside restaurants and indulge in the authentic Caribbean flavors of this widely known dish.
Some of the best food in Antigua is its seafood, namely fresh conch, the meat found inside the beautiful shell of a large Caribbean sea snail. It can be prepared in many different ways, making this seafood delicacy a very versatile item within the island’s culinary scene.
Perhaps the most popular form you’ll find conch served in Antigua is as fritters. These deep-fried balls of battered conch are a delicious appetizer or snack and typically come with a red pepper dipping sauce.
Other variations you might find while exploring the island include conch salad, chowder, ceviche, or curry. It isn’t hard to find conch on any menu in Antigua either; from roadside stands to high-end restaurants, it’s widely available.
Read: Best Beaches in Antigua
This round flatbread is famous throughout the Caribbean, and Antigua is no exception. Roti can refer to the bread itself or the full wrap-style sandwich that it’s used in making.
Inside the wrap, you’ll typically find meats including chicken, beef, seafood, pork, and vegetables, usually cooked with a curry sauce to give it a little extra flair. Some rotis have potatoes with spices inside as well.
When roti is served as a meal, a salad is typically included on the side. A roti makes for a great lunch after spending some time at the beach, soaking up the Antigua sun.
The Antiguan version of tamales, or large dumplings, ducana blends a collection of native ingredients all wrapped up neatly in a banana leaf before being steamed.
Inside, a blend of grated sweet potatoes, coconut, flour, sugar, cornmeal, and sometimes raisins, are seasoned before being wrapped up and steamed to perfection. The delicious aroma will hit you first, before you indulge in the sweet and savory meal.
Sometimes paired with salt fish, ducana is usually cooked during the Christmas holiday or other celebratory times such as Good Friday.
An homage to the tamarind fruit, this snack is another Antiguan staple. Tamarind balls are a sweet treat that links West African and West Indian heritage. The tamarind tree produces this tropical fruit which is then transformed into this sweet and sour treat using the edible pulp.
The balls are mixed with brown sugar, pepper, and then rolled in granulated sugar, though variations could also include garlic or other spices. These snack-sized balls are easy to pop in your mouth for a tasty bite while exploring Antigua.
This island treat is a delight any time of day, from breakfast to evening. Small pieces of dough, fried on a griddle, are enjoyable on their own or filled with cheese or saltfish.
The dough is composed of cornmeal, salt, and sugar, as well as either milk or water. Their crispy outside and soft inside are the ideal contrast to this Antiguan delight. Indulge in a few Johnny cakes for breakfast or as a side during lunch, where they can be dipped into soup or eaten as a sandwich with cheese.
The name is said to have come from a mispronunciation by the English settlers who called the original Shawnee cakes “Johnny cakes” instead.
Brought to the island by Lebanese and Syrian immigrants, this popular dish is something enjoyed worldwide and is a popular food in Antigua.
Whether chicken, beef, or lamb, the meat of choice is cooked on a vertical rotisserie and shaved off warm in pieces before being used to fill pita bread, or accompanying a salad, typically lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and onion.
The marinade is made using a variety of spices such as paprika, cumin, cardamom, salt, pepper, coriander, cayenne, and turmeric.
A drizzled yogurt sauce or hummus is usually included as well to top it all off and bring the flavors together. For lunch or dinner, you can’t go wrong with this internationally influenced Antiguan food.
Saltfish and Fungee
This duo includes Antigua’s national dish of fungee, a cornmeal made out of okra, often paired with either saltfish or pepperpot (a stew). With fungee as a side to saltfish, you have one of the most popular foods in Antigua.
Freshly caught cod is salt-cured for at least 24 hours before it’s washed off and flaked into pieces, then cooked with spices such as garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. It can be eaten as a breakfast dish, served with avocado, egg, and johnny cakes, or as lunch and dinner.
The mild taste of the fungee complements the stronger flavors the saltfish provides, making for a delicious and typical meal in Antigua. It’s traditionally enjoyed on weekends, particularly Sundays, where you’ll find it on most restaurant menus.
A hearty stew, goatwater is much-loved Antiguan comfort food that’s typically served on Saturdays as a special weekend dish.
Served in a cup, the stew consists of goat meat that has been slow-cooked on the bone for most of the previous day, mixed with cinnamon and cloves. Sometimes, potatoes, yams, and even dumplings are added to the soup.
Goatwater is typically enjoyed for breakfast, but can be eaten for any meal. Visit a local restaurant to find this Caribbean staple and include it in your Antiguan food adventure.
A classic Antiguan side dish, chop up is a mixture of local vegetables such as eggplant, pumpkin, okra, onion, garlic, and the green, leafy spinach-like callaloo. These are mashed up and sometimes paired with boiled green papaya that’s also mashed, with seasoning.
Chop up is typically eaten with saltfish for a contrast in textures and flavors. You may find it served with cactus as well, which adds a bit of sweet tang. Although it’s most popular for breakfast, you’ll find people eating this side dish with lunch and dinner as well.
Macaroni pie is Antigua’s version of macaroni and cheese, though not how we are used to having it. After baking, it’s typically served cold (or sometimes warm), and in slices. The mixture of cheeses includes mozzarella and cheddar which is blended with evaporated milk, eggs, and seasonings before being baked.
Macaroni pie is a staple in Antiguan cuisine and often served as part of Sunday dinner, holidays, or other festive events.
Antigua Black Pineapple
For a true taste of Antigua, dive into the Antiguan Black, a locally grown fruit that’s celebrated as the sweetest pineapple in the world. The Antigua black pineapple is the official fruit of Antigua and Barbuda.
This version of the fruit was introduced to the island by the Arawak indigenous peoples from South America and the Caribbean. It’s said to be less acidic than normal pineapples, making it even more enjoyable to eat, even including the core.
It’s best to get insight from a local when trying it for the first time as it’s difficult to tell when the pineapple is ripe; the skin stays green, even when it’s ready to be cut into.
Antiguan Bread Pudding
Influenced by the British, Antiguan bread pudding is a rich and delicious dessert to try while on your island vacation. It’s made by cubing white bread and mixing in eggs, milk, spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, vanilla, and ginger.
The mixture is baked with a spicy rum sauce and raisins on top for that unique added Caribbean flair. For anyone with a sweet tooth, Antiguan bread pudding is one of the best desserts to try while visiting the island.
Another well-loved sweet treat in Antigua is the simple but delicious peanut brittle, which has been a part of the culinary culture for decades. Sugar is caramelized and peanuts are added as it starts to cool before setting the mixture in a pan and breaking it into chunks for serving.
Peanut brittle can be found in most local markets, souvenir shops that sell specialty foods, and bars.
Coconut Sugar Cake
Using locally sourced sugarcane and coconut, this dessert is one of the top Antiguan foods to try. The coconut is finely grated and combined with sugar, water and ginger before being baked. Different variations using food coloring to add interest can be found throughout the island.
Traditionally, two batches of the mixture are made, with one colored pink and the other left white. Then, the pink is poured over the white to combine the two and baked to form a beautiful, pink and white cookie-sized cake. This is one dessert that shouldn’t be missed when visiting the island of Antigua.
No trip to the island is complete without sipping rum punch on the beach. Using rum from the local distilleries of either English Harbour and Cavalier, this drink is the perfect way to cool off after spending time swimming and sunbathing.
A refreshing mixture of Caribbean rum, cane sugar syrup, lime, and bitters, this simple drink is a crowd-pleaser. You’ll find variations of rum punch around the island, some with other fruit juices added, or spices like nutmeg on top. This is one drink that won’t be hard to find as it’s on almost every menu at restaurants and bars in Antigua.
Try Antigua’s most popular beer, Wadadli, for a crisp and cold treat in the tropical sun. The name is said to have come from the first settlers to the island, who deemed the island “Wadadli”.
The light lager in the green bottle is a staple brew and goes down easily after spending a day enjoying one of Antigua’s beaches. Just like rum punch, you’ll find Wadadli at almost every establishment, big and small.
From hearty stews to sweet desserts and light beers, experiencing all of the amazing Antiguan food and drink is one of the best ways to enjoy the island and its culture. Browse our cruises to Antigua and taste all of the eclectic flavors of the island.