The impressive and almost untouched environment of Dominica in the Lesser Antilles inspires the nation’s plates, with Dominica food a mouth-watering medley of ripe, fresh fruits, diversely inspired one-pot dishes, and straight-from-the-boat juicy seafood.
Pulling flavors not just from the Caribbean and Creole techniques but also from Africa and France (the island was a French colony from 1715 to 1763), Dominica cuisine promises an all-encompassing experience. You can also still find some authentic and traditional recipes in Kalinago territory, home to descendants of the island’s original Carib people.
Here are 17 delicious Dominica dishes to try.
Since 2013, following a survey of the country’s residents, Callaloo has been awarded the title of the official national dish of Dominica.
A rich and leafy soup, the recipe combines verdant greens such as spinach and dasheen (a root vegetable also known as taro) with coconut milk for the base. Yams, peppers, onions, salted meats (or crab), and green bananas round off the hearty soup, with cornmeal dumplings added for good measure.
This one-pot dish is a beloved treasure, reflected in its ascension to national dish status, and it’s nearly always consumed during special occasions, such as Dominica’s carnival in February or March, or other popular holidays.
Luckily for visitors, it’s easy to find on restaurant and café menus year-round, allowing the opportunity to sample a true taste of Dominica food no matter what time of year you visit.
Read: Best Things to Do in Dominica
Don’t get caught out by this unofficial ex-national dish before studying the description, as a Mountain chicken in Dominica (and Montserrat) isn’t a clucking hen but, in fact, a large frog with a chicken-like taste.
The mountain chicken is so enshrined in the Caribbean culture and history of the nation, that you’ll even find it featured on the country’s coat of arms.
Also known as a giant ditch frog, the meal retired as the national dish due to the species’ dwindling population. Sadly, the frog is now considered critically endangered, so it’s strongly recommended to avoid mountain chicken on the rare occasion it still uses the giant ditch to help the animals try and re-populate. Instead, opt for a version prepared using an alternative species.
The recipe combines well seasoned flour-coated frog legs with lime, thyme, garlic, and herbs and a gravy base of onions and oil.
Expect mountain chicken to be accompanied by a generous helping of rice and provisions, the local term for a combination of root vegetables such as plantains, white yams, and sweet potatoes.
As with the rest of this naturally-prosperous country, eating is all about the experience and tastes rather than amenities.
So expect excellent flavors, whether you’re dining in a laid-back café shrouded by towering trees, a colorful street-side stall, or a premium beachside view. This is particularly true of the island’s perfectly ripe and juicy fruits, often plucked fresh from the tree that day.
Sweet guavas and mangoes, buttery papayas, bananas, and pineapples all line market stalls in vivid colors, sometimes sliced up and sold by the very hands who harvested them.
To browse and sample the array of fruits available, head to the farmers’ market in Roseau, the country’s coastal capital, and scan the stalls. You’ll also spot fruit trees all across the Southern Caribbean island—don’t be surprised when taking a tour for the guide to hand you something straight from the plant to sample.
Some local fruits you might not be accustomed to include barbadine, a larger and more subdued member of the passion fruit family, and soursop, of which the white interior provides a tangy, sour citrus flavor that makes for an excellent juice when sweetened.
Indigenous to the tropics of the Caribbean and Americas, soursop (also known as guanábana) is a fruit that you may not have heard of before but shouldn’t miss trying while vacationing in Dominica.
Skip the pre-prepared versions in a can, and make the most of the opportunity to sample soursop juice from a street-side stall, especially in late summer.
The meaty whites of the fruit—the seeds are toxic—are usually mixed with milk for a more creamy flavor (or simply water) and will have some sugar added to increase the sweetness. The beverage is nutritious and refreshing on a summer day, especially if served chilled from an icebox.
While it might sound like an opulent mountain-spring water source, chatou water actually refers to a popular, octopus-based soup. You can also find a similar dish made with goat, although the name—goat water—is a little more of a giveaway.
Simply prepared, the fragrant dish is a mix of seasonal vegetables, dumplings, and diced octopus, with everything combined in one pot. Usually, the soup is accompanied by bread, often with a garlic topping.
Made from fresh, thick cod, sprinkled with seasoning and fried up before being wedged between two slices of crispy bread, the codfish sandwich is a simple staple of the Dominica food scene.
Great to grab on the go, and without the strong flavor of some other popular island fishes, this is the perfect snack to devour between active Caribbean hikes or as a light snack before visiting the hot springs.
While similar to the sancocho broths found in other Latin American countries, the dish is frequently prepared with saltfish rather than meat in Dominica cuisine.
You can enjoy the Creole dish as a side or breakfast serving, although light eaters will be more than happy with it as a main course.
Ginger, peppers, coconut milk, onions, garlic, and turmeric are cooked together in the pan alongside the saltfish (codfish), with herbs added to bring out all the flavors. Once boiling and blended, the delicious aromatic scent wafts through the air, and it’s time to dive into a broth that’s simple, yet packed with character.
Similar to a guinea pig, this large rodent may seem less than appealing as a meal at first, but once stewed, it becomes a staple delicacy of the Dominica food scene.
Marinated and stewed in a curried sauce with plenty of vegetables, seasoning, garlic, and a bonnet pepper, the meal is slowly prepared to create a soft, wild meat stew bursting with flavor.
Agouti is a popular lunchtime dish usually cooked up in a giant pot, so you can always ask the stall holder if they will allow you to sample a little before committing to a full-sized portion.
If you want to try something a little different and special to Dominica, then manicou is the dish for you, especially if you haven’t eaten opossum before your visit to the island. While it might sound unusual to some western palates, the flavor isn’t that dissimilar to chicken.
The opossum, the only marsupial to be found in this part of the Caribbean, is seasoned with a blend of local spices and slowly smoked over a low fire or cooked on a barbeque. While you can eat it straight from the grill, it’s common to find the manicou served as a hearty stew, packed with seasonal vegetables and a little kick of spice from the local peppers.
Especially popular around Christmas and the holidays, sorrel punch is a refreshing and somewhat sweet blend of spices, ginger, and sorrel.
The red hibiscus flowers from the sorrel plant (not to be confused with the herb sorrel that’s found in cooler climates) are boiled together with the other ingredients to create a delicious and healthy beverage.
Of course, adding Dominica’s fantastic rum slightly changes the flavor and health benefits, but as a beloved drink on the island, it shouldn’t be missed.
Bello Hot Sauce
No trip to the Caribbean would be complete without a sprinkling of a mouth-awakening hot sauce, and Bello Hot Sauce is the perfect condiment for your Dominica food.
This is an award-winning hot sauce in which the heat and spice of the fiery Scotch Bonnet pepper certainly shines through, so it’s advisable to be conservative when first dribbling it over your fresh fish. The added vinegar and spices help to balance the sauce out, so your palate can still pick up on the flavors and not just the heat.
You’ll also find plenty of homemade alternatives at cafés across the island, ranging from mild to extreme, so be sure to sample a drop before coating your meal.
You can’t go wrong with this filling and delectable fish broth (known as braff locally). As with similar dishes on the island and across the Caribbean, it’s prepared as a one-pot meal.
Seasonal fish is mixed with varying ground provisions, handmade dumplings, vegetables, lime, and herbs, and then boiled until the aromas burst from the pan. If you’re not a fan of seafood, you’ll sometimes encounter the dish cooked with meat instead.
Fresh Fish and Seafood
Beyond the beloved seafood dishes from Dominica cuisine, such as braff, the eastern Caribbean Sea and inland rivers provide a wealth of succulent fish and seafood.
Juicy, plump crabs and crayfish are abundant during the designated freshwater hunting season, which is in place to protect stocks. Mahi mahi, often called “fried dolphin” on local menus but in no way related to an actual dolphin, can usually be enjoyed year-round.
You’ll also most likely find lionfish featured on many menus these days, as the invasive fish is a problem for local populations, so heavy fishing is encouraged. Once the venomous spine has been removed, you’re left with a delicious white flaky fish.
Order simply grilled, or for a little more flavor, ask for the addition of Creole sauce.
Read: The Ultimate Guide to Caribbean Cuisine
Titiwi is a popular small translucent fish, similar to trout, and is found near freshwater river mouths. However, due to their size, they are often served as accra, a type of Dominica fritter, rather than alone.
As the titiwi only arrive at the shore during certain times as defined by the lunar calendar, the rest of the year, you’ll find the accra at street stalls made with codfish, which are still equally delicious.
No trip to Dominica would be complete without at least a sip of rum crafted from the island’s sugar cane estates, either neat or mixed in a Caribbean cocktail.
You’ll find the spirit distilled in various flavors across the country, often making the most of the exquisite range of tropical fruits available—the passion fruit infusion is of particular note.
Herbal rums are also popular, heralding back to the days when they were drunk for medicinal purposes, and bartenders will often happily recite the ailments that your particular tipple will address.
While bush rums (bottles of overproof small batch rum often produced independently) are ubiquitous in Dominica, some people prefer to try a more “official” version—or at least a bottle with a label.
Macoucherie Rum Distillery has been a commercial, home-grown brand since 1763 and is a good starting point to order in a bar. You can also visit their factory and embark on a short tour and Caribbean rum tasting to learn more about the island’s production and distilling process.
One of the most traditional Dominica foods, cassava bread is a flatbread crafted from the original Kalinago recipe. The cassava (a nutty-flavored root vegetable) is combined with coconut milk and spices, forming an aromatic bread perfect at any time of day.
You can sometimes see the bread being cooked on top of an open oven when you visit the Kalinago territory. For the best samples, head to Cassava Bakery near Bataka, where you can enjoy the original and adaptations of the recipe.
Is there a better way to round off a day exploring Dominica or cool down during a boat trip spotting whales than with a chilled and refreshing beer?
Dominica’s own Kubuli Beer is an excellent option to try while visiting the island, especially as it’s hard to find and sample internationally outside the Caribbean. Keep an eye out for the green bottles with a small map of the nation adorning the label. You will, however, find that nearly every bar and restaurant will stock the unofficial national beer.
The flavor profile of this light golden lager might not win any groundbreaking awards. However, the pristine waters from the Loubière Springs used to produce Kubuli ensures a pleasant and refreshing brew, and The Nature Island is undoubtedly a place worth raising a glass to.
If your mouth is watering at the thought of sampling all the delicious Dominica cuisine, browse Celebrity Cruises’ Dominica cruises to start planning your next luxury Caribbean vacation.