Caribbean Food: The Spice of Life

Experience culinary culture and Caribbean food in the Bahamas, in the Dominican Republic or on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

Originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of AAA Traveler.

Caribbean food in the Dominican Republic

Caribbean food in the Dominican Republic

Photo Credit: eStock

Caribbean food is seasoned by both the culinary traditions of conquering nations and the environments that inspired island and coastal kitchens. Consider these three all-inclusive resort destinations, which invite you to get your bib on for a tropical feast by blending the Old World and the New World, the humble and the elegant, terra firma and the sea.

The Meliá Nassau Beach resort, set along a 1,000-foot stretch of the famed Cable Beach, offers great eye candy. But the resort’s O’Grille restaurant, one of seven, seasons taste buds with Bahamian flavors—particularly conch, an island mainstay. (Watch for fritters and creamy conch chowder.) Seal the deal by ordering Bahamian sangria at the tapas bar or a Goombay Smash, the pineapple-and-rum-based national drink, at the swim-up bar. Step off the property and sample Caribbean food on a walking tour of local culinary haunts, or take hands-on cooking classes. Spend an evening in nearby Arawak Cay, known locally as The Fish Fry. The foods here share flavors with the cuisine of the American South. This neighborhood of restaurants gets locals and visitors mingling over Caribbean food featuring lobster, shrimp, snapper and, yes, even more types of conch dishes, served with generous sides of cornbread and mac and cheese and washed down with the local beer, Kalik. At a traditional Bahamian breakfast truck, have your eggs and bacon with a side of yellow peas and grits. During the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the Junkanoo Festival serves up the opportunity to try various street treats. Roadside fruit and frozen daiquiri stalls and food trucks dish Nassau’s native bounty—like ripe, juicy papaya and fried local snapper.

Fried plantains, caribbean food

Fried plantains

Photo Credit: Getty

Smack in the middle of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic’s resplendent Bávaro Beach serves as the backdrop for the sophisticated Paradisus Punta Cana. At this eco-conscious resort, the country’s trademark palm trees shimmy throughout the day. Dining on Caribbean food tops the agenda here. Be sure to reserve a table at Passion by Martín Berasategui; the resort’s signature restaurant is overseen by the Michelin-starred chef. The 12 dining options on site offer an array of Latin American flavors. Enjoy one of the regularly scheduled cooking classes or wine tastings to learn about the country’s food history, which takes influence from Europe, Africa and Asia. Take a full-day tour of the capital, Santo Domingo, the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas. While you explore, watch for restaurants that serve traditional Dominican foods, like tostones (fried plantains), sancocho (meat and vegetable stew) or asopao de pollo (chicken and rice stew).

On Mexico’s east coast, tuck into the Paradisus Cancún resort, which is situated along one of Cancún’s irresistibly silky beaches. Join cooking classes that showcase the best of Mexico’s cuisine, such as guacamole and ceviche, or mixology classes, tequila tastings and wine tastings. Or explore the eats off-property. Venture into Playa del Carmen or take a day trip to Tulum for the local flavors of the Yucatán and world-class restaurants. Sample smoky pibil, a method of pit barbecue where meats are rubbed with achiote paste and marinated in habanero chilies and sour Seville orange juice. While in paradise, try the local catch—like a ceviche featuring fresh fish, octopus or shrimp—or a hearty seafood stew.

AAA Members receive a $50 activity credit per booking at Meliá Nassau Beach All-Inclusive, Paradisus Punta Cana Resort All-Inclusive and Paradisus Cancún All-Inclusive.

The expert Travel Counselors at AAA can help you plan a perfect Caribbean vacation. Call 877-396-7159 or visit your local branch to learn more.

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David Kallas, AAA Travel Counselor, Murray, Utah

I'm all about once-in-a-lifetime trips to destinations such as the Cook Islands, Australia or an African safari. I love to plan trips that my clients return from not regretting anything.

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