Three things make Antigua stand out among the other Caribbean countries- The culture, the scenery, and the cuisine. And when you make up your mind to visit this tropical paradise, come with an open mind and an appetite for authenticity.
Exploring any new country means you get to immerse yourself in all the things that make it unique, from the culture to the people, to nature, and of course, the cuisine. Antigua and Barbuda food can be described as a mix of authentic Antiguan culture with regional and international flairs.
Most of the influence is from West Africa but because of the very diverse population, some dishes are influenced by Asia, India, Syria, and a variety of Caribbean countries. So, what are some of the best Antiguan dishes? And where can you find them on the island? In this article, we will explore tradition, evolution, and creativity in the Antigua and Barbuda food culture.
Antigua traditional Dishes
This may just be one of the strangest dishes you have tasted, but believe us, it is delightful. Fungi or cou-cou as it is called in Barbados is made using two simple ingredients: cornmeal and okra, and of course salt or seasoning of your choice. Although it can be eaten with any meat or fish, it is best enjoyed with stewed saltfish or codfish and can be found at any local restaurant on the island. Fungi and saltfish is Antigua’s national dish and is a delicacy enjoyed year-round but is traditionally served during the country’s independence celebrations in October.
In a nutshell, Fungi is a delicious part of Antigua dining that you can enjoy with just about any fish or meat. Fungi can also be accompanied by pepperpot– a delicious meat soup containing different ground provisions and vegetables including potatoes, okra, and eggplant and meats such as chicken, turkey, and pork.
Next on the list of authentic Antiguan dishes is Ducana, and take it from us, this one might just be the best. Ducana is quite like Mexican tamales and is made using grated coconut and sweet potatoes, cinnamon, essence and nutmegs, coconut milk, and sugar. After the mixture is prepared, it is wrapped in either aluminum foil or banana leaves and boiled until firm. Ducuna, like Fungi, can be served with any meat or fish but is best enjoyed with stewed Saltfish and will have your taste buds begging for more. It can be found at any local Antiguan restaurant.
We must warn you, if you are a seafood lover, then you may not want to leave Antigua after tasting the many mouth-watering seafood dishes the island has to offer. Among them is Conch, a delectable shellfish with a soft texture and a distinctive taste. With so many beaches, it is no wonder that Conch and other similar unique shellfish are in abundance in Antigua’s waters.
Conch is usually prepared in Seafood chowder or as a curry (Curry Conch), but can also be enjoyed in Ceviches, or deep-fried in batter. Chefs in Antigua make it their priority to create tasty, uncommon dishes using local ingredients.
Goat water is a popular Caribbean dish that can be found mainly at local restaurants and road vendors. Fun fact: It is sometimes referred to as Mannish Water because of its aphrodisiac qualities. Goat water is a very light soup, made from goat meat, dumplings, potatoes, and firm vegetables.
Some other popular dishes that you can enjoy in Antigua include:
- Jerk Chicken
- Seafood chowder
- Boiled Crabs
- Seasoned Rice
Relocate Antigua offers private chef services, and our skilled local chefs will prepare whatever local dish you would like to try. Get in touch with us today!
Popular Antiguan Snacks and Desserts
Antiguan Bread Pudding
You’ve probably had bread pudding before, but Antiguan-style bread pudding is a dessert that will have you begging for more. This is a delectable baked sweet dessert with British influence that is prepared using bread, milk, spices and if you like, a rum sauce topping.
Tamarind is one of the fruits that grow in abundance in Antigua, and on your Antigua island tour, you will surely prove this yourself. The fruit is either sweet or sour, but the trees which bear the sour Tamarind can be considered wild plants, as they grow everywhere on the island. Luckily, Antiguans do not let sour tamarind go to waste; by coating the fruit in white or brown sugar, Tamarind balls are created and sold in tiny packages at various stores and shops across the island. Sweet tamarinds are enjoyed and are available at most supermarkets across the island.
Johnny Cakes, bakes, fried dumplings, no matter what you call them, are delicious snacks that can even be enjoyed as a side dish. A mixture of flour, sugar, and a raising agent is deep-fried in oil and served hot. When buying local food in Antigua, you will most likely be given the option of Johnny Cakes as a side dish.
Fudge is a delectable Caribbean dessert that is made using coconut milk or cow’s milk. It is usually infused with different flavors including pineapple, tamarind, and even rum.
Other popular snacks include:
- Rice pudding
- Peanut brittle
- Antigua black pineapple
- Fruit tarts
- Rock cake (Coconut cake)
First on our list is the national lager of Antigua and Barbuda. Wadadli Beer is sweet and best enjoyed cold- the perfect drink to take to the beach or just simply unwind after a long day.
If it’s one drink you will be encouraged to try at any bar or restaurant in Antigua, it’s rum punch. Rum punch is a drink made using rum and fruit juice and is said to be the most popular drink on the island.
Best Restaurants in Antigua
As we mentioned at the start, Antigua’s cuisine is influenced by several cultures, making the choices diverse and exciting. With that being said, here are some of the best restaurants in Antigua:
- Casa Roots
- Sheer Rocks
- Colibri Bistro Bar and Lounge
- Catherines Café
- Coconut Grove Bar and Restaurant
- Anas on the Beach
Relocate Antigua also offers bookings and reservations services and we will find you the best restaurants in Antigua so that you bask in the plethora of flavors of Antigua and Barbuda food. Give us a call!