Due to its varied background, Trinidad and Tobago has excellent and varied food options. In particular, the Indian roots have added to some of the best foods of any country in the world. If you can’t tolerate extremely hot and spicy food, be sure to let the cook or waiter know in advance.
Popular throughout T&T are tasty rotis, Indian flatbreads stuffed with channa (chickpea curry), usually some meat, and other items (including green beans, pumpkin, and mangoes). There are several types of roti available in Trinidad – sada, which is similar to pita or naan; dhalpouri, which is filled with ground yellow split peas; and buss up shut, a heartier bread, with a silken texture. Cheap breakfasts of sada roti and ‘choka’ – vegetables of all kinds are available for about TTand other items (including green beans-4. But the most popular fast snack is a ‘doubles’. One famous spot is “George Doubles” located in Woodbrook outside the ever famous “Brooklyn Bar”. Doubles is curried chick peas enclosed in two pieces of fried bread, and served with your choice of condiments. It is a roadside snack, available everywhere at about TTusually some meat-pumpkin. “Ali’s Doubles” is a chain that sells doubles. There are a few locations around Trinidad, mostly in San Fernando. Eat hot.
Phoulourie is another popular roadside snack. Phoulourie are small balls, made of fried ground chick peas and flour. It and other popular snack foods like roast corn, cow heel soup, aloo pies (fried potato pies) and saheena (spinach dipped in batter and fried), are often available from street vendors, especially around the Savannah.
Trinidad and Tobago is also famous for its mouth watering callaloo – a soup made from green leafy vegetables, similar to spinach or kale, sometimes with crab or pigtail added (vegetarians beware!). Callalloo is not the most appetizing of foods to look at, but it is certainly worth a try.
Another must try in T&T is the famous Bake and Shark or Shark ‘n Bake. Most easily obtained along the north coast near Maracas Bay, pieces of shark are deep fried, served in cut fried bread called “fried bake”, and accompanied by various sauces, most popular of which is a puree of shadow beni (a herb similar to cilantro).
Another popular food traditionally associated with beach limes is pelau, usually accompanied with coleslaw. Pelau, is not, however, available for purchase at the beach, although you may be able to find it in a creole restaurant.
If you have a sweet tooth, there are many local sweets and candies to sample like Toolum, Tambran Ball, Guava Cheese, Sugar Cake, Paw Paw Ball, Benna Ball, Jub Jub, Kurma, Barfi, Ladoo, Peera. Many of these will be available on the “lookout” on the way to Maracas Beach, and prepackaged in some supermarkets.
A few American-style fast food chains are available including KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut and Burger King. There are also a few franchised eat-in restaurants such as TGI Friday’s and Ruby Tuesday. There are a few local chains such as Royal Castle (chicken and chips), and Chicken Unlimited. These local fried chicken chains have a different taste from American or European fried chicken chains. Pizza Boys and Mario’s are two popular local Pizza chains. The pizza is quite different from American or Italian pizza.
Chinese food is available in many places from Chinese takeout stores. It is Cantonese style but the spices are uniquely Trinidadian.
Barbecued chicken is another popular Trinbagonian dish. It is similar to American barbecue, but with local spices. There are roadside barbecue stands that sell a box of barbecued chicken (quarter) with fries, salad and garlic bread. One popular place is The Barbecue Hut which is an open air tent where patrons will buy barbecue to sit down and eat or take away. It is on the South Trunk Road in La Romaine, South Trinidad close to the Gulf City mall. Be aware that it is run by Muslims therefore no alcohol is allowed on the compound.
The condiments available in Trinbagonian restaurants are ketchup, plain mustard, garlic sauce, shadon-beni sauce (a cilantro-like herb), hot pepper and many more depending on location. Soy sauce is available in Chinese restaurants, along with an extremely hot Chinese style pepper sauce. If taking hot pepper as a condiment, be warned! It is extremely hot! You may see locals putting a lot of pepper on their food, but remember they have been eating it for years so they are accustomed to it. It is best to try a little and if you feel comfortable add more. If in doubt, avoid it. Salt and black pepper are generally not available as in American restaurants.
Local bakeries sell pastries such as beef and chicken pies and currant rolls. They also sell hops bread which are rolls made with white or whole wheat flour. Hops bread is best eaten hot and can be enjoyed with cheese or butter for a quick snack.
The most refreshing drink on a hot sunny day is a large glass of a very cold delicious Mauby, a beverage made with the bark of the mauby tree and spices, such as anise and cinnamon. It is very refreshing and cooling, but may be an acquired taste, since it has a bitter aftertaste.
Cold soft jelly coconut water — available along the roadsides — costs about TT$3-4. And do try all the many varied local fruit juices, readily available chilled in most groceries.
Sorrel is a popular drink available during Christmas time. It is made from the boiled flowers of the Roselle (hibiscus sabdariffa) plant. It is red in colour and best enjoyed cold. It also has nutritious benefits.
Soft drinks are sweetened with cane sugar, rather than high fructose corn syrup as is the common practice in North America. This gives soft drinks a different taste, which some argue is better.
Malta is a popular drink, made from malt and hops and available from local bars, restaurants and supermarkets. It is high calorie and full of b vitamins, and best enjoyed ice cold.
Being a former sugar cane colony, Trinidad and Tobago is famous for its rum. Popular brands of rum are Black Label and Vat 19 by Fernandes and White Oak, Old Oak by Angostura. Some bars will allow you to buy individual rum drinks either straight with or without a chaser, or mixed. Some bars will allow you to purchase a whole bottle of rum, or a “half” which is equivalent to half a bottle. Some bars will sell a “nip” which is less than half. One can also purchase bottles of rum in stores and at duty free stores at the airport to carry home. Puncheon rum is a stronger type of rum (no less than 75% alcohol). It is not quite like moonshine but definitely stronger than regular rum. In fact it may not be legal to take it back with you. However it is legal in Trinidad and Tobago and is available from many local bars.
Beer is available and quite popular. The two most popular brands of beer are Carib and Stag, which are brewed locally. Additionally, some imported beer such as Miller is available. Other malt liquor drinks are available, brewed locally, such as Smirnoff Ice, and various stouts (Mackeson, Guinness Export, etc.) There are no microbreweries in Trinidad, and beer-lovers may find the local beers not to their taste. However, a few bars do import a wider variety of beers. Of particular note is the All Out bar at the Queen’s Park Oval cricket ground in Port of Spain (94 Tragarete Road), where you will find a reasonable selection of English ales on draft, sold by the pint.
Wine and other spirits:
Wine, vodka, tequila and other spirits are usually imported. There are no wineries in Trinidad and Tobago, as the tropical climate is not conducive to the growing of grapes. Many restaurants will serve a range of imported wines, however, and wine bars, such as More Vino in Woodbrook have opened in the past few years.
Laws related to alcohol:
Not surprisingly, drinking alcohol in public is not frowned upon in Trinidad and Tobago. It is legal to drink alcohol in public. Public drunkenness may get you arrested only if you engage in disorderly conduct. Also the legal drinking age is 18 yrs. However, during election day, sale of alcohol is prohibited and must not be overtly displayed.