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One of the best parts of traveling anywhere new is experiencing the culture via local cuisine. In Barbados, this is absolutely true, and you’ll want to make sure you try the national dish, cou cou -- usually served with flying fish -- plus these other stellar dishes at the best restaurants on the island.

Many of these restaurants have stunning views of the ocean; other best spots are hole-in-the-wall carts and caravans. Drink in the island atmosphere and try everything from fine dining to casual joints and beach bars. This is how you’ll get the real Barbados.

Inside the Brown Sugar Restaurant in Barbados.

Brown Sugar Restaurant

Deemed by travelers and locals alike as one of the best spots on the island for cou cou, you’ll want to stop in at Brown Sugar Restaurant for a meal unlike anything you’ll get back in the States. In fact, Brown Sugar is ranked number one by a variety of review sites where folks say it’s the best restaurant on the island.

Brown Sugar is in Bridgetown and offers tourists a true taste of the island through its cuisine and the uniquely Bajan atmosphere of the restaurant. The murals, an open-air feeling, beautiful plants, and rattan furniture all make for a cozy, breezy atmosphere.

Brown Sugar offers a specialty gluten-free menu with delectables like cornmeal cou cou, Bajan fishcakes, steamed sweet potato pudding, and other local cuisine options. Their daily buffet features a number of these, as well as mango mousse, Bajan bread pudding, pumpkin salad, and grilled or fried flying fish.

The buffet is your best bet for dining at Brown Sugar, though folks who’ve opted for entrees rave about the herb-crusted snapper, cou cou, and seafood pasta.

The Cliff in Barbados.

The Cliff

Stunning views await as you arrive at The Cliff restaurant in Durants. You might catch a glimpse of the stingrays or fish playing in the waves as you dine in the elegant open-air venue set on the cliffs above the sparkling water.

If you enjoy dishes like savory snails in puff pastry and delectable drinks like green tea mojitos, you’ll find The Cliff more than satisfactory. The restaurant brings the island’s greatest fare -- crab, shrimp, mahi-mahi -- together with the elegance of European dishes like foie gras and Scottish smoked salmon. Their signature dishes include snow crab cakes, prime beef tenderloin, and truffle parmesan fries.

The service at The Cliff is impeccable, the views stunning, and the food indescribably delicious. You’ll need to make a reservation to ensure you have a table. Wait for a cliff-side table to open up if you can -- though all tables offer at least a glimpse of the sea.

Alcoholic slushies from Chicken George in Barbados.

Chicken George And Yankee Joe’s Beach Bar

For a casual Caribbean/British joint that’s great for an on-the-go day, Chicken George and Yankee Joe’s Beach Bar is a fantastic choice. They’re a family-run business situated on the beautiful Accra Beach in Rockley. You can grab a tasty, casual bite -- like their amazing grilled platter of fish with sweet potatoes, plantains, rice, peas, and macaroni pie -- or one of their signature Bajan rum punches.

Other recommendations include the popular ham and cheese cutter (or sandwich), fried flying fish sandwich, and the fishcakes. Top drink recommendations include the virgin or alcoholic smoothies.

Since the bar is a casual, comfort-food location on the beach, you’ll have fantastic views while enjoying lively conversation with the owners and fellow visitors to the island. Drink up and enjoy.

The view from Chameprs' Restaurant in Barbados.

Champers’ Restaurant

For a seaside restaurant with fine dining, exquisite wines, and bold Caribbean flavors, Champers Restaurant is at the top of the list for visitors and locals alike. The stunning ocean views and beautiful art in the restaurant’s gallery lend a sense of wonder to your dining experience. This Bridgetown restaurant offers a vibrant Caribbean atmosphere with upstairs dining with air conditioning or open-air dining with panoramic views of the clear, blue ocean.

The menu offers a wide selection of local seafood including pan-seared queen scallops, parmesan-crusted barracuda, and divinely delicious crab crepes, plus roast duck and an assortment of vegetarian meals.

A meal at Salt Cafe in Barbados.

Salt Cafe

Salt Cafe is a uniquely Bajan restaurant in Hastings, created by Simon and Laura Tempro. The restaurant is designed to offer distinctly unique menu items -- such as their signature dish, sweet potato-crusted fish -- and a blend of international flair in this tropical paradise.

The salted caramel brownies are to die for, while their Asian wings and Far Eastern Salad offer international flavors. The crispy fried chicken pays homage to the local food of the island. Try a specialty coffee, one of their signature cocktails, or the fantastic tuna poke bowl when you need a pick-me-up.

Inside The Tides restaurant in Barbados.

The Tides

The Tides in Holetown was once a classic seaside home of the Bajan family who built the mansion out of coral stone and mahogany after World War II. The stunning whites and blues of the oceanside restaurant combine with the split levels, columns, and incredible open-air views to make this one of the most beautiful restaurants you’ll ever visit.

The Tides’s menu features local cuisine like oysters, scallops, and prawns, but it’s also known for its pork belly and crab cakes. The mahi-mahi, salmon, and prawn fishcake is the starter to try at lunch, while anything on their catch-of-the-day menu that’s pan-fried, grilled, or blackened has the potential to change your life. If you’re feeling indulgent, try the layered mango, coconut, passion fruit panna cotta with edible flowers; it’s a beautiful dessert that’ll dazzle the palate and the eyes. Don’t forget to visit the art gallery before you leave.

Food from Cuz's Fish Shack in Barbados.

Cuz’s Fish Shack

For a casual and authentic dining experience, make a stop at Cuz’s Fish Shack. At this Bridgetown hole-in-the-wall, you’ll find the best fried and grilled fish cutter -- including fresh marlin -- on the island. The casual restaurant has limited seating, so you’ll probably want to grab the meal to go, but you will definitely feel like you’re in the Caribbean while you’re waiting for your order to come up. Plus, the ocean is only steps away.

Add cheese, lettuce, or tomato to your sandwich, and make sure you load up on the Bajan pepper sauce for the ultimate island experience.

Sushi from Nishi Restaurant in Barbados.

Nishi Restaurant

Nishi Restaurant offers a unique blend of cuisine in a warm, inviting atmosphere that’s perfect for a relaxing dinner after a day of exploring the island. This Holetown restaurant offers Caribbean fare along with British cuisine, sushi, Asian, and seafood options, as well as vegan-friendly choices.

Travelers sing the praises of the sushi and sashimi options -- especially the sashimi platter -- but Nishi’s specialty is an assortment of curry dishes -- ranging from Thai prawn green curry to vegetable curry -- and homemade British pies.

Food from The Good Life on Barbados.

The Good Life

If you’re looking for a fantastic vegan-friendly restaurant, The Good Life is your spot in Rockley. The service is excellent, the food is delicious, and the selection is broad and appealing.

Their smoothies and salads come highly recommended, but what seems to be the most highly praised is The Good Life’s selection of wraps. From the Grilled BBQ Vegan-Chickin wrap to the South by Southwest Wrap, you won’t find a more delicious light meal on the island.

The restaurant has a Rastafarian vibe but the seating is limited, so you may have to grab a meal and run. Since most of the choices are highly portable, this is a great spot for grabbing food for a picnic or walking lunch.

Food from Fred's Bar and Restaurant.

Fred’s Bar And Restaurant

Another amazing restaurant in Hastings is Fred’s Bar and Restaurant. The atmosphere has been described by travelers as having a “delicious ambiance” filled with delectable smells and casual vibes in a truly island-style joint.

This casual food shack in Oistins offers up some of the most deliciously authentic food of the island. They serve up local catches and plantains and dish out treats like sweet potato and macaroni pie as their menu staples. Garden salads, steamed vegetables, baked chicken, and even curried goat are available for tasting.

If you’re looking for a local hangout, Fred’s Bar and Restaurant typically hosts fish fries on Fridays and welcomes anyone -- local or tourist -- to get in on the deliciousness.

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