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Tobago dining, entertainment & leisure guide for 2020

Tobago dining, liming, shopping & more!

From fine dining to casual dining & fast food!

Tobago’s best fine dining restaurants pair delectable food — local, international, and fusion — with ambience and charm. Many take advantage of stunning locations — outdoor seating overlooking the ocean, the shells of colonial waterwheels and sugar mills, preserved plantation houses, golf courses and landscaped gardens, or awe-inspiring mountainside perches. There’s also great eating at bars, beaches, roadsides, and hotel developments.

Restaurants offer a range of fine dining experiences from European, American and Asian cuisine, to Caribbean and Tobagonian favourites. Fusion restaurants and dishes are also on the rise. Of course, freshly caught seafood is a speciality. Make sure to try distinctive local favourites like crab-and-dumpling; “blue food” (ground provisions); fresh fish (mahi mahi is among the most sustainably caught); oil down (breadfruit and salted meat are the main ingredients); coconut bake (often served with saltfish buljol); and a multitude of sweets (benne balls, toolom, paw-paw balls, tamarind balls, sugar cake, cashew cake, and cassava pone). Try condiments like chows and chutneys, and wash it all down with freshly squeezed local juices.

Island-wide, roadside eateries, food stalls and sports bars offer international fast food favourites as well as local specialties. At Store Bay, vendors cook up roti, pelau, stew, curry crab-and-dumpling — plus burgers, hot dogs, perhaps a soup or two. Just before turning off Milford Road for the Pigeon Point Heritage Park, an exceptionally crowded corner offers all things take-out: barbecue, pizza, Arabic fare, fried chicken, and ice-cream.

Courtesy the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort

Courtesy the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort

Where to dine

Look out for the restaurants at Anchor Bar & Grill (Mt Irvine); Kariwak (local, Crown Point); the restaurants at the Magdalena Grand (international, Lowlands); the Pavilion Restaurant (international cuisine, Black Rock); Scoops Dessert Café (Crown Point); the Seahorse Inn, Restaurant & Bar (local & international, Black Rock); Oasis Salad Bar & Café (Scarborough); Z’s Grill Shack (international, Black Rock); Caribbean Kitchen (Caribbean, Castara); Ciao Café (Italian, Scarborough); Edge of the Reef (international, Black Rock); the Fish Pot (Caribbean/international, Pleasant Prospect); Jemma’s Seaview Kitchen (Caribbean creole, Speyside); La Tartaruga (Italian, Buccoo); the Salsa Kitchen (tapas, Scarborough); Mesoreen Café Bistro (Caribbean, Bon Accord); Shore Things Café (Caribbean & international, Lambeau); and Suckhole (Caribbean & international, Charlotteville). For catering (and those with a sweet tooth), contact Kerry’s Nice & Sweet Treats!

A Tobago staple: curried crab and dumpling. Photo courtesy Tobago Tourism Agency

Try these Tobago specials

  • Baked goods: cassava pone, coconut sweetbread, fruitcake/black cake, coconut bake (a type of bread made with grated coconut, often eaten at breakfast with buljol or cheese)
  • Benne balls & other sweets: a delightful, if somewhat jaw-breaking, confection made of sesame seeds. More sweets to try: toolum, soursop fudge, guava cheese, pawpaw balls, shaddock candy, tamarind balls, sugar cake, cashew cake, cassava pone, coconut sweetbread, black cake, ice cream and desserts flavoured with fruit, coconut and even Guinness!
  • Blue food: any ground provision or root vegetable (yam, eddoes, dasheen, sweet potatoes, cassava, tannia, potatoes, topi tambu, et al)
  • Crab-and-dumpling: a savoury dish in which the crab is stewed with curry and coconut milk and served over flat flour dumplings. Tobago’s signature; delicious and extremely filling
  • Drinks & fresh juices: squash (made from lime and lemon juice), sorrel, mauby, ginger beer, coconut water, sea-moss, barbadine, soursop, rum punch, bush teas, wines made from local fruits, rum, beer
  • Fillings: salt-fish buljol, tomato choka, black pudding
  • Seafood: lobster, mahi mahi, marlin, conch, king fish, red snapper, tilapia, shrimp, chip chip, squid, oysters. [If you can, opt for the most sustainably produced fish, or a vegetarian option — some fish stocks are dangerously low in our local waters, and the balance of our eco-system at risk as a result]
  • Fruit: mangoes, passion fruit, cashew, grapefruit, orange, portugals, shaddock, pommerac, pommecythere/golden apple, chennette/guineps, guava, melons, five fingers/carambola, sapodilla, soursop, pawpaw/papaya, pineapple, tamarind, peewah, chataigne
  • Herbs and spices : nutmeg, clove, garlic, ginger, chadon beni, peppers, roucou/annatto, bay, anise, thyme, lemon/fever grass, spring onion
  • Oil-down: breadfruit is the main ingredient here, combined with salted meat and boiled down in coconut milk
  • Snacks: doubles, souse, pastelles, roti, corn soup
  • Yabba & soups: thick soup with dumpling, fish, pigtail, potato, breadfruit, cassava, dasheen, green banana and anything else the chef feels moved to include. Other popular soups are callaloo, sancoche, cow-heel and fish broth.
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The Shade nightclub. Photo courtesy The Shade.

Nightlife & entertainment

Whether wining up, or winding down…

Despite its reputation as an idyllic place to escape and unwind, you won’t be too short of options if you want to head to the most popular bars and clubs to shake a leg or “buss a wine”. And of course, if low-key leisure is more on the menu — like immersing yourself in some arts and culture, or shopping for a distinctive piece of paradise to take home with you — we’ve got your covered too.

Places to check out

Head to the Anchor Bar & Grill (Mt Irvine), BarCode (Scarborough), Jade Monkey Casino Bar & Grill (Crown Point), The OverHang (Crown Point), Time to Wine (Shirvan Plaza, near Scarborough), Glasgow’s Bar (Parlatuvier), Renmar’s Restaurant & Bar (Pigeon Point), Rev’s Steakhouse & Bar (Buccoo), and the bars and restaurants at popular hotels for classic and exotic drinks, yummy food, and good times. Year-round, The Shade nightclub (Bon Accord) is always the place to be.

Experiences to enjoy

  • Happy hours: For an easy, early evening lime, happy hours are a great way to start off the evening. Exotic drinks, live entertainment, delectable food… These all await you at a range of bars, clubs, and restaurants, including those at popular hotels and resorts.
  • Live entertainment & karaoke: Many restaurants, bars and other locations, especially in the Crown Point area, offer nightly live entertainment featuring local acts, as well as karaoke nights. And of course, there are countless live entertainment options around festival times — Carnival, Jazz Experience, Great Fete weekend, and Heritage Festival.
  • Dinner & a movie…or a show: If you’re in for just a quiet movie or a show, the multiplex MovieTowne cinema at Gulf City Lowlands Mall is your best bet. The Shaw Park Complex is a location of choice for shows and performances (shaw-park.org), so keep your eye out for what’s happening there. Tip: you can catch local and regional flicks at the T&T Film Festival each September.
  • Gaming: For the blackjack buff or roulette regular, choose from the Crystal Palace Casino, the Royalton at Crown Point Hotel or Sunset Palm Club. Other larger hotels also have on-site gaming and casinos.
  • Partying & more: For partying through the year, The Shade is the place to be. But Sundays are a no-contest: all roads lead to Buccoo and its famous Sunday School street party. From about 9pm, there is live and DJ music with craft, food and even gambling stalls filling the street and environs. As a local soca tune once put it: “we not goin’ home til we see de sun”. The Island Crashers Festival in Pigeon Point has become a major draw for younger crowds.
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Courtesy Tobago Estate Chocolate.

Courtesy Tobago Estate Chocolate.

Shopping

Where to shop

Check out the new and vibrant Port Mall (Scarborough), and head to Gulf City Lowlands Mall, or the plazas in Crown Point like Shirvan Town Plaza, Milford Bay Plaza, Buccoo Town Centre, and Shoppes@Westcity. There are craft stalls at many beaches, including Store Bay and Pigeon Point. The Scarborough Market; Batiki Point (Buccoo); Shore Things (Lambeau); Planet Ceramics (Pigeon Point); the Scarborough Esplanade; the airport; and many resorts and hotels are good places to find souvenirs.

The largest groceries are in Canaan and Carnbee, while smaller groceries and parlours can be found island-wide and especially between Crown Point and Scarborough. Specialty food items, including local favourites, are available in Mount Pleasant at Moreshead. The Scarborough Market is best visited on a Friday or Saturday, and specialises in fish, fruit, vegetables and local foods.

Please don’t buy anything made from endangered or environmentally sensitive species (eg coral, sea turtles, conch, some snakes, some birds). Read on under each section below for more.

What to buy

ART & FASHION

You might want to take in or take home artwork by Tobago-born or -based visual artists. Look out for names like Jim Armstrong, Kevin Ayoung-Julien, Marcia Des Vignes, Edward Hernandez, David Knott, Earl Manswell, Jason Nedd, Michael Spencer, Rachael and Martin Superville (of The Art Gallery in Lowlands), and the late Luise Kimme (whose work is displayed at the Kimme Museum aka The Castle in Bethel). If you’re in the market for local fashion, check out Cee Wee Designs, Ashley Christmas, Movement Bago, Tobago Gyul, and Yesa Designs.

CHOCOLATE & SWEETS

Seek out products from the award-winning Tobago Cocoa Estate (in Roxborough, and at some local retailers), and Tobago Chocolate Delights, next door to Shore Things in Lambeau. For traditional Tobagonian treats, the vendors at the airport can supply you with packages that travel well.

LOCAL CRAFT & SOUVENIRS

Hand-crafted items (from shoes and jewellery to fabric, clothing, soaps and sculptures) and miniature steel pans are a good buy, and are widely available near Crown Point, especially at Store Bay’s Craft Market, at Pigeon Point and Scarborough Market, and at Sunday School in Buccoo from around 7pm. Shore Things in Lambeau offers original art, craft and hand-made items (plus there’s a lovely café on site). Most are locally produced, though imported clothing, beach wraps and souvenirs are also for sale. You’ll also find some shops at the airport. Vendors at the port in Scarborough and opposite the check-in area at ANR Robinson airport also sell traditional candies in sizes that travel well.

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