Tobago’s finest restaurants often 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. Many are part of the posher hotel developments and 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.
Stumped for choice
If you’re looking for great ambiance and great food, here are some names to look out for: the Pavilion Restaurant, Shore Things Café, Ciao Café, La Tartaruga, Kariwak Village, BarCode, Shirvan Watermill, the Fish Pot, Gemma’s Treehouse, Salsa Kitchen, Prospect Café, the restaurants at the Magdalena Grand, and the Seahorse Inn, Restaurant & Bar.
Casual dining & fast food
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.
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.
Nightlife & entertainment
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.
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. Tip: you can catch local and regional flicks at the T&T Film Festival each September.
For the blackjack buff or roulette regular, choose from the Crystal Palace Casino, the Royalton at Crown Point Hotel or Sunset Palm Club.
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”.
Gulf City Lowlands Mall
The air-conditioned Gulf City Lowlands Mall is the place for most retail items you might be in search of, with both local and international brands, plus a food court, salons, and the adjacent multiplex cinema.
Groceries & markets
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. Vendors at the port in Scarborough and opposite the check-in area at ANR Robinson airport sell traditional candies in sizes 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.