Top 11 Things to Eat in Tortola

When it comes to visiting new places, it is all about experiencing the culture, the atmosphere and, of course, the food. Tortola is one port of call that cruise vacationers love due to its amazing cuisine and local dining experiences. While you are here, enjoy a swim with the dolphins or a boat trip to Jost Van Dyke Island, where you can scuba dive to see a shipwreck. As you experience all of the adventure that Tortola has to offer, you’ll no doubt become hungry for some delicious fare. Fortunately, you will find exotic fruits, unexpected flavors, and some original Tortola dishes that have found their way into American cuisine.

If you are looking for an adventure for your taste buds and wondering what to eat in Tortola, here are 11 local dishes to try during your visit.

1. Roti

Tortola’s food often has an Indian flair, and Roti is no exception. This is a savory pastry that has spiced or curried meats in a light fluffy dough. It’s perfect for a quick meal as you explore the island or take part in some local shopping.

chicken roti from tortola served in a small basket

2. Pates

Similar to Roti is Pates (pronounced patties). This dish is often made up of spiced meats or vegetables wrapped in a flatbread and then deep fried. Its pocket-like shape makes it a portable meal. If you are going for a scenic drive around the island, make sure to pick up a few of these for your group.

3. Soursop

A spiky fruit that grows in abundance on Tortola, you will find them in grocery stores and sold by street vendors. People often say that it tastes like a cross between a pineapple and a banana, with its citrus-y flavors and creamy texture. It is also a popular fruit juice on the island. If you are enjoying the amazing Tortola cuisine for dinner, check the menu and see if you can pair it with a soursop drink.

several spiky green fruits called soursop from tortola

4. Fungi

If you are looking for some local home cooking, look no further than ordering Fungi (pronounced Fun-jee) if it is on the menu. This side dish is made with a salted cornmeal dough and often features okra as an added ingredient. These dumplings can be enjoyed as a side dish or by themselves.

5. Sorrel

One of the many wonderful things about visiting other places is experiencing the locally grown herbs and spices. Sorrel is a herb that grows here and can easily be found in local grocery stores. With its kiwifruit-like taste, it is often added to soups and other dishes. You might even happen upon a Sorrel Tea at local restaurants.

sorell herb from tortola used to make delicious iced tea and regular tea

6. Callaloo

One signature dish to try when you cruise to Tortola is Callaloo, a local stew. With ingredients like taro or dasheen leaves, as well as okra, meats or fish, onions and spices, you might taste the echoes of a Louisiana gumbo.

7. Johnny Cake

A delicious snack while you are browsing and shopping in Tortola, Johnny Cake is a baked or fried dough that is often made with cornmeal. If you are heading out on a shore excursion during your visit, this might be the perfect local snack to grab for those hungry moments in between your adventures.

4 johnny cakes being fried in a pot in tortola

8. Conch

Much of The Bahamas and Caribbean cuisine often features conch (pronounced conk) because it is native to the ocean waters surrounding the islands. You can find conch chowder and conch fritters on menus all over Tortola. This mollusk is best when tenderized, which means not only will you have the unique taste of conch during your visit, but local chefs will make sure it’s nice and tender while preparing your meal to perfection.

9. Jerk

If you are looking for a little taste of local barbecue, you will want to experience the jerk flavors found on Tortola. The smokey and spicy flavor can be found on chicken, fish and other meats. You will get a taste of what this island has to offer in terms of great barbecue fare.

jerk chicken from tortola being barbequed on a grill

10. Salt Fish

If you want something local that is pulled from the sea, consider a meal with salt fish. This dried and salted fish is usually Cod that is caught off of the shores of Tortola. Because of the drying process, it is a dense and boneless dish. You can often find it used as a flavorful ingredient in chowders and stews.

11. Rice and Beans

If you are a fan of southern rice and beans, you can see where this classic dish has its Caribbean origins. Served as a side dish, you might also find variations such as rice and peas, or more simply a flavored rice dish. Pair it with some of the local main courses and you will have a meal to remember.

a plate of white rice and pinto beans mixed together with 2 leaves on top

A cruise through the Virgin Islands is an adventure. However, if you want the full experience, dive into one of these local dishes. Whether you are planning on strolling the town on your own or heading off to a personalized adventure with a shore excursion, you will see what this beautiful part of the world has to offer. While you are here, enjoy the amazing cuisine that Tortola has to offer.