Taste of the Caribbean: Savor the Real Jamaica at Scotchie’s, MoBay
Even in the most touristy of regional destinations, a taste of the true Caribbean is never too far away. Case in point: Scotchie’s, Montego Bay.
For my money, this roadside eatery, located within easy walking distance of the Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort, serves up the best jerk chicken outside of Boston Beach, the magical part of Jamaica where jerk cuisine originated. This makes sense because the original chef at Scotchie’s is actually from Boston Beach. He brought the secrets of jerk seasoning with him, passing them down to Scotchie’s current chefs to the delight of the residents of MoBay, and the few tourists smart enough to mix in some genuine local flavor with their all-inclusive resort vacations.
During my last visit to Scotchie’s in April, the height of the peak spring travel season, I was 1 of maybe 6 or 7 tourists during a busy Friday lunch period. The local crowd was a mix of businessmen in ties and starched shirts, professional women in suits and heels, tradesmen bearing the stains of hard labor on their clothes, and idlers “working” their way through another day of drink and talk.
You could learn a lot about Jamaica hanging out in a place like this and striking up a few friendly conversations. On my admittedly rushed visit, though, I was all about the food.
Like the vibe at Scotchie’s, the food presentation is very laid back. The jerk chicken I ordered with a side of festivals came loosely wrapped in tin foil; no plates. Plastic utensils were available, but you’re better off digging into Scotchie’s treasures with your hands, the better to savor every last bit of flavor off your fingers when you’re done.
The jerk is great on its own, but to really get your taste buds singing you’ll want the stuff in the rather unassuming bowl pictured below. A spicy mix of pepper and vinegar, this concoction adds a flavorful kick that’s just hot enough to keep your Jamaican beer of choice flowing, but not so hot as to incapacitate your mouth. The bowl is located on the counter where you get your foil-wrapped food, and believe me, you won’t want to miss it.
I love everything about Scotchie’s, even the price. My friend and I both ate our fill of jerk chicken (2 quarters), rice & beans, and 4 festivals, while I enjoyed an ice-cold Dragon Stout to her fruit juice. Total cost: about $10.
To find this slice of down-home Jamaican gastronomy, just get yourself to Falmouth Road, the main 4-lane east-west highway connecting Montego Bay and the town of Falmouth. Scotchie’s is on the south side of the road about a mile east of the Sangster International Airport. It’s hard to miss and well worth the trip for anyone looking for the real Jamaica in MoBay.