Barbados’ seafood is world class and there’s no better place to sample it than Oistins Fish Fry.
We had heard amazing things about attending a Barbados fish fry. The food, the aromas, the music and the energy. Chatting with ex-pats we met along the way, each raved about how delicious the national dish, the flying fish is and that we couldn’t possibly miss Oistins Fish Fry – especially on a Friday night.
Great tasting seafood, not too sure about dolphin though
After almost an hour cramped in one of the local ZR taxis, a van that picks up and drops off people anywhere en route with no regard for speed limits, number of passengers, safety standards or general comfort, we were left giddy by the roadside and half-deafened from the blaring raga soundtrack that accompanied the thrill ride. Oistins is a beach side community. By day it houses a bustling fish market, but on weekends (Thursday-Sunday), the adjacent area becomes a buzz of stalls, barbecues and bars where locals and tourists alike gather together in a celebration of food, music and drinks.
While there are too many stalls to try all of the seafood on offer, we take the advice of a local, opting for Annies, a well-loved vendor at the furthest end of the fry, opposite the KFC (yes, you read that correctly). With an icy Banks beer in hand, we’re dished up possibly the best seafood we have ever experienced. The fish is crispy and golden, the scalloped potato is soft and creamy, the coconut prawns are cooked to perfection and the slaw has just the right amount of heat to bring the whole dish together.
Suitably sated, it’s on to explore the rest of the fish fry. Behind the street-row of food vendors there are a plethora of shanty bars, offering a wide assortment of rums, Caribbean cocktails and beers. Be careful though, the drinks are deceptively strong and certainly pack a rum punch! Open grills sizzle with fresh fish, shrimp and we’re again tempted by some of the biggest lobsters we’ve ever seen. All are served with fresh summery salads, rice and beans – the Caribbean staples.
Weaving through the crowd we pass stalls of local products and art, though buyer beware when considering what will actually get through customs. At one point, a small crowd has gathered to watch the hyperactive antics of a local green monkey, which only leaves the legs of his owner to snatch food from peoples’ hands or to tousle women’s hair. It’s cheeky and endearing, but you can’t help but imagine the lice it’s sharing.
If you go to the fry, you mustn’t be afraid to strike a pose and groove to the loud reggae and dance hall tracks blasting from massive sound systems around the central pavilion. Street performers and break-dancers amp up the crowd, before running around soliciting tips from onlookers. It’s a feast for all senses and a place you won’t want to miss.
Oistins Fish Fry is Barbados’ main communal fish fry. It’s part market, part barbecue.
The Fry is held between Welches Beach and Miami Beach on the coast road.
It runs Thursdays to Sundays from around sundown.