Montego Bay, MoBay—>MoBayiee–>MoBy to the locals is accessible by big ass Carnival cruise ships and by Delta/American Air, etc. connecting out of Miami/Atlanta, etc. The tourists get dropped off at various locations of the 1 mile long “hip strip”. If you’re in an all-inclusive that are at various parts of MoBay (Liliput, Ironshore, etc.), you’ll probably skip this post. However, if you’re a bit adventuresome, and loves bargaining down tourist rates to local rates (that taxi ride from Montego Bay airport into town can be had for US$5, not $20, not $10), proceed.
Pork Pit has the best non vinegar based crushed Scotch bonnet pepper sauce in all of MoBay. It’s also the least salty, which means you can slather the chili sauce all over your meat. Just don’t spank it after wards, cause everyone seems to eat with their hands. Otherwise, despite the fact there’s plenty of pimento over coals to smoke the meats while covered by corrugated tin siding, the pork shoulder was dry, the chicken under-rubbed. Not one restaurant served a bad “festival” during 8 meals, Pork Pit was no different. Unlike the mobile jerking barrels, restaurants never serve harddough bread on the side, and every meat dish at Pork Pit can be ordered a la carte. This is a tourist trap gone worse, but I’d gladly buy that Scotch bonnet pepper sauce to go.
Stanley’s Patties in “downtown” MoBay has been around since 1950s. It’s dirt cheap (JA$85, US$1 for a beef/chicken patty), and it’s better than the Juici Patti chain, which is akin to McDonald’s. On good days, they offer ackee & salt fish patties, as well as conch (conk) and lobster, for only JA$100. As with all things on Jamaican menus, establishment reserves all rights as far as what they feel like serving for the day. From Hip Strip, this should be only a JA$200 ride for 2. If you pay more, you got ripped off. If you sit in a shared taxi (route taxi), this is only a JA$80 per person ride into downtown. Stanley’s is at the corner of St. James and Union St, 2 blocks away from the chained competitor of Juici
Native Restaurant, as recommend by Lonely Planet, is pure garbage, save for the escovitched fish filet, which is deboned for the tourist. The mix poopoo platter was nearly US$20. Straight rip.
Musiq was a fine “upscale” locals bar 1 door south of Pork Pit, which is a couple of hundred feet south of Native. Here, rum cream and rum punch can be had for about US$2.50, a good bargain on the Strip. Musi”c” here is a mix of reggae, US hip hop, dancehall, etc. Great vibe, nice barkeeps, good looking locals and some tourists in the know.
Then you have MoBay Proper (seen above), which is where the locals drink and eat (and drink). We met a cool New Yorker ex-pat here, who, eventually, caved and gave me his tip to the best jerk chicken/pork in the “nearby” vicinities. To be even more local, check the no-name bar next (North) of the Altamont West Hotel. Here, in this 2 room, 8 seats bar, I was served a “red face”, which I actually had to mix on my own, made of overproof rum and the popular Jamaica energy drink, “BOOM”. 2 of these bad boys ran JA$620. 1 of these caused a drunken Jamaican woman to ask about having some “slappy slappy” for everyone that night.
After getting completely shit faced while playing dominoes (4 wins, champ for the hour), a lesbian local took us to Rush Hour, a local go-go club, where “hard wine” was sold straight out of pint glass bottle. Now, sober, googling “hard wine” gives nothing about the 40 proof red piss that was served on ice that night. Were pictured allowed in the go-go club, there’d be proof of this JA$600 (or was it more? can’t possibly remember by this point) evil piss that tasted of Boones and Popov. Unfortunately, the Montego Bay Airport security confiscated empty glass bottles so now everyone must try this on their own. Nothing since the China Wine episode of ’01 tasted as foul of this. Appropriately both cheap red booze made me leghump the porcelain goddess by 4am.
addendum to above, the Mrs., came through huge and dug up this photo of the hard wine label (from a Trini blog):
kids, if you ever see this being sold at the local Carribean liquor store, just say NO.
Approximately half way between The Native and Margaritaville, one will find Hip Strip’s Burger King on the East side of Gloucester Ave. Across that, one will find Hip Strip’s best jerk chickens on the side walk, and only well after sunset. Unfortunately, being MoBay’s Hip Strip, best doesn’t mean jack diddly. No one makes their own sauce, and for US$3, hard bread wasn’t served but we did get 1 soggy festival. Still, 2 of the vendors marinaded quartered legs straight off the charcoal were both better than Pork Pit and Native. Small triumph on day 1. On day 1, it was decided anything south of Burger King deserved a cab, since fares, after haggling, can be procured cheaply. Top of the hip strip to MoBay Proper is walkable, but really poops on the drunken party
Final score after the evening, SinoSoul’s finds: 4, Lonely Planet: 1 (for MoBay Proper)
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