I was thrilled about returning to Jamaica, 17 years after our first trip, in search of authentic Jamaican food. I assumed we would get our fill of jerk chicken. And, within the first day, I was falling in love with Jamaican brown stew chicken and Jamaican boiled dumplings. But, as we started to inquire more about Jamaican cuisine, one word left coming up – patties – a Jamaican meat pie popular with the locals. Really popular. We had to explore.
What is a Jamaican Beef Patty
I was at least a little familiar with Caribbean food before arriving back in Jamaica. And, I knew there had to be more than Jamaican jerk chicken on offer in Montego Bay. But, as we were searching for a typical Jamaican restaurant, people just kept talking about the patties. It started to become an obsession – to find the best Jamaican meat pie in Montego Bay. And, in the name of research, we tried a lot of patties in just a few short days!
A Jamaican beef patty is similar to other meat patties from Africa or South America. Similar to an empanada, or a Brazilian pastel, it’s at its most basic a meat filled flaky pie crust. But, there is a Jamaican twist – it’s spicy!
A Jamaican Patty is More than Just Beef
At its most traditional, a Jamaican patty is made with spicy ground beef. But, in recent years, and with increased competition between the largest patty stores in Jamaica, a lot of different varieties have come out. A few of the most popular are beef and cheese (referred to just as a cheese patty) and Jamaican curry chicken. But, they are also made with shrimp, vegetables, jerk chicken, goat curry and more! It seems the trend is to make Jamaican patties influenced by all sorts of Caribbean cuisine. During our trip to Jamaica we tried beef, cheese, curry chicken, and shrimp. And, I loved them all!
The best part? Jamaican meat patties are served, simply, in a brown paper bag. It doesn’t get more simple than that. And, many locals like to eat their Jamaican meat pie sandwiched inside fluffy coconut bread. It’s just served in a slightly larger brown paper bag.
Try Jamaican Style Patties at home!
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Learn more about What to Eat in Jamaica.
Where to Find Jamaican Meat Patties in Montego Bay
We had one week in Jamaica, and needed to make the most of our stomach space. We managed, though, to try a mess of meat pies in that one week. At one point, we had 3 Jamaican meat pies in less than 24 hours. But, we are professional eaters. And, it was all in the name of Jamaican food research!
There seems to be a big rivalry between two of the top patty stores in Montego Bay, Juici Patties and Tastee Paties. We tried them both!
Juici Patties Jamaica
Sometimes the first time you experience something, it quickly becomes your favorite. That seems to be case with Juici Patties. Our guide told us their curry chicken patties are the best. I loved it. The curry was spicy, but not too spicy. The chicken tender. And the pastry super flaky. I left a trail of pastry flakes behind me. It also came out steaming hot. But, it was so good I couldn’t wait for it to cool down. I was still burning my tongue on the last bite!
The main competitor to Juici Patties is Tastee Patties. And, there was some disagreement as to which we liked best. From the photos above, it’s clear that Juici offered a more flaky pastry, and held up better to our official “patty photo test.” But, the filling was a lot more spicy than Juici. So, Tastee got points for spice! And, yes, we enjoyed ours in the parking lot.
Spicy Nice in Falmouth
During our Falmouth Food Tour, we made a stop at a bakery called Spicy Nice. This was the only traditional Jamaican bakery where we tried the Jamaican meat pie sandwiched in the sweet and fluffy coco bread. This was my least favorite of the meat pies. It was still spicy, but the pastry seemed a little dry. I liked trying it with the coco bread, but it filled me up quickly. I could definitely see how this could be a staple of the Jamaican diet, because it is a meal in and of itself.
Check out Spicy Nice reviews on TripAdvisor.
Moonchies at Half Moon Bay
Once we arrived at our resort at Half Moon Bay, we were ready to kick up our feet and relax. And, that meant we assumed our Jamaican meat pie research would come to an end. But at Moonchies Jamaican beach BBQ at Half Moon Resort, I was greeted with a spicy chicken meat patty. Still served in a brown paper bag, this patty was quite good, particularly with toes in the sand and an ocean view! This Jamaican meat pie definitely wins on the view.
Sugar Mill Restaurant in Montego Bay
And, with any great traditional cuisine, there is a contemporary take on it. At Sugar Mill in Montego Bay, Chef Chris offered a more modern take on the traditional Jamaican meat patty. This smaller, tapas-style patty, was filled with a creamy shrimp filling. And, it was served with a spicy Scotch Bonnet Pepper aioli – super yum!
Learn more about Sugar Mill in Montego Bay.
The Mobay Lounge at Montego Bay Airport
Okay, let’s call this the last chance patty! We left our hotel at 11 am, and I hoped to get one final patty at Moonchies on the beach, but they weren’t open yet. I left deflated. But, through our Priority Pass Lounge membership, we had access to the Mobay Lounge at Montego Bay Airport. Not only did we breeze past security in a special VIP lane, but Mobay saved the day. They offered Jamaican meat patties on their buffet. And, although not the best one we had during our trip to Jamaica, it wasn’t half bad. It was the perfect last chance meat pie.
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Learn More About Jamaica Travel and What to Do in Montego Bay
FAQs About Jamaican Dishes and the Jamaican Meat Pie
- How much is a Jamaican meat patty? Although our patties at Half Moon were more expensive, at Juici and Tastee meat patties were only about $1.25-$1.50 making them a great value traditional Jamaican food.
- What Jamaican side dishes are served with a Jamaican meat patty? One great thing about a Jamaican meat patty is that it can be eaten alone, as a snack. But, Juici Patties in particular offers a mess of traditional Jamaican food as well, including red pea soup, callaloo, bananas, and even ackee & saltfish.
- Where else can you eat Jamaican meat pies? One place we didn’t visit is Mother’s in Kingston and Ochos Rios. It was just too far away, but a lot of people say that Mother’s is the best Jamaican beef patty on the island!
- What else is there to eat in Jamaica? Check out our full write up about traditional Jamaican dishes, where we talk about Jamaican rice and peas, Jamaican oxtail stew, and more.
Where to Stay in Montego Bay
We stayed at two Jamaica hotels during our trip. They were as different from each other as beer and champagne! There is a such a variety of Jamaica accommodation options.
First, we stayed at the Riu Palace, one of the all inclusive resorts in Montego Bay Jamaica. The Riu offers an easy, and good value, option for a Montego Bay vacation. It’s only about 5 minutes from the Montego Bay airport, and they offered some pretty decent local Jamaican food at their buffet. They also make some tasty frozen drinks!
After the Riu, we checked into Half Moon Bay, one of the best resorts in Montego Bay. It’s only a 10 minute drive further from the airport than the Riu, but feels like a lifetime away. Set on over two miles of Montego Bay beach, the hotel has a prestigious history as the go-to Jamaica hotel for celebrities and royals. The food is impeccable, and the service top notch.
Find more Jamaica hotel deals on Booking.com to help you plan your Montego Bay travel.