Martinique is home to vibrant Caribbean cuisine inspired by signature Creole styles, classic French tradition, and even some Indian flair.
The country’s unique tastes promise rich flavor just as well as an instant, unexpected sense of comfort.
Admittedly, what I was most excited about leading up to my trip to Martinique was neither the black sand beaches nor the mai tais–it was the promise of a real French croissant. On Martinique, there is an extraordinary blend of culinary culture which leads to mornings spent in line at the patisserie, afternoons spent on the beach snacking on salty accras, and evenings savoring the sweet and spicy curry of a rich colombo. Consider this list your guide of what to eat in Martinique.
You can order these salted fish fritters pretty much anywhere in Martinique, from roadside shacks to beach stands to table-service restaurants. And trust me, you’ll want to. Usually inexpensive. €3-6
If you’re familiar with french pastries, this is essentially a gourmandaise. Cream and chocolate chips baked between two slabs of croissant-type pastry. Dense, sweet, and rich. I had one for breakfast every day that I was on the island. Pictured above, in the middle of the second shelf, €1-2
3. “Chicken Chips” Lays Chips saveur poulet roti
Truthfully, many people probably won’t agree with this because they might find the extremely potent taste of these chips, which is legitimately identical to roast chicken, a little off-putting. I, however, think they are the greatest chip flavor ever to exist, and highly encourage you to try them should you find yourself in a Martinique grocery store. Very inexpensive. €1-2
4. Bananas Bananes
With this suggestion, it is important to note that Martinique is literally covered with sprawling banana plantations as far as the eye can see. The bananas on the island are fresh and perfectly sweet, and if I were you, I’d eat as many bananas as you can stomach throughout your trip, because the US Department of Agriculture will stop you in your tracks at customs to confiscate your banana and interrogate you about why you thought it was a good idea to try to bring a piece of foreign produce into their country. Very inexpensive. €1 or less
5. Poulet boucane
After you visit Martinique, Poulet boucane is what you will be comparing jerk chicken to for the rest of your life. In summary, it is fantastic and it sometimes smells so very good that it causes you to turn around on the highway, pull over to the side of the road, and run across it barefoot into a small shack that happens to have a fresh pan of the stuff just ready to be served. approx. €8-10 at trucks and snack shacks or > €14 for dinner at a restaurant
When we first arrived at our AirBNB in Le Francois, our adorable host greeted us with smiles, rum, and colombo. The signature island dish, colombo is a stew of sorts, usually featuring some sort of local white fish and chicken, as well as potatoes and vegetables in a sauce made with curry and colombo spices. Buy spices and try to make it at home: this is a family meal, meant to be cooked with care and shared with friends and loved ones.
7. Coconut Ice Cream Glace a la noix coco
Perhaps this is just a novelty because coco is a popular ice cream flavor across the EU but is nowhere to be found in the US. The best coconut ice cream I had in Martinique was one of many flavors sold by a little old woman out of the back of her family van parked at la Plage du Diamant. Refreshing and with unique texture thanks to real shreds of coconut meat, this is the perfect Caribbean sweet treat. If you cannot locate a local selling some on the beach, try the frozen section of a grocery store for some take-home versions that are nearly just as good. €1-2 on the beach or €2-4 at the grocery market
8. Shrimp and Pineapple Pizza Pizza aux crevettes, ananas, et fromage
A little bit of a twist on the typical Hawaiian pizza, this shrimp and pineapple pizza is a wonderful blend of flavors. If you have the pleasure of staying in Les Anses d’Arlet, make sure to stop by the pizza shop located on the intersection where the fish mongers work at the end of the beach. A floor of sand and an outdoor dining room consisting of little more than lawn chairs and string lights will make you feel right at home, and the sound of the ocean across the street will make you stay long after you’ve finished your meal.
9. Dombres de Lambis
For the adventurous diner, I recommend the dombres de lambis. This plate consists of dumplings resembling the Italian gnocchi served with conch in a sauce which is some intermediate between a broth and a gravy, also based on the conch. Just what makes this a somewhat adventurous dish? For those who are only familiar with the conch shell, consider its inhabitant: a large sea snail. Try your best not to second-guess the meal, though; it is rich with a somewhat sweet and very pleasantly savory taste, and the tender texture of pillowy dombres perfectly compliments the conch.
Pro tip: Try this after hiking Mount Pelee, visiting the Zoo de Martinique, or touring the rum distillery in that area. Stop by the strip of food shacks you see on the bendy road leading back south, just down the highway after the black sand beaches end. There is no parking, so just pull over on the side of the highway and sprint across for a local meal overlooking the sea.
10. And…more pastry.
There is no shortage of French pastry on Martinique, and you should aim to take full advantage of that. A fresh baguette pairs well with anything, and there’s simply no reason not to have an eclair or a pain du chocolat every morning.