Scotchies Jamaica – A Must Try Restaurant for Authentic Jerk in Jamaica
On my way back from Montego Bay the other day, I stopped at Scotchies, one of my “I have to eat here at least once during this trip” restaurants.
Scotchies has a 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor from over 2500 reviews. To top it off, it always ranks in the top 3 restaurants in Montego Bay.
The food is good and it has a great local vibe. It is right by the roadside about 10 minutes east of the airport in Montego Bay, in the little shopping complex just after you pass the Coral Gardens police station.
Scotchies is known for their jerk, particularly their jerk chicken and pork. I’ve kind of maxed out on jerk chicken so I am a jerk pork or jerk fish kind of girl these days. That is saying a lot considering that I rarely eat meat, outside of Jamaica, that is. I make an exception for Scotchies’ jerk pork. Plus, I love good food and I am a picky eater.
With all that jerking going on comes a lot of smoke. Honestly, I was always concerned about the health of the workers, day in day out in such a smoky environment. I was pleasantly surprised and absolutely delighted to see that they had installed huge hooded vents over both the chicken and pork jerk-pits. There is still smoke but it is about a 75% improvement, in my estimation.
The jerk effect is the result of the type of seasoning that is used as well as the method of cooking. Jerk masters guard their recipe. Don’t even ask. They might think you are actually serious. At Scotchies, they use sweet-wood even though the Maroons originally used pimento wood.
One really cool feature about Scotchies is that the jerk cooking is done in the open for all to see.
The food is spicy but not insanely so. Our 12 years old son started enjoying it when he was about 10. There is a sauce that is served on the side that does enhance the flavor; but, fair warning, use at your own risk! The floating pepper seeds should be enough of a warning but people seem to love it. The sauce is hot; but for those who love spicy foods, it is oh so good!
Darrell’s special trick: Mix their ketchup with the hot sauce in a 3:1 ratio for a sweet, spicy, and savory dip.
When you order the jerk chicken, you either get a quarter, a half or a whole chicken. For pork or sausage, you order by the pound, such as 1/4-lb, 1/2-lb, or a pound.
There are a variety of side dishes to choose from such as roasted sweet potato, roasted breadfruit, roasted yam. Festival is a popular choice also. This is similar to a hush puppy or a baked cake donut (but not as sweet) from the United States. Note that the sides, even the large size, are not particularly large for sharing.
We usually get our food to go. Don’t be put off but the food is served wrapped in aluminum foil. There are some things that just taste better that way.
You could eat on site. There is an adjoining outdoor area with seating as well as a bar. The setting is very rustic. This is by no means fine dining.
Parking is tight and there is often a little bit of a line but this is a great opportunity to taste local food.
Think you might want to make some jerk at home?
Don’t even concern yourself about not having Scotchies’ secret recipe. You can make great jerk yourself if you buy the jerk seasoning sold in the local stores. My favorite is Walkerswood. Make sure you get the mild version because even then it is still very hot!
Frequently Asked Questions about Scotchies
How are the prices at Scotchies?
The prices are high compared to a roadside jerk pan man; but, at Scotchies, you are paying for their well-earned name and overhead. Don’t be put off by the prices. They are in Jamaican dollars. For ease of conversion, I usually use a conversion factor of $100 Jamaican to one American. So 1/2-lb of jerk pork, at the time of this writing in 2017, would be about US$11. A 1/2 chicken is about US$10. (Note that the dollar does fluctuate and so the conversion factor will change. For the past almost 40 years, it has changed in favor of foreign currency.)
Will very young kids like the food?
They probably won’t, unless they like really spicy food. Hot peppers are in the seasoning, which could cause actual pepper seeds to be on the meat. As a result, the food is likely too hot for most non-Jamaican kids.
Are there other Scotchies on the island?
As of February 2017, the Kingston location ceased using the Scotchies name.
Scotchies Drax Hall, near St. Ann’s Bay, remains affiliated with the mothership restaurant in Montego Bay. My experience is that the menu is similar but, for some reason, I rate the Montego Bay location higher. I can’t say that the food in Montego Bay is significantly better but there is something about that location that makes it a “must do”.
Are there any Scotchies restaurants at any hotels?
Nope! Scotchies is independent. You will have to leave your hotel to get there. Your hotel will be able to arrange transportation for you. Any van or taxi driver will know how to find Scotchies.
What are their hours?
Scotchies is open daily from 11 am to 11 pm.
How far is Scotchies from Mais Oui Villa?
Scotchies Montego Bay is about 35 minutes west of Mais Oui Villa. Scotchies Drax Hall is about 20 minutes east of the villa.
So, for some authentic jerk, give Scotchies a try. Expect good food and a nice island vibe in a rustic and casual space.
‘Til next time.
Think and dream Jamaica!
Sherry, Darrell, and Darrian
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