Finding good jerk chicken in Jamaica isn’t too hard: you basically just point, pick and pull over on the roadside. Roadside joints are, in fact, abundant and authentic, so don’t be shy about indulging impromptu.
That said, some spots—two venerable institutions, in particular—stand out from the pack.
When in Montego Bay, make fast tracks for Pork Pit (27 Gloucester Ave, Miranda Hill, Montego Bay; 876-940-3008), a no-frills shack. Get it to go, or dive right in at its communal, open-air picnic tables beneath, sitting beneath an old-growth silk-cotton tree. Just make sure you have plenty of Red Stripe on hand to tame the flames.
On the other hand, loyalists tout Scotchies (Drax Hall, Ocho Rios, Jamaica; 876-794-9457), though, as their Ocho Rios area go-to. Locate the rock-bottom-cheap, smoke-scented spot on verdant grounds, and pair your poultry or pork with generous portions of Jamaican festival bread and buttery, roasted breadfruit. Meanwhile, if you find yourself in Kingston, swing by Scotchies’ outpost on Chelsea Avenue. Tucked amid a jungle’s worth of foliage, it offers a respite from the urban bustle. Utterly irresistable, its proteins waft with the scent of a pimento wood-stoked fire. There’s also a Montego Bay location, serving a similar sauce-drenched lineup, along with sides like rice and beans and plantains. Roasted fish, cooked in foil packets with onions, peppers, okra and tomatoes is a mighty fine alternative. But tender tongues beware: its house-made hot sauce fires things up considerably.