just returned from a glorious week in barbados - as much as i love living in toronto, it was very hard to get enthused about coming back here:)
we stayed on the west coast (butts rock area), so most of my eating experiences are from there, but not exclusively. on this side, we ate at cocomos, daphne's, cafe at the chattel village, surfside bar (unsure if that's the name, but it's next to cocomos), raggamuffins, fish stand in payne's bay (across from the pentecostal church). cocomos has great coctails, and some dishes are good. we had fish cakes and fish nuggets, blackened marlin with vegetables, blackened flying fish on ceasar salad, coconut shrimp. the fish dishes were uniformly good (in fact, we only had one mediocre fish experience during our entire vacation - fresh fish is definitely the way to go anywhere on the island). the sides were between average (steamed veggies, much of it not local) to mediocre (ceasar salad). i'd say there is better food in the area, but if you want to combine beach, drinks and decent comfort food, this is a good choice. lots of american style items like pizzas, pastas etc, for those who don't want local fare. the place next to cocomos is much the same in terms of menu, but they have some more local dishes like stews (bajan beef stew was pretty tasty and nicely spicy), and have both dolphin (mahi mahi) and flying fish sandwiches. good place for lunch on the beach. daphne's is more upscale, italian, lovely decor, amazing martinis (you have to try the passionfruit martini), the food is good to very good and nicely presented. more pricey than the other two. standouts were spicy chicken salad (very nicely spiced, with pieces of fried plantain), lovely mahi mahi tartar. ragamuffins is in holetown proper, with sunday and monday drag shows (the performers are good, but the show is geared towards straight middle aged tourists so not very racy). the food is mostly standard bajan fare - different kinds of fish, blackened or pan fried, with rice and peas, stews, curries, etc. all was good, with bajan curry very spicy. thankfully, they don't water these dishes down for tourists, even though that's most of their clientele. lots of retaurants in that area, diverse cuisines on offer. the cafe in the middle of the chattel village is very pretty, with tasty lunch fare, mostly sandwiches and salad. good espresso coffee. finally, the fish stand at payne's bay - ridiculous lineups ($10 bajan for a plate of fish or meat and sides like rice and peas, macaroni pie, coleslaw). we waited a whole hour for our food! unfortunately, tthis was the one disappointing meal - the fish (marlin) was dry and overcooked. still tasty because it was so fresh but just not worth waiting an hour for. however, you can hear good conversations as you wait:)
we did go to oistins, and i will just add my vote for the fish fry to all others on the board. we had 4 different kinds of fish, plus pork jerk, plus, green bananas and salt fish, and all were delicious. go and spend the evening just watching people go by.
on the south side we only ate at champers (wanted one fancy place to celebrate a friend's birthday). beautiful setting overlooking the ocean, formal service, etc. the food was good but not overwhelmingly so. again, the fish was stellar (i had barracuda with permasan crust which was pretty delicious, my friend raved about his king fish ceviche), but the sides was kind of boring, and clearly meant to appeal to a particular british taste (mash potatoes, vegetable medleys, lots of imported non-tropical items). i don't think i'd go back just because the setting can be found in many places, and for that price i want to be a bit more wowed.
on the east coast, we ate at the round house in bathsheba. excellent location to watch surfers while eating mostly traditional bajan fare (by now it must be obvious that we had a particular theme in mind - fish, fish, and more fish, and preferably in the context of barbadian cooking:)). all our dishes were good, and the rum punch is strong! there is also a cafe closer to the water but unfortunately the kithcen was closed on the day we went.
in bridgetown we only ate at waterfront cafe, that has very solid food. we only had some snacks and drinks - those i remember were ground pork in fried plaintain, and flying fish fried innards (can't remember the exact name).
final suggestions - chefette is about the only fast food chain i will go to. i really don't like chains especially the fast food ones, but chefette has a flying fish sandwich that is huge (two whole fish on sesame seed bun) - $10 barbados ($5US). if you have kitchen facilities and want to make snacks for the beach or travel, as we usually did, the salt bread buns are pretty good with just about anything, you can get decent if not best cheddar and other cheeses in the supermarkets (jordans has a good selection), fruit from street vendors is ridiculously cheap, and guava cheese is a yummy sweet treat. all go well with malibu and orange juice:)
hope this will be helpful for future travellers to barbados!