My first weekend in Jamaica was a memorable one: I was attacked by two dogs and I made my first trip to Little Ochie in Alligator Pond, perhaps the best seafood restaurant in Jamaica, and it sits right on the beach! Seaside seafood on a Caribbean island? Sign me up!
Firstly, locals come from all over Jamaica to have lunch at Little Ochie, a seaside oasis that serves arguably some of the freshest of the ocean’s catch. Fresh because what you’re eating was probably caught that day, like in the bay, right out there! Like, look out Little Ochie’s window, they came from right there.
Admittedly, Little Ochie is quite rustic. Do not go to Little Ochie expecting table clothes and fancy service. What it lacks in pretention, Little Ochie more than makes up for in, well, being awesome. The experience is this:
You walk into the main building, which has a concrete floor and plywood walls. If you’re smart, and your entire existence revolves around food (like me :)) you make a beeline for the 3 large deep freezers. That’s where the goods are. Open up those freezers, and therein lies your lunch! Take your pick of whichever fish you so desire, tell them how you want it cooked, and cooked to your satisfaction it shall be!
The first time I was at Little Ochie, I picked out a medium sized red tailed snapper, figuring I was hungry and I could eat the whole thing. I did, no surprise there. All fish come with steamed carrots and okra, along with bammie and sauce, the Jamaican version of a pancake, which is actually pounded cassava, steamed into patties.
Beyond fish, you can also pick out fresh caught crab (humongous), lobster (also humongous), shrimp (normal shrimp size), or conch. Truly, there is something thrilling about picking out exactly which dead animal you want to eat. So primal in a Top of the Food Chain kind of way.
The second time I was at Little Ochie, (yes, I’ve been there twice in less than a month) I had been told that the conch soup was THE BEST! So I went in craving conch soup. I have never had conch, all I know about conch is that some lucky Survivors have it on their beach, it was a major symbol in The Lord of the Flies (though I’m unsure what it symbolized…) and that we have two illegally pilfered conch shells from the Yucatan Peninsula in my parents living room (pilfered over 20 years ago, I’m sure it was pseudo legal back then). But I was craving conch soup. I wanted. I needed…
To my heartbreak, there was no conch soup; classic conch fail. But…there was conch, just to eat! Ok, sure, lets do that, I am an adult, I can take slight disappointment. I’m still going to eat conch, just not in soup form.
Has anybody out there eaten conch? Show of hands…no? Ok, so conch is delicious. It is a shellfish after all, and has the consistency of a less slimy, more solid clam. The chefs chop it up and then fry it in oils and spices and make it crispy and wonderful! I was thrilled. I love trying new food, and fresh conch from Little Ochie is pretty high up there for me.
In addition to conch, our party to Little Ochie ordered basically everything else on the menu as well. We had two tables full of steamed fish, shrimp, lobster, festival (Jamaican style donuts), and more conch. And Red Stripe beer of course, thank you Jamaica!
Little Ochie is renowned not just for the phenomenal food, but for the phenomenal location. Tucked away off any kind of throughway, Little Ochie is in Alligator Pond, a small beach village where the main industry is fishing, and selling fish at Little Ochie. The rugged restaurant sits on a rugged stretch of beach, and the tables are all in raised boat-like platforms, giving each fish eater a view of the crashing waves where their meals were only moments ago swimming happily. No, I don’t feel bad. This amazing location and calming vibe almost made my dog attack pain go away, that is very impressive for anything that wasn’t a pharmaceutical.
It really is magical eating within spitting distance of the ocean. It would be romantic if your hands and face were not covered in fish.
My trips to seaside restaurant Little Ochie have been my favourite experiences yet in Jamaica. One trip was for lunch with some lovely ladies of Mandeville, and the second time was with my coworkers for dinner, and we just so happened to be there while watching the 200M Olympic mens semi-finals. Some really tall guy from Jamaica was racing in it, so it was a pretty exciting place to be, since the whole village of Alligator Pond gathered at Little Ochie to watch cable!
The smell of the food mixed with the aroma of the sea make the Little Ochie atmosphere one of a kind, and it doesn’t get a whole lot more Jamaican than drinking a Red Stripe while eating fish on the beach.
Where is Little Ochie?
Little Ochie is in Alligator Pond, on the South coast of Jamaica, in the parish of St. Elizabeth. It’s about an hour from Mandeville, and around 30 minutes from Treasure Beach.