What an awkward title.
I didn’t want to call this “food spots you should try in the east” because I think there’s a general debate about where the “east” begins.
I also didn’t want to call it food spots you should try outside of Port of Spain because I don’t go central or south with this list.
Long story short, these are places located to the east of Port of Spain that I enjoy eating at. Hopefully, this blog will introduce you to a new restaurant or coffee shop, or, at the very least motivate you to return to the places you’ve already been to.
I love authentic Indian food and I’m pretty sure I’ve been to 80% of the places that serve it here in Trinidad. Of the 80%, I can safely say that Himchuli is my absolute favourite.
Himchuli is actually a Nepali and Indian restaurant, that also serves Hakka and Thai. I almost always get the Indian though I have tried a few of the Nepalese apps in the past when dining with friends.
Himchuli is located on El Socorro Road (they were actually first located lower down on El Socorro Road, nearer to the traffic lights that take you onto the highway, but later moved to a larger space on the same road). It’s not a frilly spot by any means (none of the places on this list is, to be honest) but it’s comfortable and clean and the service is good. The prices are also among the more reasonable I’ve seen for Indian cuisine.
I highly recommend the paneer dolma – cubes of paneer simmered in a buttery sauce with mushrooms and peas. I dream about paneer dolma sometimes, it’s that good. Also on my list of favourites is their lamb rogan josh. Note as well that mains come with a side of basmati rice, but the rice is delicious and fragrant so I won’t judge anyone for doubling up their order.
Himchuli is also available on food delivery services – FoodDrop and Skip D Line – if you’re not up for a jaunt to El Socorro.
If you’re looking for a quaint breakfast spot in the east, here it is.
You’ll be forgiven if you drive past a few times before realising where it is though – Bisou is inconspicuously housed in an older residential building just off the Eastern Main Road in Tunapuna.
The main dining area occupies what was likely to be the former living room and gallery of the home, and there’s a step down to a smaller outdoor dining area just off the service bar.
They do breakfast and lunch and while the breakfast fare is pretty standard offering – bagels, sandwiches eggs and the like – you can’t go wrong with anything you get. Because I’m unapologetically basic, my breakfast choice there is almost always the sweet oats.
For lunch, you can expect bistro-style choices – flatbreads, pasta, salads, and sandwiches. They also offer a build-your-own-bowl option with their Bisou Bowls selection.
I’ve only ever been once for lunch and had the Firebird sandwich with a side of fries (they’re shoestring, in case you were wondering) and can highly recommend it.
Sombat Sombat Sombat. How can I put my love for this restaurant into words? I first visited Sombat’s when it was, quite literally, a hole in the wall of Shelford’s Rec Club in El Dorado. When Sombat’s moved to a new location on the Southern Main Road in Curepe (opposite Mode Alive), I moved with it. And when they relocated AGAIN to the other Southern Main Road (the one also referred to as Curepe Main Road) I followed again.
The restaurant is clean and spacious and the service is top-notch (are you seeing the pattern here?). When your food is served expect your garnish to come carved or folded into the shape of some flower or animal. Shout out to my friend Val who always reacts with utter excitement when he sees these, although he’s probably seeing it for the hundredth time.
Everything on the menu is good – you literally can’t pick something bad to eat here – but my typical order usually includes Thai pepper wantons, pepper wings, drunken noodles, and Thai fry mushrooms.
I’ll admit this one is a small cheat because they do have a branch in Maraval. BUT, before they opened their (possibly better known) branches in Grand Bazaar and Maraval, this Italian eaterie opened in Shops of Arima.
As an Arimian I was thrilled to have authentic Italian food not far from my house, for those days when my own Bertolli pasta and Prego sauce just weren’t cutting it.
Mamma Mia’s menu is what you’d expect from an Italian restaurant – antipasto, pizza, and pasta to satisfy all your carb cravings, while Amore Mio, their sister restaurant, serves up breakfast/brunch – think delicious cakes and pastries alongside offerings of the eggs and pancake variety. A point to note for the coffee aficionados (the purist, ‘I take mine black’ kind) – Amore Mio brews Hausbrandt. Trust the Italians to take their coffee very seriously.
If I’m having dinner there I’ll almost always have a Siciliana pizza. I got put on to anchovies on pizza a few years back and haven’t looked back since. For breakfast, I waver between the eggs benedict and french toast depending on my mood. One item I’m yet to try but find positively intriguing is the dutch pancake. A friend ordered it to go when we went for brunch (the only downside to this restaurant is that it only opens at 10am)
Mamma Mia and Amore Mio in Shops of Arima were recently renovated to combine the two physical spaces (previously, Amore Mio was a few stores down from Mamma Mia’s corner locale).
I’ll admit I was in two minds about including Noir, only because, as the name suggests, it’s more of a coffee shop than a place to eat per se. But I decided to throw caution to the wind and include it anyway because light bites are food too and Noir does offer up a selection of pastries alongside its inventive coffee menu.
If you’re in the St Augustine area, open to a light breakfast, or just in the market for a quick snack and some liquid energy, Noir is the perfect pit stop.
Pastries here are supplied by The Baking Room and Chef Jalon Ramkissoon. These aren’t your typical Linda’s pastries either (no shade to Linda’s Bakery btw, I LOVE me a quesito). Think savoury quiches – gorgonzola and pear and pork and apple – alongside a surprisingly not-too-sweet pumpkin tart and mushroom roulade. The pastry traditionalists can enjoy a pain au chocolat or spinach and cheese pie if that’s more their speed.
The space itself is spacious and well-lit. During the week you’re sure to find some remote workers tucked away in the corner seats for long stretches of time, while the weekend crowd is more fleeting, usually popping in for a quick cup post-workout.
Have no fear though, there’s more than enough room, and coffee, for everyone.
Bonus: I had to add one more, quick and dirty shout-out to Tony’s Shrimp and Chips in El Socorro. When I was in the process of finishing my apartment in late 2020, I was frequenting the El Socorro and Aranguez (can someone from the area please clarify for me where one ends and the other begins) areas for doors, sinks, and other exciting things.
I had heard of Tony’s Shrimp and Chips before but never had as ripe an opportunity to try them out until then. All I can say is – wow! Wow for consistency and quality, wow for always being fresh and hot, wow for the perfect panko crust on those shrimps, wow for a side salad that is actually tasty and not the least bit sad and gross. The menu is simple – shrimp and chips or fish and chips in different sizes. Personally, I love an establishment that can pick one thing and do it very, very well, and Tony’s Shrimp and Chips is exactly that.
It didn’t make the main list as it’s not somewhere you can sit and eat but it is definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Let me know in the comments if you have any more recommendations. I’m always on the look out for more places to eat in the east.