Ido Spice Restaurant and Art Centre

Yesterday in downtown Kingston I made a pretty cool discovery – a place called Ido Spice which is located at 131 Orange Street (walking distance from the Parade where the buses stop. Just look at Google Maps before you go and you should be able to find it).

From the outside, it just looks like all the other houses in the area (so basically just an old, rusty zinc fence) but you can find it by looking at the numbers of the shops nearby. There are some crumbling steps which you walk up, and then go through the gap in the fence.

When you go in, you’ll see the kitchen right in front of you:


The man who seemed to be the owner was standing right there smoking weed from a giant pipe thing (aka chalice) and he didn’t really say anything until I asked him what food there was. He listed LOADS of things compared to most ital (vegan) restaurants. Most just have about five different things per day but he listed about 15 things including roast breadfruit, veggie chunks (soya), boiled plantain, something made from polenta, a stew with beans and coconut milk, dumplings, callaloo and more.

He said it was $350jmd (equal to $3.50 US) for a plate, which is quite a normal price for ital food, so I just asked him to give me a bit of everything. He led me to the back area which was basically his back yard (well someone’s… I guess his) with a homemade table and chairs:


Soon after, he came around with the food, and as promised he gave me a bit of everything:


I’m quite easy to please when it comes to vegan food, so normally I love every ital restaurant, but I was extra impressed by this food. You can’t really see all the different things in the photo but they all had really different flavours and there were some new things that I hadn’t had anywhere else in Jamaica.

They had fresh juices too, and it was a relaxing place to hang out for a while. It would be useful to go there to de-stress after shopping at the hectic market. The surroundings are obviously quite basic but I don’t mind that at all, and it was nice to have so many palm trees around:


After chilling there for about half an hour, I got up to leave but then a different rasta asked me if I wanted to see the arts and crafts that they sell, so I said OK and they took me to a room on the side which is basically a creative workshop with some really cool things.

There were necklaces and earrings and all the earrings are made from natural things like non-edible parts of fruit or trees, e.g. coconut shells:


One thing that I thought was quite inventive was the coconut bowls:


Often when you’re abroad, you can’t really be sure whether the people claiming to make jewelery/souvenirs ACTUALLY make them (they could just be imported), but I literally saw all the tools and some half-made things and it was clear that everything was made there, which I think is the kind of business you should support if you want souvenirs.

I didn’t plan to buy anything (you can’t really get souvenirs from every country when you’re going travelling for a year) so I don’t actually know the prices, but it seems like they would be reasonable. The rastas were saying that if anyone has an idea, they can come there and try and make it, so it’s basically an open creative space for everyone. They showed me a kind of dream-catcher or wind chime that a French backpacker made when he spent a day there.

I don’t really have any ideas at the moment but I’m definitely going to go there if I can think of something to make. I think this place is definitely worth visiting for any backpacker/traveler in Kingston. If you can’t find it, just get onto Orange Street and keep asking people until you find it. They might not know its name because it’s not written on the fence, so you might have to say “the ital place where they make jewelery” or something like that.


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