Trinidad, not Tobago has perhaps never attained a top ten spot as one of the Caribbean’s premier tourist destinations. But what no other island can take away or boast about is its unique position as the Caribbean’s number one location for hanging out or what Trinis affectionately call liming. The island is peerless in this regard and absolutely nobody equipped with genuine info on the region can deny such an indisputable fact. Trinidad is the Caribbean’s leader in partying, hanging out and having a good time.
Liming occurs over the length and breadth of the Calypso isle but is taken to unbelievable heights upon an extended strip of asphalt known as Ariapita Avenue. Commonly dubbed the Avenue, it is the centerpiece of Woodbrook; a still proud middle class now semi-residential district just outside of Port-of-Spain proper and south-west of St. James, a neighborhood widely known as “the city that never sleeps.” The Avenue isn’t just run-of-the-mill famous it’s actually world famous. Gigantic unofficial street parties sandwiched between two popular watering holes (Coco Lounge and Finlandia) dominates the weekend. This area of the street is swamped with numerous limers who many times disperse for their respective homes somewhere between half-past three and near five am in the morning. Pockets of other people from all walks of life could also be seen liming and enjoying various types of music at many of the other swanky bars and grog joints along the strip. Local and foreign celebrities have also been known to pace the avenue on foot or via their expensive machines on wheels seeking various forms of excitement. Musicians, singers, sporting personalities, media personnel, politicians, professionals, business persons and even local authors can be seen traversing the crowded fun artery.
Besides its weekend street parties the avenue is well renowned for its wide array of sumptuous delicacies that patrons, party-goers, limers and passersby can easily obtain on the street itself or in quaintly designed structures. Roadside food vendors offer hungry transients anything from American burgers, fries and fried chicken to Trinidad doubles, (spicy channa balls compressed between two pieces of golden fried dough), meaty souse, corn soups and Arabian gyros (Doner Kebab). The last meal which comprises vegetables, chicken, lamb, goat or beef gently wrapped in pita bread has recently shed its veneer as a queer foreign novelty and has since become a sought after specialty; inspiring winding queues of customers eagerly anticipating a small bite of the Middle East. But if it’s one place in Trinidad where restaurants outnumber road vendors its Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook. Some of the best chomp joints are located along this popular route and welcomes food connoisseurs preferring fancy décor, comfortable furniture, glass panes and air conditioning above tropical breeze, pavements, walls, park benches and unwelcomed automobile fumes. Chinese restaurants are a virtual norm on the island but these establishments are surprisingly sparse on the avenue considering they’re ubiquitous in Trinidad’s other urban and suburban areas. Most prominent is Me Asia Chinese restaurant perched opposite the famed Adam Smith square; an important judging point during Carnival time. Common-place food spots serving grilled and fried meats along with pizzas, burgers and soda would naturally be expected on the popular strip. But for genuine international exoticism regarding indoor munching, Ariapita Avenue stands shoulders above all other boulevards, streets and districts. The busy enclave is endowed with food havens dishing out well prepared entrees from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Jamaica etc, etc. Mouth-watering buffet delights along with tropical and exotic fruit juices from Trinidad are not to be left out since travelers from the earth’s four corners arrive in search of the island’s peculiar comestibles.
Angelo’s is an automatic choice for gourmands toting Italian appetites. Authentic Spanish, Mexican, Portuguese and Caribbean dishes can be found at El Pecos, Mélange and Tapas. French cuisine is served at the Parisianesque a’ La Bastille while Irie Bites Jerk pacifies Jamaican style meat lovers. Jerk like gyros has also relinquished its secluded coat of obscurity and donned the elegant cloak of popularity. Both More Vino, a spectacular wine bar stocked with vintages from across the globe and LeVeLs, a fine dining lounge are equipped with sushi bars. Seafood as a specialty is available at the elegantly charming Chateau de Poisson. Diners with Trini, Creole or Caribbean palates can visit Sweet Lime restaurant, Mangoes, Veni Mange and the avenue’s newest kid Relish.
Liming on the avenue, especially at nights is a must whether one is an itinerant citizen of Trinidad or an enthusiastic visitor from a foreign country. A heady mixture of nightspots; gaming rooms; members clubs; food vendors; food queues; excitement on almost every corner; exquisite restaurants; infectious music; a continuously festive atmosphere; affable human beings of all shades, persuasions and tongues constantly moving to and fro; a manicured park/square; and expensive automobiles driven by fun craving transients have kept Ariapita Avenue ahead of all the rest when it comes to a good time in Trinidad. Though it’s pressed on almost every side by other liming hotspots such as western main road St. James, Cipriani Boulevard and Tragerete road; Ariapita Avenue continues its stranglehold on the undisputed venue for liming title. None of the others can be first but a host of them can be next or below the world famous Ariapita Avenue in Woodbrook.