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Dining in the Caribbean

Cindy Loose

Friends who've been to the French side of St. Martin 10 times want to know: Is there good food anywhere else in the Caribbean? They'd like to try a new island for a change, but every time they've done that on their yearly Caribbean vacation they've been disappointed in the food.

Thing is, you should be able to find something good to eat on any island, but it's true that overall, the Caribbean is not a foodie paradise. Many ingredients, even tropical fruits in many cases, has to be imported, which drives up prices.

If excellent food is a particularly important part of your vacation, some islands are better for you than others. In brief: Go French. Besides St. Martin, try St. Barts -- which is quite upscale and thus pricey -- and Martinique.
Puerto Rico, which is cheap to get to and you don't lose anything turning dollars into something else, has some great Spanish-influenced fare. The Bahamas, while it's not quite Caribbean and too cool for most people to swim in the ocean in winter, has a broad selections of restaurants.

That exhausts my list, but if anyone else wants to chime in, I'd like the answer as much as my friends would.

By Cindy Loose |  January 19, 2007; 12:38 PM ET  | Category:  Cindy Loose , Dining
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Try "Tao" at Le Sport in St. Lucia. Wonderful Asian/French/Caribbean fusion. The vanilla chicken is sinfully good. I'm not sure if it's open to guests from off property but it alone is worth a stay.

Posted by: Darryl D | January 19, 2007 1:52 PM

I had four wonderful dinners in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The first and last (and our personal favorite) were at the Houseboat restaurant: simple, excellent preparations, especially the fish.

The second was at Sugar Mill, a gorgeous restaurant in an old mill at the Half Moon Bay resort.

Finally, we had New Year's Dinner at Townhouse, which was right on the Hip Strip, with many tables outdoors overlooking the ocean. I had wonderful lobster here, and especially enjoyed their house speciality smoked marlin.

Posted by: Chris | January 19, 2007 2:23 PM

The best burger in the Islands, Skinny Legs, St John, USVI,

Posted by: Marc | January 19, 2007 2:38 PM

Cindy - We had our wedding reception at Harmony Hall in Antigua ( Food, wine and service were fabulous. It's definitely off the beaten path, but worth every bump on the road. Can also be accessed from the water...sits in a beautiful cove on the east side of the island.

Posted by: E. | January 19, 2007 2:38 PM

I 2nd the Skinny Legs suggestion. I also had a great meal at Asolare on St. John. I will admit that the view may have influenced my taste buds.

Posted by: Todd | January 19, 2007 2:45 PM

Just returned from a weekend in Puerto Rico. In San Juan I can recommend Ajili Mojili, upscale/downhome cooking with charming service and a lovely setting (pricey, but we had fun and the mojitos were perfect). In Rincon I'd recommend The Spot at the Black Eagle - first class service with the most spectacular sunset views. Pristine sushi is just one of the delights. Spend some time with Jim at the bar - he knows all there is to know about Rincon.

A couple of trips ago we found great food in Ocho Rios, Jamaica at the Almond Tree (have a drink at the bar while sitting in one of the swing chairs!) The Rasta Pasta at Evita's was imaginative and delicious, and Eva is a gracious hostess. The Ruins can't be beat for atmosphere. One wall of their dining terrace is an actual waterfall. The menu tends towards classic Chinese cooking, and I recall being thoroghly pleased with both the service and the lobster in garlic sauce. On the whole, if you get away from the all-inclusives you can dine very well in Jamaica.

Posted by: KiKi | January 19, 2007 2:49 PM

Does anyone have any recommendations for Curacao?

Posted by: Kevin | January 19, 2007 2:57 PM

St Croix. We just spent our 30th anniversary there and had no trouble finding excellent food. On our actual anniversary we at at a place called the Sand Dollar on the west end . . .literally about 3 feet from the beach, wonderful sunset, etc. We also ate at Kendricks, Bucanneer, and 2 other places that I can't remember the names of. All were uniformly better than average. Atmosphere everything from on the beach at sunset to inside a courtyard in the center of a 100 year old building to a resort up on the hill overlooking the bay. We generally asked what today's special fish was . . .the special almost always came pretty much straight off the boat so was very fresh. Add in the extremely low rum prices and it was quite a nice vacation. The only thing I noticed a lack of was draft beer . . .there's only a single place on the island that has any and it's a local (not very good) brew.

Posted by: Neil Laubenthal | January 19, 2007 3:15 PM

Aruba has excellent restaurants. Iguana Joe's (in Oranjestad's downtown), Trattoria El Faro Blanco (Italian place at the northern tip of the island), Simply Fish (on the beach), the Buccaneer.

Posted by: Amy | January 19, 2007 3:46 PM

The Almond Tree on Grand Cayman. Yummy!!!

I also second the notion about St. Croix. great food almost anywhere you go. There's a small restaurant in the center of the island at a crossroads (can't remember the name unfortunately) that has some of the best food I've ever tasted. The owner/chef was very friendly too. Not often that I'm glad to spend that much ($50-75/ person) on dinner, but in this case it was worth every cent and then some.

Posted by: vbxtc | January 22, 2007 1:51 PM

Wow, what a great list so far.

My new thoughts--Conde Nast magazine just did a rundown of the best places to eat in the Caribbean. Barbados had five suggestions, which gave it the largest number, and St. Barts--one of the French islands, had the second most at four. I'm assuming all of those are pricey.

In Anguilla, where I recently visited, Cocos was very good, not too over the top price wise, and was beautiful--all outdoors on a deck, small and intimate, with great views of the water.

Meanwhile, Gary Lee tells me he knows a couple good places in Curacao---Le Clochard, a Swiss French place, and Astrolab.

Posted by: Cindy Loose | January 22, 2007 3:26 PM

If you want an island for wonderful food in the Caribbean: Puerto Rico. Period. I somewhat agree with the poster who like Ajili Mojili (fun and good, but the both times I've been there, wished the food was hotter in temp). But there are so many more great restaurants, even in hotels. There's Tuscany in the Marriott in Condado, Augusto's in the Marriott Courtyard in Miramar - formerly the Hotel Excelsior. The food and service at the latter is equal to any 4 Star in DC. There's also the Metropole (cuban) in Isla Verde, Che's (Argentinian)and Atlantico (seafood)in Ocean Park (between Condado and Isla Verde). The list goes on and on. You can have a great meal EVERY night for a month and NEVER hit the same place twice.

Posted by: vj in Bowie, MD | January 23, 2007 12:45 PM

Caribbean Restaurant Recommendations:

Puerto Rico: Aquaviva - very good seafood in Old San Juan

St. Thomas: Benny Iguana's - BEST sushi in the islands, a true local spot that has tourists salivating, order the mussels

St. John: Tage - an incredible meal of seafood and beef, wonderful wine list, great atmosphere, would highly recommend it

Posted by: MJ | January 23, 2007 5:30 PM

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