Are you traveling soon and starting to plan your trip? While most people plan out what beaches they’re going to, I’m a foodie, so I like to plan out where I eat. There’s nothing better than sitting down and being catered to with new extravagant cuisines.
The Virgin Islands has a rich and diverse culinary scene that blends influences from African, European, and Caribbean cuisine. With that said, while you’re down here your pallet is going to be pleased. You should expect to eat a flavorful meal, with either shell fish, beef, or fresh caught fish, but that’s not all.
It’s a must to get Johnny Cakes, while you’re down here, for they are the staple of the Virgin Islands. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the types of cuisines and some of my favorite restaurants throughout the islands.
The traditional cuisine of the Virgin Islands is a unique blend of flavors, stemming from all parts of the world. Some popular dishes include saltfish and fungi, which is a breakfast made with salted codfish and cornmeal. Also, a big favorite down here is conch fritters, a crispy and flavorful appetizer made with conch meat. However, if you’re a real foodie you’ll want to try out goat water, a hearty stew made with goat meat and vegetables. The name sounds intimidating I know, but give it a try!
Considering we’re on a rock in the middle of the ocean, seafood is also a highlight of the local cuisine. Fresh catches include mahi-mahi, red snapper, and lobster, so if you see them on the menu It’s more than likely a “today catch”. Be sure to try the local favorite, grilled spiny lobster, served with a side of rice and beans. Unlike lobsters in the states, the caribbean lobster is claw less, and a slightly different texture. If you’re a shell fish lover, this is your chance to expand your pallet.
What’s The Drinks?
If you’re a Pirates of the Caribbean fan, then you know the Virgin Islands are home to some of the best rum in the world. Each island produces their own brand of the spirit known as Cruzan Rum, Captain Morgan, or fresh brewed seltzers and beers. Rum is the base of many local cocktails, including the popular Painkiller, a sweet and creamy blend of rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cream of coconut.
Another local favorite is the Bushwacker, a boozy milkshake-like cocktail made with rum, Kahlua, Baileys, and cream of coconut, topped with grated nutmeg. It’s the perfect drink to enjoy on a hot day at the beach. While exploring the mesmerizing islands, be sure to get a Bushwhacker with peanut butter or oreo, if you’re crazy, both!
Where to Eat
In addition to local cuisine, the Virgin Islands also offer a wide range of international flavors, reflecting the diverse cultural influences on the islands. Visitors can enjoy everything from Italian and French cuisine to sushi and Thai food.
One standout restaurant, and also my favorite is La Tapa, located in Cruz Bay on the island of St. John. The restaurant offers a fusion of Mediterranean and Caribbean flavors, with dishes such as pan-seared scallops with pineapple salsa and lobster risotto. They also have an extensive wine list and a cozy, romantic atmosphere. While you’re there you’ll be greeted by some of the wonderful, friendly staff. Be sure to request AC, or Ally, for they were the lights of the whole atmosphere. If you’re lucky, you’ll run into the owner Alex. She’s a culinary legend, making her stamp on the St. John map forever.
Another must-visit spot is the Havana Blue Restaurant & Lounge in St. Thomas, which serves up a mix of Caribbean and Latin American cuisine with a modern twist. Enjoy dishes such as roasted pork belly with yucca puree and guava BBQ sauce while taking in the stunning ocean views from the open-air dining room.
If you’re a shellfish lover, then this next one is a MUST. This beachfront restaurant in Bolongo Bay, St Thomas known as The Lobster Grille specializes in seafood, including lobster, crab, and fish. These dishes come served with fresh warm bread, and of course garlic butter for all your dipping needs. They also have vegetarian options available, if you’re not a meat lover, served with fresh veggies grown locally. The restaurant has a laid-back atmosphere and is a great spot for a casual meal, or even a private date night with your loved one.
Lastly, one of my personal frequent flyer restaurants is, Sudi’s at Sapphire Beach, located on the island of St. Thomas. It’s a local Caribbean grille & bar offering some of the tastiest food with an extremely homie atmosphere. Sudi’s is owned by a couple Greg & Natalie, and the name Sudi is actually the name of Greg’s daughter.
The family oriented vibe, and great food truly makes this bar and grille one of my favorites. Although, their food is nothing to skip! They like to call it the “Floribbean” flare style of cooking. You’ll get the best of Florida and Caribbean cooking under one roof. But if you don’t want to sit under the roof, no worries, go jump into the pool located at the front door. Here you get a view of the beach and water with a quite, sand free, atmosphere. If you’re a taco lover, my suggestion to you would be the blackened Mahi fish tacos.
Frequently Asked Questions
For your convenience, we’ve included a FAQ for other questions you may have.
What kind of food do they eat in St. Thomas Virgin Islands?
You can find just about anything your heart desires on St Thomas. But if you’re looking for the culture stylistict foods I’ve made a list for you below of foods you could expect –
- Fish and seafood – St. Thomas has a variety of fresh fish and seafood dishes, including grilled fish, lobster, and shrimp.
- Johnny Cake – a type of bread made with cornmeal and flour, often served with butter or jam.
- Callaloo – a traditional Caribbean soup made with leafy greens, okra, and coconut milk.
- Roti – a Caribbean-style wrap filled with curried chicken, goat, or vegetables.
- Conch fritters – deep-fried dough balls filled with conch meat, often served as an appetizer.
- Saltfish – salted and dried fish, often served with onions, peppers, and tomatoes.
- Fried plantains – a sweet and savory side dish made from ripe plantains.
Is Food Cheap in The Virgin Islands?
Just like many places around the world it will depend on where you shop. However, they’re declared by 1st world countries so don’t expect to pay $1 for a beer. Street food and local food can be a great way to save money while experiencing authentic local cuisine. You can also find local markets and grocery stores that offer fresh produce and other food items at reasonable prices.
With that said, if you plan on eating out, expect to pay somewhere above $100 for two people.
What is The National Dish of St Croix?
The national dish of St. Croix is “Kallaloo,” which is a traditional Caribbean soup made with leafy greens, okra, seafood (such as crab or conch), and often includes coconut milk. It is typically served with fungi, a type of cornmeal dumpling.
What is The Popular Drink in The Virgin Islands?
Rum is the base of many local cocktails, including the popular Painkiller, a sweet and creamy blend of rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cream of coconut.
Another local favorite is the Bushwacker, a boozy milkshake-like cocktail made with rum, Kahlua, Baileys, and cream of coconut, topped with grated nutmeg. It’s the perfect drink to enjoy on a hot day at the beach.
Whether you’re a foodie or just looking to try some new flavors, the food and drink scene in the Virgin Islands is sure to impress. From local Caribbean cuisine to international flavors, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So grab a Bushwacker, dig into some conch fritters, and let your taste buds savor the flavors of this tropical paradise.
I’ll leave you with my perfect evening, enjoying dinner at La Topa, then some drinks on the beach!