The St. John Dining Paradox: Mellow Elegance, Intense Flavors

St. John's dining scene offers a lovely paradox: even the finest eateries offer a mellow, relaxed atmosphere where jackets and ties are not only not required, but not even part of the vocabulary (who would want to wear a jacket in the heat anyway?) However, the casual attitude does not extend to the food itself, whose flavors are serious indeed – seriously vivid, intense and exciting.

Flavor, flair and even fire are words that can easily be used to describe the food on St. John, an island where dining is the second most popular activity after going to the beach. Seafood is the common denominator at the top 10 restaurants on the island, but that's where the similarities end. Each eatery has its own signature style and niche, whether it be the French-Asian fusion at Asolare, "neo-Caribbean" at Morgan's Mango, or nouveau-Malaysian at Fatty Crab (bet you've never had pickled watermelon served atop a chunk of crispy pork before. Didn't think so).

Though unusual combinations excite, there's also a strong streak of traditionalism. Zozo's and Cafe Roma both pride themselves on their command of the Italian language of cuisine – with one offering northern Italian in an elegant seaside setting, and the other offering hearty pizzas and lasagna in a lively trattoria-style dining room.

All the eateries mentioned above are centered in Cruz Bay, but St. John's great food also extends to Coral Bay and beyond. Aqua Bistro excels at American and Mediterranean classics, while it's worth making the trek to Shipwreck Landing just for the curry nut crusted grouper.

As the name suggests, this family-owned restaurant is one of the best places in Cruz Bay for fresh fish. At least six fresh fish specials are offered each night. The list is drawn up just before opening to ensure diners receive the day's...  Read More

Fatty Crab
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt

This sleek, chic eatery specializes in Malaysian/Indonesian-inspired food. Monday through Saturday the dinner menu includes innovative appetizers and signature entrees such as crab ramen, watermelon pickle and crispy pork, Indonesian fried rice,...  Read More

Shipwreck Landing
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt

This large, friendly waterfront bar/restaurant draws a combination of local boaties and snowbirds and visitors staying in nearby villas. They come for the hearty menu of burgers, seafood dishes and creative cocktails. You'll want to try house...  Read More

Aqua Bistro
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt

This relaxed Coral Bay eatery offers fine American and Mediterranean food in a casual atmosphere. Fish, pasta, soups, salads, sandwiches, steaks and pizza comprise the extensive menu. Favorites include the flatbread pizza, jerk chicken sandwich,...  Read More

This casual Italian eatery offers trattoria-style cuisine, a full bar and a vast wine selection. Traditional favorites like seafood manicotti, veal Marsala, fettucine alfredo, and chicken Parmesan are on the menu, as well as more than 20...  Read More

Morgan's Mango
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt

This "neo-Caribbean" restaurant features a uniquely delicious seafood-heavy menu food with a West Indian- Latin twist. Dive right in with an appetizer of Anegada crab and lobster cakes, Barbados flying fish, or quesadillas with skirt steak and...  Read More

This stylish street-side restaurant offers a taste of Spain in the heart of Cruz Bay. The ever-changing menu includes starters such as hearty gazpacho, boquerones, and seared foie gras with grape-gewurztraminer compote. Main courses are heavy on...  Read More

Caneel Bay Resort's Equator restaurant (formerly the Sugar Mill), specializes in Caribbean fusion cuisine with a modern twist. Served adjacent to an 18th century sugar mill, diners can see the grounds and the ocean from their perch in the...  Read More

The name of this elegant, open-air St. John restaurant means "a leisurely passing of time without purpose." Diners are encouraged to start with drinks as they soak in the beautiful sunset vistas over Cruz Bay. When it's time to order, start with...  Read More

Classic northern Italian cuisine is on the menu at this popular restaurant, located at Gallows Point Resort. The menu changes four or five times a year, but you can usually find staples like veal scallopini and eggplant Parmesan, plus unique...  Read More


Meet Karen Elowitt

Karen worked for several years as a newspaper reporter and copy editor before becoming a travel writer. She worked for renowned  travel expert Peter Greenberg before going freelance, and now...  More About Karen

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