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 fish and steak and include Basque-style grilled local yellowtail snapper, linguine tossed with shrimp, lobster, chanterelle mushrooms, eggplant, and paella for two. You'll kick yourself if you miss the incomparable tarte tatin with calvados ice cream for dessert, or the chocolate truffle cake with carajillo ice cream. There is live jazz on Mondays.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Creative, authentic European food is what makes La Tapa an island favorite year after year.
Karen's expert tip: Though you won't get a view of the ocean here, you can request outdoor sidewalk seating if you want to feel the pulse of Cruz Bay.
Don't let Thirteen's remote location on St. Thomas northside and drab exterior fool you – it's definitely one of the top five restaurants on the island. The innovative American cuisine includes lots of lobster, steak, pasta and fish, often infused with bacon: there's bacon-wrapped scallops, bacon-wrapped chicken, and even a dessert brownie topped with pretzels and bacon. An impressive wine list and gourmet pizzas round out the menu, which is pricey but oh-so-worth it. Arrive before sunset to get an eyeful of the spectacular ocean view. Thirteen is a little difficult to find for newbies: head up the hill above Charlotte Amalie on Route 33. Go west (right) at the Four Corners intersection; after a couple of miles you'll pass the Friendly gas station, the fire station and Bryan's Nursery. You'll see Thirteen on your right. Make reservations in advance, because this place is small, and very popular.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The remarkable food and wine and cozy, secluded north side location make Thirteen feel like a secret treasure.
Karen's expert tip: Get there when the bar opens at 4pm to have a pre-dinner cocktail and savor the view before the sun goes down.
By day, Eat @ Cane Bay is a fabulous restaurant with friendly service, amazing food and innovative drinks. And after dark, it's a fabulous nightspot with... you guessed it, friendly service, amazing food and innovative drinks. Plus lots of reggae music. Located right on the beach at the beautiful Cane Bay, Eat is the perfect place to watch the sunset, then down a Belgian beer or a silver & gold margarita while sampling the bite-size "food shots," fresh seafood or hand-cut steaks. You can also build your own burger, or even build your own salad. After you eat, soak in the relaxed north shore vibe while grooving to a local band.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Eat @ Cane Bay offers a simply divine combination of food, drink, music and location.
Karen's expert tip: If you're too lazy to go out, Eat @ Cane Bay will deliver food to your home or villa on the north shore.
This sleek, stylish Asian/Latin-fusion restaurant located at the Marriott Frenchman's Reef in St. Thomas offers perhaps the most innovative cuisine on the island. Start at the fantastic minimalist bar, which sits right in the middle of the breezy dining room. Cocktails such as the Sapphire Blingtini and the Dirty Chica set the stage for the menu's mouth-tickling entrees. The lineup is always changing, but past creations have included duck crepes with jalapeno and espresso sauce, plantain-crusted red snapper with spicy green chile-lime sauce and Asian slaw, and grilled ancho-rubbed beef filet with wasabi mash. The desserts are to die for as well: Cuban chocolate cake with coconut ice cream, or banana-macadamia spring rolls with strawberry balsamic puree will make you never want to leave.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Inventive drinks, exquisite entrees and the sounds of the sea set Havana Blue apart from the rest.
Karen's expert tip: The restaurant sits directly above the beach, so even if it's dark and you can't see the waves, you can certainly hear them.
After 30-some-odd years, Duggan's Reef has earned its reputation as one of the finest seafood restaurants in St. Croix. The long list of celebs and senators who have dined here are testament to its popularity. Located ten feet from Reef Beach in the east end of St. Croix, this open-air restaurant offers beautiful views of Buck Island in the distance. The varied menu includes local lobster and fish cooked many different ways, along with numerous daily specials. Be sure to start with creamy lobster bisque, and then try a house specialty such as Duggan's Caribbean lobster gratin or the famous Irish whiskey lobster. The fresh catch of the day might be baked, grilled, blackened, or served "island style" with tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Steaks, burgers, and chicken dishes are also available, for non-seafood eaters. Open for dinner every night, and for Sunday brunch.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Lotsa lobster and scrumptious views are the recipe for great dining at Duggan's Reef.
Karen's expert tip: Look out for local windsurfers, who put on a free show for diners.
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 creations such as Caribbean lobster fradiavolo and osso bucco with saffron rice. For starters, try the squid ink fettucine, calamari with pesto aioli or smoked duck sausage with gorgonzola polenta. If you have time before your meal, head upstairs to Jax Bar and enjoy one of the best sunsets in the Caribbean while you sip a cocktail or a glass of vino. Not surprisingly, the wine list is excellent and tends toward Italian, but also includes selections from around the world. Attire is smart-casual and reservations are suggested.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Authentic Italian food, a knockout wine list and stunning views make Zozo's on St. John a winner in all categories.
Karen's expert tip: Zozo's is moving to Caneel Bay Resort on November 1, 2013.
Centrally located in the funky Frenchtown neighborhood, Bella Blu is ideal for a leisurely lunch or a romantic dinner. This 30+ year old island favorite serves up high-caliber European-inspired fare, with an emphasis on Austrian, Italian, Greek and Middle Eastern flavors, and seafood. Start with an appetizer of fried shrimp remoulade, baba ganoush, tzatsiki or hummus, then move on to an entree of schnitzel, sausage, souvlaki, fresh pasta, filet mignon, strip steak, rack of lamb. House specialties include snapper Provencal, eggplant Parmesan, baked stuffed chicken breast, and shrimp scampi. East coast natives can even find a Philly cheesesteak here, but only on the lunch menu. The impressive wine list includes selections from around the world.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The wide-ranging European menu and attention to detail have earned Bella Blu a prime spot on this list.
Karen's expert tip: You can walk here from downtown, or drive - but be aware that parking is scarce in Frenchtown in the evening. You may want to consider a cab.
Kendrick's, located in the historic Quin House complex in downtown Christiansted, is probably St. Croix's most elegant restaurant. Offering both indoor and outdoor dining, the restaurant's formal upstairs dining room is one of the only places on the island where you can really dress up for dinner. The food, which has been featured in magazines and on TV, includes delicacies like the specialty appetizer, pan-seared scallops and artichoke hearts in lemon-cream sauce. For an entree, try the roasted pork loin with ginger mayonnaise or Alaskan king crab cakes with black pepper aioli. Of course there are nightly specials as well.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Kendrick's is the embodiment of elegance, style and flavor.
Karen's expert tip: If Italian is your thing, stop by on Tuesday nights.
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. Appetizers include the excellent pork spring rolls or silky prawn and coconut milk soup. For dinner, sample the sashimi tuna served on a hot plate with plum sake vinaigrette or chicken in yellow curry sauce. Smart-casual to dressy attire. Reservations necessary. Located next to the Estate Lindholm Bed and Breakfast.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: If the food doesn't knock you out, the cocktails, sunsets and warm service at Asolare will.
Karen's expert tip: Save room for the house special dessert, the chocolate pyramid cake, which has homemade vanilla ice cream at its center.
Menu descriptions read like poetry at this award-winning restaurant overlooking Mahogany Run golf course on St. Thomas' northcheck shore: pickled peach and fresh burrata salad, truffle honey stung chicken with lavender waffles and guavaberry syrup, Berkshire pork jowl with apple butter and grilled yams, grilled Bluefin tuna with tomato bacon jam. One of St. Thomas' finest dining experiences lives in a 19th-centuresugar plantation stable with two-feet thick stone walls and warm, soft lights. It caters to steak, seafood and vegetable lovers with artistically conceived menus that re-envision local ingredients. Guests can select their own fish or steak in the kitchen. The desserts are to die for, and the wine list is impressive.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The restaurant has world-class food, impeccable service and an intimately elegant atmosphere that many acclaim the island's best.
Chelle's expert tip: The a la carte Sunday brunch menu offers bottomless spicy Stoli bloody marys.