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U.S. Virgin Islands: Foodie Paradise Like No Other



Dining is one of the favorite pastimes in the USVI, and the goods are served up in a wildly diverse selection of venues, from casual diners to elegant beachside bistros. The restaurant scene is heavy on "surf and turf" (meat and seafood), but most eateries offer their own interpretation on that theme, whether it be a Latin-Asian flair, a Caribbean twist, or an old-world European sensibility. Due to the high cost of importing even commonplace foods, dining out is not cheap, and there's not a whole lot of ethnic diversity, but with over 300 restaurants, cafes and snack bars, you won't go home hungry or dissatisfied. Plus, there's nothing stiff or snooty about dining in the USVI – even the finest, priciest places have a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

In St. Thomas, Havana Blue's Latin-tinged fusion and Old Stone Farmhouse's exotic meats draw the biggest kudos, while Alexander's Bella Blu and Thirteen remain perennially popular due to their innovative fish and pasta specialties – including schnitzel at Bella Blu.

St. Croix's elegant Kendrick's and casual Duggan's Reef may be polar opposites in terms of atmosphere, but they are rivals in terms of the quality of their food and the loyalty of their clientele. Same goes for Eat @ Cane Bay, which dazzles diners with its food shots and uber-fresh fish.

On St. John, dining spots like Asolare and Zozo's combine achingly beautiful views with top-notch food, while La Tapa offers a taste of Spain in the Caribbean.


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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.




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.




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.


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Havana Blue
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


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.




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.




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.


Alexander's Bella Blu
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


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.




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.




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.


Old Stone Farmhouse
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


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.


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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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