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While the Caribbean is typically referred to as paradise for its relaxed vibe, sandy white beaches and clear- turquoise water, it is rarely included among the great gastronomic hubs. It may be time to change that! Among its advantages: fresh ingredients such as straight-off-the-boat seafood, tropical fruits picked each morning, and its plethora of spices. Not to mention the uniqueness of Caribbean cuisine: the food reflects traces of the French, Spanish, British, Dutch, Swedes, Danes, and Americans, all of whom had colonial presence in the region. With that in mind, here is our list of the best Caribbean Islands for food lovers…
St. Barths– Long admired by the rich and famous, this French island has cultivated a cosmopolitan dining scene to feed a demanding clientele. Eateries range from the charming sidewalk cafes in Gustavia to upscale beachfront spots that easily hold their own against restaurants on the French Riviera. St. Bart’s is also known for the region’s largest wine store- La Cave de Saint Barthelemy– with more than 200,000 bottles and 300 varieties of French wine. Local favorite: Bartolomeo at the Guanahani resort.
St. Lucia– Locals flock to the waterfront towns of Gros Islet and Anse la Ray on Friday nights for “jump ups”, festivals that blend food, drink, music and dancing in the streets. The barbecued seafood is straight off the boat, accompanied by breadfruit, sweet potato, or blackened corn on the cob. The local Creole cuisine is influenced by both the British and French, who once ruled the island. Salt fish and green banana is the national dish- and much tastier than it sounds. Local favorite: Dasheene at Ladera Resort
Grenada– Known as the “Island of Spice”, Grenada’s natural resources include cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. This bounty of flavor goes into traditional Grenadian dishes like ginger pork, curried mutton, crayfish broth, and stir-fried rabbit. Local favorite: Rhodes Restaurant
Curaçao– With a population made up of more than 50 nationalities, the food scene here is extremely diverse. Restaurants run the gamut from French to Dutch to Brazilian, Indonesian and Japanese. Local Creole specialties include yuana (stewed iguana), keshi yena (stuffed cheese) and kokada (coconut patties). Willemstad, the island capital, combines fine dining and Dutch Colonial architecture. Local favorite: Blues Restaurant at the Avila Hotel.
St. Martin– This beautiful island offers two for the price of one: French cuisine on one side of the island and Dutch delights on the other. Chic waterfront dining is found in the French villages of Marigot and Grand Case. The best Dutch-side dining includes restaurants such as Rare and Temptation in the Atlantic World casino. St. Martin also has its own homegrown libation, guava berry liqueur, made from oak-aged rum, cane sugar, and a rare berry harvested from the bushes that grow in the island’s central highlands. Local favorite: Le Santal in Marigot