Driving around our islands, you’ll see brightly colored fruit, strange-looking root vegetables, flourishing herbs and even foot-long spiny lobsters – all for sale at roadside markets. This rich bounty represents just a few of the local ingredients which makes up the heart-and-soul of our Caribbean cuisine – a melting pot sifted, stirred and savored by many cultures throughout the ages.
Long before Columbus, the Arawaks cultivated foods like cassava, sweet potatoes and pumpkins in fertile Virgin Islands’ valleys. These ancient people also hooked, speared and netted a number of fin fish and shellfish like king mackerel, conch and whelks. Danish colonists arrived in the 1600’s, followed by the Spanish, French, British and Dutch. Africans were imported to work the sugar cane fields, then came the Chinese and East Indians who labored as indentured servants after emancipation. Each wave of newcomer brought something unique to the culinary table – a different cooking method, a new spice or another way of preserving food.
Today, our ethnic diversity has led to a variety of eating options. Sizzling seafood scampi, schnitzels galore, pasta’s tossed with island-grown herbs or Caribbean-caught fish, Danish-style smorgasbords, sushi bars, Cajun crawfish etouffe, chateaubriand and even Peking Duck – you name it, we’ve got it, the Virgin Islands’ rivals many major cities in it’s number of food choices per square mile.
But if you’re going to indulge in our sun, sea and sand, then you must sample some of our local Creole soul food as well. Start a Caribbean feast with a creamy bowl of nutmeg-topped pumpkin soup or hearty kallaloo stew made thick with fresh spinach and shellfish. Move on to coconut-curried chicken, succulent roast pork marinated in sunny citrus juices and savory herbs or a Caribbean lobster tail hot off the grill and topped with a smooth avocado-based mayonnaise. You’ll find the cornmeal and okra combination called `fungi’, fried plantains or spicy beans and rice are fulfilling entree accompaniments. And for dessert? Nothing equals a frosty wedge of key lime pie.
Whether you’re overlooking Charlotte Amalie Harbor, snuggled in downtown Cruz Bay, or seated along the Christiansted or Fredericksted waterfronts – twinkling lights reflected off the surrounding seas at night create the perfect backdrop for any fine dining experience.
Reservations are always recommended for dinner in season (December through April). You won’t need a coat and tie for dining in our islands, but do wear a shirt and pants, shorts or skirt – no bathing suits, please. Major credit cards are accepted in most restaurants.