Spotlighting Local Cuisine On St. Thomas
By Alexander Britell
Always a terrific food destination, St. Thomas is in the midst of a gastronomic renaissance, with a renewed focus on traditional classics and a new push to highlight local cuisine.
Indeed, more and more eateries are putting the food of St. Thomas front and center, from food trucks to fine dining and everything in between.
It all adds up to what is a full-fledged local food movement, where the emphasis is not just freshly-caught fish, but about putting the flavors and culture of St. Thomas on the table.
Here are our favorite St. Thomas eateries for exciting local food, from island institutions to hip, upstart eateries.
No restaurant better exemplifies St. Thomas’ new food movement than this. It’s called Blue Eleven, and it’s the debut restaurant of leading Virgin Island chef David Benjamin, formerly of the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas. The Yacht Haven Grande outpost is a fine-dining love letter to island food, with an exclusive tasting menu that lets guests embark on a culinary journey (including a wine-pairing option) through either seven, nine or 11 courses. With a focus on local ingredients, that means dishes like pan-seared wahoo, a brilliant spin on callaloo and jerk chicken with plantain gnocchi, among others.
Set in the increasingly hot Yacht Haven Grande marina, Twist, the brainchild of Dimitri and Tamra James, is all about Caribbean cuisine — and puts a new spin on traditional island favorites. That means dishes like honey-drizzled johnny cakes, curry chicken sliders, jerk bowls and trios of the island’s famous pate.
One of St. Thomas’ most prominent places to eat, Gladys’ is a Charlotte Amalie institution, with out-of-this-world Caribbean signatures: think curry goat, stewed oxtails, jerk chicken, pan-fried grouper and, of course, its “Ole Wife” fish. Make sure you get a side of fungi with creole sauce and thank us later.
It’s been a hallmark of St. Thomas for more than fifty years, first with Anna and Douglas Watson and now with their son Michael, whose family is expertly stewarding this USVI institution. It’s the essence of St. Thomas – fresh locally caught fish, soursop ice cream, sautéed conch, and a must-try rum punch.
Yes, St. Thomas’ food movement now includes a vegan option — and a food truck to boot. It’s called PlantTastic, a truck serving up vegan and pescatarian dishes like black bean cakes with mango salsa, vegan crab cakes, falafel and fresh-catch poke bowls. It’s set in a location in Frenchtown by Radio One.
Publishers Note: We are happy to partner with Alexander Britell, Founder and Editor in Chief of the Miami, Florida based Caribbean Journal and his staff contributing to the OTC and our Caribbean Connection Section. Check out the popular online magazine/website at caribjournal.com for valuable information on all fabulous travel options and things of interest in the Caribbean.