St Barts is most definitely a truly glamorous destination thanks to the influences of its French heritage. However, it has also evolved into a fantastic travel spot for its architecture, blended cultures that are thtako e result of the many groups passing through and settling on the island, its food, shops, and stunning beaches. As the experts of luxury travel at Travel + Leisure explained, it is the “Caribbean’s most elite…island [and] lives up to its reputation as an adult sandbox, where the rich and famous air-kiss over glasses of rosé. But it still has charms that make it attractive to the regular folk, from its uncrowded white-sand beaches…to its distinctly Gallic ﬂair.”
Travelers are charmed by the capital at Gustavia, and the St. Tropez-like setting of St. Jean on the opposite side of the island. And while there are many shops and sites, there are also the restaurants that reflect this cosmopolitan, European, and regional blend. If you are planning to head there on a first-time or return visit, you most certainly want to pay a visit to some of the most highly-rated or popular restaurants.
Five-Star Dining Among the Stars
Though it is a popular spot for the jet set, it is also a casual spot where gourmet meals are the emphasis. With an executive chef and inspired dishes based on island favorites, Bonito restaurant attracts the true “glitterati” like Beyonce and even royal family members like Pippa Middleton. The menu includes some of the restaurant’s signature items, like Octopus Tiradito (which is served with yellow potatoes, canchas, choclos, black olive coulis, red onion and herbs) and a Vegetarian Ceviche full of yuzu, asparagus, shitake and more.
Enjoy appetizers, fresh fish, artisan meats, grilled specialties, and more. And savor it all from the restaurant’s remarkable setting above Gustavia and gazing down on the charming harbor and the many red-roofed buildings that make views of the town such a delight. This is one of those perennial busy restaurants, however, so travelers are advised to book well ahead of their intended stay on the island in order to get a table.
Garden and Beach Dining
Taking its name from the ancient tamarind tree that salutes new arrivals at its front entrance, Tamarin is described as one of the most charming spots to dine on St. Barts. It is “on the way to Salines Beach,” and is noted for its laid-back atmosphere during the daytime service hours and its jolly and lighthearted spirt at night.
Like a fairy world, the garden is illuminated and all of the outdoor dining is made even more appealing. The casual air is emphasized by the ping pong and game tables that dot the setting, as well as the tasty house cocktails that are so abundant. Indoor as well as outdoor garden seating is always available, and there are pond views that diners can enjoy from almost any table.
The menu is as dynamic as the setting and includes a number of starters, entrees, meats, fish dishes, house made pastas, and irresistible desserts. There are many dishes identified as being made entirely on the premises as well as vegetarian choices in abundance. Some options include the local tiradito fish served with avocado, fennel pickles and toasted corn or the “boards” that can be shared by two and which include an array of meats, fishes and salads. The fish specials are unforgettable and the mahi mahi a la plancha is a house specialty. Leave more than enough room for dessert with options like roasted mango or pecan and vanilla eclairs just waiting to be enjoyed.
Though the menu seems rather upscale, the atmosphere is anything but, and this is that wonderful balance of carefully designed dishes in a setting where enjoyment and relaxation are guaranteed.
Thai on an Island Paradise
Lastly, among the most commonly recommended restaurants is a relative newcomer to the island’s collection of eateries. Black Ginger Thai is a favorite that has only been around for a short while. It is owned and operated by a chef with a background in Thai cuisine, and who has been a head chef at an upscale Bangkok hotel. With dishes noted for being elegant and gorgeous in presentation, the menu emphasizes the island’s signature fish – mahi mahi. There is a popular black pepper mahi mahi available, as well as an array of sweet and sour fish dishes, and more iconic Thai choice, but with an island twist.
Located in Gustavia, it features gorgeous interiors and is usually ranked among the top five restaurants in the town.
Other highly recommended restaurants to try before leaving the island of St. Barts include Aux Amis at the Le Barthelemy Hotel and Spa with a stunning outdoor setting, Eddy’s that is so popular with the locals that they don’t start to show up until around 9PM when the delicious local specialties begin to pour out of the kitchen, L’isola that is a local favorite for its unique Italian dishes that offer up an island flair, La Case de L’Isle that is a top spot for an outdoor and waterside lunch, and Maya’s to go, which is described as one of the “best ways to experience St. Bart’s is to grab a picnic basket from Maya’s To Go and drive to one of the more isolated beaches.”
There are so many amazing things to see and do on St. Barts, and food has to play a part in most of your itinerary or activities. Take a picnic, like suggested above, but also rub elbows with the elite as well as the locals by sampling a few of the choices here. They will only enhance your experience and likely make you eager to return to the island and get to know it, and its people even more.