St. Martin (or Sint Maarten if that’s your preference) is an entirely unique destination in the Caribbean for its blend of both French and Dutch cultures, as well as the usual variety of groups that have, historically, passed through and/or settled in the islands. This is apparent in almost everything from language and architecture, to food and drink. Particularly food and drink.
Though the island has long been noted for its cuisine, as well as for its white sand beaches, its remarkable resorts, its casinos and bars, and its well-preserved fishing villages so reminiscent of Mediterranean destinations, it is, as experts point out, home to “some of the best food in the Caribbean.”
Grand Case Loses Its Top Spot
For many years, the northwestern area known as Grand Case ruled supreme as the food lover’s best destination, and for a good reason. As one luxury magazine said, there are “no fewer than 15 gourmet restaurants lining either side of the main boulevard, and at least 40 dining options in all” in the Grand Case area. However, in recent times, it is the Orient Beach area directly east of Grand Case, and along the opposite shore of the island that has taken the lead in progressive cuisine. There are multiple, new locations that are all the brain children of French restauranteurs, ensuring that the area emerges as a dining hot spot.
Here, you find one of the three of the most recommendable dining experiences on the island, L’Atelier. Technically, the L’Atelier Bar a Viande & Poisson it ranks a consist four-plus stars and is located in the recently renovated Orient Beach Square. It has outdoor dining as well as interior seating and is a “new concept offering a selection of meats from around the world, fresh local fish and charcuterie of all kinds.” There are beef options sourced from Black Angus and Holstein stock as well as Wagyu from japan and more.
And though it puts an emphasis on meat dishes, it is also a place where amazing cheeses, breads, desserts, and cocktails are offered. Easily recognizable as a form of new and haute cuisine, it is also based on the idea of workshop and offers an array of choices that reflect this ongoing experiment in local and global specialties tucked into a rather exotic setting.
A Marigot Landmark Reimagined
Mario’s Bistro was a Marigot landmark for years when it relocated to the wonderfully well-planned Porto Cupecoy development in the past few years. Adding a “t” to the end of the name, the all-new Mario Bistrot still has the same delicious fusion dishes that reflect the chef’s admiration of French, Caribbean and Asian dishes.
Considered by some to be of the “old school,” it is a welcome blend of new thinking and innovation. The menu includes iconic salads and starters, but also features a Crabe Trio of Thai crab cakes, crab maki roles, and more. There are sides like Creole cole slaw and a unique burrata Napoleon. Mains feature the house signature Mario Pad Thai with its fettucine and braised duck, the pistachio encrusted mahi mahi, and Cuban chicken breast with its plantains and black beans and rice. Desserts are a good match with a macadamia pear tart and a molten cake.
Though it does uphold certain classics, it does so in a new way and with its amazing waterfront location in the lovely Porto Cupecoy development, a meal at Mario Bistro is sure to be a delight, and one you will want to repeat.
Another New, Kool, Kid on the Block
Consistently rating five-star reviews and ranked as one of the to 15 restaurants in Marigot, Restaurant Be Kool specializes in French cuisine with a Caribbean influence, and puts a spotlight on premium service for both lunch and dinner. Located in Marigot at the Marina Royale, it is a waterside eatery with a constant flow of entertainment thanks to the boats bobbing in and out of the marina nearby.
Described as family-style, it offers such classics as beef tenderloin with brie, rack of lamb, iconic desserts like chocolate mousse, but the menu is ever fixed because it emphasizes the freshest ingredients. Starters might include pig foot toast or green soup au gratin, while meals lean towards the heavily French favorites like those mentioned and others such as veal medallions, cod fish, and more.
With so many five-star ratings from previous customers, and a world-class waterfront location, a visit to Restaurant Be Kool should be at the top of the list.
Other options include the whole Grand Case restaurant area where spots like Le Pressoir, Ocean 82, Tastevin, and scores of others are found. Remember though, that any of the main roads will usually offer up an assortment of local food vendors making their Creole classics readily available. Must haves include salt fish, accras, lolos and johnnycakes. They may not be gourmet dishes, but they are unforgettable ones.
Other hot spots include Le Marrakech with its Middle Eastern flair, Rare at the Atlantis Casino, Shiv Saga with its intimate table settings and innovative Indian dishes, Restaurant at La Samanna at the La Samanna Resort offering haute cuisine and an exquisite setting by the sea, and La Vie en Rose for its French specialties given a Caribbean kick.
Is that it for recommended eateries in St. Martin? Not at all. There are so many restaurants one could make dining the sole activity enjoyed during a stay. However, there are many smaller spots outside of Marigot and Grand Case to discover fine dining. Beachfront shacks with seafood specials, roadside stands with fresh foods, and smaller, casual eateries in the different towns all merit a try. With its French and Dutch influences, St Martin is an island made for the foodies of the world to enjoy.