Turks & Caicos is one of those lesser-known gems of the Caribbean area, and home to an astonishing array of dining options. As the experts over at Travel + Leisure have said of this stunningly beautiful destination, its culinary scene is “thriving and is one of the best in the Caribbean. Here, you’ll find fine dining at the hotel restaurants and Caribbean favorites at local spots like Mr. Grouper’s and Da Conch Shack & Rum Bar.”
That tells us that a traveler has to make plans to head out into the everyday settings of Turks & Caicos to experience what actual islanders eat and enjoy, and they get to head to the luxurious beachfront restaurants that are meant for the many world travelers who visit each year. As an example of the latter group, take what is easily one of the (if not the) top rated, gourmet restaurants in the islands, Coco Bistro.
A Meal or Two (or Five) at Coco Bistro
The travel team at Fodors makes a point of visiting that lovely balance of high-end and everyday eateries in many top-ranked destinations. They enjoyed dining at Coco Bistro, which is in the Grace Bay area of the island of Providenciales (or Provo as it is called by islanders and visitors alike), at the far western end of Turks & Caicos. Grace Bay itself is often ranked at the top of lists of “must see” destinations in the islands, and this premiere restaurant sits in a palm grove only a short distance from the sea.
As exotic as most dreams of an exotic al fresco meal can be, the restaurant focuses on the Caribbean region’s specialties, but fuses them with some modern twists. There is a “flambe style” Caicos lobster bisque that features a hint of spice and cream along with the dash of cognac that gives it such richness.
And as so many know when heading to the region, conch is going to figure prominently on every type of menu. At Coco Bistro, you’ll enjoy “Conch 2 Ways,” with a sweet and sour sauce and in a ceviche style. You’ll want to try their famous Herb Crusted Roast Lamb Rack that uses Caicos-made Lager, and Porcini and Caicos Coffee Crusted 8oz Beef Tenderloin is another “not to be missed” delight.
With a limited menu of starters and main courses along with a drinks menu, a meal at Coco Bistro is guaranteed to be an experience. With its gorgeous plate presentation, colorful and exotic setting, exquisitely laid tables, and fantastic menu of desserts that change with the seasons, it is a must.
Beachside Dining at Bugalloos on Provo
Another hot spot on Provo is the waterfront destination known as Bugalloos Conch Crawl, or simply as Bugaloos. Described by many as offering the essence of Turks & Caicos, it specializes in food, drinks, and entertainment.
The open-air dining beneath a mature palm grove and within steps of the sand and sea sets the stage for an unforgettable meal. The menu is broken out into “From the Crawl,” which is entirely comprised of tasty conch dishes, “From the Sea,” and “Chicken and Burgers”.
The popularity and size of the restaurant speak of the tastiness of its dishes, and the menu proudly proclaims that their conch salad is the best in Provo. Cut with peppers, tomato, lime, and onion, it is presented nicely and lives up to the name. There are also fritters, Buffalo-style, scorched and other types of presentations focusing on conch.
The grilled and fried seafood is seasonal and local and can range from daily caught snapper to lobster or shrimp. There are also the burgers and poultry options that include everything from basic chicken breast sandwiches to delicious fish burgers. Presented in a low-key way, and even options for “in water” dining, it is fun foodie destination.
And for those who may want to pay a visit to what is often described as the best restaurant on Provo, Da Conch Shack and Rum Bar is another Grace Bay Beach hot spot. It was listed in the best-selling book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” so that might say it all.
It is super casual, offers amazing food, and is a great value for budget-weary travelers. And though it is a Grace Bay destination, you won’t face the loud crowds as it is along a quieter beach and emphasizes friendly service.
They make battered conch, curried conch, and conch salad, and if you fail to wash it down with at least one locally made Turks Head beers or an amazing rum cocktail, you’ll be missing out. The menu is vast, and goes beyond conch specialties. There are chicken and steak dishes, classic ribs with an island flare, and even vegetarian specialties. Desserts are lavish and tasty, changing with the seasons.
Often voted one of the best eateries on the island, it is also the most casual and laid back. If your preferences are for a bit of quiet, make sure to visit during the lunchtime hours or early afternoon because the nights here are very dynamic, vibrant and full of fun.
With so many options for fine dining, impressive local cuisine, and beachfront eating, Turks & Caicos should already have a stand-out reputation as a food-lover’s destination. Those are only three of its must-try eateries. There are other delicious gems that include the Hemingway’s at the Sands Hotel is an outdoor eatery chosen by the jet set and another Grace Bay destination, Lemon2Go is at the Saltsmills Plaza and offers coffee and beverages along with small plates and tasty bites, and the Mr. Grouper’s already mentioned.
Here is where you can find island classics like jerk dishes, and an award-winning conch chowder. They have their specialty hot sauce at every table and are known for the pickled vegetables that accompany everything.
So, whether it is a laid back beachfront meal enjoyed in shorts or a sundress, or a formal affair at a world-class hotel or resort, you’re going to eat well at every meal on Turks & Caicos.