If any Caribbean island can claim its own gastronomy, cuisine and continental flair, it has to be St. Barts. This slice of France floating like a gem in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea provides travelers with an amazing fusion of cultures and a Bohemian quality that makes it both casual and ideal for the true gourmand. A long-time favorite of the world’s most knowing foodies, it is a place where dishes prepared to four star standards can be found in great abundance, but also where beachside hotspots serve classic Creole dishes to hungry crowds.
Because the island’s cuisine is a blend of African, French, Creole, Italian, Indian, Asian, Caribbean and others, because fresh seafood is brought ashore with the daily catch, because daily flights from France bring the finest meats, wines and dairy foods, and because the fresh produce almost spills from the markets…well, because of all of this, the food is amazing. More than 70 restaurants dot the island, including spots where “les petits creux” (snacks) are readily available.
Even so, there are a few iconic dishes everyone will want to try while staying on St. Barts, and though almost all destinations are sure to please, there are a few restaurants or beach shacks where some unforgettable classics can be savored.
This is a dish you will find all over the island and it is simply salt cod fritters served in a spicy sauce. It is a Creole dish, and on St. Barts, the Creole cuisine is spicier than anywhere else. One place famous for its accras is La Gloriette in Grand Cul de Sac. Also called one of the finest beachside dining spots, it is super casual with coccoloba trees shading a good array of tables, the freshest catch of the day is grilled to perfection, and rather than a standard menu, this is a place with a daily blackboard packed with delicious specials.
Lunch here is sure to be a treat, and they also do artisanal pizzas at night. Don’t forget to sample some of their homemade and island made rums, which are also available to purchase in the charming shop.
If you are a big fan of Creole, the charming cottage restaurant Pipiri Palace (in Gustavia) is noted for its traditional and delicious offerings.
Though it can be nearly impossible to site the restaurants serving the best fish, since most actually partake of the day’s catch, there are some stand out establishments offering both atmosphere and unbeatable seafood. One such restaurant is O’Corail. Sitting just next door to the popular Ouanalao Dive Center, it gazes out at the appealing lagoon at Grand Cul de Sac and allows patrons to kick their toes in the sand as the chef makes the “dish of the day” from the finest seafood hand-picked at the market. The rum punch by the bartender named Odette is also legendary!
Almost all who visit St. Barts will hear about Do Brazil, and here you can enjoy one of the signature dishes of the island – mahi mahi. This fresh fish is prepared en brochette at Do Brazil and is one of the most sought after dishes. The red snapper in a signature Creole sauce is also famous at Le Mango.
Of course, those renting villas can always pick up their own fresh fish at the market in Gustavia – just get there before 8AM to enjoy the best choices. The fisherman will clean and filet it for you to take home!
Other spots to find some of the best Caribbean classics includes Bonito in Gustavia with its ceviche and Latin inspired dishes, the beach shack favorites (including the burger that inspired Jimmy Buffett’s famous tune) at Le Select, amazing drinks and Carib beer at Sayolita and signature cocktails at Pink Parrot on Tom Beach are all local favorites with classic dishes to experience.