Island Dining: A Beginner’s Guide for the Hungry
For a tiny island, St. Kitts sure has a lot of places to eat - not to mention a lot of ways to eat.
Food-obsessed visitors are often surprised that satisfaction can be found at pretty much every turn. In fact, it’s quite possible to integrate delicious sustenance into everything you do here. Sometimes food is the activity. We’ll get to that in a bit.
But first, our culinary crusade begins on the casual side.
Street Food and Stalls
It’s easy to work up an appetite while wandering around town. Time to sample some fast food, Caribbean style. For the most authentic local eats, stop by one of the roadside vendors for barbecued meats, salt fish stew, black pudding sausages, jerk chicken, Johnny cakes, or a spicy stew made from goat meat and breadfruit - all cooked over an open oil drum.
Finish it off with a sugar cake, a cookie-like coconut confection and some cold coconut water sipped straight from the green shell. Market stalls are great for papayas, mangos and other fresh grab-and-go refreshments. Take along a bag of sweet-and-sour jelly squares known as guava cheese just in case you feel peckish later on.
Dining Semi-Al Fresco
What makes the perfect beach outing even more perfect? Great beach food and cocktails. Frigate Bay is ground zero for Caribbean food and fun. Its beachside shacks have a super-laid-back vibe - think picnic tables and lanterns. But make no mistake, these casual establishments take no shortcuts when it comes to flavour and quality.
It’s all about Jamaica at Jamrock Sports Bar and Restaurant. Chef Michael works miracles with his curried goat, ackee and saltfish, jerk pork and chicken, pumpkin soup, breadfruit croquets and other specialties.
The guiding principle at Vibes Beach Bar is “Fun, sun, rum.” The kitchen is always open at this popular party hangout, famous for its wings and conch fritters as well as its cold signature drinks. Beach chairs and umbrellas set the tone; DJs and live music set the beat.
Lunch at Sea
You came to St. Kitts and Nevis for the calm turquoise Caribbean, dramatic vistas and maritime adventures. But you still have to eat! Consider rolling it all up into one grand enchilada of an expedition.
Some tour operators offer combination cruises that mix sightseeing and water activities with a relaxing repast. The packages vary, but they’re basically variations on this: Sail away in a catamaran. Drop anchor. Don the snorkel or cast a fishing line. Commune with some wildlife. Relax over a meal and an ice-cold drink.
The meal might be an onboard buffet prepared by the crew, an assortment of sandwiches, or a barbecue on the beach. The details aren’t important. All that matters is you’ve treated yourself and your five senses to an amazing island experience.
Whether you eat to live or live to eat, it makes sense to fuel up with a food tour. After all, walking expends calories, right? You might as well strive for energy efficiency.
It’s not hard to find a food tour focusing on good, authentic fare, especially in Basseterre. The city is your smorgasbord as your guide takes you through a variety of locally-owned establishments - perhaps a food stand, a neighbourhood café, a sit-down restaurant and/or a friendly watering hole. It’s a delicious way to get a taste of history and native cuisine.
As promised, a word about food-as-main-event. In island culture, mealtime is meant for socializing, whether around a bonfire on the beach or in a white-linen restaurant. You have license to linger and savour every bite at these high-end eateries:
Spice Mill Restaurant
This Cockleshell Beach favorite marries locavore sensibility with a “barefoot-chic” atmosphere. The menu celebrates seasonal ingredients that showcase the island’s multicultural influences, from Mexico and Morocco to Japan and beyond. A fixture on the southeast peninsula, Spice Mill Restaurant is a popular destination for weddings and special events.
Serendipity Restaurant & Lounge Bar
Sometimes, one person longs for decadence and another wants to keep it light. If you happen to be in the capital city, Serendipity’s a la carte menu has the answer. Choose from Caribbean bouillabaisse, fresh salads and vegetarian entrees, or let loose with gooey fried brie, braised oxtail and venison Warning: the desserts are to die for.
Frigate Bay isn’t just for impromptu beach parties. Poinciana - named for St. Kitts’ national tree, the aptly-named Flamboyant tree - feels like an intimate gathering in someone’s home. Service is warm and attentive; dishes are artfully presented. Gracious chef/owner Seta Janudoo makes the rounds to make sure every guest is happy. “We are not just a restaurant,” she says, “we are a family who enjoy what we do every day.”
Carambola Beach Club
Perfect for special occasions (as in having a wonderful Caribbean holiday), this upscale villa on South Friar’s Bay promises an elevated beachfront dining experience. Lounge over a cocktail with your toes in the sand, then come inside to pamper your taste buds. Carambola is serious about sushi - try the sake pairing menu - as well as Caribbean classics and indulgences like lobster thermidor, wagyu beef burgers and osso bucco.
Neighboring Nevis has its fair share of fine dining, too. Chrishi Beach Club, a beachfront pavilion on Cades Bay near the Seabridge car ferry, welcomes you for lunch, dinner, or brunch.
It’s easy on the budget and the menu offers eclectic choices from burgers and fresh seafood to tapas and tuna poke.
In the nearby Cotton Ground area, Yachtsman Grill specializes in wood-fired pizza with hand-crafted thin crusts and locally-sourced toppings. (Lobster pizza? Yes, please.) They also serve up Instagram-worthy shrimp etouffee, fish tacos, salads, ribs and homemade desserts - all under the watchful eyes of Boo, the rescue pooch and resident felines Tom and Jerry.