Savor the Flavor: Your Guide to Dining on St. Thomas

Sunset Grille at Secret Harbour on St.Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Photo Courtesy of Taryn Parker.

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Considered a foodie capital in the Caribbean, the island of St. Thomas has made quite a name for itself for authentic island cuisine with visitors and locals alike. Featuring a substantial selection of eateries, from street food to small cafes and fine dining establishments, St. Thomas continues to impress with menus featuring locally sourced ingredients and creative cuisine. From tasty salt fish (a local favorite) to traditional kallaloo soup, you’ll want to sample these dishes and more when visiting St. Thomas. 

Traditional Flavors: Eating Like a Local

Traditional cuisine and fresh-caught seafood are abundant throughout St. Thomas, from Frenchtown on the shores of Cay Bay to the vibrant dining scene in downtown Charlotte Amalie. With menus featuring flavorful favorites such as stew conch, salt fish and kallaloo soup (a hearty soup with leafy greens, pork or seafood served over fungi), St. Thomas’s tradition and flavor are sure to get your stomach growling. 

With spectacular views of the harbor and the island’s hills, the Petite Pump Room in Charlotte Amalie is a reliable spot for a tasty breakfast or lunch. Watch seaplanes take off and land in the harbor as you dine on the restaurant’s second floor. Known for its flavorful West Indian cooking, the restaurant’s menu features fungi with vegetables, kallaloo greens, plantains, conch fritters, and daily specials such as fried pot fish or butter-sauteed conch.

Located above the cerulean blue waters of Magen’s Bay, Brooks Bar and Restaurant is a local hot spot that offers no-frills flavor and friendly service. Hearty portions of whole-fried fish, shrimp and salmon are served in Styrofoam containers with your choice of Caribbean favorites such as plantains, black beans and rice. All the dishes are made in-house with local ingredients, making this joint a must-visit on St. Thomas. 

No trip to St. Thomas is complete without a visit to Gladys’ Café in Charlotte Amalie’s Royal Dane Mall. Tucked away on a narrow side street, the café is famous for its kallaloo soup and melt-in-your-mouth conch fritters. The menu also features stewed oxtail, curry goat and exotic pan-fried triggerfish. For the early bird, this place is a top breakfast spot for the locals with classic dishes such as eggs, bacon and French toast.

Street Food: Good Eats without the Fuss

If you need a quick bite while exploring St.Thomas, you can’t go wrong with the street food readily available at pubs, food carts and quirky eateries. From delectable fried turnovers filled with salt fish to Rotis, an East Indian flatbread stuffed with curry, stewed veggies and meat, the street food on St. Thomas is bursting with flavor, soul and local ingredients. Also, don’t skip the Johnny Cakes – an island favorite made from sweet, deep-fried dough.

Your first stop should be Side Street Pub, located down a side passage of Bjerge Gade in Charlotte Amalie’s shopping district. Blink, and you’ll miss it – look out for the rustic red brick front adorned with colorful surfboards and iguanas— this uber-casual joint serves up pulled pork and fish tacos bursting with flavor. Owned by transplants from Arizona, the restaurant serves up an extensive drink menu featuring iconic Caribbean cocktails such as the Bushwalker or Pain Killer – a blend of rum, pineapple and orange juice with a splash of cream of coconut.

Just north of the Charlotte Amalie Historic District, Ideal Restaurant serves street food favorites with a spicy twist. Specializing in Roti, you’ll find a variety of flavors on the menu, from hot shrimp or goat to vegetarian options with potato and beans drenched in a mouthwatering curry sauce. Order from the counter, where a whiteboard displays the flavors for the day, then enjoy your meal on a stool with street views of the Charlotte Amalie and the surrounding hills.

Don’t let the cinder blocks under the truck or the tarp for a roof fool you: Vinny’s Food Cart is West Indian cuisine personified. Located on the island’s east side near Coki Point Beach, Vinny’s offers street food takeout, including goat curry, fried plantains, jerk chicken, BBQ short ribs, and ox tail – all in huge portions. It’s the perfect pairing for a sunset picnic at the beach.

Chicken Fry Eateries: Island-Fried Perfection

In Charlotte Amalie West, Caribbean flavors paired with traditional fried chicken is a match made in island heaven at T-Restaurant and Chicken Fry. Served cafeteria style, other items include rice, chicken curry, BBQ ribs, oxtail stew, conch fritters, steamed fish, mutton, and fresh veggies. The restaurant is easy to spot – look for the bright turquoise building.

Still need to satisfy your chicken cravings? Then, take a short stroll down the street to a local favorite, The Chicken Fry Restaurant. Easily identified by its red and white striped storefront, this popular takeout joint serves delicious fried chicken, pulled pork, lobster tails and all the fixings. Load up a container with authentic island grub, then head to nearby Emile Griffith Park for a picnic with views of the sailboats anchored in Cay Bay.

Puerto Rican-inspired Cuisine: It’s All About the Mofongo

Puerto Rico significantly influences menu items on St. Thomas, thanks to its close proximity to the island. And what’s the most popular food item? Mofongo, aka smashed plantains, fried to perfection. Other incarnations are amarillos, fried sweet plantains, and tostones, fried green plantains. These delectable dishes pair perfectly with lechón asado, a slow-roasted pork found in kitchens throughout the island.

For delicious Puerto Rican eats, Rancho Latino, located on the east side of the bay in Charlotte Amalie’s Vitraco Mall, serves fresh seafood and generous portions of mofongo. Dine on stewed goat, oxtails and conch, or if you’re feeling adventurous, order the whole-fried fish!

Upscale Dining in St. Thomas: Where Sophisticated Cuisine Meets Amazing Views

While St. Thomas is abundant in local eateries and street food on the go, you’ll also find a great selection of fine dining on the island paired with breathtaking views.

Overlooking the Mahogany Run golf course on the island’s North Shore, The Old Stone Farmhouse features elegant brunch and dinner menus with dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, such as curry tofu scramble with fresh arugula and fennel-rubbed duck breast. Located in a 200-year-old restored plantation field house, you’ll dine under the soft glow of warm lights surrounded by rustic stone walls. The restaurant also offers an award-winning wine list and a signature cocktail menu offering lavender martinis, rosemary gin gimlets and more.

The ambiance of Mim’s Seaside Bistro promises a casual yet romantic dining experience nestled between the Sea Cliff Villas and Bolongo Bay Beach Resort. Enjoy spectacular views of Bolongo Bay as you dine on an award-winning menu of fresh fish and other island delicacies such as coconut curry lobster and island-style wahoo – a tender fish that’s similar to tuna. Be sure to leave room for their house specialty – handmade butterscotch walnut bread pudding.

Take a detour for a taste of Tuscany at Pesce Italian. Located in American Yacht Harbor on the island’s east end, homemade pasta and fresh seafood will transport you across the Atlantic. The pasta is handmade daily, and diners can watch the magic happen at the pasta station. With a dimly-lit dining room, low wood-beamed ceilings, and stained-glass windows featuring island imagery, the restaurant is a unique blend of Caribbean meets Italian. 

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