Half the fun of being in a new destination is finding a place to eat. The choices can sometimes be overwhelming but a best bet is to ask the locals – check with the hotel staff, local market vendor, or a taxi driver – who will no doubt give you their opinions on great places to eat. If a few people suggest the same venue, then you’ve got a winner.
St. Thomas offers a selection of cuisine types including French, Italian, Japanese, American, Mexican, Chinese, and of course, authentic Caribbean food which usually has a nice spicy taste to it. A culmination of Caribbean, European, and African flavors, local food often combines fresh seafood with tropical fruits such as mango and lime.
Almost every resort hotel offers their own on-site restaurant while the rest of the island has three major concentrations of restaurant areas: on the picturesque hillsides and downtown Charlotte Amalie, Frenchtown, and Red Hook, on the east end of the island. As a general rule of thumb, tipping is expected at a rate of 18%; if you have six or more in your party, check to see if the tip has already been added onto your bill.
A very popular restaurant & bar hang out on St. Thomas is the Big Kahuna Rum Shack along the waterfront in downtown Charlotte Amalie where locals and visitors alike have been “partying since ’88.” You’ve got the choice of sitting outside on their outdoor patio or sitting at the bar inside. Although the Big Kahuna Rum Shack doesn’t offer a huge menu selection, the food is reasonably priced and plentiful – be sure to try the Blackened Mahi Wrap ($14), Caribbean Jerk BLT ($11.50), or the yummy Big Kahuna Burger ($9.50).
Depending on when you visit, you can also take advantage of the delicious food offered by vendors during events like the Virgin Islands Carnival in April; U.S. Virgin Islands Lifestyle Festival in July; and the Texas Society Chili Cook-off held every August.
The East End Cafe at the American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook is a popular restaurant serving up authentic Italian cuisine. For lunch, try a Panini ($12) or the Linguini Carbonara ($10) where you can add grilled or blackened shrimp, mahi mahi, or chicken to your order from $3-6. For dinner, the Chef’s feature menu, Cucina Novella, changes weekly but you will never go wrong by starting with the Calamari Provencal ($12) followed by an entree of Meat Lasagna ($24) which includes spinach and portabella mushrooms.
And don’t miss visiting the Hervé Restaurant & Wine Bar for spectacular views of the Charlotte Amalie harbor at sunset – so romantic!