When it comes to dining, St Croix is like many of the islands in that restaurants of all types tend to be expensive, as are the grocery stores. It’s one of the realities of having to ship in so many items. With that said, most places also provide large portions (especially when it comes to pasta), so if you have the ability to take and use leftovers, you can often have a lunch-size portion to take away. Aside from the wonderful diving and other beauty of St Croix, they have some terrific beach bars, a lot of very good restaurants, and some great special occasion places. The ones I highlight in this post are just a sampling of what you can choose from. Meals will range from good to superb.
One word of caution for those who may not be familiar with the island. A lot of restaurants in St Croix have significant parts of their dining room covered, but are open-air with no full exterior walls; particularly those with water or garden views. This is wonderful except during times of driving rain when there may literally be no tables that can be kept dry. On the other hand, rain like this doesn’t usually last long, so if you can be patient and huddle in a dry spot, the odds are the rain will quickly pass, the experienced staff will hustle about wiping away the water, and everyone can resume eating. The next point is while the beach bars tend toward burgers, sandwiches, wings, nachos, etc., each one tends to also have a particular specialty and/or distinct spices they use. One might offer Mexican food, another homemade pizza, another breakfast as well as lunch and dinner. The somewhat ramshackle-looking beach bars that are our favorites for post-diving don’t blink an eye when you come with a damp swim suit on, although they do prefer you not stroll in with a dripping wet suit. However, standing at the edge of the bar and ordering a drink to have outside while in a wet suit is usually okay. My point is that watersports and other outdoor activities are at the heart of St Croix’s tourism and the beach bars and casual dining are set up to accommodate you with delicious food as part of these activities. In some cases, beach bars combine this come-as-you-are welcome with upscale choices and make it work with brunch items like Lobster Benedict. The current Eat at Cane Bay has perfected this approach and we’ve been visiting this establishment as it has passed through multiple hands. In fact we have been going to the island for so long that we often don’t have time to visit all our favorites – we had to miss Off-the-Wall during this last trip and Bogey’s, although we did make it to Coconuts on the Beach in Fredericksted. As always, places have changes hands and we weren’t able to check out any of the new ones, but will put them on the list for the next visit.
We did make it to Salud Bistro which defies all logic for having a restaurant in a tropical setting. It, too, has changed ownership since it was opened, but has maintained the same concept. It sits in a small shopping plaza, a blocky building nowhere near the water or any scenic area. If you didn’t know better, you would likely pass it by when looking for fine dining. Ah, but step through the door to an interior with rich wall colors, fabric panels, art, and warm wood; the decor a perfect complement to the Mediterranean, Mid-Eastern fusion of flavors and dishes. Nothing is done plainly here, although I am certain the chef would accommodate any requests. My husband decided on the duck and lamb with herbed couscous and eggplant puree while I had the steak Marsala and smoky polenta. Oh yes, it was as delicious as it sounds.
On a night when we were planning to stay in and enjoy leftovers, friends invited us to Savant, one of the longtime restaurants not far from the fort in Christiansted; another special occasion type place. Also not on the water, but in an old building with a beautiful courtyard complete with flowering tropical plants. Let’s see, mine was a wonderful chicken and fettuccine in a superb basil cream sauce with roasted onions and peppers, my husband had pork in a tamarind glaze, and I can’t recall exactly what the others had. We were all too full to try dessert, although a lovely chocolate thing was delivered to a couple at a nearby table.
We also missed going to the Christiansted Brew Pub, the only microbrewery on the island, but I may find a way to do a special post about it one of these days. So when you go to St Croix, rest assured that you will not lack for places to dine.