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Despite two back-to-back hurricanes in 2017, St. Croix has emerged as not only a trendy Caribbean destination for turquoise beaches, old town charm, and incredible snorkeling, but one for food lovers, as well.  

I recently made the trek (terrifying Cessna from St. Thomas and all) to the friendly island with hopes of immersing myself in its thriving culinary scene. What I found was an astonishing range of cuisine, from traditional to inspired, all with the sole intent of utilizing the freshest of local ingredients with seafood as its unsurprising star. In fact, post Maria and Irma, it was the island’s mission (and requirement, frankly) to rely more on its abundance of produce and seafood and less on foreign imports. The result: “making lemonade out of lemons” in all sense of the expression.

Planning a trip to Twin City? You’ll want to consult this helpful guide to the best food you can find, tailored to every type of eater and occasion.

For quick bites: Singh’s Fast Food

Order the signature ‘Double’ with curried potatoes and chicken roti, sandwiched between two of the most delicious fried johnnycakes in town. Top it with spicy mango chutney for a harmoniously sweet and salty meal that’s both inexpensive and a perfect precursor to rigorous beach activities.

For healthy options: Ital in Paradise

Boasting a coconut-kale sauce that should be bottled and sold to the masses, this vegetarian joint in Christiansted offers an extensive selection of feel-good meals from pepper tofu to roasted cauliflower. The building that houses Ital (slang for “vital”) may be at a sharp slant, but let’s get one thing straight: This was some of the freshest food I had on the trip.

For sweet teeth: Gary’s Bakery

You’re on vacation which means you should absolutely treat yo’self with a coconut drop (biscuit-like pastry) or crunchy ginger cookie. And no confection is complete without the unassuming shop’s traditional bush tea: a lemongrass-forward gathering of locally-grown herbs, brewed and steeped to serve as an aperitif or mandatory part of an early morning breakfast.

For booze and burgers: Shupe’s on the Boardwalk

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Losing my Virgin Island-ity. #🍒

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Two words: rum punch. This is the place to people-watch over some no-frill burgers and alcohol. But be forewarned: The rum punch lives up to its name by packing a big punch. Drink too many and you’ll be the one the people are watching.

For meat-lovers: La Reine Chicken Shack

If the image of chicken roasting on spits makes you salivate, the trek to La Reine is worth every mile. Be sure to also scoop up the three daily conch sides (while supplies last) for a well-rounded lunch that honors protein from both land and sea.

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For tradition seekers: Martha’s Deli

Start your day with a true representation of island breakfast at bustling Martha’s Deli. Their morning spread features a delectably salty fish salad, sauteed spinach, johnnycakes, and marinated cucumbers. It’s no bowl of granola…and you’ll be entirely okay with this fact.

For other Caribbean influence: Zenny’s

Those craving a hint of Puerto Rican flair will be in luck with Zeny’s. The flavors of adobo and beans complement island staples like plantains and cod perfectly, creating dishes worthy of the Caribbean’s equivalent of a James Beard.

For view-seekers: The Buccaneer Resort

There’s a reason why the “Bachelor” finale was filmed at this scenic resort, which offers panoramic views of both the ocean and the island’s rolling green hills. You’ll feel like you’re nestled among your own hidden oasis as you sip on tropical cocktails, including one of the best piña coladas you’ll find in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For familiarity: 40 Strand

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The Mac & Cheese Shop!!!! A long time favorite.

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Just a hop, skip, and a jump from everything downtown Christiansted has to offer, this hidden eatery delivers Caribbean twists on American classics like chicken and dumplings, and macaroni and cheese. Don’t leave without ordering the fried brie appetizer and ending with the rum cake, both of which you’ll be thinking about for the rest of your trip.

For party people: Cloud 9 Ultra Lounge

All of the chefs from St. Croix’s Food and Wine Experience congregated here until the wee hours of the morning, which means it’s clearly a locals-approved hot spot. The friendly staff will also whip up a late-night pizza if you ask nicely, which is the perfect complement to their selection of local beers and Crucian rum.

Looking to experience all of these restaurants for yourself? Be sure to check out Virgin Islands Food Tours for an on-foot excursion that covers most of these locations in only a few hours!

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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