After a number of visits to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, we had the pleasure of dining at many of the Island's establishments. We visited the Marriott and the Ritz for brunch; enjoyed the local places in Red Hook and Frenchtown; and had cocktails or dinner (or both) at restaurants in Yacht Haven Grande, which offers beautiful, panoramic views of the massive cruise ships--sometimes four in port at the same time. Additionally, there was always an opportunity for lunch at several local restaurants in Charlotte Amalie and Havensight. And, last, but not least, we enjoyed getting a bite to eat on the Northern part of the Island, which is home of the Mahogany Run Golf course.
The venues we visited ranged from patrons wearing t-shirts, shorts and flip flops, to women dressed in scantily clad clothing with oversized jewelry, 9-inch heels, and earrings the size of hula-hoops, to local government officials dressed in khaki pants and short-sleeved dress shirts, some with open necks and a few actually wearing ties. Never saw a blue pin-striped suit. Below is a brief listing of several restaurants we visited and enjoyed.
Havana Blue is located at Morningstar Beach Resort, part of Frenchman's Reef at the Marriott Resort. HB is a great open-aired restaurant on the water with a fusion cuisine of Latin America Meets the Pacific Rim and is considered to be the primary oceanfront hotspot on the Island. The restaurant offers a wide array of tropical mojitos, creative ceviches, and its most popular dish of Miso Glazed Sea Bass. Havana Blue offers an ideal venue to host parties, weddings, or business meetings.
Coco Blue, the sister restaurant to Havana Blue, is located in American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook. Coco Blue offers creative Caribbean cuisine. The chef makes unique and flavorful dishes, using the freshest seafood on the Island. Both the locals and tourists love it.
Pesce is also located in Red Hook and offers a warm, inviting atmosphere with a friendly staff and quality food with a classic Italian flair. The chefs prepare pasta or seafood dishes where fresh local ingredients are used to create food that is invigorating, succulent and well executed.
The Cellar, which is the other half or the more formal part of Pesce, presents an eclectic food and wine menu. The food offers a unique combination of fresh robust flavors in virtually every dish. Additionally, patrons will certainly enjoy the Cellar’s extensive wine list, which has an international selection from countries all over the world.
Fish Tails Bar and Grill is located in Red Hook as well and offers, by far, the best breakfast (and brunch) on the Island. The food is fresh, very clean, and tasty; not to mention the bottomless bloody Mary's and mimosas during the week and on the weekends. The view of the harbor makes one not want to leave--ever--but work has to be done.
Epernay Wine Bar and Bistro
Epernay is one of the favorite venues in Frenchtown where the locals frequent. Good food, great atmosphere and friendly service are always part of the dining experience. This stylish bistro, with a view of the ocean, adds a touch of Europe to the neighborhood. One can order a variety of champagnes or vintage wines by the glass. The food is a typical bistro menu offering dishes, such as mussels, fresh fish and truffle frites.
Craig and Sally's is another popular Frenchtown establishment, a quaint Caribbean wine bistro and also very popular with the locals. Not far from Crown Bay, where the cruise ships dock frequently, the restaurant offers a lunch and dinner menu that changes daily to accommodate the seasonal ingredients currently available.
Oceana Restaurant is located on the seaside patio of a historic house also in Frenchtown. The restaurant's inventive international cuisine bursts with flavor, and it has been voted one of STT's top seafood restaurants for many years.
Grande Cru Restaurant and Wine Bar is located on the waterfront overlooking the St. Thomas harbor at Yacht Haven Grande. This is the sister restaurant to Oceana. The food is fresh and has robust flavors with a Mediterranean inspired cuisine. The bar staff is friendly and wine knowledgeable.
Hubbly Bubbly Hookah Lounge at Yacht Haven Grande is an experience in the Caribbean that offers Middle Eastern cuisine that is prepared fresh on a daily basis. It's a perfect place to visit for lunch or later in the evening for a cocktail and some hummus, tzatziki or falafel.
Fat Turtle at Yacht Haven Grande is a place that the press calls a "Caribbean roadhouse supreme". We've been there several times for lunch. The first time we visited, I ordered a Cosmopolitan, and the bartender said that he didn't have any limes. I didn't mind -- I'm not picky about garnish in my cocktails. The food was what one would expect at a roadhouse supreme.
Cafe Amici is a quaint lunch cafe, located within a refurbished 19th century warehouse in the heart of Charlotte Amalie's A.H. Riise's tourist mall. It is an open-air restaurant that serves crisp salads, bistro pizzas and sandwiches, creative pastas and traditional tropical frozen drinks. Although one thing to consider is that it does not have air conditioning, and it could be quite hot in the middle of the day on the Island. When cruise ships are in port they will be open. However, one observation is that when ships are not in port, the owners close.
A great little cafe located in downtown Charlotte Amalie frequented by the Government workers in town. The chicken roti is the best and is, by far, more than enough to serve two. Add a beer to wash it down, and it's the perfect lunch sans tourists. Well, a few straggling tourists visiting town from the ships frequently arrive and have commented that it was the best food they had all week. And they're fed on the ships 24/7...go figure.
Hooters at Buccaneer Mall in Havensite --Not much to say about Hooters, since it's an established chain all over the states. Hooters is a "go to" lunch place in between errands while on the Island, and if you're feeling like home food, and don't want to go to the local Wendy's or Mc Donald's, this is a decent alternative. They offer the regular favorites, including chicken wings, seafood, salads and burgers. I'm sure the male tourist's wives are glad to see this in town.
Shipwreck Tavern is also in Havensite and another decent, local joint to grab a quick bite in the middle of all of that "shopping" in the area. Beers aren't a problem to get here, neither are rum drinks, but forget about ordering a "specialty" (specialty?) cocktail. The bartender has to call several managers and finally someone can produce a decent drink. The peel-and-eat-shrimps are always very tasty and a favorite.
Romano's Restaurant and Art Gallery is located in Estate Smith Bay on St. Thomas. Tony Romano, artist and chef whose roots are originally from New Jersey, and his staff prepare fine dining Northern Italian and Continental cuisine. The restaurant offers a warm and cozy atmosphere and the service is very good. Chef Romano's artwork is displayed and for sale at the restaurant.
Old Stone Farm House (OSFH) is located on Mahogany's Run Golf Course on the North side of the Island. OSFH is a quaint authentic 200 year-old restored plantation field house that offers four-star quality meals. The chef is a one-star Michelin, originally from Las Vegas, and he allows his patrons to become a part of the dining experience, by letting them join him in the kitchen as they enjoy a glass of wine or champagne as he listens to their thoughts about food and wine and dining while he executes the dishes. Patrons could select their own proteins from a wide of variety, including lobster, fresh fish of the day, or wild elk, to name a few.
Mahogany Grill is the Club House restaurant on Mahogany Run Golf Course. It's a great place to grab lunch or a Bloody Mary in the afternoon. The food is simple, tasty and fresh but the bartender needs to learn how to smile more.