poulet d'orleans (in quarter d'orleans) - little white gingerbread house
(not quite as quaint as it sounds, but it def. has charm). food was delish -
their specialty is chicken (they 'grow' them right on property), but ribs
were great, as was the specialty dish with three meat items (can't remember what
they all were, but the lamb shank was unbelievable). chef is tony,
and it's usually one of his kids working. good to call ahead, he just likes
to know when to expect people to be prepared for a group, since it's quite
rosemary's (in marigot) - it's one of the lolos (bbq-ish places all over the
island) - i tried quite a few, and this one was by far the best. loved the
ribs, the creole shrimp, and the fish looked good. the rice + beans that come with everything is
addictive. and great drinks. super friendly staff, esp. rosemary, who seems
to be there all the time
the lido bbq (cole bay) - just a little shack in a parking lot where they
have a big drum smoker. it's a little hard to spot, but in the same lot
as the lido chinese restaurant, which is a little easier to see from the road.
amazing, amazing ribs (yes, i was very rib-focused). definitely a take-
out kind of place.
bistro nu (marigot, just outside the center, on the main road towards grand
case) - i didn't end up eating there,
but i poked my head in and talked to them
for a bit - super frenchy, but not the overwrought type that seems to be all
over the island, just very straighforward. very cosy, dark-ish room. friendly
owner (jean claude, i think, is his name).
coco's (orient beach) - the food is just very basic, and overpriced like almost
everything on the island. but it's the best of the orient beach places, further
down the beach and slightly apart from the other places, which is good.
they have nice tables that you can sit at under a canopy, and also beach chairs.
you'll see alot of people in 'strings' walking by.
big fish (i think that's what it's called), dinghy dock, captain oliver's (all in
oyster pond around the marina): none are particularly noteworthy, but
and all have a nice view of the marina.
not sure at all about the food at the dinghy dock, but it's a good place for
an afternoon drink.
the marina area in marigot is relatively pretty, but restaurants aren't anything
special overall, and they are pricey. if you do feel compelled to eat in grand case,
il neptuno was pretty good italian (he's a chef who had a popular d.c. restaurant,
don't remember the name).
the two biggest are match (between marigot + grand case) and le grande
marche (kind of near philpsburg). i like le grande marche much better,
particularly because their produce selection was infinitely better. and it's great people
watching on the weekend, you get a sense of the whole array of st. martin locals,
along with u.s. people (mostly older) who must be long term villa-renters.
big wine selection.
they say you have to get to the market in marigot (wednesday + sundays)
very early, and i think that's probably true (i never made it). that's when you can
see the fish and the meat. produce stands are okay. and there's also
some craft-like booths, but it's all cheesy tourist stuff. there's a man who calls himself
'the spice man,' he makes all sorts of sauces, brand is called 'kalina', the jerk
was my favorite - you can find them in the super markets, too.
noteable on the island is the amazing selection of french cheeses (raw + very
ripe), charcuterie, and bread. for me, this is one of the top things that st. martin
has going for it.
i've heard that the best beaches are in the lowland area (near-ish to the airport) -
baie rouge, cupecoy + two others whose names i can't remember. i never made it
there. tony at poulet d'orleans recommended galeon (sp?) beach, but also never
made it there. pinel island is an easy adventure, you take a short ferry ride. apparently
there is a more deserted side of the island that you can walk to, but i didn't go.
there's snorkeling, but not great at all. there are a few beach bars there, too. orient
beach is fine (it's a very nice walk from one end of the beach to the other just before/at
sunset, when the beach has cleared out a bit), as is friar's bay beach. note that anywhere you go, they charge you for
a chair (seemed to average around $10), but you can also always just lay a towel
ma dou dou: a little shack on the way down to the pinel island ferry. it's a little hard to
find - you take the first right after you pass the pharmacy, and then go up up the hill,
over a speed bump, through a driveway that looks a bit like you are going into a resort,
and then a bit further on you see the colorful shack on your right. she makes a
great hot sauce, and also a bunch of flavored rums with hand-painted drawings on them.
i found the hot sauce and the rums at all the big supermarkets, too - but visiting the
actual place was fun (5 minutes is plenty there). hours are pretty limited, only weekdays,
and from 8 - 2 or something (i went by at two different times before i got there when they
were open on the third try).
it isn't difficult to drive around the whole island (especially if you are okay with just grinning
and bearing the traffic that you will likely encounter somewhere along the way). the drive
thru the lowlands area is pretty.