Five of Our Favorite Restaurants on St. Martin That You Don't Want to Miss (Part I)
I'll admit it. I am a Foodie. With a capital "F". One of the things that I enjoy about being in the villa rental business is having the opportunity to experience cuisine from a variety of different islands and countries when I travel to do the villa inspections. It's an important contribution to the ultimate travel experience, whether you are staying at a villa that is staffed with a chef or cook or exploring the wide range of dining options at the destination of your choice.
The island of Saint Martin / Sint Maarten is known as the "Culinary Capital of the Caribbean" and with good reason. This popular dual-nation tropical getaway boasts an amazing plethora of dining possibilities, from the casual 'lolos' (grill shacks) along the sea in Grand Case to more elegant establishments found throughout the island, covering an extensive range of dishes from around the world. Here you will find talented chefs from across the globe creating an intriguing menu of French, Italian, Asian, Continental and Caribbean cuisine. There is something here for everyone, no matter what's your taste and pocketbook.
Today, I'm going to mention a few of my perennial favorites located in Grand Case, a former fishing village on the French side of the island known for its fabulous authentic French food. There are so many restaurants worth your time and money, so I will add a second (and perhaps even third) list at another time. Reservations are recommended, especially if you are going in-season (December 15th - April 15th). Also, parking can be a challenge along the narrow Boulevard, so get there early and take time to explore the lovely gift shops and galleries.
Le Pressoir takes its name from the legendary salt presses that once were at the heart of the island's economy. A good friend introduced me to this restaurant several years ago, and it remains one of my all-time treasured dining experiences. While the restaurant, situated in an 1800's Creole cottage, doesn't offer a sea view like some of my other beloved haunts in Grand Case, the atmosphere is intimate, warm and welcoming. Order one of their prixe fixe combinations or their foie gras tasting menu. They also have an acclaimed wine list. This is one of the most romantic places I've come across on my many trips to Saint Martin / Sint Maarten.
Le Tastevin is located right on the ocean in one of the oldest homes in Grand Case, and the sound of the waves on the beach below coupled with intimate lighting makes for a delightful atmosphere. When you book your reservation, be sure to ask to be seated next to the railing for the 'full' effect. While known for serving fine French cuisine, their seafood is notably fresh and their desserts are decadent. There are also meat and vegetarian offerings. Everything I've enjoyed here has been excellent but the escargot and red snapper really stick in my mind.
Bistrot Caraibes Owners and brothers, Thibault and Amaury, created a wonderful open-air restaurant along Grand Case's 'Restaurant Row' that has been one of my favorites for over two decades. French gourmet fare that embraces both land and sea is the order of the day. Lobster is their signature dish, prepared in a variety of ways (the thermidor is memorable). Their homemade ginger rum, which is served to guests following dinner, is a pleasurable surprise. Because they are not beachfront, their prices are slightly more palatable than their contemporaries across the Boulevard.
Rainbow If you're looking for a lively atmosphere, this restaurant adds a casual ambiance to its breakfast, lunch and dinner menus which feature everything from burgers and pizza to tapas and a full range of fine dining Continental fare. Sitting right on the water's edge, their popular Monday Party offers music, dancing and a buffet in the evening and draws the young at heart.
The "Lolos" Saint Martin's "lolos" are a collection of open-air, beachside grill shacks that started as a place of social gathering that is at the center of Grand Case's neighborhood’s life. Originating as bars, they developed into casual local restaurants that serve wonderful grilled fresh seafood and meats accompanied by peas and rice, a salad and macaroni and cheese - all for about $10. Our favorite is Sky's the Limit, but you have several to choose from along the Boulevard. Their ribs, red snapper and johnny cakes are to die for.
Note: VHR, WORLDWIDE has not been compensated in any way to recommend the above-mentioned dining establishments. Some photos are provided courtesy of the restaurants or tourist board.