As the Snowpocalpyse of 2015 dumps its fury of heavy flurries on much of the Northeast, here at The Daily Meal we are staying warm by channeling the island vibes of the Caribbean. We’re thinking about the sun, the sand, that crystal blue water, and, of course, all that delicious food and drink that make Caribbean cuisine so eclectic and delightful.
10 Best Restaurants in the Caribbean (Slideshow)
The Caribbean restaurant scene is one that is steadily on the rise, giving us even more of an excuse to book those winter getaways. Hotel restaurants in the Caribbean are fast becoming some of the best in the hemisphere, and a number have been named to The Daily Meal’s list of the 101 Best Hotel Restaurants in the World at in past years. Some our best restaurants in the Caribbean are led by familiar culinary stars, such as Eric Ripert of Blue. Non-resort restaurants — like Havana Blue in St. Thomas and Bolero Brasserie in Bermuda —also continue to introduce travelers to the rich flavors and fresh ingredients found across the islands that gives this region such a unique and surprising cuisine.
The Daily Meal recently put together a list of the 101 Best Restaurants of Latin America & the Caribbean, from which we draw this list of the Caribbean’s best.
To conduct our research we consulted industry experts, local food guides, reviews, and listings, and compiled our own knowledge from experiences at restaurants in the different regions. What we ended up with was a short list of 261 restaurants from 28 different countries and regions, across not just the Caribbean but also Mexico and Latin America. This list was then shared with our panel of judges (comprised primarily of restaurant critics, food and lifestyle writers, and assorted bloggers from across the globe), who undertook the tough task of selecting their favorites across a broad geographical area. In the interests of accuracy and fairness, panelists were asked to vote only for restaurants where they had eaten within the past 12 months. The voting — based on region, cuisine, and the style of the restaurant (budget, casual/neighborhood, and serious dining/special occasion) — narrowed the list to an honored group of 101, some 28 of them from the Caribbean (including Bermuda).
No one location dominates this list; these 10 restaurants take us from Puerto Rico to Jamaica to St. Croix. The culinary world of the Caribbean is a truly fascinating one, and this list represents only a small slice of the excellent cuisine and restaurants found across the region.
#10 Il Nuovo Perugino Enoteca (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Franco Seccarelli opened Il Nuovo Perugino to showcase the cuisine of his native Umbria in the heart of San Juan. Here, diners can sample such Italian dishes as pasta e fagioli, pappardelle with veal ragù, veal scaloppini, pasta amatriciana, sweet and sour pork, and a much-raved-about chocolate soufflé. The striking interior, using stone, glass, and various metals, with accents of bright color, was designed using advanced computer design technology.
#9 Café Christine (Christiansted, St. Croix)
With a charming indoor dining room and a welcoming porch with a handful of tables that overlooks historic buildings in downtown Christiansted, Café Christine attracts a loyal following of local workers and tourists alike for lunch (served on weekdays only). The chalkboard menu changes daily, but there are plenty of options, like the vegetarian platter and quiche. Definitely save room for the pie, which is a highlight, and comes in flavors like coconut and chocolate pear. Café Christine is typically closed for the summer months, so call ahead.
Best Restaurants in Cabo San Lucas
Visitors to Los Cabos will find a sophisticated dining scene, one that offers much more than tacos and traditional Mexican fare. Cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo each showcase an increasingly diverse sampling of world cuisines, with great food available at a variety of price points.
Two major culinary trends have come to the forefront in Los Cabos during the past decade: an interest in fusion cuisines that first flourished with the Baja Med movement, but has in recent years become more Pan-Pacific in orientation, as regional chefs have linked Los Cabos&rsquo Pacific influence to cultures as diverse as Peru and Japan and a more pronounced focus on fresh and local ingredients – from fresh local seafood to organically farmed produce – that has produced a trio of superb farm-based restaurants, and influenced many chefs to source all their ingredients from regional fishermen, ranchers, and organic farming communities like Miraflores.
Chefs Ángel Carbajal and Masayuki Niikura invented Baja-Japanese fusion cuisine when they opened Nick-San in Cabo San Lucas in 1994. The mix of sushi and Mexican ingredients has proven so popular since that additional restaurants have sprung up in San José del Cabo, México City and Nuevo Vallarta. Chef Volker Romeike&rsquos Pitahayas followed in these fusion footsteps soon afterward, pioneering the Pan-Pacific approach that has since been taken up by Enrique Olvera at Manta, Richard Sandoval at Toro, and Nobu Matsuhisa at Nobu Los Cabos. Manta, Nick-San and Nobu are on our list this year. Pitahayas and Toro have been spotlighted in previous years.
The small rural community of Ánimas Bajas just outside San José del Cabo is home to the area&rsquos famed farm-to-table restaurants: Flora&rsquos Field Kitchen at Flora Farms, Tamarindos at Huerta Los Tamarindos, and Acre Restaurant & Cocktail Bar on a 25-acre property that now boasts the region&rsquos first treehouse accommodations. All three restaurants offer amazing food and belong on this list, although only two made our list this year.
Los Tres Gallos, meanwhile, remains the top stop for traditional Mexican cuisine in Cabo San Lucas, and has recently opened a second location in the heart of San José del Cabo&rsquos historic Art District.
10 Best Local Restaurants on Isla Mujeres Mexico
There’s nothing better that being caressed by a warm ocean breeze while enjoying delicious, fresh food and sipping your favorite cocktail. At least I can’t think of anything! Isla Mujeres Mexico is home to some of the best local restaurants and bars that showcase Mexican cuisine. From restaurants featuring Caribbean and Mexican food to cafes that offer innovative fusion fare, there are a number of great restaurants on Isla Mujeres Mexico. Here’s my pick of the top 10 best local restaurants on Isla Mujeres Mexico.
We enjoy many of these on our small group culinary vacation to Mexico each year!
- Javi’s Cantina (Ave. Juarez, 2 blocks north of Ultramar ferry terminal) – Be sure to stop in this popular Isla Mujeres restaurant early in your trip. You’ll want to come back! Get the catch of the day with the parmesan crust and tamarind sauce, and their delicious sides such as garlic mashed potatoes – comfort food meets island fare! Wash it down with a signature tamarind margarita to tie it all together! They accept reservations.
- La Lomita (Ave. Juarez) – this beautiful little restaurant just south of the busy downtown is known for their savory and perfectly tender bean soup served in a clay pot. Seafood lovers, be sure to get the relleno de mariscos , a fresh poblano, roasted and stuffed with various seafood in a creamy sauce and baked to perfection. Wash it down with a cold beer!
Top-Rated Aruban Local Cuisine
No Aruban vacation would be complete without tasting the local cuisine.
From delicious snack packs to old-time favorites like stewed chicken and goat, the island of Aruba is a melting pot of different cultures and cuisines that is unlike anything else in the Caribbean.
Below are some of the best authentic Aruban restaurants that you’re definitely going to watch to check out:
Saco di Felipe
Great food isn’t always served on fine dining ware in a fancy restaurant as a matter of fact, sometimes the best food in Aruba is served out of a window in a brown paper bag in the wee hours of the night.
As is the case with Saco di Felipe (Felipe’s Snack Pack): by serving up a delicious combination of sizzling fried chicken, ribs, plantain, home-cut friends, and Johnny Cakes in a brown paper bag, Saco di Felipe continues an Aruban tradition dating back more than 65 years.
So when you’re done enjoying the exciting nightlife in Aruba and looking for a late night snack, you’re definitely going to want to check out Saco di Felipe for some of the best snack food you can get on the island!
The Gasparito Restaurant and art gallery provides travelers with a dining experience that is uniquely Aruban.
Not only does the Gasparito Restaurant serve up some of the most renowned Aruban dishes, but it’s also set in a historic building decorated with authentic Aruban art (many of which are actually for sale!).
Indeed, a lot of love and care goes into both the food and service at this establishment, and the staff will be more than happy to talk to you about what it’s like living in Aruba!
The Old Cununu House
Built 150 years ago, the Old Cunucu House (the old countryside house) provides a local dining experience that is not only charming, but historic.
The hearty menu includes kesi yena (stuffed Gouda cheese with savory filling), stewed chicken and goat, and fresh local fish—all of which accompanied by pan bati, funchi, and rice with beans.
In addition to these island favorites, the Old Cunucu House also has an international menu featuring pasta, steak, lamb, and veal.
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What&rsquos in a name has never been more important than when you&rsquore exploring the neighborhoods of Little Haiti and Little River. Even for locals, the borderlines can become confusing, but the community of Little Haiti pulled together to keep its historic name. Nonetheless, the culturally rich, artistically talented, and resilient members of the Haitian community have created an area uniquely and beautifully theirs. One of the joys people find when visiting Little Haiti are the diverse menus on every corner. From griot to cheesesteaks to seafood, Little Haiti&rsquos range of flavors is a gift to those willing to explore. Here are some of the tastiest eateries in Little Haiti.
An Introduction To Jamaican Ital Food
Ital, the diet of the Rastafari movement of Jamaica, is a vegetarian diet principally intended to improve health and energy. It is thought that being vegetarian is to be closer to the universal energy and life force and to avoid bringing death to God’s creatures. Both spiritual and healthy, Ital is a great way to give yourself a boost.
The name Ital is derived from the English word vital. This achieves double significance by beginning with ‘I,’ which has particular significance to Rastafari as an expression (I and I) of unity with all things and by capturing the essence of the diet, which is vitality, energy, life force. Rastafarians refer to the universal energy as livity and thus Ital is intended to increase livity, thereby imbuing the diet with a religious or spiritual significance.
Despite the significance of livity as a concept of universal energy reinforced by only putting things in the body that strengthen it, there is no universal interpretation of what constitutes Ital. The most common general principles are that the food should be natural, organic and from the earth, thereby excluding processed foods and meat. Many Rastafarians avoid salt modified with iodine, preferring to use Kosher salt — which is consequently common on the shelves of Jamaican supermarkets.
One of the early leaders of the Rastafarian movement, Leonard Howell, is thought to have introduced the concept of vegetarianism to Rastafari after being interested in the diet of indentured Indian servants in Jamaica. In Hinduism, as well as Buddhism, and taken up by the spiritual practice of yoga, vegetarianism is one way of respecting life and doing no harm to others it is also considered healthy and thus a way of doing no harm to oneself. Following an ital diet is therefore one of the key spiritual practices of the Rastafari.
Some followers actually adhere to a vegan diet, considering diary to be harmful or not strictly ital. Others avoid any food that has been preserved or has been prepared using metal instruments. Clay pots and wooden bowls and spoons are often used in the preparation of Ital food. Many adherents avoid alcohol and other stimulants, but this is less strictly followed.
Throughout Jamaica, many Rastafarian communities operate small holdings or otherwise grow much of their own produce, particularly in the mountains. There are even some very good ital vegetarian restaurants in the capital Kingston serving juices, tonics, salads and other vegetable based dishes.
It isn’t necessary to be a Rastafarian to enjoy ital food. Visitors to the island should take the opportunity to sample this tasty, healthy, natural food and return home with a bit more livity than they started with.
8 Caribbean restaurants in London which are well worth a visit
The number of restaurants in the UK is on the decline, but there’s one stand out cuisine that’s bucking that trend to take over our hearts (and our high streets): Caribbean. Here’s where to give it a try…
It’s official: jerk chicken has cemented its status as one of the nation’s favourite dishes. In fact, the number of Caribbean restaurants in the country grew 144% in the year up to June, according to new research.
While the expansion of Turtle Bay (the deliciously fun Caribbean-inspired chain) may be to blame for a large portion of that increase, one thing is clear: people in the UK can’t get enough of West Indian food. And, whether it’s the classic jerk, mac ‘n’ cheese or stews, we are well and truly obsessed with those hearty, spicy dishes. So where should we go to try them?
Well, unsurprisingly, London is where you’ll find the best of the cuisine, with Caribbean communities opening authentic restaurants, street food stalls and cafés to introduce us to the authentic flavour.
With Notting Hill Carnival taking over the city this weekend, we’ve rounded up where you can find London’s Caribbean cuisines so you can celebrate properly…
The Florida Keys Restaurants
Seafood rules in the Keys, which is full of chef-owned restaurants with not-too-fancy food. Many restaurants serve cuisine that reflects the proximity of the Bahamas and Caribbean (you’ll see the term "Floribbean" on many menus). Tropical fruits figure prominently—especially on the beverage side of the menu. Florida spiny lobster should be local and fresh from August to March, and stone crabs from mid-October to mid-May. And don't dare leave the islands without sampling conch, be it in a fritter or in ceviche. Keep an eye out for authentic key lime pie—yellow custard in a graham-cracker crust. If it's green, just say "no." Note: Particularly in Key West and particularly during spring break, the more affordable and casual restaurants can get loud and downright rowdy, with young visitors often more interested in drinking than eating. Live music contributes to the decibel levels. If you're more of the quiet, intimate-dining type, avoid such overly exuberant scenes by eating early or choosing a restaurant where the bar isn’t the main focus.
Recommended Fodor&rsquos Video
- Key West
- Old Town
- Key Largo
- Marathon All Filters
The 49 N.J. restaurants you need to eat at before you die
From deep-fried hot dogs to fresh caught seafood, from street food from all corners of the globe to every style of pizza you can imagine, there are countless ways to pig out prohibitively in New Jersey. But where to start? With lots of input from (and much arguing with) a handful of fellow Garden State food lovers, we came up with the ultimate restaurant bucket list — the 49 restaurants any self-respecting New Jerseyan should try before they die.
Many are among the state's top fine dining destinations, but there are also roadside diners, pizzerias, barbecue joints, ramen bars, a hot dog stand and even a clam shack. Beyond sensational food, we also took into consideration dreamy views, peerless service, singular interior design, and just plain Jersey quirk.
So here are our picks for the state's most defining and essential restaurants, listed alphabetically. How many have you checked out? Let us know which selections you agree with and which places you think we overlooked in the comments section.