PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – Known as the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean,” the island of St. Maarten gives voice to cooking styles from every corner of the globe with more than 300 restaurants offering Dutch, French, Caribbean, Thai, Italian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Creole and many more mouth-watering cuisines. From cafés that line cobblestone streets, to beachside open-air markets and trendy upscale eateries, there are choices to delight and satisfy all palettes.
Exploring the restaurant scene in St. Maarten is an adventure in itself. Diners can find romantic restaurants in Cupecoy and Maho, a variety of bistros on Front Street in Philipsburg, and beachside bars and outdoor cafes at Simpson Bay.
“Our penchant for culinary excellence and creative variety of international specialties and fusion styles are what truly define us as a destination and make us unique within the Caribbean,” said Regina Labega, Director of Tourism for the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.
Highlights of some of the top restaurants in St. Maarten: include:
Mr. Busby’s - Located on St. Maarten’s eastern shore, this beachside restaurant serves breakfast and lunch daily. The menu ranges from salads and cold sandwiches (like crabmeat, chicken, tuna or delectable clubs) to grilled specialties such as mahi mahi, shrimp, grilled lobster, burgers, hot dogs, and baby back ribs. During the evening, Mr. Busby’s is transformed into an Italian restaurant known as Daniel’s By The Sea.
Cupecoy and Maho Bay
Situated on the western side of the island, Cupecoy and Maho Bay provide a variety of casual beach-side dining options as well as trendy up-scale restaurants.
Temptation & Rare - These sister restaurants are located within the Atlantis World Casino, run by the award-winning chef and owner, Dino Jagtiani. Jagtiani trained at the Culinary Institute of America and is a two-time gold medal winner of the prestigious Taste of the Caribbean culinary competition.
Temptation - Temptationfeatures “Nouveau Caribbean” cuisine served against a waterfall backdrop, all elegantly wrapped in melodic piano music. Menu options include popped black bean crusted sashimi grade tuna, hoisin-lime glazed pork tenderloin, and the “Mc Dino’s” tempura apple pie. The restaurant also includes an elegant, outdoor bar area.
Rare - Rare is one of the most acclaimed steakhouses in St. Maarten for top-quality USDA prime steaks from 12oz filet mignons to 28oz porterhouse steaks. There are a variety of sauces and creative side dishes to choose from such as chili-garlic fries, truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, Vidalia onion rings with rhubarb ketchup and wasabi hollandaise. Rare fills a unique niche in the gourmet capital of the Caribbean, and does so with impeccable style.
Bamboo Bernies - Bamboo Bernies has recently moved to the five-star Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino complex and transformed into an ultra-sleek restaurant and lounge. The Buddha Lounge area serves food and drinks into the early hours of the morning amidst stylish Asian décor. Exotic cocktails include heaven, fire and ice, plus an extensive list of shakes. Guests can enjoy world-class sushi prepared by master chefs from New York and Los Angeles.
Bliss - Conveniently located inside The Caravanserai Beach Resort within walking distance of the Maho strip, Bliss combines open-air seating in a tropical setting with exotic plants and private cabanas. The Taste of Bliss menu includes delectable fresh oysters in vodka shot glasses, gilled sirloin, lobster bruschetta and baked salmon. Bliss is also one of St. Maarten’s most popular night spots during the later hours.
The Sopranos - The Sopranos restaurant and bar is located on the first floor of the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino and offers live entertainment from international musicians. A wide selection of wines, champagnes, cocktails, cognac and Cuban cigars is available. Live music sets the mood for an unforgettable dining experience with sounds of jazz, soul, blues, rock and roll, Motown and R&B.
Philipsburg, the capital of Dutch St. Maarten, offers a wide variety of shops and restaurants lined along cobblestone streets. Most of the village’s eateries can be found on Front Street.
Chesterfield’s – This nautically themed, open-air restaurant is an excellent place to enjoy a relaxed meal overlooking Great Bay. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at a reasonable price, Chesterfield’s main fare includes steak and seafood.
The Greenhouse - The Greenhouse was established in 1986 and offers a laid back, yet lively atmosphere with an outside terrace, tranquil breezes and a picturesque view of the harbor. Menu options include steak, ribs, lobster and fresh seafood. The Greenhouse recently opened a second location in Simpson Bay, next to the Atrium Resort.
Ocean Lounge - Situated in the center of Philipsburg, the Holland House Beach Hotel’s newly built, open-air lounge is one of the most stylish spots on the island. Dining options include an inventive selection of light snacks (zucchini soup shooters, salmon and caper bruschetta, tonka bean crème brûlée). Live music sets the mood for a relaxing meal.
Oualichi Beach Bar & Restaurant – Conveniently located on the boardwalk, Oualichi provides fantastic views of incoming cruise ships from the outdoor terrace and features a nautically-themed dining room. This popular hangout is well known for their pizza and offers casual fare such as sandwiches and wraps.
Taloula Mango’s - This casual beachfront restaurant serves a variety of sandwiches, seafood, beef, pasta, vegetarian entrées, and some of the best ribs on the island. On weekdays, lunch is accompanied by live music and on Friday evenings, guests can enjoy happy hour with a live DJ.
Ras Bushman’s I-Tal Shack - Ras Bushman’s I-Tal Shack is a small vegan restaurant located on Bush Road. The I-Tal Shack serves local organic, homegrown vegetarian food and fresh local juices. When not on premises, Ras Bushman can often be found at one of the island’s many entertainment venues with his reggae band, the Freedom Fighters.
Kangaroo Court Café - Located across from the famous Courthouse, Kangaroo Court is open daily for breakfast and lunch. Kangaroo Court offers an amazing assortment of pastries plus all flavors and types of coffee, cappuccinos, espressos and more. The seating area is situated inside a garden, surrounded by Almond trees and lush vegetation.
Simpson Bay and Cole Bay
Situated next to the Princess Juliana Airport, the area is lined with hotels, casinos, and restaurants. A large drawbridge opens six times a day to let mega-yachts into the Isla del Sol Marina. Here travelers can find a variety of beach bars, low-key eateries and outdoor cafes.
The Hideaway - Located at La Vista Resort on Pelican Key, this charming restaurant is situated next to an infinity pool overlooking Saba island. The Creole-inspired dishes, all made from fresh ingredients, include snapper, shrimp and scallop ceviche.
Pineapple Pete’s - Known for offering some of the best nightly music, Pineapple Pete’s provides a cozy and casual atmosphere for diners. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner, and the menu options include herb crusted rack of lamb, crab stuffed shrimp, lobster thermidor, crab and spinach crusted grouper and more.
Saratoga - Resembling a Spanish colonial structure from the outside, patrons can enjoy seating indoors or on a marina-side veranda. The menu changes every two days and features selections such as onion-crusted salmon, yellowfin tuna, crispy-fried black sea bass, and rack of venison.
The Stone Restaurant - This unique restaurant offers a new and intriguing method of preparing and serving food. Guests can choose from tender beef filet, vegetarian selections, or fresh seafood. Meals are served on a hot stone and cooked right at the table.
Zee Best - Known for their large breakfast menu, Zee Best offers more than 20 varieties of pastries, espresso and cappuccinos until 2 pm. The lunch menu features all the breakfast items, plus burgers, salads, sandwiches and more.
Peg Leg Pub Famed as one of St. Maarten’s best steakhouses, the Peg Leg Pub offers tender USDA grain-fed beef, a spectrum of seafood specialties, decadent desserts, super soups and salads, and an extensive appetizer menu. The décor resembles that of a traditional English Pub and the walls are filled with nautical artifacts.
For more information on St. Maarten’s culinary offerings, visit the official site of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau at www.VacationStMaarten.com.
St. Maarten is truly a unique island in several ways. It is the smallest island in the world to be shared by two nations, the Netherlands and France, creating a European-influenced vibe with a Caribbean flair. St. Maarten is also the culinary capital of the Caribbean with an eclectic array of elegantly-perfected culinary fusion that keeps “food lovers” returning each year. And with more than 300 restaurants, the island has something for everyone.
Located at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, the island has 37 breathtaking beaches and is home to many historical and family-oriented attractions including the vastly abundant treasure of rare animal and plant species at the St. Maarten Zoological and Botanical Garden. The historically-pivotal Fort Amsterdam, the St. Maarten Museum and the picturesque and symbolic Mount Concordia, where a treaty and harmonious peace was forged between the island’s two cultures more then 350 years ago, provide other unique attractions.
The Dutch capital of Philipsburg offers duty-free shopping and a bustling city atmosphere in the heart of the Caribbean, while nightlife activities provide endless entertainment at the island’s 14 casinos and numerous nightclubs. For water enthusiasts scuba diving and snorkeling facilities are located throughout the island, which boasts a wide array of marine biodiversity and unique underwater dive sites such as the H.M.S. Proselyte, a notable British frigate which sank in St. Maarten’s waters in 1801.
Accommodations are varied with many designed to exceed the expectations of even the most discerning traveler and include elegant private villas, family oriented resorts, quaint cottages and luxury spa resorts. Air service is available to Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten from a number of U.S. and Canadian cities as well as Europe, South America and the Caribbean.
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