If there’s one thing you need to experience whilst on vacation, it’s the local cuisine.
The BVI diet includes very popular dishes such as BBQ chicken, peas and rice, salt fish, mutton and goat, “ground provisions” such as sweet potatoes and plantains, and a variation of soups including fish, goat head and pumpkin soup. Most foods are commonly served with a side of vegetables, macaroni pie and rice. If you’re lucky you may even get to try turtle, which they sometimes have on the menu.
One typical local dish you will find is called fungi, which consists of cornmeal which has been boiled to a thick consistency and okra served alongside salt fish. Common snacks you will come across are usually beef or chicken patties, johnnycakes or conch fritters.
The islands are characterised by European, American and West African cultures, but many of the surrounding Caribbean islands such as Jamaica and Trinidad influence the BVI and as such, have adopted dishes like jerk chicken or chicken rotis into their culinary culture. The foods here are typically full of spice and hearty.
Restaurants here usually cater to the tourists, providing them with North American dishes with an added Caribbean twist.
Below are a list of my favourite restaurants you will find on the island.
Bananakeet – Located on Windy Hill in Carrot Bay, Bananakeet is set under a wide canopy and offers breathtaking views of the bay below, and if you manage to get there in time you will experience some of the most spectacularly beautiful sunsets on Tortola. The food is amazing and one of the few places with reasonably good service.
Sugar Mill – Set in an old Sugar Mill the dining rooms are split into two, inside the 400 year old walls of the Rum House itself and the Terrace. The restaurant love to use local produce and cook everything fresh. Here you can enjoy an outstanding meal with fine wines and superb service. It’s a little more pricey than your average restaurant on the island, but it’s definitely worth a visit.
Fantasia by Georgio – An Italian bistro set in the heart of Road Town, tucked away on the old Main Street. This charming little restaurant serves great Italian food in a small intimate dining room. Not a huge menu, but the food is delicious and the service is fantastic. I would definitely recommend the Ravioli and the pizzas are scrumptious. They also have a wine cellar offering over 250 Italian wines. One of the best eateries in town.
Coco Maya – An Asian fusion restaurant located on Virgin Gorda. This restaurant and open air bar are situated right by the sea. You can enjoy sipping your cocktails on the swing at the bar or on comfy sofas around the fire pit on the beach as you wait for you table. They serve smaller plates, similar to tapas, sushi and larger Asian inspired sharing plates. This place is a little more upscale to your usual hangouts in the BVI and a bit more pricey, but the atmosphere is incredible and has a really great chilled vibe.
D’Coalpot – Recently changed location and upgraded to a larger premises due to it’s popularity, D’Coalpot is now located on the waterfront in Carrot Bay. The brightly coloured restaurant is impossible to miss. Enjoy their varied menu in an island style ambience whilst listening to the waves crashing nearby. It’s quite pricey, but the food is great, the staff are friendly and the service is good. Remember to say ‘hi’ to Paco the parrot on your way out. (He used to be my neighbour)!
Tamarind Club – A quaint and quirky little hotel not far from the popular surf spot, Josiah’s bay. The Tamarind club offers breakfast, lunch and dinner and not to mention their well-loved Sunday brunch. Sit by the pool in the laid back atmosphere whilst sipping on Mimosas served by their friendly staff. Good food and a fun hangout.
Roadside Shack in Carrot Bay – A little roadside shack with no name, situated on the waters edge in Carrot bay. This is a local hangout we came across one afternoon when we made a pit stop for something to drink. The guy in here makes the most delicious Trinidadian street food called ‘Doubles’. Doubles are made from two baras (flat fried bread) filled with curry channa (curried chickpeas). He only makes these on a Saturday and you get them at the bargain price of $2 each! Every other day the lady in there serves her delicious local street food of chicken, peas and rice, vegetables and provisions. If you manage to find this little spot I would definitely recommend giving it a try. You won’t be sorry.
Stoutt’s Lookout – Perched on the top of Windy Hill overlooking the beautiful Cane Garden Bay. As you sit and gaze at the stunning views you can enjoy a nice cool breeze all the while enjoying some fantastic cocktails and bar food such as ribs, burgers or chicken wings. The small, brightly coloured bar has a wonderfully relaxed vibe which caters for both tourists and locals alike. The staff are friendly and you will most definitely get to meet Mr. Stoutt himself.
Cooper Island – The restaurant is based within the Eco friendly beach club. The food is excellent and service is friendly and efficient. Beautifully designed and set overlooking the beach, you can enjoy eating in the restaurant itself or out on the decking gazing at the sea. After dinner you can take a stroll to the islands Rum Bar which stocks over 100+ unique rums from all over the Caribbean or maybe try one of their 3 homemade draft beers made in their very own Microbrewery. This is a great little resort and it’s definitely worth spending some time here, plus they also have the best banana cake sold in the coffee shop!
Anegada Reef Hotel – Relax on the beach, under the stars, with your feet in the sand in this beautifully romantic setting. Anegada is famous for their locally caught Lobster, so this is a must try when you visit. Not a fancy restaurant but the atmosphere is just heavenly. They usually do two seatings in the evening, the first at 7pm and the second at 7.30pm. They like you to pre-book and order your meal options in advance so be sure to do this to make sure you don’t miss out on a truly delightful experience, and if it’s a busy evening they usually turn the rest of the night into a party.
Be prepared to experience West Indian hospitality across the islands. The service is usually pretty slow and you’re lucky to get a friendly smile from your server! But sit back, relax, enjoy a few rums and take in the spectacular views of the BVI!