Memorable meals are as much a part of any British Virgin Islands vacation as is the sun, sand and sea. Everything from beachside cafés to mountaintop fine-dining eateries serve up bountiful menus spanning from local West Indian to world cuisine. There’s something for everyone on every one of the territories, main islands and many of its smaller cays, too. Here, then, are 10 unforgettable dining experiences in the BVI.
Eat Seafood by the Sea
Several eateries offer the delicious combination of fresh seafood served seaside with a view of the fleet that makes the BVI the charter capital of the Caribbean. Fork into appetizers like tender marinated conch in a lemony dressing and entrees like saffron risotto di mare with crab, shrimp, mussels and fish at the Mariner Inn Restaurant at The Moorings base in Road Town. Across town, at the Plumrose Restaurant, at Prospect Reef, grouper stuffed with crab and baked in a garlic lemon butter sauce is a signature dish. East at North Sound, Virgin Gorda, The Restaurant at Leverick Bay dishes up an exceptional West Indian coconut curry shrimp. Any visit to the islands would be incomplete without trying the famous Anegada lobster and the seafood mollusk, conch. Anegada lobster is usually grilled or barbecued and served with melted butter and wedges of lime. The Wonky Dog restaurant now offers lobster thermidor and lobster Rockefeller. The best conch dish is cracked conch, which includes slices of conch, tenderised by being beaten with a mallet, dipped in flour, egg and crumbs (sometimes coconut) and deep fried to a golden brown. It is typically served with a cocktail sauce.
Dine on a Cheeseburger in Paradise
The Pub in Road Town is one of the best places in the BVI to get a meaty, juicy cheeseburger. Sit dockside at this family-friendly restaurant at the Fort Burt Marina and watch as the charter boats, private yachts and inter-island ferries arrive and depart whilst you eat. There’s also bacon and egg breakfasts and steak, ribs and chicken dinners provided at The Pub.
Picnic on the Beach
Pick up a couple of sandwiches to go and cold drinks and head to the nearest beach. Guests at the Surfsong Villa Resort, located on the southern shore of Beef Island, can enjoy even more sumptuous fare. The resort makes beautiful signature picnic baskets full of assorted sandwiches on fresh-baked rolls, signature salads, fresh fruits, house-made sweets like cookies or brownies, and an assortment of juices and bottled water. A bottle of wine or champagne is an ideal addition! Surfsong’s beach at Well Bay, with its huge boulders and shady palm trees, is a perfect place for a picnic.
Fork into Global Flavours
Take a taste bud tour of the world when dining in the BVI. For example, the Plumrose Restaurant offers a tapas menu with selections such as skewered marinated beef with sweet chili sauce, spicy fried fish balls dipped in a sofrito sauce, and zesty lamb meatballs simmered in a rich tomato basil sauce. Gourmet Italian is the order of selections at Scaramouche’s upstairs restaurant, with choices such as homemade pasta and ravioli. Downstairs, Scaramouche’s Mediterranean-style lunch menu includes panini, piadina wraps and antipasti. Indian dishes like chicken tandoori, as well as Thai and Japanese dishes share the menu with Italian-inspired fare at Charlie’s Restaurant, located at The Moorings base in Road Town.
Sip Cocktails and More with a Birds-eye View
Head up to the Bananakeet Café, on Windy Hill in Carrot Bay, Tortola, to watch the sunset. This locale is known for having the best BVI sunset lookout. Owners take advantage of this by welcoming guests with a free “sundowner,” British slang for a day’s end cocktail. Come early to see the panoramic view of 11 islands and cays. Stay late to enjoy the Caribbean fusion cuisine presented here, like banana chutney jerk pork, honey mint rack of lamb, coconut rum shrimp, grilled lobster and fresh fish of the night succulently prepared in a banana leaf.
Revel in Hedonistic Meets Historic
Start off with a signature cocktail like The Flora — hibiscus-infused gin, cucumber, grapefruit and lime — at the Dove Restaurant’s Bar 1864. Situated in Road Town and housed in a 1912-built gingerbread-trimmed cottage, this quaint fine-dining restaurant is where a pleasurable meal makes for a momentous occasion. For starters, try the deep-sea snapper ceviche, made with pickled celery, jalapeño peppers and fried shallots. For an entree, choose Hodge’s roast pork, topped with a yummy local pineapple papaya chutney. Shared dishes like crusty sourdough bread, eclectic cheese board and triple-fried potatoes dipped in a garlic aioli are a treat, too.
Take a Taste of Great Britain in the Tropics
Fancy a full English-style breakfast? Go to Scaramouche, a trendy open-air eatery at Soper’s Hole in West End, Tortola. Sunday brunch here features dishes you’d enjoy in jolly old England. There are two traditional choices: the customary morning meal of English bacon, pork sausage and black pudding with a fried egg, baked beans and toast; or a heartier dish of roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, duck fat–roasted potatoes, honey-glazed carrots, gravy and horseradish sauce. A trendy and lighter twist for the tropics is the black pudding salad, made with nearly a dozen fresh veggies and topped with bacon and blue cheese.
Bring the Kids
Kids of all ages love having lunch or dinner at Charlie’s. Here, the favourite menu item is chef-made thin crust pizzas with toppings to suit all tastes. Afterwards, the kids can go around the corner to Ginny’s Coffee Shop for ice cream or homemade Italian gelato.
On islands that look like gardens of good eating, it’s easy to enjoy wonderful meat-free meals. For example, the Dove Restaurant is known for its deep-fried potato gnocchi with cauliflower cream, roasted cauliflower florets and plumped raisins. The Restaurant at Leverick Bay features vegetarian stuffed bell peppers on its menu every day. One of the largest selections of vegetarian and vegan fare is at the Plumrose Restaurant. Choices here include curried mixed vegetable samosas, scotch bonnet–scented lentil mini patty with cucumber chutney and a pumpkin, cauliflower and lentil curry.
Get a Taste of the BVI
No trip to the BVI is complete without sampling local tropical flavours. The Mariner Inn Restaurant serves a spicy jerk chicken wrap and chicken roti for lunch. Acclaimed chef Imran Ashton, a former member of the award-winning BVI National Culinary Team, offers dishes like stuffed local grouper with local lobster and homemade mango cheesecake at his Plumrose Restaurant. At The Restaurant at Leverick Bay, the dish to try is the tropical mango chicken — a pan-roasted chicken breast topped with a delicious mango puree.