4 May, 2022
The Quintessential Travel Guide To St Martin
3 April, 2023
25 April, 2023
There’s no denying that the Caribbean has one of the most vibrant food scenes on the planet. While some flavours and ingredients – from creamy coconut and fresh seafood to piquant peppers and tropical fruits – crop up on almost every island, each destination has its unique speciality cuisine.
Many food critics and restaurateurs agree that St Martin (or Sint Maarten) is one of the best Caribbean islands for food. Tucked away in the French Antilles, it’s a true oasis for gourmands thanks to the fact it hosts over 500 different dining venues. St Martin's food is among the region’s most eclectic, too. That’s all down to its fascinating melting pot of heritages.
The island is famously split into two halves (one French and one Dutch), and it's been like this ever since the 17th century. Both European countries have undeniably left their mark on the island's food scene during that time – but they're not the only ones. St Martin’s cuisine has also been historically influenced by the Arawaks (the indigenous islanders), as well as various East Indian and African gastronomical traditions.
If you’re jetting off to St Martin’s sunny shores for your next villa getaway, your tastebuds are in for a treat. The island has plenty to offer, including one of the most enticing Caribbean food destinations: Grand Case Boulevard. You’ll also come across sizzling BBQ stalls known as ‘lolos’ tucked away along its beaches, plus Creole and global restaurants to satisfy every craving in its principal towns.
Wondering which dishes to look out for at St Martin’s best restaurants and food stalls? From sumptuous French Caribbean food to delicious snacks with a distinct Dutch flair, here are seven delicacies to try on your next visit:
Johnny cakes (also known as journey cakes) are eaten in several Caribbean and North American countries but are particularly prominent in St Martin.
They're delicious pockets of dough deep-fried in vegetable oil and served with either a sweet topping or a savoury filling. You'll spot johnny cakes in almost every restaurant in St Martin, but some of the best can be found at the island's low-key ‘lolos’. They're particularly popular for breakfast or brunch, drizzled with sticky syrup or guava jam.
Known locally as ‘jacks’, fried fish is an absolute staple of St Martin's cuisine. The seas around the island are wonderfully abundant, with everything from tuna and marlin to red snapper and mahi mahi caught daily by the local fishermen. They’re then typically grilled until crispy on open barbecues and paired with hot johnny cakes or fried plantain.
It’s not just fish that features heavily on St Martin’s restaurant menus. There are all kinds of seafood to sample depending on the season, from lobster and prawns to deliciously juicy crabs.
Stuffed crab is among the best food in St Martin, and it's often eaten with a side of spiced rice. It's made by first removing the crab meat from its shell and then combining it with onion, fresh tomatoes and various herbs and spices. The meat is then placed back in the shell, and the entire crab is grilled.
If you're craving some healthy vegetables, callaloo is the answer. This leafy green is very similar to spinach, and it grows bountifully on many Caribbean islands.
Callaloo soup is the national dish of St Martin's French side, and it's perfect for a light lunch or a starter at dinner. The fragrant broth features slices of pork meat, chunks of okra, shredded callaloo, lashings of spicy pepper and a rich base of chicken stock.
This delicacy is widely considered the national dish of Sint Maarten (the island's Dutch half), and it's made from the succulent meat found inside the huge conch shells that live around the island's shores.
It’s prepared by tenderising the conch meat and then slow-cooking it in a tomato-based sauce with a handful of homemade dumplings. You might also spot conch in numerous other dishes, including conch chowder, conch stew and conch fritters.
Salty and spicy codfish fritters are another St Martin food you can tuck into during your visit. These tasty morsels feature a simple dough mixed with salted cod, onion, pepper and spices. The dough is then moulded into patties and fried in oil.
Codfish accras dipped in hot sauce make an excellent appetiser - especially when they're devoured alongside a refreshing rum cocktail or cool beer.
You'll be in your element in St Martin's bakeries if you have a sweet tooth. The island's European heritage means there is a wealth of delicious treats to try – from fantastically flaky croissants and French pastry beignets to tangy guava berry pudding.
Sweet potato pudding is a dessert worth seeking out at St Martin's restaurants. This Creole dish features a scrumptious mix of sweet potato, coconut milk, zesty lime and white rum. The result is a cross between a pie and cake that tastes terrific topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Caribbean food culture is amazingly diverse. This is especially true in St Martin, where chic French bistros, Parisian-style bakeries and laidback Caribbean cafes nestle alongside no-frills beach shacks, which serve up some of the best street food on the island.
Whether you want to savour French-Caribbean food or tuck into some delicious Dutch fusion cuisine, there are a few locations in St Martin worth having on your itinerary:
You can’t visit this beautiful Caribbean island without checking out this bustling boulevard. It's helped cement St Martin as one of the best places for foodies in the Caribbean, thanks to its sheer variety of dining places.
You’ll find Grand Case Boulevard on the west coast of St Martin in the sleepy fishing village of Grand Case. Despite the area’s tranquil atmosphere, the street is home to an incredible variety of restaurants (including several fine dining establishments) where you can savour a sensational mix of Creole delicacies and exquisite global cuisine.
For an authentic island experience, wander down to the beachfront, where you'll find a handful of the best St Martin lolos. These al fresco BBQ stalls are brilliant places to try traditional Caribbean food, with recipes often going back several generations. Prepare to whet your appetite with all kinds of local delicacies, from cheese-stuffed johnny cakes and grilled lobster to succulent meats and spicy goat stew.
Sint Maarten's main town is tucked away on the south coast, and it has a great selection of dining venues where you can sample some Dutch-influenced cuisine. Tuck into a plate piled high with Dutch pancakes at the Dutch Blonde Beach Bar overlooking the glistening Great Bay. For something more traditional, Emilio's is a high-end option serving classic Creole food in a spectacular former plantation house just outside the town.
Philipsburg is additionally a brilliant place to sip on locally-made liquor. Make your way to the Sint Maarten Guavaberry Co. shop at the cruise port, where you can taste and buy rums flavoured with tangy tropical fruits like guava berries, passion fruits and limes.
The capital of St Martin’s French side is full of brilliant locations where you can try tantalising French-Caribbean fusion food.
Colourful décor and marina vistas are matched by a Parisian-style menu featuring snails, beef tartar and crab parfait at locally-loved Le Tropicana. Alternatively, neighbouring La Petite Auberge serves more traditional Caribbean cuisine, such as coconut-infused curries and grilled mahi mahi fillets served with rice and beans.
For more casual dining, venture to the town's marketplace or seafront, where you'll find a selection of lolos. Top picks include Chez Coco for the oxtail stew or Enoch's Place, where you can tuck into fried fish, chicken or seafood platters served with rice, greens and plantain to your heart’s content.
For breathtaking sea vistas and a choice of supremely fresh seafood dishes, make your way to Simpson Bay. It's found on the island's Dutch side and hosts a range of restaurants with beautiful vistas of the open ocean or the serene Simpson Bay Lagoon.
Get your lobster fix at family-friendly Skip Jack's, or sink your teeth into crispy codfish fritters, blackened mahi mahi and succulent conch ceviche at Goat Fish Restaurant.
Want to discover more about this island’s delicious cuisine? A St Martin cooking class is a fantastic activity option. Several local chefs and St Martin restaurants host culinary masterclasses where you can learn how to make everything from Johnny cakes to callaloo stew, simply speak to your dedicated concierge and they can arrange a private cooking lesson for your group.
You’ll also find a few food-themed tours on offer, including those that take you on a whirlwind journey around Philipsburg’s best dining spots. Or, for something with minimal effort, why not have your concierge book a wine and cheese tasting?
Another memorable way to experience St Martin’s food offering is by having one of the island’s talented chefs cook for you in your villa. Private dining is just one of the services we can offer as part of your personalised onefinestay experience. Sit back and relax as a culinary expert whips up a flavour-packed, French-Caribbean feast that you’ll remember for years to come.
Our exclusive range of concierge services lets you experience the very best attractions in Tulum. Whatever you have in mind, we’re on hand to turn your dream getaway into a reality. From arranging all private picnics, beach bonfires and clam bakes to booking tables at the best restaurants in Tulum, simply speak to our team of expert Travel Advisors to make your holiday dream a reality.
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