Turks and Caicos restaurants run the gamut from modest beach bars to elegant gourmet venues. Most of the top restaurants in Turks and Caicos are in the luxury hotels. On some islands, like private Parrot Cay where there is only a single exclusive resort, your only choice for Turks and Caicos dining is at the place you are staying. There are two dining venues at the Parrot Cay Resort, plus room service. Another of the exclusive private Turks and Caicos Islands is Pine Cay, where the Meridian Club is your only choice for dining and accommodation. Even at this exclusive place, the atmosphere is casual—shoes are optional even for evening dining.
There are, however, a number of Turks and Caicos restaurants that are not in hotels or resorts. These are found primarily on the islands that have the larger populations and that host the largest number of visitors—Grand Turk Island and Providenciales Island. The top restaurants in Turks and Caicos on these two islands will be found around Cockburn Town (on Grand Turk, the capital of the little island nation) and around Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales, as well as at some of the other of the islands' most popular beaches.
Turks and Caicos dining options in these restaurants also run the gamut from "beach bum" type fish shacks to fine international restaurants. For the more gourmet spots, it's best to make reservations for evening dining, especially during the peak winter season when the weather is at its sunny and balmy best. You should also double check availability in the off season, as some places are not open for lunch or close entirely. A couple of the finer restaurants also do not accept parties with children. There are plenty of restaurants suitable for children, and even luxury hotels will have children's menus that include hot dogs, hamburgers, and French fries.
At just about all Turks and Caicos restaurants the cuisine relies heavily on the bounty of the sea. There is plenty of fish and a few local specialties. You can visit the fascinating Conch Farm (one of the only ones in the world) on Providenciales and dine on conch soup, conch fritters, conch curry, conch tacos, conch tempura, and any number of other dishes served with the succulent meat from this mollusk. About 85 percent of the conch meat available in the United States comes from this small island group. Local lobster in season is also popular and served both in the top restaurants in Turks and Caicos, as well as more modest establishments.
While you are apt to find an Italian restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, and a Thai restaurant, Turks and Caicos dining is primarily Caribbean and Continental. Many places have weekly barbecues where you might find roast goat. Look for West Indian curries, plantain fritters, and spicy soups possibly stewed with callaloo (local spinach). The Caribbean influence extends as far as New Orleans, and you will also find Cajun and Creole specialties. Some of the best dining might be prepared by you, which is possible in the vacation rentals that are available on many of the larger islands. You can also order simple or gourmet picnics from hotels if you're headed out on a full day scuba diving and snorkeling excursion.
Image: Tours & Caicos Tourism Office