US Virgin Islands dining can be a most pleasurable part
of your trip, which may not have exactly been the case
not too far back. For a while, it seemed that the US Virgin
Island restaurants were steering away from native dishes
in favor of things like pizza and hamburgers. But, times
have changed, and traditional dishes are making a nice
comeback. While you can still find burgers and pizza if
you want them, the more adventurous might look to freshen
things up with US Virgin Islands food favorites like Johnnycakes
and Kallaloo. Of course, as one might imagine, the US
Virgin Islands dining choices often include the freshest
of seafood. If you like mahimahi and tuna, they are just
two of the daily catches that can often be found on the
menu. So don't fret, food lovers. Your palate will
be rewarded during a Virgin Islands vacation, and you
might just find yourself missing a few US Virgin Islands
food staples once you return home.
Due to the fact that the US Virgin Islands are a tightly-knit territory, the food choices are pretty much the same across the board. In other words, the dining experience will not differ from island to island, other than the fact that more US Virgin Island restaurants can be found in St Thomas and St Croix. US Virgin Islands restaurants include plenty of international offerings, such as French, Italian, and Japanese, so if you want variety, you can have it. Interestingly enough, the small, tavern-like eateries that specialize in US Virgin Islands traditional cuisine are especially worth checking out if you want truly authentic US Virgin Island restaurants. Some of these joints might not be the most attractive, but don't let looks deceive you. When looking for traditional dishes in the US Virgin Island restaurants, you might start with the aforementioned Kallaloo, which uses as its base a spinach-like vegetable. Prepared in different ways, it is most often flavored with things like fish, okra, pig tail, pig mouth, ham bone, crab, onions, and various spices.
As okra is often a main ingredient in Kallaloo, it just as often accompanies chicken, beef, and fish dishes. It's one of the staple vegetables in the islands, and frying it with tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, garlic, and butter or bacon fat is typical. Something else you might seek out when enjoying a US Virgin Islands dining experience is peas and rice, which is a dish that is quite common with native families. Pigeon peas, which are grown on the islands, are combined with tomatoes, salt meat or ham, onions, herbs, and rice. It's really quite an excellent vegetarian dish if you can have them leave out the meat. Salt fish and rice is another US Virgin Islands food staple, and it is a great low-cost dish that can certainly fill you up. Rice is a very common side dish when it comes to authentic island meals, and it can be flavored with things like ham, garlic, and tomatoes. If you want to keep trying some local dishes, you might move on to a Herring Gundy salad at some point. This traditional dish is quite diverse, featuring salt herring, hot peppers, beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, olives, and hard-boiled eggs.
As mentioned, fresh fish is easy to find when heading out for a US Virgin Islands dining experience. If you are staying in a villa or vacation rental, or even a resort or hotel suite with a kitchen or kitchenette, you might even prepare some of your own seafood dishes with the local produce. Besides mahimahi and tuna, red snapper, grouper, and wahoo are also abundant, and if you want to use US Virgin Islands flavors, you can flavor the fish with a spicy lime sauce. Of course, if cooking isn't something you want to do on your USVI vacation, then you can always have somebody else prepare your meals. Should you stay at one of the nice USVI resorts, lavish buffets are quite common, and since they offer a variety of international dishes, in addition to West Indian dishes, you can sample a lot of different things.
Whether you are staying at a resort or not, heading out to one of the US Virgin Island restaurants should be something you do at least once during your visit. Sure, the more upscale resorts offer superb restaurants and chefs, but it's nice to seek out something else from time to time. The bulk of the restaurants in the US Virgin Islands are found in Christiansted and Frederiksted on St Croix island, and the USVI capital city of Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas island. That's not to say you won't find some good ones on St John island though.
Remember to look for Johnnycakes, which are deep-fried, unleavened bread delicacies. They can be sweetened if you so desire, and perhaps you'll enjoy a few for breakfast. They also often accompany meat and fish dishes. As far as beverages go, the Cruzan Rum Distillery on St Croix island churns out some world-class stuff. Fresh-fruit juices and smoothies are common, and you might also try "maubi", which is a fermented, but fairly low-alcohol beverage made from maubi tree bark, ginger root, yeast, and herbs. Sodas and beers can easily be found here, as well as wine, though wine in the Virgin Islands tends to be pricy.