Thoughts of the Caribbean are almost always accompanied by images of fresh seafood, tropical fruits, street stalls, bold flavours and rum cocktails – at least in our minds.
To get the lowdown of what dining in the sun-soaked region is really like, we chatted to Ira Bloom, CEO of ÀNI Private Resorts, which boasts a luxury property in both Anguilla and the Dominican Republic.
Ira originally hails from the US but has lived on the island of Anguilla for many years and is now somewhat of an expert on local dining.
He explained that Caribbean life revolves around food and given the area’s diverse history, traces of British, French, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish and American influence intermingle with traditional methods and flavours to create a medley of dining options. In other words, there’s something for every palette.
“Anguilla is much more of a foodie island than Dominican Republic, and it’s really quite remarkable how much outstanding dining there is for such a small island,” Ira said.
For visitors to the Dominican Republic and guests of ÀNI’s private resort there, he recommends checking out Amenera and Tostones for fresh fish and local treats to be enjoyed by the beach.
Rates at ÀNI Dominican Republic include all meals for all guests, which are prepared by their own private chef, according to their dietary needs, pleasures and whims.
At ÀNI Anguilla, however, the rates are half-board (breakfast plus lunch or dinner each day), as the ÀNI team have found guests always want to sample some of the irresistible local haunts. Ira has kindly provided us with his local insight into the best spots on the island for lunch, dinner, and drinks.
Lunch in Anguilla is all about being outdoors, by the beach, enjoying the sunshine and beautiful views.
Meads Bay – Here you’ll find a great, long stretch of white sand beach, which is mostly calm but can get some larger waves on occasion.
- Blanchards Beach Shack
- Amazing walk up “shack” for takeaway
- Not table service
- Terrific assortment of salads, sandwiches, rice bowls, and drinks
- Their gazapacho and kale salad with Mahi Mahi are my favourites
- You can rent chairs/umbrellas from them – but get there early as their chairs can fill up
- Straw Hat
- One of the great restaurants for lunch or dinner – with a modern Caribbean menu
- They offer table service, as well as beach chairs and umbrellas at no charge for those dining with them, plus beach drink service as well
- Their tuna flatbread with truffle oil is awesome
- Ocean Echo
- Also, table service with complimentary chairs
- They have live music a few days a week
- Menu is a mix of Caribbean and traditional American-style lunch
- Try their jerk chicken pizza
Shoal Bay West – This is a quieter beach, and in my opinion not as nice as Meads Bay, Shoal or Rendezvous Bay, but it is a bit more exclusive.
- Trattoria Tramonto
- Great Italian restaurant with a sophisticated lunch menu with salads, paninis and fresh fish specials
- Chairs, umbrellas and beach service for those dining with them as well
Rendezvous Bay – This is a very long stretch of white sand beach that boasts great views to St. Martin and is almost always calm.
- Garvey’s Sunshine Shack
- Local BBQ with chicken, lobster and fish to made to order
- Great bar and beach vibe with live music some days and reggae on the speakers all other times
- Chairs and beach service as well
Crocus Bay – I wouldn’t say this is the nicest beach on the island – it’s a bit rocky – but it’s a great spot to go stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking over to Little Bay (our beach), which is a spectacular hidden beach.
- Nice, fresh Caribbean menu
- Best frozen mojitos with fresh mint I’ve ever had
- I love their grilled fish salad
- Live music on Sundays
Shoal Bay East – This is the most famous beach on the island, where the sand is as white as white can be and the water is as clear as can be. There’s coral so it’s a great spot for snorkellling and it has more chairs than any other beach.
- French/Caribbean Menu
- Amazing mussels in wine sauce and great pizza
- Need to pay for the chairs in front of their beach
- Live music on the weekends
- Gwen’s Reggae Grill
- More laid-back island BBQ with great rum punch
- They have steel drum/string band several days per week
All restaurants in Anguilla are fairly casual, however, that doesn’t mean fine dining can’t be found! Some of the more top-notch restaurants can be pricey, including those in all the 5-star hotels, but there are some worth paying the extra money for.
- Owned by a US couple that started a movement of great chef/restaurateurs moving to the island
- Menu recently changed to a more tapas style, with lots of vegan options
- Their cracked coconut dessert is a must
- The brainchild of a couple from the US who have brought with them an Asian/Caribbean fusion
- Live music most nights – the owners are huge music fans
- Their Indian pea soup and fish specials are my favorites
- Located on the far eastern end of the island and home to a French chef offering perhaps the most interesting menu on the island
- Small place with only 5-6 tables per night
- Their smoked fish appetiser is to die for
- Fresh Mexican that everyone goes gaga for
- Owned by a couple from the bay area in California
- We have repeat Christmas guests that spend $20K per night to stay with us, and adore our chef – but always go twice to Picante because they love it so much
- Try their corn con queso and chili crusted tuna taco
- Friends of the Picanta couple, also from California
- Low-key tapas with amazing sunset views from one of the local fishing village beaches
- Zucchini carpaccio and pork sliders are both great
- Local island chef that trained at 5-star hotels
- Great menu – love the fresh fish salad and grilled crayfish (a must have somewhere on Anguilla)
- B&D BBQ
- Lots of options for BBQ on the island but this is the best
- Ribs, chicken, fish
- Only open Thursday – Sunday
- The Strip
- A strip of food trucks serving all different Caribbean food – BBQ, rotis, traditional meals
- Bankie Banx – owned by a legendary singer who still performs a few nights a week. Built all out of driftwood and old sailboats – very cool spot.
- Elvis’ – the ultimate beach bar with tons of games, huge projection screen, DJ’s and live music.
- Limekeel – on the far east is this very laid-back Caribbean hut with great drinks and live music some nights, plus outdoor movies once per week.
Learn more about ÀNI Private Resorts Anguilla and Dominican Republic and contact us for more information about how you can book a gastronomical trip of a lifetime. For further ÀNI Private Resorts inspiration, follow them on Instagram.