Virgin Islands - Eating Like Royalty

When it comes to traveling, I'm not a "foodie"—the kind of traveler whose trips revolve around cuisine. I'm more about experiencing the place I'm visiting, and typically consider meals as the breaks between sightseeing. I do, however, appreciate a fantastic meal when I get one, and we had plenty on this trip to St. John.

On our first night, we ate at La Tapa. This fun little place is located curbside along the main road into Cruz Bay. And I do mean "curbside"—someone sitting at one of the patio tables can reach out and touch passing cars. The town's rowdiest bar, Woody's, sits right next door as well, so this restaurant isn't the place for a quiet meal. But the eclectic decor and Spanish menu were quite inviting, and we weren't disappointed. After a day in the sun, we both settled on gazpacho for starters. And after a day of diving, it took a shared platter of paella to satiate our hunger.

Stone Terrace had some of the best recommendations when I researched a place for CJ's birthday dinner before the trip. A covered stone portico offered tables overlooking the harbor. Very romantic—though romance wasn’t exactly hard to find on a tropical island. For dinner, I started with the local vine-ripened tomato and mozzarella salad, while CJ opted for a yellowfin tuna tartare with avocados, shallots, ginger, chives and lemon zest. To continue, I chose a Caribbean-blackened mahi mahi over CJ’s rack of lamb.

When our plans to visit St. Thomas changed on Sunday, so did our dinner plans—for the better. Once again, we found ourselves in Cruz Bay, so we decided to give The Balcony a try. The lobster crepes caught our eye when we saw the restaurant's menu at the concierge desk back at the Westin, but we weren't able to get a table on our first night. The wait was worth it, and we enjoyed the best meal of the trip overlooking the boats moored in Cruz Bay. Of course, CJ started with the lobster crepes, while I opted for the prosciutto-wrapped scallops. (The word "prosciutto" on any menu will get me every time.) For our entrees, we selected the black and white sesame-encrusted seared ahi and Chilean sea bass.

We spent our last evening at Zozo's, a gourmet restaurant on Gallow's Point, at the end of Cruz Bay. The food here was also excellent—we started with fried calamari and blue crab bruschetta, and followed with grouper and swordfish—but after several days of gourmet cuisine and a long day of carousing through the British Virgin Islands, fish and chips probably would have been just as satisfying.

And speaking of satisfaction: after a trip like this, I'll be content with Top Ramen soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for quite some time.

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