Martinique Dining / Restaurants / Nightlife
Dining in the French West Indies is always a memorable event. An exciting variety of restaurants take advantage of gorgeous settings to complement their culinary delights. Cooking in France is an art form and Martinique continues this delicious tradition.
Visitors discover a wide range of local specialties with an emphasis on seafood and spicy Créole dishes. Le déjeuner, or lunch, is often the main meal of the day and usually served from noon to 2 p.m. It's generally a good idea to call ahead for reservations for dinner.
The pace of service in many Caribbean restaurants may surprise first-time visitors. It is wise to remember that standards are different in the islands. If you demand fast food and brisk service, perhaps the Caribbean is not for you. However, if you can downshift and relax into a tropical mode, your patience will be richly rewarded. Experienced travelers always arrive at Martinique restaurants before they are really hungry and allow extra time for their meals to be prepared and served.
A 15% fee is often included in restaurant bills (service compris) and additional tips are optional. Budget-conscious travelers with kitchenette facilities have learned to avoid the costs of dining out by preparing many of their own meals.
Martinique's renowned cuisine mirrors its many cultures. The local Créole specialties combine the finesse of French cuisine and the spice of African cookery with the exoticism of East Indian and Southeast Asian recipes. Fresh seafood appears on most menus. Other specialties are: shellfish, smoked fish, stuffed land crabs, stewed conch, and curry dishes.
Restaurants can be found in hotels, in settings by the sea and even on the front porches of the cooks' homes. Local rum drinks often precede a meal, and imported French wines usually accompany it.
Special Bonus: A Guide to Créole Cooking Terms
There are about a dozen good little night spots in Fort-de-France that fill the night with pulsating Zouk rhythms or soft jazz, but visitors should exercise caution in the city after dark, as they would in any large urban area. In the larger Martinique hotels, there are piano bars and late night discos, especially in the Pointe-du-Bout resort area. Some hotels around the island feature dinner dances and shows, including performances by Les Grands Ballets de la Martinique and Les Balisiers, professional troupes of talented young dancers, singers and musicians. The legal drinking age on the island is 18.
Martinique has two gambling casinos, one in Pointe-du-Bout and the other in Schœlcher, near Fort-de-France (both open nightly from 21:00 to 3:00 the next morning). They offer American or French roulette and blackjack. Proof of identity (e.g., valid passport or driver's license with photo) is required. Both casinos charge an entrance fee. Dress is casual; no tie or jacket is required. There are slot machines in salons, outside the gaming rooms (no entry fee). The legal gambling age is 18.
Featured Restaurants / Casinos / Nightspots
Photo courtesy Martinique Promotion Bureau / © Luc Olivier
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