St. Barts Dining / Restaurants / Nightlife
Visitors discover a wide range, from classical and nouvelle French cuisine to spicy Créole and local specialities. 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 West Indies. 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 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 St. Barts restaurant bills (service compris) and additional tips are optional, but typical. Budget-conscious travelers with kitchenette facilities have learned to avoid the costs of dining out by preparing many of their own meals.
Fine dining in St. Barts has become one of the island's stellar attractions. Renowned chefs from Europe and the U.S. frequently visit the island. Many open restaurants and some even teach classes. Season after season, young chefs who have trained in France's greatest restaurants choose to work in St. Barthélemy. Combining local ingredients with French technique, they have made the island a gastronomic showcase. To honor their culinary wizards, the entire island celebrates with a Festival Gastronomique each spring.
Most St. Barts restaurants are small but each offers something special in food, setting or ambiance. Some are beach cafés featuring lobster and grilled steaks, some specialize in seafood or spicy Créole cuisine, and others, particularly in the elegant hotels, present French cuisine of the highest order. Of course, for those looking for more casual fare, there are still a few classic spots serving inexpensive, fast food.
Special Bonus: A Guide to Créole Cooking Terms
Because more and more visitors to the island are choosing to stay in private villas, a growing number of St. Barth traiteurs (caterers) offer their services to those who wish to enjoy fine dining at home without preparing the meal themselves.
There are a couple of dance floors and a handful of clubs in Gustavia or St. Jean that feature live bands or DJs, but in general, St. Barts is rather quiet after dark. The primary focus in the evening is dining, with leisurely dinners and conversations lingering well into the night. Some of the hotels do provide dinner shows or a piano bar but, if you're looking for casinos and a lot of wild nighttime action, this is not the place.
Featured Restaurants / Caterers / Nightspots
Photo courtesy of Eden Rock Hotel.
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