St. Martin Dining / Restaurants / Nightlife
Dining in St. Martin 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 the French St. Martin continues this delicious tradition. 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 St. Martin / St. Maarten 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.
The most popular types of cuisine in St. Martin are traditional French and spicy West Indian Créole. Many of the restaurants, which range from inexpensive to trés cher, combine the best of both. Fresh seafood appears on virtually all menus, sometimes prepared in Créole style with spices, sometimes in the classic French manner with herbs. Local rum drinks often precede a meal and fine French wines provide the perfect accompaniment.
Don't miss the Lolos, open-air BBQs that serve up grilled snapper, lobster and ribs right on the waterfront in Grand Case. There are also lots of pizzerias and fast food restaurants on the island for quick meals and budget-conscious travelers.
Because more and more visitors to the island are choosing to stay in private villas, a growing number of traiteurs (caterers) have begun to offer their services to those who wish to enjoy fine dining at home without preparing it themselves.
Special Bonus: A Guide to Créole Cooking Terms
Many of the large hotels on both sides of the island offer music and dancing as well as weekly island shows with Caribbean music and local performers.
In French St. Martin, the most popular after-dark pastime is leisurely dining. However, popular restaurants and clubs offer live shows (jazz, reggae, pop soloists, dance revues), dancing to DJs, and have busy bars open until midnight. French St. Martin nightlife is centered in Marigot, Grand Case and Orient Bay.
There are more than a dozen casinos on the Dutch side (none on the French half), and much of Dutch St. Maarten’s nightlife revolves around them. Most casinos are located in hotels, but several operate independently. All of the casinos offer blackjack, craps, roulette and slot machines. You must be at least 18 to drink or gamble on the island.
There are also discos and clubs on the Dutch side in Philipsburg, Maho Bay. Cupecoy, and Simpson Bay, with dancing into the early morning hours. Comedy clubs and evening movies are also available.
Featured Restaurants / Caterers / Nightspots
Photo courtesy of Eden Rock Hotel.
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