Caribbean’s Best Hotels for Food

Straw Hat Anguilla, Frangipani Beach Resort Anguilla, Best Resorts in the Caribbean
Frangipani makes an elite list of places to stay & dine

We like to think that the marriage of the Frangipani Beach Resort and on-site restaurant Straw Hat is a match made in heaven. Set right in the middle of Meads Bay, the property buzzes during the day while guests dine beachside ordering up fan favorites like the ahi tuna bahn mi and the all-too-addicting plantain chips. At night, the place sparkles both figuratively and literally; the product of a perfectly lit backdrop and the glowing personalities of staff.

When Caribbean Journal put out their list of the Caribbean’s Best Hotels for Food in April 2014, we were excited to look through the 25 property slide show, which recognized the coalescence of two important elements for a great getaway: luxurious accommodations and fabulous dining. Sharing space with notable properties like the Four Seasons in Nevis and Eden Rock in St. Barths, the Frangipani Beach Resort + Straw Hat union made the list. We are truly proud and honored to be recognized within a dynamic and ever-evolving Caribbean landscape, and specifically within Anguilla, a culinary gem within the region.

Straw Hat lovers, let us in on your secret: What’s your go-to order when you’re dining at the restaurant?


In January 2014, Straw Hat Restaurant was recognized by Fodor's as a Top 10 restaurant in all of the Caribbean.

 

Anguilla in 3 days

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Planning for a quick jaunt to the island

There’s no doubt about it, three days in Anguilla is a quick trip to the island. There are typically two types of guests that fall into this category: folks from Miami or NY hopping down for a quickie Caribbean getaway (with direct flights to SXM, it’s a fairly easy trip) or guests who do a St. Martin/Anguilla or St. Barths/Anguilla combo trip. We see the latter a fair amount; guests want a taste of two distinctly different islands and pop on over to see the tranquility of Anguilla while getting the nightlife of St. Martin or the glitz of St. Barths on the front or back end of their trip.

If you’re planning on spending a few short days on the island, here are a few ways to get the most out of your time here:

Rent a car.

Yes, Anguilla is small, but it’s not walkable unless you want to stay on one beach for the extent of your stay (which some people happily opt to do). If you want to get out and explore — or even leave your home base for dinner — the easiest, most cost-effective way is to rent a car. Car rentals will cost you $40+ per day plus a one time temporary license fee of $20. Considering taxi costs, rentals are a worthy investment.

Explore other beaches.

Rendezvous Bay

Anguilla is famous for its 33 extraordinary beaches and each one has its own unique character and charm. If you’re staying at the Frangipani on Meads Bay, you’ll have access to one of the island’s best beaches, but you’ll probably want to scope out some other views as well. Head down to gorgeous Rendezvous Bay for a long stretch of sand or venture down to the East End’s secluded Savannah Bay for pinky-golden sands and a beach all to yourself.

My choices for three days of exploration? Meads Bay, Rendezvous Bay, Savannah Bay and Shoal Bay.

Book your dinners in advance.

Anguillan Dining

Besides beaches, one of Anguilla’s top draws is its culinary scene. Frequently touted as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, the island has a shocking number of fantastic high-end eateries with a few mid-priced gems mixed in. If you’re coming during high season, play it safe and make reservations in advance. Most of the big name spots (Dolce Vita, Straw Hat, Veya, Picante and others) will be too jammed to accept walk-ins (especially with groups larger than two). Want some eatery ideas? Check out our restaurant spotlights.

My personal choices for three nights in Anguilla? Picante, Straw Hat and Dolce Vita.

Tip: Plan your lunches strategically and see different sides of the island over a mid-day meal. da’Vida, Smokey’s, Gwen’s and Scilly Cay offer awesome — and totally different — lunch experiences.

Experience the nightlife.

Elvis' Beach Bar

You’re not going to experience the same nightlife as St. Maarten (no clubs and casinos here), but Anguilla’s late night scene is charmingly Caribbean and extraordinarily memorable. Head down to Elvis’ Beach Bar in Sandy Ground for a toes-in-the-sand experience or make your way to Elvis’ neighbor, the Pumphouse, for live music in a historic Anguillan building. If you’re here on a Thursday, be prepared for a buzzing late night scene in Sandy Ground!

Charter a boat.

Relentless - Charter a boat

When it comes to exploring the nooks and crannies of an island, what better way is there than by boat? If you’re staying at the Frangipani, you can charter our 34′ boat, Relentless, for a half day or full day, depending on what you’re looking to do. You can also jump on board for a cocktail cruise or a snorkeling trip to Little Bay! Looking for other charter options? Try Calypso, Funtime or Gotcha! for different offerings and availability.

Want something more classically West Indian? Check out the newest addition to charter options, TraditionTradition is a 50′ Carricou wooden sloop built in 1978 that offers day trips, snorkeling trips, lobster lunch cruises and custom charters.

Now we need fellow Anguilla lovers to chime in! If you have just three days to spend in Anguilla, what’s on your to-do list? Leave your thoughts in the comments below for future visitors to the island!

Restaurant Spotlight: Tasty’s

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Dale Carty delivers stellar Caribbean fare

For many,  a trip to Anguilla means an opportunity to lounge and dine at some of the Caribbean’s finest restaurants. A number of hot spots serve up stellar fare to please the most discerning of palates (everything from Moroccan to Italian), but a few select restaurants are keeping it especially local, serving up authentic Anguillan fare with a gourmet twist.

Most notably, Dale Carty, the man behind Tasty’s, has taken his passion for cooking and infused his Anguillan heritage into the menu. Set in South Hill, the space is quintessentially Caribbean with its turquoise and lavender exterior, picturesque walls and bright accents. While the restaurant serves up lunch and dinner, guests can also grab a drink and tapas at the bar for a light bite.

Some highlights? The seafood salad starter (marked as a ‘Chef’s Favorite’) certainly retains that honor for a reason. Piled high with snapper, lobster, crayfish and conch (amongst other delights), the dish is as pure as they come; clean and delicious with a light, bright dressing that leaves you licking the plate.

Tastys-TapasWhen it comes to entrees, you certainly won’t be left wanting on the seafood front. While some restaurant menus on the island are limited on their fish options (at least when it comes to variety of fish), Tasty’s seems to know no boundaries: everything from the requisite lobster, snapper and tuna to the less common conch and trigger fish is available.

If you’re looking for something on the lighter side, Tasty’s tapas menu left us impressed. Each option is $8 or $9 and the selection is dazzling. For those looking to sample a range of tantalizing options, you can dig into local favorites like salt fish, conch fritters, spicy ribs and goat. The tapas menu is served from 5PM to close.

For those looking for a particularly entertaining excursion, make your way to Tasty’s to catch live music on Saturday nights.

Tasty’s is open six days a week and is closed on Thursdays. The restaurant serves up lunch and dinner along with Sunday brunch. You can follow Tasty’s on twitter at @TastysAnguilla.

Top 10 romantic restaurants in Anguilla

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, we thought we would take the opportunity to highlight some of Anguilla’s romantic locations for dining à deux. There are a number of top-notch restaurants that could make this list, but we’ve narrowed it down to the Top 10 venues for celebrating with your special someone. In no particular order, here are some must-tries for your next special occasion.

Jacala

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1. Without fail, our guests rave about Jacala. While the French food consistently gets touted as some of the best on the island, it’s Jacala’s Meads Bay location and intimate setting that make it the perfect spot for special occasions and romantic dining. Jacala books up very quickly, so make sure you snag reservations to enjoy their beachside dining on your special day.

Blanchard’s

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2. Blanchard’s is a must for any Anguilla dining list. Bob and Melinda Blanchard, who made Anguilla their home in 1989, have maintained a standard of excellence and continue to welcome tourists and locals to celebrate their special occasions. Their famous restaurant is often credited with starting the wave of fine dining that is now associated with an Anguillan getaway. See their menu here.

Pimms

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PHOTO COURTESY OF ZIMMERMANCLIPPER VIA CREATIVE COMMONS

3. Cap Juluca’s Pimms Restaurant offers ‘Eurobbean’ (European + Caribbean fusion) dining in a stunning setting.  Overlooking Maundays Bay, you can indulge in some of their famous entrees or try a range of  their inspired small plates. See their menu here.

Veya

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4. Located in Anguilla’s North Hill Village, Veya brings some Moroccan spice to the island’s restaurant scene. Unlike many restaurants that are serving up high-end local fare (think lobster, crayfish and goat), dining at Veya provides restaurant-goers a unique experience on the island with a setting that matches.

Oliver’s

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5. Located off of the main road, Oliver’s is a lesser-known (though equally delicious) gem. Offering a menu filled with local must-tries like Anguillan pea soup, marinated stingray, and fresh fish, Oliver’s location and charm keeping guests coming back for more.

Dolce Vita

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6. We gave you the run down on Dolce Vita in our most recent restaurant spotlight. A beachfront location, homemade Italian fare and fantastic service make Dolce Vita a natural choice for a romantic night out. Don’t forget to save room for dessert!

Hibernia

Hibernia

7. Hibernia is another high-end restaurant bringing a little ethnic flair to the table. Located on the east end of the island, Hibernia is serving up delicious fare infused with flavors of the Far East. You’ll find shiitake mushrooms, ginger, and kimchi on their Asian inspired menu.

Da ‘Vida

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8. The setting at Da ‘Vida is about as romantic as they come. Gorgeous beachfront dining in an elegant setting, this Anguillan-owned restaurant is doing it right. They have a top-notch dinner menu in addition to a range of inspired tapas for those looking to sample a range of flavors. See their menu here.

Straw Hat

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9. We’ve shown Straw Hat some love before in a restaurant spotlight and they certainly make our list of most romantic restaurants on the island. Their innovative cuisine is consistently stellar and their specials keep you running back for more. The white sands and the turquoise waters as the backdrop? Well, that’s just icing.

Barrel Stay

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10. Consistently regarded as a fantastic, romantic dinner spot, Barrel Stay is another Sandy Ground restaurant that’s making our top 10 list. The restaurant offers some local fare (the requisite crayfish and lobster) plus favorites like dug leg confit, foie gras and lamb.

What do you think is the most romantic restaurant on the island? Did your favorite make the list?

Restaurant Spotlight: Dolce Vita

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Italian food makes a splash in Anguilla

Guests often ask for restaurant recommendations. For most, the sheer quantity of high calibre restaurants on the island make this is a seriously tough question to answer. There are a few restaurants that constantly stay top of mind for me — all standouts for their own reasons — but arguments can surely be made for many of the restaurants on the island.

One of the places that never fails to make the recommendations list? Dolce Vita in Sandy Ground. I’ll be frank in prefacing this discussion: Italian isn’t one of my favorite cuisines. Unlike the majority of mankind, pizza and pasta rarely capture my interest. That being said, Dolce Vita’s take on traditional Italian cuisine leaves me wanting more.

The food itself is, without a doubt, divine. Housemade pastas, fresh seafood, and high quality inputs make their fare irresistible. Beyond that, though, there’s the ambiance, the service and the proprietor, Abbi Ibrahim, who keeps Dolce Vita buzzing with life.

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Their appetizer menu offers perfectly balanced options: pair light and refreshing tuna tartare or bruschetta with the decadent gorgonzola gnocchi and your table is guaranteed to be all smiles. My love for tuna tartare is often unparalleled, but the gnocchi is tres magnifique; a must-try even for the most discerning palates.

Their pastas, seafood and meat options offer something for everyone. Not a pasta fan? The branzino, which is deboned table side, gets rave reviews from frequenters of this Italian spot. If you’ve made reservations at Dolce Vita because you are an Italian enthusiast, you’re in good hands. One of their frequent specials allows you to choose crayfish or lobster with your choice of house made pasta. Other house favorites include their famous homemade lasagna (more like a decadent, melt-in-your-mouth soufflé), the seafood pasta, and the duck paparedelle.

After the bread, the wine, and the pasta, you’re probably thinking you’ll need to be rolled out of Sandy Ground. Well, be warned: the desserts and after dinner drinks will set your hearts aflame, so save room. Abbi, ever the showman, expertly makes Grand Marnier sizzle, and sets bananas flambé aflame table side (see the picture above).

Here’s a snapshot of their dinner menu to whet your palate:

Dolce Vita Menu

See their menus here.

Dolce Vita is open for dinner Monday through Saturday and offers a lunch menu Monday through Friday. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

Have you dined at Dolce Vita? What’s are your favorite menu items?

Restaurant Spotlight: Straw Hat Restaurant

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Beachfront dining on Meads Bay

I would be remiss to not discuss Straw Hat Restaurant in our restaurant highlights. Yes, Straw Hat sits on Frangipani property, but even if it didn’t, you could count me amongst the many in line to have an incredible meal with stunning views.

Perched ever-so-perfectly on Meads Bay, Straw Hat has managed to become the go-to for romantic dinners, family meals and corporate dining (just last week, the Subaru gang was there in force). While I, personally, have had my share of meals there à deux, I’ve also enjoyed meals with friends and with family in a setting that never disappoints.

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In terms of quality and innovation, Straw Hat has continued to up the ante. With their new chef, Nick Dellinger, taking the reigns in recent years, visitors have noticed some delicious new twists on their menu in the last year alone. Of course, their staples have continued to grace tables, but their new additions have not gone unnoticed. The ahi tuna banh mi and the big eye tuna flatbread (to name a couple of standouts) have introduced a fresh twist to the island’s typical lobster/crayfish/chicken medley.

If we’re talking service, Straw Hat has some of the best — if not the best — service on the island. A friendly, knowledgable (and efficient!) staff ensures that your cocktails are on the table and that your food is coursed out properly. Dining in Anguilla will certainly remind you that speediness is not always top of mind when you’re on island time, but Straw Hat’s management team seems to have emphasized the importance of timeliness when it comes to getting patrons’ meals on tables. I’m sure hungry diners around the world share my joy at that revelation.

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Here’s a bite of their dinner menu:

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Check out their full dinner menu here.

Straw Hat serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Reservations are strongly encouraged, especially during high season.

What are your must-tries at Straw Hat?


To stay up to speed on Straw Hat happenings, you can find them on Twitter @strawhataxa. Follow Chef Nick for a sneak peek of daily specials @chefngd.

Restaurant Spotlight: ‘A’ Burger

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Keeping it casual with budget-friendly island eats

Despite its small size, Anguilla is renowned as the culinary capital of the Caribbean. As tourists can attest, there’s no shortage of five-star options for foodies looking for their fix in the British West Indies. For many visitors, though, a mix of high-end dining and casual bites makes for the perfect blend during their getaway.

Enter ‘A’ Burger.

This casual island eatery sits in Lower South Hill and is the only traditional burger joint on the island. Serving up variations on burgers, hot dogs and fries (think sweet potato, garlic and cajun), visitors and locals alike pop in for an affordable meal. Not a meat-eater? ‘A’ Burger’s got you covered with gluten-free and vegetarian options.

Not entirely sure what to expect, we stopped in for a quick lunch, armed with about $30 in cash. With a fish burger, cheeseburger and an order of cajun fries to our name, I handed over $20 and some change for the entire meal. Naturally, you’re wondering if that $20 actually got us good food. The answer is a resounding yes! My fish burger was a switch-up from the traditional fish sandwich of the island; more like a zested up fishcake, perfect with a hearty dose of Rockfield Pepper Sauce. Our small order of cajun fries was plenty for the two of us to share, though they have large sizes available if you’re feeling extra hungry. All of their buns are baked fresh daily in Anguilla, burgers are ground fresh daily, their produce is locally sourced, and their fish is locally caught.

At first glance, it would seem that ‘A’ Burger’s business is probably equal parts dine in and take out, and their service is surprisingly fast by island standards. For visitors on the go, reservations are not required so pop in at your leisure.

A bite of their menu:

ABurger-Menu

To keep up to speed with ‘A’ Burger happenings, follow them on Twitter at @aiburger.