From grilled lobster to Cajun grouper and steamed snapper there are great dishes to enjoy on St Kitts – and, if you head to one of these local restaurants, at great prices, too
Sprat Net, Old Road
Fish and lobster don’t come any fresher than at this local-to-the-bone establishment in Old Road, the first British settlement in the Caribbean. That’s because the proprietors are among the island’s best-known fishermen, who decided in the mid-1990s that, rather than just sell their daily catch, they might as well cook it first. The result is a sprawling wooden structure right on the Caribbean waterfront, where you can watch your fish or lobster be cooked on large grills in an open kitchen. You eat at unpretentious wooden picnic tables; the crowd is predominantly local and decidedly lively, and there’s often live music on the menu, too. Prices are moderate.
• + 1869 466 7535 or +1869 661 1901
Sweet Cane, Basseterre
This unpretentious establishment is proof that good food, efficient service and consistency are the most important ingredients in a successful restaurant. With its eclectic and fairly ambitious menu, it would be easy for this Port Zante eatery to get a few things wrong – but not only have I never had a meal here that wasn’t excellent, I’ve never spoken to anyone who has. Which is a remarkable recommendation, given that Kittitians are appreciative of good food and don’t hesitate to say when a meal is not up to their high standards. Sweet Cane’s menu includes specials such as Cajun grouper, roast beef in red-wine sauce, shrimp penne pasta, excellent burgers, jerk chicken, lasagne, seafood gratinée and oxtail with garlic mashed potatoes. The decor is bright and cheerful, and the location – in the Basseterre cruise-ship complex – is convenient, if not particularly entrancing. Prices are moderate and value is outstanding.
• +1869 866 4305 or +1869 665 7628
Shiggidy Shack, The Strip
Located at the opposite end of The Strip to Buddies, Shiggidy Shack is right on the beach – you can sit with your feet in the sand at some tables – and is one of the longest-established of the popular bars jostling for business. A traditional gathering place for the St Kitts expat crowd, and also popular with tourists staying at nearby hotels, Shiggidy Shack has a menu heavy on seafood straight off the grill, with lobster and excellent fish burgers its star attractions. Among the others are live entertainment and karaoke nights – and, yes, reasonable prices.
• +1869-465-0673 or +1869-762-3983, mrxshiggidyshack.com
Buddies Beach Hut, The Strip
The biggest establishment on The Strip – a line of beachfront watering holes that stretch the length of Frigate Bay South – Buddies offers an ambitious and well-executed menu that includes ribs, chicken, lobster, fish and burgers. These are all cooked with Caribbean flair and served with excellent rice or fries, and (a bonus here) beautifully crisp vegetables. Again, the crowd is largely local and lively, particularly on Friday evenings, when the downstairs bar is sure to be hopping – and the upstairs dancefloor even more so. Prices are moderate … and if this is starting to sound repetitive, that’s deliberate: St Kitts has an assortment of upmarket restaurants with tabs to match, but the 10 recommended here are all reasonably priced and offer good value for money.
• +1869 465 2839
Jam Rock Restaurant and Beach Bar, South Friars
We’re still on the beach, but this time at South Friars, just after the first major hill on the south-east peninsula highway, heading south from Frigate Bay. Jam Rock is a comparatively recent addition to the growing array of bars and restaurants on the island’s most popular beach. It is a Jamaican-owned establishment and the menu offers a variety of JA specialities, among them jerk pork and chicken. But the hands-down winner is their succulent fillet of grouper smothered in a delectably creamy sauce – it might not be authentically Caribbean, but contented regulars choose it time after time.
• +1869 469 1608
Sunset Beach Bar, South Friars
We’re heading back to South Friars and one of the longest-established beach operations on the island. The current incarnation of the Sunset is down the beach from the original location, now occupied by the swish Carambola restaurant, but owner-chef Olivia is still at the helm, and still delivering authentic local food and Caribbean hospitality. Sunset veers away from the usual beach-bar grilled staples with a limited menu of home-cooked stewed chicken or steamed fish served with peas and rice. Prices? On the low side of moderate.
Rituals Sushi, Frigate Bay North
A sushi restaurant in St Kitts? Not so long ago, you’d have been laughed off the island if you suggested it, but the recently opened Rituals Sushi – opposite the Frigate Bay golf course, in the middle of a string of touristy restaurants – is the real deal. The chefs know what they’re about, whether it’s the excellent sushi they’re preparing or an interesting selection of mainly Japanese dishes. The kimono-clad waitresses are friendly and efficient, and you have the choice of eating on a pleasant patio or in the elegant, Asian-themed interior. Prices are on the high side of moderate, but it is excellent value given the quality and consistency Rituals Sushi delivers.
• +1869 466 0161
PJ’s Bar and Restaurant, Frigate Bay North
A Kittitian institution, PJ’s was in business long before most of the restaurant owners on Frigate Bay North had even heard of St Kitts, much less opened their doors. Owners Pat and Jude shut up shop for a couple of years, but decided to reopen earlier this year. Their return was warmly welcomed by a legion of local regulars, who had missed propping up the bar at the front of the restaurant, and they are often joined by tourists from the nearby Marriott hotel. Pizzas are front and centre of PJ’s menu, along with a selection of mainly Italian-themed dishes. Prices are a shade on the high side of moderate.
• +1869 465 8373
Bombay Blues, Frigate Bay North
Consistently excellent, authentic Indian food – in pleasant surroundings overlooking the golf course on Frigate Bay North – makes Bombay Blues a favourite with food-savvy locals. I’ve never heard an uncomplimentary word about the food or the service. The menu is standard Indian fare, with a wide selection of curries, tandoori offerings, breads and vegetarian dishes, but these are impeccably executed, with discerning use of seasonings and spices. A la carte prices are excellent value on the high side of moderate, while the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffet is a terrific deal at a shade under £10.
• +1869 466 0166 or +1869 662 7599
El Fredo’s Restaurant and Bar, Basseterre
A lunchtime favourite with the Basseterre business crowd, El Fredo’s is a cosy hideaway oozing Caribbean charm and chic. The menu is strictly local, with offerings such as stewed conch, goat water stew (a much-loved St Kitts and Nevis Saturday treat), fried or steamed snapper, stewed oxtail, pigtail soup and jerk chicken. And, as they say in St Kitts, the food bang good. The background reggae is a welcome bonus and it’s virtually impossible not to be drawn into conversation with Kittitians lingering over a post-lunch rum or Carib. Hang a left at the foot of Fort Street, Basseterre’s main drag, and El Fredo’s is a short stroll along the Bay Road waterfront. Prices? You guessed right – moderate.
• +1869 466 8871 or +1869 764 9228
Note, opening and closing hours of many St Kitts’ restaurants can vary widely and change often, depending on the season. Not to worry … if one door is closed, another’s sure to be open
Juan Gonzalez is a freelance writer who has travelled throughout the Caribbean over the past three decades, reporting on the region for a number of magazines and newspapers