Island food that will make your taste buds go crazy.
Traveling to St. John in the Virgin Islands? Searching for that perfect bite of seafood or a killer, refreshing drink? My family has always loved St. John—its hospitality, relaxing but upbeat atmosphere, and beaches that look like they popped right out of a postcard. But the food and drinks, let me tell you, are out of this world. From Jamaican to Mexican to Caribbean food and everything in between, St. John will surely leave your mouth watering for more tasty treats and rich dishes all across the island.
Look to this list to find the best of the best cuisine from a true St. John vacationer, one who had a very difficult time narrowing down these restaurants (me!)
OCEAN 362 – From Island to Table Cuisine – $$$$
Have you ever had one of those meals that you instantly knew to be one of the best meals in your entire life? I do not say this lightly: Ocean 362’s food is in my top 5 meals I’ve ever ate. Not kidding.
Ocean 362 is based on the notion to modernize “island to table” style cuisine in the heart of Cruz Bay. You will clearly see executive chef Caitlyn Shepherd’s culinary passion and dedication to finding sustainably sourced and exquisite ingredients, whether she’s diving for lobsters or gathering salt from local salt ponds. Her dishes not only present a feast for the eyes but also for the soul.
I had the lemon chicken with arugula, fire roasted red pepper risotto, and sweet corn relish. Life. Changing. The skin of the chicken was slightly crispy with the perfect amount of kick in its savory seasoning while still being slightly sweet. When chefs on Food Network talk about texture in a dish, Ocean 362 knocks texture out of the park. The chicken was so tender but the corn relish gave a thicker texture, adding multiple layers to the dish. And the risotto? Some of the creamiest risotto I’ve ever tasted, and I studied abroad in Italy for a semester. I could eat an entire pot of this red pepper risotto every night for dinner.
My dad also tried the soup du jour, which was a seafood chowder. One taste from that spoon and I knew there was no going back—this rich, seafood chowder was to die for. And a good amount of chowder for a $9.00 appetizer, which each of us got to taste.
Caramel apple beignets? With ice cream and cinnamon? Dessert wasn’t too bad . . . It almost made me scream in my seat. I think some of the other diners looked at me, but that’s okay. Hey, the food was that good. Not to mention that you’re sitting on a balcony with the breeze blowing and a view overlooking the ocean at sunset. Not too shabby.
Although this restaurant is expensive, a little extra money is worth it—you’ll remember this meal. My family is still talking about what we ate here. This was our “splurge meal,” and we don’t regret it one bit. Make sure to look your best, too; the atmosphere is more fancy than casual.
If you want a meal that will seriously change how you think of food and the limits of seasoning, depth of flavor, and overall balance, book a reservation at Ocean 362, especially for the last meal of your trip to St. John.
ST. JOHN SCOOPS – For Fun In The Sun Ice Cream – $$
The first thing the menu reads is, “Ice cream made with love, not chemicals!”
When you taste St. John Scoops, right away you will realize you are eating real fruit ice cream. From mango to guava to passionfruit, St. John Scoops has every possible flavor. Some of the best ice creams we tried include the salted caramel flavor as well as the beaches and cream flavor: a spin on peaches and cream with crushed graham cracker and homemade waffle cones. This ice cream tastes unlike any other you’ll find in an ice cream shop or grocery store and is truly refreshing after a hot day at the beach.
St. John Scoops changes their flavors daily, so be sure to check out their updated Facebook page for what flavor you’re craving.
GREENGOS – Hearty & Refreshing Mexican Food – $$
A play on the word “Gringo,” Greengos was created by the “gringo” owner and chef Elizabeth who aims to be environmentally conscious with “going green.” If you choose to do takeout instead of sit-down, all takeout food is packaged in biodegradable materials with glasses made from recycled materials. Not only will your meal be delicious, but your environmental footprint will be lessened.
Greengos imports spices and chilis from the Sonoran Desert region, paying close attention to quality and flavor. Meats are slow-roasted in the kitchen and salsas/sauces are made in-house daily. The types of food include the typical Mexican cuisine with taquitos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, and burritos. They also have dishes like pan roasted jumbo shrimp with spicy tomato chorizo rice, spinach salads with sweet corn and agave lime vinaigrette, and cantina bowls with your choice of protein atop cilantro rice.
One thing you’ll notice right when you walk into Greengos is the towering tequila bar selection with a giant library ladder. Greengos has the largest 100% Agave Tequila selection in all of the Caribbean. They’re open for lunch or dinner, so you’ll be able to dip those chips in homemade salsa whatever time suits you best.
While we were here we watched the women’s World Cup in the background, so it’s a great spot if you need to catch up on a game. Greengos also has murals featuring work from the artist Lalo Cota. You’ll be looking all around you as you eat, admiring the creativity on the walls and all the star lights shining up above.
Drink to get: Bushwacker
This drink is extremely famous on the island of St. John with rum, amaretto, Irish cream, crème de cocao, coffee liqueur, and coconut cream blended and topped with the secret ingredient: nutmeg. Greengos also has many types of margaritas, from sweet, spicy, or sour.
THE LONGBOARD – Seafood & Small Bites Straight Out of the Sea – $$
The Longboard is a “Caribbean-inspired coastal cantina,” and all of its food is fresh with a foundation based on local ingredients. This atmosphere is more laid back and casual, so it’s fine to wear shorts and a t-shirt if you decide to eat here. They also sell hats, koozies, t-shirts, onesies, keychains, water bottles, and cute little bumper stickers. Definitely great souvenirs to take home. The Longboard helped feed many locals and workers on the island after the two hurricanes hit a couple years ago, so it is well known for its welcoming staff who truly care about others.
My family went to The Longboard on our last vacation twice, and we definitely would’ve gone a third time if we had the time. Although I’m not a fan of raw fish, I decided to be adventurous and try the fresh fish poke bowl with sushi rice, mango, papaya, pineapple, avocado, sweet & spicy soy, spicy aioli, and local microgreens. It was incredible; I was surprised at how fresh the fish was and how the fruit balanced the dish. The Longboard also has many sushi wraps with salmon, spicy ahi tuna, and tempura fried shrimp served with house-made teriyaki sauce.
Some of my family’s favorite dishes include:
- Longboard Sliders: A classic. We’ve ordered them about five times now. Coconut crusted daily catch, cilantro lime tartar, grilled pineapple, pico, sriracha, jack cheddar cheese, and micro arugula on a house-made Hawaiian roll. Comes with 2, 4, or 6 sliders. You pick.
- Mango Pepper Quesadilla: Fire roasted peppers, mango, black beans, pico de gallo, feta cheese, jack cheddar cheese, and lime sour crema. A taste bud explosion waiting to happen.
- Caribbean Summer Roll: The best combination of ingredients on this planet. Garlic-chili seared shrimp, napa cabbage, carrots, bibb lettuce, cilantro, thai basil, mint, and chili hoison peanut dipping sauce.
Drink to get: Frozen Painkiller
This drink is very popular in the Caribbean with dark rum, pineapple, orange juice, and coconut cream served over ice and topped with fresh grated nutmeg.
You know what’s even better? From 3-6 pm you can enjoy drinks for less, with $6 frozen painkillers, $1 off beers, and $7 vintage and house-shaped cocktails. Head to The Longboard for some surfer-friendly food and seafood bites!
THE TERRACE – “Savory” Is Its Middle Name – $$$$
The Terrace has French-influenced dishes that could be described by sophistication and refinement. They have a huge wine list (over 130 kinds) and many rustic ingredients in their dishes. The view is beautiful right next to the ocean (similar to Ocean 362).
We had never eaten here before and now want to go back. Many of us tried the Terrace’s classic baked macaroni & cheese with panko breadcrumbs, parmesan, truffle oil, and garlic herb shrimp. You definitely get your money’s worth here, as we had many leftovers to eat the next day with the large portion sizes. The mac and cheese was so rich with a crispy topping and buttery inside. The shrimp were grilled perfectly, not being too overdone or chewy. It was a well-balanced dish which left us all full and happy.
The Terrace has everything from sautéed mahi mahi to black angus flank steak & frites to rack of lamb with a sweet potato gratin. Desserts range from espresso-orange panna cotta parfait to apple butter crepes to fresh berry pie; you’re sure to find something you enjoy.
So if you’re in search for a rich, savory meal on the edge of the ocean, stop by The Terrace for a meal that truly tastes like paradise.