So you’ve booked your BVI holiday and you have a precious couple of weeks exploring the islands, but where should you be eating? The gastronomic scene has changed quite a bit post-Irma but, worry not, I’ve got you covered!
Below is my BVI restaurant guide, showcasing the BVIs finest dining establishments and offering my tips on which venues you should be eating at (and for which occasion…)
For A Group – CocoMaya, Virgin Gorda (+1 284 495 6344) ($$$)
A stunning beachfront location with delicious tapas-style sharing plates and an inventive cocktail menu makes for the perfect setting for dinner with friends. Enjoy a taste of everything! Get there for in time for sunset by the fire pit and make sure you have a turn on the swings.
Eat: the duck soft shell tacos, the beef short ribs and the dulce de leche cheesecake
Drink: elderflower and jalapeño margaritas
For Brunch – The Tamarind Club, Tortola (+1 284 495 2477) ($$)
Family-friendly restaurant serving hearty Southern breakfast favourites with pint-sized mimosas, live music and a pool with a swim-up bar. Pretty much the perfect way to spend a Sunday. Bonus: it’s dog friendly, bring your own or pet someone else’s.
Eat: the shrimp and grits or one of their many variations on an eggs benny.
Drink: grande mimosas
EDIT: All of the above remains true post-Irma, save for mention of the pool… The Tamarind pool has no water in it and looks like it will remain that way for some time! The whole pool area is out of bounds, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a damn fine venue for Sunday brunch! Make sure you bring cash – they no longer accept credit cards.
For Dinner with the one you love – Brandywine Estate Restaurant, Tortola (+1 284 495 2301) ($$$)
Start with cocktails on the terrace and enjoy views of neighboring islands across the channel as the sun sets – move into the restaurant to enjoy superb French cuisine on crisp white linens by candlelight with friendly service and finish your evening with coffees and digestifs in the garden, a game of pétanque and (hopefully) a kiss.
Eat: the oysters, the duck starter three ways and the classic steak frites
EDIT: Sadly Brandywine was almost completely destroyed during the hurricane and faces an extensive rebuild and an exciting new look. But it’s not all bad news… Introducing ‘The Rooftop by Brandywine’ (opened May 2018) a gorgeous rooftop location (the clue was in the name) right in the middle of Road Town. Now more of a happening lunch spot and the ideal place for a happy hour drink and snack. Serving tasty tapas dishes alongside many of their old favourites, fans can still get their fix while we wait for the new and improved Brandywine Estate Restaurant (re-opening date will be posted here just as soon as it is announced). Contact details remain the same.
Photo credit: E. Linsley
For A Sunday Funday – Saba Rock, North Sound (+1 284 495 9966) ($$)
Enjoy the 7-minute boat ride from Gun Creek over to Saba Rock Resort (ferries run at 45 minutes past the hour) and enjoy a laid-back lunch with gorgeous views of the North Sound and all the kite-boarders zipping across. Stay to watch the tarpon feeding at happy hour and make sure to check out the gift shop before you leave.
Eat: the lobster and cheese panini
Drink: the Rock Saba Mule in their signature engraved copper mug
EDIT: Unfortunately Saba Rock was damaged during Hurricane Irma and remains closed until further notice – there are rumours of redevelopment and a very tentative whisper of a December 2018 re-opening, I will update you, as and when they get confirmed.
For a Special Day Out – Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda (email@example.com) ($$$)
For a pampered day full of great food, cocktails and lounging by the pool, it doesn’t get much better than time spent at Oil Nut Bay. Email them to organise a reservation and your boat pick-up from Gun Creek before heading over to enjoy their beautiful resort, attentive service and tasty treats. Oil Nut Bay has only recently started accepting reservations for outside guests, so you should make the most of it. It is well worth the trip!
Eat: The Off the Cliff Burger, the Oil Nut Bay Pizza, or the Lobster Salad (or split them with a friend)
Drink: The Pineapple Pimms Cup (it has pieces of rum soaked pineapple in it that really pack a punch)
Photos by The Barefoot Angel
For a Special Occasion – The Treehouse, Virgin Gorda (+1 284 495 5482) ($$$$)
For a semi-private dining experience (up in the trees) with a unique ambiance head straight to the Treehouse on Virgin Gorda. With pretty views over the twinkling lights in Spanish town marina and beyond, the little wooden treehouse with its charming vaulted ceiling and intimate feel seats only 24 diners and serves exceptional Italian food.
Eat: seared scallop starter and the stuffed veal chop
Drink: espresso martinis
EDIT: Due to damage suffered during Hurricane Irma, the Treehouse is closed until further notice. Any update from the team at the Treehouse will be posted here.
For Lunch with a View – Hogs Heaven, Virgin Gorda (+1 284 547 5964) ($$)
Perched in the hills overlooking the North Sound and reopened in May 2018, Hogs Heaven enjoys some of the most spectacular views of Leverick Bay, Necker, Moskito, Prickly Pear and Eustatia – and on clear days you can see all the way to Anegada. Super breezy (and often quite chilly) HH makes for the most picturesque lunch spot. Known for their ribs with a (phenomenal) sticky BBQ, ginger glaze – enjoy them with creamy coleslaw and fried plantain.
Eat: the ribs
Drink: the frozen rum smoothies
For Authentic Caribbean Food – D’Coal Pot, Tortola (+1 284 495 4998) ($$)
Head out West along the coast road to find D’Coal Pot (next to Sebastian’s). With a quiet courtyard and casual feel, D’Coal Pot serves up the best authentic West Indian fare.
Eat: the shrimp roti or the jerk steak
Drink: rum punch
EDIT: D’Coal Pot is now at their new waterside location in Carrot Bay, Tortola.
For the Best Pizza – The Watering Hole, Tortola (on Friday nights) (+1 284 346 5950) ($$)
Paper thin and perfectly crispy bases topped with wonderfully creative combinations (if you’re looking for a ham and pineapple pizza you’re sh*t out of luck, heathen!)* are turned out quickly for the hungry happy hour masses on a Friday evening at the Watering Hole. Right in the middle of town and walking distance from everyone’s offices this place can get hot and heaving but is totally worth it! Get there around 5pm in order to grab a seat.
Eat: the Piggly Wiggly
Drink: whatever you want – it’s Friday night!
For a Breakfast Buffet – Bitter End Yacht Club, North Sound (+1 284 494 2746) ($$$)
As an occasional treat I’ve been known to visit the Sunday buffet at the Clubhouse Restaurant at BEYC. Catch the boat from Gun Creek (boats leave at half past the hour) and spend a couple of hours feasting on their bountiful brunch buffet with a range of options, from salads, cheese and cold cuts, through the breakfast favourites and finishing with a selection of desserts, all for $45 including mimosas.
Eat: all of it…
Drink: bottomless mimosas
EDIT: Bitter End Yacht Club suffered catastrophic damage during Hurricane Irma – there is no word yet on when rebuilding might start on the property and it remains closed until further notice.
For a Completely Unique Evening – The North Shore Shell Museum, Tortola (+1 284 495 4714) ($$)
Find the North Shore Shell Museum tucked away in Carrot Bay, but ensure you call ahead and make a reservation (or else they won’t be open.) Go upstairs and check out the shells and then go down to enjoy your dinner complete with live fungi music – pick your instrument (I like to play the washboard bass or the TV, myself) and immerse yourself in a one-of-a-kind Caribbean experience, ideal for the more adventurous traveler.
Eat: whatever they’re serving that night, menu changes daily
Drink: soursop daiquiris
EDIT: The North Shore Shell Museum does not appear to be open currently – more information will be posted as soon as I can get an update.
For lunch on Jost – One Love, Jost van Dyke ($$)
When you first arrive on the pristine shores of White Bay it is very tempting to head straight to Soggy Dollar (indeed you should for your first Painkiller) and camp out there for the afternoon. But, when lunch time comes and you find yourself getting peckish, I urge you to wander away from the crowds and down the beach to One Love. For the freshest seafood (and when you go out back and see the catch you’ll know what I mean), the best value lobster** and rum drinks as strong as you can handle (they’ll sometimes let you pour it yourself) One Love is hard to beat. The eclectic decor and live music is a bonus.
Top tip: Ask the bartender for a magic trick – the slight of hand is impressive.
Eat: the shrimp or lobster** quesadilla
Drink: all of the rum
For Dinner with a Show – The Island Last Resort, Beef Island (+1 284 394 0100) ($$$)
Just off of Trellis Bay sits Bellamy Cay and the Island Last Resort. Dinghy over from your boat (or call theirs from the dock and they’ll come to collect you) and get ready for great food with quite the unusual show. Go on Wednesday evenings for ‘Wild Wednesday’ with Al and Troy, expect audience participation (and tequila shots), fire dancers, hermit crab racing, bonfires, great cocktails and good food.
Eat: the curry, coconut mussels
Drink: a mojito (and a tequila shot after you join Al on stage)
EDIT: Following damage due to Hurricane Irma – the Island Last Resort is closed until further notice. No information has been given as to whether or not the restaurant will be rebuilt.
For Friday Night in Town – Cabernet, Tortola (+1 284 494 8660) ($$$)
Almost directly across from the ferry dock and smack-bang in the middle of town is Cabernet. Popular for lunch, happy hour and in the evenings Cabernet has you covered. They have a beer garden vibe with picnic tables and palm trees outside and casual table service inside. Much of the food is grilled outside on their big oil drum BBQs so expect to start feeling hungry as soon as they start cooking.
Eat: the escargot and the croque madame
Drink: the huge selection of IPAs
EDIT: Cabernet suffered damage due to Hurricane Irma and has not yet been rebuilt, although I have spotted works starting… Any update as to when it will re-open will be posted here as soon as I hear more.
For a Meal out on the Water – The Willy-T, Peter Island (+1 284 340 8603) ($$)
Following irreparable damage to their old boat during Hurricane Irma – the Willy-T is finally back! Bigger and better than ever (re-opened June 2nd 2018) and now floating at their new mooring at Peter Island’s Great Harbour. If you’ve ever visited the BVI, or even researched it as a holiday destination, I am sure that the Willy-T needs little to no introduction…
Eat: the catch of the day (the Willy-T gets the freshest fish from the fishermen on their way home, or caught by owner Ewan himself)
Drink: the shotski…
Photo by The Barefoot Angel (This is an extremely old picture on the old Willy-T, but you get the idea…)
For the Best Burger – Corsairs, Jost Van Dyke (+1 284 495 9294) ($$)
Re-opened since the hurricane in May 2018, and looking a little bit different, in their brand new building Corsairs is back! Still home to strong drinks and damn good food, be sure to pay them a visit when coming over to Jost Van Dyke. I certainly will be, just as soon as I can! Find my more comprehensive review of Corsairs here.
Photo by The Barefoot Angel
For all the Rum… (and some tasty food too) – Cooper Island Beach Club and Cooper Island Rum Bar (+1 284 345 6725) ($$$)
Calling all sailors… Set in a beautiful eco-resort on Cooper Island you’ll find a rum bar stocking enough different rums to suit all pirate tastes. Choose your libation from a huge menu of rums from around the globe, sit and learn all about them from the experienced and informative bar staff. But it’s not just the rum! Cooper Island Beach Club also makes all its own beer and the restaurant serves up fantastic meals. There is something for everyone.
Eat: the fish and chips
Drink: the rum (obviously…)
Photos by The Barefoot Angel
There are so many great restaurants in the Territory and I know that you’re going to have a fantastic trip, but these are just a few of my hand-picked favourites.
While I appreciate that most people don’t plan entire trips around their restaurant reservations in quite the same way that I do – hopefully my tips still prove helpful. I will be working hard to keep this post updated, as and when restaurants re-open following the hurricane.
Whew, that was a long post! Any that you feel I’ve overlooked?
* I have really strong opinions about pineapple on pizza which I refuse to apologise for…
**fresh lobster available in season.
All images sourced from their respective restaurants unless otherwise specified.