Le Bistro at Santorini at CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa
This AAA four-diamond restaurant serves Mediterranean classics with a modern twist in a Pallazzo-like setting with grand arched windows, sconce lighting fixtures, and pink tablecloths. Signature dishes include steak tartare prepared tableside and grilled whole snapper and other seafoods. The wine stewards are brilliant at pairing each dish with the very right bottling. (Rendezvous Bay; 264-498-2000; cuisinartresort.com)
This elegant, open-air restaurant set in a garden by the beach has been named a Fodor’s Choice selection. One of New York City-born chef Melinda Blanchard’s signature dishes is the Caribbean sampler featuring oven-crisped mahi-mahi with coconut, lime and ginger, and grilled Anguilla crayfish with citrus sauce. The braised lamb shanks are pretty fabulous, too, as are desserts like Blanchard’s dark chocolate in a coconut-shaped shell containing homemade coconut ice cream topped with Bailey’s Irish Cream. FYI: Blanchard’s also operates a casual sister restaurant, Blanchard’s Beach Bar. (Mead’s Bay at the southwest end of Long Bay Village; 264- 497-6100; blanchardsrestaurant.com)
Coba at Viceroy Anguilla
An open-air restaurant overlooking Barnes and Meads Bay, Coba is a showcase for English chef Cliff Denny’s mastery over traditional, hearty favorites. Fresh grilled fish is served with a choice of sauces (bearnaise, peppercorn, shallot red wine demi, chimichurri or caper butter), and the tender braised short rib with a shiraz sauce is the apotheosis of beef. (Viceroy Anguilla; 264-497-7000; viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/anguilla/dining_and_nightlife/restaurants/coba)
Da’Vida Restaurant & Spa
A beachfront complex that includes Wine Spectator award-winning Da’Vida, the less formal Bayside Grill, and a spa, Da’Vida pretty much does it all. In the restaurant’s large, open-to-the-breezes space, diners enjoy fusion dishes like blackened Fiji shrimp with pumpkin fritter, gingered spinach, peanuts, noodles, and coconut sauce, or jerked pork tenderloin with polenta and mango salad. Bayside Grill serves more casual meals, including tapas. (Crocus Bay; 264-498-5433; davidaanguilla.com)
Hibernia Restaurant & Art Gallery
Adventurous cuisine amid owners Mary and Raoul Pat’s Asian art collection in a restaurant on the hill above Island Harbour. Signature dishes include wahoo marinated in ginger and mild chilies with fresh, oven-dried, and preserved vegetables, and grilled Perigord duck breast with three purees: pumpkin-almond, cassava-coconut, and Aubergine-sesame. World-class wine cellar, too. (Island Harbour; 264-497-4290; hiberniarestaurant.com)
Mango’s Seaside Grill
An open-air restaurant in Barnes Bay, Mango’s has some meat-based entrees, but its specialty is seafood dishes like the brazero lobster that’s blackened with the chef’s secret blend of spices. Good wine list, too. Clients should save room for dessert; the coconut cheese cake and the mango ginger creme brulee are the signature dishes. (Barnes Bay; 264-497-6479; mangosseasidegrill.com)
Owned by an Anguillian who started out washing dishes at Malliouhana, Tasty’s serves carefully prepared Anguillian cuisine in a classic lavender building with lime-green trim. Chef Dale Carty’s grandma’s stew chicken, Nan’s conch Creole with coconut dumplings, West Indian curry goat, and his signature warm seafood salad—this is the real thing, only better. (Main Road, South Hill; 264-497-2737; tastysrestaurant.com)
The Pennsylvania-born owners of this handsome restaurant with vaulted wood ceilings, comfortable armchairs, polished wood floors, and warm lighting offer creative fusion dishes that use local as well as imported ingredients. Signature dishes include Moroccan spiced shrimp cigars with roasted tomato charmoula and grilled jerk spiced tuna with a rum coffee glaze. There’s live music Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. (Behind the Anguilla Garden Centre in Sandy Ground; 264-498-8392; veya-axa.com)
Beach Restaurants & Bars
For a small island with so many sophisticated and cosmopolitan restaurants, Anguilla also has a surprising number of informal beach restaurants, most—not all—of which serve Caribbean food. These places are deservedly legendary: they sit right on Anguilla’s inimitable snow-white sand, serve as congenial meeting places for locals and visitors, cook food that’s bursting with flavors (and authenticity), hire generous and friendly bartenders, and often have music that makes everybody want to dance. P.S. Here’s a fun fact: 60 of Anguilla’s 100 or so restaurants are on the waterfront.
The Dune Preserve
One of the most singular and beloved beach restaurants/bars in the entire Caribbean, The Dune Preserve occupies a 2-acre stretch of Rendezvous Bay Beach. Owned and managed by a bona fide international recording artist, reggae star Bankie Banx, it started out as Banx’s own beach house, to which he has added and added over the years, using driftwood, pieces of shipwrecked boats, and whatever else turned up. The bar is open seven days a week until sunset (Anguillans party in daylight as much as, if not more than, at night), and there’s live music at least four days a week: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The menu features local dishes like lobster, ribs and snapper, and the signature drink, a ginger-flavored cocktail called Duneshine. P.S. The Dune Preserve produces Moonsplash, an international music festival in March, too. (Rendezvous Bay Beach between the CuisinArt Resort beach and the golf course; 264-729-4215; bankiebanx.net/restaurant.html)
Firefly at Anacaona Boutique Hotel
This white-tablecloth establishment straddles the line between fine and casual dining. Firefly has a covering but no walls so diners can view the pool and gardens, which are artfully lit in the evening. Firefly’s kitchen serves Caribbean and fusion cuisine, with entrees like Dog Island curried goat, Mama Paul’s tuna tartare, Sue’s Asian-spiced pork chop, chicken Francaise…. Good bar snacks, too, and the Thursday evening Mayoumba Folkloric Dinner Theatre & Dancing shouldn’t be missed. (Meads Bay; 264-497-6827; anacaonahotel.com/fireflyrestaurant)
Flavours Restaurant at La Vue Boutique Inn
From the wicker tables with sleek glass tops in this high-ceiling, open-wall space, patrons can see the Caribbean in one direction, and the magic show known as an open kitchen in the other. Flavours specializes in innovative local and Caribbean dishes like Flavours pepper pot with locally caught fish and ground coconut dumplings, and soft-baked ribs in jerk seasoning. Very reasonable prices, too. (Back Street, South Hill; 264-497-6623; lavueanguilla.com/flavours-restaurant)
Gwen’s Reggae Bar
A popular and authentic little place with green tables and chairs in the sand and almost in the water, Gwen’s serves up ribs, crayfish, moist snapper sandwiches, crispy fries, and cole slaw that really ought to be patent. This is real down-home cooking, and on Sundays, when there’s music, locals and tourists dance together and have a rum punch or two or four. (The end of the road at East Shoal Bay.)
Jacala Beach Restaurant
Among beach restaurants, this one is a different kettle of poisson. Maitre d’ Jacques and chef Alain (ah, so that’s where they got that name) serve French bistro cuisine in an elegantly casual setting. The steak tartare is as good as it gets—anywhere—and the whole grilled snapper, decorated as it is with asparagus stalks almost as delicate as haricot vert, is “magnifique.” Ditto, Jacala’s signature pot au chocolat. The bottom line: If Jacala hadn’t chosen the term “beach restaurant” for its name, it could just as well fit in with the island’s other fine dining establishments. (Meads Bay; 264-498-5888)
Johnno’s Beach Stop
This legendary restaurant/bar has catered to, and entertained everyone from local workers to international celebrities for 30 years. Fine beach, snorkeling, grilled seafood (especially the snapper) that’s spiced just right, a rockin’ bar, gotta-dance bands, and wonderful jazz musicians on Sundays. (Sandy Ground Village; 264-497-2728)
Johnno’s AT Prickly Pear
Anchoring an unpopulated island north of Anguilla, this second Johnno’s offers the same combination of sea, seafood, cold drinks, and hot bands as well as snorkeling gear, beach chairs and beach umbrellas. Popular with people staying on St. Maarten/Martin as well as yachties and visitors staying in Anguilla, the best days to visit (weather permitting) are Tuesdays and Thursdays. Johnno’s Prickly Pear also hosts private parties/charters. (264-497-2728; johnnosatpricklypear.com)
The island looks like one of those flyspecks on a desert island cartoon, yet people end up spending entire afternoons here. Upon arriving via shuttle boat from Sandy Ground, they stretch out on the cool white sands, do some snorkeling, and then tuck into lunch. Never skip the appetizers here, especially the bite-sized fish traps (grilled flatbread stuffed with fish in a creamy curry dressing) and the fire coral shrimp with scotch bonnet peppers and ginger. Signature drinks are high tide and JoJo’s rum punch, and for dessert there’s sunshine cake with fruit and Cointreau. Reservations not required except in September and October. Sandy Island hosts private events, too. (Sea shuttle trips from the pier in Sandy Ground begin at 10 a.m. 264-476-6534; mysandyisland.com)
This is another one of those desert-island beach bars where you make a day of it. The cay lies just a couple of hundred yards from Island Harbour, from which patrons can flag down the small boat zipping back and forth to Scilly Cay. Visitors usually go snorkeling off the beach, then dig into grilled lobster, crayfish, and chicken with fresh fruit and Eudoxie’s legendary rum punch, which leads to a lot of dancing. Wednesdays and Sundays only. (The boat leaves from Island Harbour; 264-497-5123; scillycayanguilla.com/restaurant.html)
Smokey’s at the Cove
With its sturdy, sky-blue building and its matching indoor/outdoor furniture, this is no makeshift beach shack. Located on a sugar-sand cove and open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, Smokey’s serves the classics—grilled lobster and snapper, spicy chicken and ribs—and offers an extensive bar menu. Live bands play Fridays through Wednesdays, and everybody dances. (Cove Bay; 264-497-6582; smokeysatthecove.com)
Straw Hat at Frangipani Resort
Formerly at Forest Bay, near the airport, Straw Hat relocated and expanded in 2013 to the storybook sands of Mead’s Bay. Because the restaurant is now associated with a resort, this beach restaurant serves three meals a day and even has a kids’ menu. The food is mostly refined Caribbean—boneless curried goat with mango-studded coconut rice cake—but there are also some international dishes, such as the grilled tofu and vegetable paella. (Frangipani Resort at Mead’s Bay; 264-497-8300; strawhat.com)
Uncle Ernie’s Beach Bar
Both locals and visitors have been stopping by Uncle Ernie’s for about four decades now, and for good reason. Or, rather, reasons: (1) It’s smack on Shoal Bay, one of the great beaches of the world. (2) The London Times has said that Uncle Ernie’s serves “the best ribs this side of Memphis,” and he does. (3) Uncle Ernie’s also delivers, as correctly noted on the website, “the cheapest beer on the island and Uncle Ernie’s special rum punch.” Uncle Ernie’s is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, with live music on Sundays, and it’s tempting to just keep things simple: go there every day at noon, and spend the entire afternoon joyfully commuting between the restaurant and the reef. (Shoal Bay; 264-497-3907; uncleerniesbeachbar.com)
Food Trucks and BBQ Stands
Street food, which mostly (again, not entirely) means down-home Caribbean food is an art form in Anguilla. For example:
◆ Hungry’s Good Food: Because it’s associated with the restaurant of the same name, this green truck actually has a phone number and a website (264-235-8907; hungrysgoodfood.com). Hungry’s serves some unusual items, too, including succulent quesadillas and conch soup (recently proclaimed the best in the Caribbean, so by extension, the world!).
◆ Papa Lash’s Food Van: The plantation sandwich featuring whole wheat pita bread and tofu makes you vegan for a day.
◆ Oreille’s Food Truck, Rawley’s Food Van, and Slyco’s Food Van, all in The Valley: These food trucks serve the classics—barbecued chicken, ribs, oxtail, pork chops—plus some salads for variety.
◆ Ken’s Ribs and Chicken: This BBQ stand in The Valley delivers as advertised.
◆ Big Jim’s: Located at Blowing Point, near the ferry, Big Jim’s BBQ serves as a tasty introduction to roadside eating in Anguilla.
◆ Mabel Gumbs: Gumbs’ stand stands out in The Valley for its corn soup, which bears little resemblance to North American corn soups. Go early on a Saturday morning, and microwave it later or eat it on the spot for breakfast.
◆ B & D’s: This BBQ stand on the western tip of Anguilla gets a lot of repeat business from visitors staying in the area’s great hotels and villas.
◆ Valley’s BBQ: Valley’s is located roadside in South Hill, and backs up its claim to serve “the best chicken in the world.”