I have just returned from a family vacation to Anguilla, and if you think I eat a lot normally, then you do not want to see me on vacation. Despite the fact that I sit on a beach all day, with no movement with exception to me getting up to dip my feet in the ocean or to turn over to get my back tan, I still think it’s completely acceptable to gorge myself to the point of no return, to then return to my lounge chair, possibly more bloated, but definitely more tan.
Just to give myself a little credit here, for no one else’s benefit but my own, I did work out every single day on this trip, which included tennis lessons (in which my mom continued to say “you really did love tennis. You should take lessons at home”) and pilates classes, and yes sometimes both in one day, but they probably did nothing for the 3+ meal a day marathon I was running on this trip.
To give you some background on Anguilla, there are a million trillion restaurants on this small island, and almost all are on the beach, so not only did we go out every single night for a 3 course meal for dinner, but we also left our hotel every single day to go out for lunch to sit at a different beach, and shovel in some food.
“Off we go to another meal!”
“It’s like as soon as we finish lunch, we wonder where we’re going to dinner.”
“Where are you guys going to dinner tonight?”
“Can you believe it? It’s time for another meal.”
These are some of the fabulous quotes my mom continued to say over, and over, and over, AND over again to anyone that would listen to her: our driver Russell, my sister’s campfriend and his family, our new vacation friends from Long Island, our other new vacation friends from Queens, people in our Pilates class, and yes even our waiters at the restaurants (the island is small, so people generally have more than one job, so they would literally watch us stuff ourselves at breakfast in our cover-ups at our hotel, and they would see us dressed up stuffing ourselves again for dinner at a restaurant).
It was like my mom felt the need to defend our actions to everyone in sight.
I personally thought we should just try and not make it so obvious, and just accept that everyone else was doing the same thing. What else was I going to do? Run on the beach? I started to laugh as soon as I typed that.
So, was the food worth it? Hell yeah it was worth it. Anguilla has some of the best restaurants in town, and for your benefit, I am going to give you the rundown on some of the favorite spots in case any of you do decide to make a trip there.
The entire list includes recommendations, but one place pissed me off so badly that I need to begin with a review of the worst restaurant on the island of Anguilla: Jacala.
Jacala is owned by a French man named Jac, and if the name of the restaurant doesn’t give you a hint, he was maybe one of the most pompous narcissistic horrid restaurant owners I have ever encountered.
First off: he takes everyone’s orders for the entire restaurant, so you need to wait for at least 15 minutes just to order drinks, let alone dinner. Can you say control freak?
I watched as his 3 waitresses walked around scared to make the wrong move, or step out of place.
He completely ignored my family, maybe because we were all women, maybe because he could, but he came over to take our order with a smirk on his face knowing he made us wait.
And the food??? He started off by serving us a cold asparagus soup with a soggy tortilla, which tasted exactly like the soggy noodles Chinese restaurants serve you at the beginning of a meal.
And the rest? Stuffy French food with a ton of sauce. The menu is described as “intuitive” cuisine. WTF is intuitive cuisine?
It was the ONLY restaurant that we did not order dessert, and the poor waitress that came over to tell us the specials brought over a huge board with 8 different desserts listed on the chalkboard. She would say one, and then nervously stare at Jac, and then say the next, each time watching the owner move from the bar to the main room. She looked frozen in fear of saying something incorrectly.
The restaurant has a posh reputation, but every single patron besides my family was over the age of 65. Skip this place, and go for a good meal.
This was the least innovative dish, and tasted like something I could get at any run of the mill sushi spot.
Chicken stuffed with lobster in a lobster sauce with a side of asparagus and yams.
Chicken stuffed with lobster in a lobster sauce? Sounds delicious right? UH NO. It wasn’t even warm when they served it, and it was whatever.
Porkchop in an apricot sauce.
Porkchop with sauce, sauce, sauce sauce, and a rice that tasted like potpourri.
Now on to the good stuff:
[Click the photo above to go to Straw Hat’s website]
Straw Hat (lunch or dinner): Love itttt. We went with another family for dinner, who has a love for food like us, so it was very exciting to have some rum punch and eat with a group.
Order: the tuna flat bread, which comes with truffle aioli. I ordered it twice, once for lunch and once for dinner (as an appetizer relax, like I’d only order that).
Crabcake minus the crab, and plus the lobster. Pretty, pretty good.
Say hello to the tuna flat bread. I love it. I love it. Did I mention I love it?
Spring rolls stuffed with fresh fish. Yep, it wasn’t bad.
The appetizers were definitely the highlight of the meal, so that’s what I’m going to leave you with. Lunch is standard fare, and difficult to complain about.
[Click the photo above to go to E’s Oven’s website]
E’s Oven: This is a local spot, and hands down one of my favorite places we ate for lunch. I ordered the filet of red snapper with a side of vegetables, and so did my mom. My sister ordered the lobster club Panini with a side of fries.
“You can have fries or sal-“
The waitress was super sweet and accomidating, especially when concerning my mom’s tomato allergy.
This restaurant is not on the beach, but it was near our hotel, so we were back on the beach rather quickly.
For the record all the bread on the island was absolutely amazing. Every loaf was served fresh and warm, and this was no exception.
They surprised us with a small bite of ground turkey with carrots in a light sauce. Seriously unreal. It is the only time I ate turkey in Anguilla.
Such a great dish! It seemed so classy for a tiny little restaurant.
The best carrots I’ve ever eaten. I have no idea why. Plantains are also on that plate. My mom and sister HATE bananas, and even they liked them!
This to me is America meets the Islands: aka lobster plus club sandwich. This is a lobster club panini.
[Click the photo above to go to Smokey’s website]
Smokey’s (lunch): jerk chicken, ribs, rum, beer, all while you’re sitting on the beach. We went last year and this year, so recommendations vary. Jerk chicken wrap, the lobster roll, fish sandwich, or the ribs are all good choices. Oh, and they also offer a 50/50 plate of onion rings and fries…won’t kill you to try them.
[Click the photo above to go to Picante’s website]
Picante (dinner): LEGIT Mexican food. Tuna tacos, fish tacos, guacamole, even the artichoke dip is to die for. Island food is delicious, but by the end it’s like “if you hand me another piece of snapper or grouper I’m going to smack you with it.” Picante is the perfect change of pace. It’s laid back, always crowded, and they make some strong ass drinks.
And we saw Kelly Osbourne there, so there’s that.
My sister: that girl looks like Kelly Osbourne.
Me: Monica, that is Kelly Osbourne.
My sister: O heehee
My jam: the tuna tacos.
[Click the photo above to go to Barrel Stay’s website]
Barrel Stay (dinner): French with Asian influence. I loved it. Order a salad, fish with Asian noodles, crayfish, or escargot, and you won’t be disappointed. I ordered a sea food soup, which tasted like a deconstructed French onion soup with spicy seafood.
The restaurant is also on the water, and I loveddddd the chef. He came out to tell us the specials, and crouched down so we were all eye level. He was very engaging, and patient with any questions we had. He even helped me find the bathroom. He was a fabulous ying to Jacala’s putrid yang.
Here’s a little sample of what we ate: the goat cheese and asparagus salad
[Click the photo above to go to Veya’s website]
Veya (dinner): “It looks like a tree house!” my mom exclaimed multiple times. There is a live band that plays in the background, and excellent wait staff. To start get the conch fritters to or the layered salad. And for your main? Crayfish. duhhh.
[Click the photo above to go to Scilly Cay’s website]
Scilly Cay Island: The best day we had! You take a 10 minute boat ride to a small island called Scilly Cay, you lay on the beach, have the yummiest and strongest rum punch, and the food! I ordered a combo platter of lobster and crayfish, which comes in a light curry sauce, with a pasta salad and fruit. And the restaurant owner, a character!
Say hello to my little friend: lobster and crayfish combo.
And here’s the view!
[Click the photo above to go to Blanchard’s website]
Blanchards: American owners from Westchester, my people. The corn chowder is made with no cream and filled with flavor. The key lime pie is a great way to end your meal.
And they have a more casual spot next door for lunch. For $3 you can get a lounge chair for the day (can you tell it’s owned by New Yorkers?), it’s the only place on the island that charges for chairs, but it’s also the only place where you can find frozen yogurt, milkshakes along with sandwiches, salads, and burgers.
You can just tell they had Americans in mind when this restaurant was created, but still has the authentic vibe of the island with bright green and blue chairs and tables.