Saint Lucia foodie guide: where to eat, drink and shop
Eat shrimp-stuffed rotis on the beach, dine at a chocolate-obsessed restaurant, drink signature rum cocktails, barter for raw cacao sticks, and stay over in a gingerbread cottage on the lush Caribbean island
Looking for Saint Lucia restaurants? Here are our favourite restaurants on the Caribbean island, plus where to get the best rotis, rum cocktails and fish curry.
With a fruitful climate, the plentiful Caribbean Sea and culinary influences that stretch from East India to West Africa, Britain and France, it’s no surprise that food is a central element of Saint Lucian culture. Fish soups and chicken stews are often found on local menus, while breadfruit, figs, pineapples, bananas, yams and scotch bonnet peppers are easily available. Fried and baked dough products are also commonplace on Saint Lucia, perhaps best experienced in the national dish: Johnny cakes (think savoury donuts) with salt fish (sautéed fish with peppers and onions).
Best street food on Saint Lucia
If you’re staying in the north of the island don’t miss this street party, which takes place every Friday night in Gros Islet. Rum shacks and grill stalls start setting up shop at around 6.30pm, but the drinking and dancing don’t get fully going until much later; if you’re there to party, don’t even think of going before 10pm. For a more gentle experience, go at around 7pm and head to Duke’s Place for some of the best, home-cooked fish on the island. At a bank of metal-drum barbecues, huge quantities of lobster, marlin and mahi-mahi are cooked. Join the (fast-moving) queues to take your pick, then move along makeshift tables choosing rice and “auntie’s” fig salad (doused with a gorgeously garlicky dressing, the ‘figs’ are actually green bananas, prepared as a vegetable rather than a fruit) to go with it. Next, head over to the Duke’s Place bar to order a rum punch, then take your haul over to one of the adjacent picnic tables to chat to a mix of locals and tourists while you eat; a huge dinner and a couple of rum punches will cost you less than a tenner.
Bay Street, Gros Islet
Liz Hot Roti
They may be a traditional Indian flatbread, but, for Saint Lucians, rotis are a delicacy in their own right. On Reduit Beach, in Rodney Bay, Liz (look for her ‘Liz Hot Roti’ sign) fills them with everything from marinated goat meat to shrimp, plus homemade hot sauce, for the perfect beach lunch. It’s just a makeshift stall, which Liz also sells warm coconut cake and fruit juices from, but it’s so successful that imposters have taken to mimicking her… so be sure to buy the genuine article!
Reduit Beach, Rodney Bay
Best beach bar on Saint Lucia
The Naked Fisherman
Part of the Cap Maison resort, this Smuggler’s Cove beach bar serves casual lunches and dinners on some evenings (snow crab claws, lobster cocktails, burgers, creole barbecue boards…) at beachside tables. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it’s worth going for a sundowner. Not only does the bar serve its own, island-brewed, Naked Fisherman IPA, but it’s also known for its signature rum cocktails (try Saint Lucia’s treacly Chairman’s Reserve Rum in a Spicy Mango, with mango purée, lime juice and homemade jalapeño syrup).
If you want slightly more refined dining, head to the resort’s main restaurant, The Cliff at Cap. It’s open-air with a dramatic clifftop setting: below you, frigatebirds swoop over the ocean and, if you squint, you can see over to the island of Martinique. The menu veers towards creative French/West Indian cooking (signature dishes include ceviche of reef conch and ahi tuna, and Kurobuta pork belly with razor clams, squid and coconut foam), but The Cliff is also a great spot for a drink: the bar has an impressive selection of rums.
Best chocolate experience on Saint Lucia
See exactly where the cocoa in your Dizzy Pralines comes from at Hotel Chocolat’s 250-year-old plantation (and adjoining boutique hotel), near Soufriere. Set against the Piton mountains, 1,000 metres above the Caribbean Sea, Boucan hotel is as indulgent as a Rocky Road slab. Relax with a pick-your-own cacao-oil massage (try heady cacao-rose, or fragrant cacao-cinnamon), take a dip in the infinity pool, head off on a plantation tour or make your own chocolate bar on a bean-to-bar experience. Rooms, called ‘luxe pods’, have four-poster beds, open-sky rainforest showers and lush Petit Piton views from your own private veranda. Plus they’re decorated in rich mahoganies and ivories, to subtly reflect those chocolate hues.
The restaurant (perfectly placed for Petit Piton panoramas) makes use of the entire cocoa pod: fresh, tangy pulp in cocktails and sorbets, and roasted cacao nibs for spice. Try yellowfin tuna with a cacao nib crust and garlic cacao butter sauce, with a side of white chocolate mash. And Rabot Chocolate Lava for dessert, inspired by nearby Soufriere volcano – a dome of chocolate sponge with a molten chocolate interior, made entirely from Hotel Chocolat cacao beans.
Best casual dining spots on Saint Lucia
Jambe de Bois
There’s a Robinson Crusoe vibe at this Pigeon Island café, with its driftwood furniture, brightly painted rope swings and waterside setting. The island (now connected to Saint Lucia by a causeway) is popular with day-trippers from hotels in neighbouring Rodney Bay, who come to snorkel just offshore, or hike up to the Fort Rodney. Many of them detour into this appealingly hippyish spot along the way.
Home cooking is the order of the day, with simple dishes such as callaloo soup, homemade crab cakes and banana crumble. It’s also a great spot to sit and sip a Piton beer overlooking the water.
Pigeon Island, 00 1 758 450 8166
Run by a local mother-daughter duo, Martha’s Tables sits just beneath Petit Piton in Soufriere and serves straight-up home-cooked food on its verandah. Try breadfruit balls (the prickly oval fruit tastes like freshly baked bread when cooked), and freshly-caught mahi mahi in Martha’s rich and spicy special sauce.
In Castries, Hardest Hard is where locals go for lunch. It’s a humble menu – six-or-seven ‘plates’ to choose from, and the same number of drinks (try tamarind juice) – that gives a great flavour of Saint Lucian cuisine. From gentle saltfish bake to not-for-the-faint-hearted salted pigtail bouyon, it’s all piled high on bright yellow plates; although the kitchen runs out of food quickly at lunch time, so get there early.
Flavours of the Grill
Flavours of the Grill promises just that: locally-caught seafood or meat, simply grilled and served in curries (shrimp in coconut curry is a favourite) or alongside garlic potatoes, rice, okra and green beans. The simple, modern restaurant is just south of Rodney Bay (it’s recently moved from its original Gros Islet location), and there’s live jazz every Friday night – enjoy it with a banana daiquiri in hand.
Close to the Windjammer Landing, near Rodney Bay
Best romantic dining spots on Saint Lucia
It’s strictly local ingredients here (including pure vanilla pods and extra virgin olive oil), transformed into light, elegant dishes. Set at the northern end of Soufriere, Orlando’s is an al fresco restaurant – you eat in a courtyard garden – that serves ‘Ti Manje’ (small plates) of Caribbean food: cucumber and saltfish salad, for example, and mahi mahi with sweet potato crust, skewered on sugar cane sticks.
The Coal Pot
Across the bay from Castries, and next to genteel Vigie Marina, The Coal Pot has been cooking fresh fish for over 50 years. Try kingfish, barracuda, dorado or lobster, served with ratatouille and fiery ginger sauce, or authentic St Lucian ‘crab back’ – local crab sautéed with herbs in a garlic-butter sauce. Food is served on patterned plates painted by the owner, flickering lanterns lend the space a romantic feel, and its waterside location makes for the perfect (if slightly smug) holiday snap.
Best market on Saint Lucia
Rough-around-the-edges Castries market, first established in the 1890s, is the biggest on the island, with over 300 regular vendors and a Vendor’s Arcade annex (a far more recent addition) on one side that acts as a showcase for local restaurants and craftspeople. You can buy everything from green figs to banana ketchup, hats made of grass and raw cocoa sticks here (grate the latter and mix with bay leaves, cinnamon and nutmeg to make Saint Lucian hot cocoa tea). The best time to visit is early on a Saturday morning – when in-the-know locals do their shopping.
John Compton Highway, Castries
Best places to stay on Saint Lucia
East Winds Resort
For a pampering experience with a more local flavour than some of the larger resorts – and a more intimate setting (there are only 30 guest cottages plus a beach house) – this leafy, all-inclusive retreat, right on La Brelotte beach in the northwest of the island, is a recommended option. Accommodation is scattered between pretty gingerbread cottages and older rondel-style suites in the extensive gardens, plus a handful of beach apartments; all are spoiling, with vast beds, luxury bathrooms and conscientiously stocked mini bars (unlimited chilled champagne can also be supplied if you really want to celebrate).
At the heart of the resort is a beachfront bar, restaurant and open-sided lounge area, while just behind them are two elegant pavilions – one for expert yoga and pilates classes (included in the price), the other home to a spa. Other activities included in the rates are watersports, garden tours (ask to see the on-site banana ‘museum’, where several varieties of the fruit are grown) and cooking classes (ours, with chef Linton, taught us how to make posh battered fish, the delicate crispy coating a blitzed-up mix of onion, garlic, hot sauce, sage, basil, sweet peppers, olive oil and lime juice).
Breakfasts are a highlight, with a different fresh smoothie or juice available every day and, alongside the usual suspects (toast, local jams, tropical fruits, bacon and eggs), a choice of fresh pancakes and omelettes made to order. Local flavours pop up, too: johnny cakes with green figs and saltfish, perhaps, or little homemade coconut and cinnamon rolls. Lunches, meanwhile, are different every day but revolve around marinated and barbecued meats and fish (weeks later, one of our party is still talking about East Winds’ barbecued spare ribs), stews, paella and brightly coloured salads and sides (jackfruit salad, buttered greens, pickled veg, dasheen balls…). If it’s on offer, try the shrimp soup, a wholesome-tasting light, peppery broth laced with plump seafood.
In the unlikely event that you get hungry during the day, homemade cake is served in the lounge each afternoon (we happened to be there over the island’s Independence celebrations, and also got to try local sweets such as sour-sweet tamarind balls and coconut fudge) and there’s an all-day bar menu listing items such as grilled fish skewers. Save space, though, for imaginative four-course evening dinners. Overseen by aptly named executive chef Tomislav Čukman, elegantly presented dishes range from tuna confit with potato salad to Caribbean-style green banana bouillon, seared barracuda with cauliflower and wasabi cream and chocolate and raspberry entremets (traditionalists can opt for the likes of grilled pear with prosciutto crisp, roast rack of lamb and banana donuts with spicy toffee sauce).
As for the bar, while it’s all-inclusive at East Winds, a grown-up crowd means no-one overdoes it. Piton beers and house wines are popular and fruit punches (with or without rum) are always available. There’s usually a cocktail of the day, but our advice is to try the local rum. Chairman’s Reserve, produced on the island, is a smooth, failsafe choice with honeyed, tropical fruit notes; but if you want something a step up from the standard, ask for a glass of Admiral Rodney rum, with its vanilla and toasted oak flavour.
For more information on the island, see stlucia.org
Words by Rhiannon Batten and Charlotte Morgan
Photographs by Rhiannon Batten, Steve Barnes and Hotel Chocolat