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 Islands Information

Place: Antigua
Stay in Antigua - A Guide to Eating Out
Author: Michelle Payne-Gale

When looking to eat out in Antigua, you'll find menus and choices to suit all tastes and desires. You'll also find something to suit all budgets.

This is Stay-in-Antigua's mini-guide to our favourite restaurants and eateries on this beautiful Caribbean island.

Restaurants and eateries in Antigua offer a wide range of cuisine to suit most palates. Those located in tourist areas or hotels offer mainly European, American and fusion options, with a few local and traditional dishes thrown in for good measure. Dishes are made largely from local ingredients.

As with all of the Caribbean islands, seafood choices are plentiful, with Antigua being renowned for its Red Snapper, Lobster and Mahi-Mahi.

Outside resorts and tourist areas, restaurants are generally low-key and laid back. Service is friendly, but can be exceedingly slow. On the upside, you'll have lots of time to sample island life and mix with the charming locals while waiting for your meal to arrive.

Although variety is somewhat limited for vegetarians, the choices are growing and most menus will carry one or two vegetarian dishes, made from ingredients such as Okra, Breadfruit and Pumpkin. Just to be careful, it is advisable to ring ahead, or even stop in at your chosen eatery to check out the vegetarian options.

If you're staying in a hotel or resort and want to try something truly different, why not ask the hotel staff where you can go to sample some local 'Ital dishes' - the traditional fare of the Rastafarians. Ital food is natural and vital, and very delicious. It is free from chemicals and contains no animal products. Ital dishes can contain rice, peas and beans, vegetables, sweet potatoes, coconut milk, soups, cabbage, cornmeal, pumpkin, cinnamon, bananas, okra and a multitude of other natural ingredients. They are ideal for vegetarians and vegans.

Most restaurants in Antigua open for lunch from noon, with dinner menus becoming available from 6pm-7pm. Many smaller restaurants operate based on how busy they are, and may close early if business is slow, so do bear this in mind. It is advisable to make reservations at restaurants, up to 2 days in advance.

In restaurants, you should tip between 10% - 15%. Service charges are not included on your bill.

Here is Stay in Antigua's personal recommendations for places to eat in Antigua.

Vyviens - The Blue Waters Hotel

For a wide choice of Caribbean and International dishes, try Vyviens restaurant, upstairs in the Blue Waters Hotel, St Johns. Offering an al a Carte menu, and some of the friendliest staff we've met, Vyvien's offers a truly elegant evening. The décor is nautical, with ship brassware, model ships and nautical equipment adorning the walls and ceiling, elegantly illuminated. You will also be treated to the chilled out tones of a live jazz band and singer, playing downstairs by the pool. You absolutely must try the lobster!

The Home Restaurant

Described as the 'Best Restaurant in Antigua' by BBC TV, Home restaurant, owned and run by Chef Carl Thomas and his wife Rita is on Gambles Terrace in St Johns. The restaurant is the converted childhood home of Chef Carl, and serves traditional West Indian dishes, made from fresh, local ingredients. Excellent choices are the Fish Cakes with Papaya-Pimiento Sauce as an appetiser, and the Snapper filet Stuffed with Crab Meat served with Lobster Sauce.

Calypso Restaurant - Amaryllis Hotel

The Calypso Restaurant, located within the Amaryllis Hotel, offers open air dining in beautiful gardens, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Calypso offers some of the best you'll find in traditional and contemporary Antiguan cuisine, as well as international dishes.

The Calypso Restaurant has received recommendations by the New York Times, Conde Nast, and also featured on the US's BET channel.

Sticky Wicket - Stanford Cricket Ground

The Sticky Wicket embraces and exemplifies the Caribbean passion for cricket. You'll find yourself surrounded in memorabilia from years of cricket tradition, history and sportsmanship, in this most excellent example of sports bars. Located at the attractive Stanford Cricket Ground, just across from the V.C. Bird International airport, Sticky Wicket offers barbecue, burgers, combos, seafood, sandwiches and pasta among its wide menu selection. Try the Beamer Crispy Jerked Wings with Antigua's own 'Susie's Hot Sauce', and the Batsman's Paradise Barbecue Brisket Sandwich. Sticky Wicket is a great place to eat, whether you're a cricket enthusiast, a lover of hearty dishes or simply waiting for your flight.

Pizzas in Paradise - Redcliffe Quay

Located in an old 18th Century rum warehouse in Redcliffe Quay, and popular with tourists, Pizzas in Paradise offers a wide variety of pizzas made from the freshest ingredients. As well as pizzas, diners can choose from sub sandwiches, fresh salads, fruit crushes and cocktails. Diners can choose from eating indoors with views of the traditional wood beams, archways and photo-portraits of musicians, or eating on the terrace enjoying the breeze off the nearby harbour. Thursday nights offer live entertainment and sports enthusiasts can enjoy the bar's gigantic satellite TV screen all week.

I hope that our mini review has whetted your appetite. If you visit Antigua, do indulge in some of the wonderful cuisine that the island has to offer. And don't just restrict yourself to your hotel's restaurant - go out and try some of the island's local restaurants to add a little home-grown spice and excitement to your dining experience.

Bon appetit, mon!

About the author:
Michelle Payne-Gale is one of the partners behind 'Stay In Antigua', an online travel and tourist guide to the Caribbean island of Antigua. To find out more, visit http://www.stay-in-antigua.com.