Tuck into the delights of the Caribbean?s three tastiest islands.
Dining in St. Barts is a truly remarkable experience, and it's really hard to go wrong. Prices can be steep, but you will rarely leave a meal feeling less than gloriously sated. Don't hesitate to ask locals or other visitors for recommendations, and don't even think the word "diet" until you leave.
St. Barts really excels at dinnertime. Maya's (Public Beach, Corossol; +590-27-75-73) is one of the most popular restaurants on the island, and you should reserve a table as soon as you arrive in St. Barts. Eat early since the restaurant has been known to run out of menu items. Their cooking -- an inventive French-Creole fusion -- is delicious and the menu changes nightly; their harborside patio setting is picture perfect. Maya's is "laid-back St. Barts chic" at its best.
Au Port (Rue Sadi Carnot; +590-27-62-36; $25-45) is another winner, located in Gustavia harbor. The second-floor perch is less spectacular than the food -- an authentic island Creole palate, laced with French touches. It's best on cooler evenings, as the dining room can get quite warm. Le Ti St. Bart (Pointe Milou; +590-27-97-71; $30-70) serves top-notch Caribbean food in a charming 70-seat eatery. Try the red snapper in Creole sauce. Sumptuous.
French St. Martin (along with its Dutch half, St. Maarten) presents a cosmopolitan face -- a major reason it is among the most gay-popular Caribbean destinations. Shopping is grand, dining even better. The French side alone has more than 300 restaurants crammed into 20 square miles.
Grand Case is St. Martin's "restaurant row," with dining at every price level, from elegant eateries to "lolos," beachside pavilions where locals dish up inexpensive, home-cooked specialties. Lolos feature seating under simply constructed roofs, and main courses like chicken, shrimp, and conch for only a few dollars each. They're a must-do for at least one meal (you'll find some in Marigot as well).
Tiny L?Hibiscus (15 Boulevard de Grand Case; +590-291-791; $28-40) is a well-kept French/Creole secret among locals. Other notable spots in the area include French restaurants Bistrot Caraibes (81 Boulevard de Grand Case; +590-29-08-29; $21-28), with its bright interior and Creole-inspired French cuisine (conch stew is a house specialty). Try the fresh, smoked, thinly sliced salmon appetizer and for your main course, pick your lobster to split with your dinner companion.
In the Sandy Ground area just west of Marigot, gay visitors are warmly received at Mario's Bistro (Sandy Ground Bridge; +590-87-06-36; $21-32). The unusual menu, including braised lamb shanks with pistachio and sundried tomato broth, makes this out-of-the-way spot worth a visit.