St. Maarten and St. Martin Restaurants
Intro to the Culinary Side of SXM:
Of all the tropical islands in the world, none is known for its culinary expertise like St. Maarten / St. Martin. The island is a magnet for innovative and creative chefs who offer incredible world class quality, ambiance, and service.
Regardless of whether you choose St. Maarten Dutch Side restaurants, St. Martin French Side restaurants, Grand Case restaurants, Cupecoy restaurants at Starz Casino (formerly Atlantis), Philipsburg restaurants, Simpson Bay restaurants, or Dawn Beach restaurants, you'll quickly get the point: great dining abounds on St. Maarten and St. Martin.
There was a time when most of the island's most renowned restaurants were in Grand Case, on the northwest coast of French St. Martin. They are still there and they're as incredible as ever, but during the last 10 years they've been getting huge competition from the Dutch Side, particularly in the Simpson Bay and Cupecoy areas, and in Dawn Beach / Oyster Pond. In fact, some of the top chefs / restaurant owners from Grand Case and Marigot have now moved to Simpson Bay or Cupecoy. You'll still want to have dinners in Grand Case, but plan to explore Dutch Side restaurants deeply -- dining there is extraordinary and you will not be disappointed.
This page is updated frequently, so bookmark us and come back soon. *ALWAYS* tell the restaurateur you read about them on our site. This page was heavily updated 3/13/2017.
Remember: If you're a JMB Website Supporters member, you're entitled to reduced-cost dinners or other discounts at many St. Maarten and St. Martin Restaurants. See the Discounts Master Index in our all-new "secret site" for details. If you're curious about JMB Website Supporters, click for info. There are now roughly 300 benefits, many of them restaurant discounts.
This Restaurant Revue is mainly focused on places for great dinners, but dinners aren't all you'll have so let's look at breakfasts first...
Get a map when you arrive; Pick up one of Michal & Rafal Kasprowski's heavily detailed SXM road maps. They're 34 x 40 and printed on heavy paper suitable for wall hanging / framing. It not only includes all island roads, it also has hiking trails, the island's best diving spots, and many restaurants. You can get one before you leave home -- just allow a few weeks; in fact you can order it directly from Kasprowski Publishers using a discount code exclusively for our JMB members. See the Secret Site for details. Also see www.midok.com, their website.
Caribbean Ground Rules:
Reservations: It is unfair to make reservations and not show up. If you can't go, cancel.
About your bill: In the Caribbean, it's considered bad manners for wait staff to present a bill without being asked. When you're ready, ask; otherwise you'll just wait.
Service Charges usually are not tips. They are often shared by the whole staff. Tips are always appreciated by your server.
Note: August, September, and October are the quietest tourism months in St. Maarten/St. Martin. Some restaurants do "fall closing" at that time. Call for reservations and to be sure the restaurant is open; early evening is the best time to do call.
Our top choices for breakfasts:
Mr. Busby's Beach Bar on Dawn Beach in Oyster Pond, next to Oyster Bay Beach Resort, is one of our favorite places for breakfast. The daytime view, for breakfast and lunch, is spectacular. At dinner, the ambiance becomes more intimate and romantic, as Busby's morphs into candlelight dining under the palms at "Daniel's By The Sea" which offers Italian fine dining featuring home made pastas, fresh lobster, steaks, chicken, seafood, nightly specials, and much more. Mr. Busby's serves breakfast and lunch. They are multi-year winners of our prestigious Award of Excellence from Everything SXM, our highest recommendation. Make sure they're on your list for all three meals. Outstanding. (Try especially Busby's Egg BLT breakfast club sandwich.) Ask to sit in "Jeff's Office" for the best view in the house.
Vesna Taverna in Simpson Bay, roughly 120 yards north of the drawbridge near Palapa Marina, has outstanding American breakfasts and even fresh, full-size, homemade bagels. You can get them with lox and cream cheese, too. Sally has been day manager for years -- many of you will remember her from elsewhere in Simpson Bay. They're open daily at 7 a.m. seven days a week. Delicious!
Check out Sucriere in the next section (breakfast croissants, excellent pastry) and Sarafina on the Margot waterfront; see next section.
The newest spot for breakfast is the breakfast buffet at La Patrona, the new authentic Mexican restaurant on the Marina Plaza at Simpson Bay Resort which also sponsors this page. Don't mistake this for Tex-Mex or some foreigner's take on Mexican food: this is 100% authentic Mexican, owned and operated by Mexicans. Great stuff.
Toppers in Simpson Bay also now has a breakfast buffet for just $9.99. You can't miss at Toppers!
But enough about breakfasts. SXM is a restaurant Mecca, and we're here to tell you LOTS about them. But first...
Best Pizzas: The newest pizza on the island is fantastic, available every afternoon for take-out at La Patrona Restaurant on the Marina Plaza at Simpson Bay Resort. Get the bigger size, only a couple of bucks more. Loaded with your choice of toppings (even lobster), their pizzas are well put together, generous, fully cooked, and absolutely delicious. Don't miss them. Island Pizza in Dawn Beach, part of Mr. Busby's Beach Bar, offers a huge variety of luscious thin-crust pizzas available from late morning through the evening. Great stuff -- ask for their spicy oil! Both Busby's & Island Pizza offer discounts to JMB members; see the Secret Site. Pizza Pasta, at the end of the little road between Casino Royale and Cheri's in the Maho area, opens for dinner and is excellent -- reasonable prices and very consistent preparation. Selena offers fantastic Italian dinners. Domino's is quite good too. (For Pizza Pasta, use free Valet Parking at Casino Royale. Avoid parking in nearby, dimly lit Mullet Bay.)
Best Pastry: Go to the little Sucriere pastry restaurant near FedEx in Simpson Bay. Sucriere is good for French Bread and reasonably priced pastry. Opens early / closes early. Best on the island may be Sarafina in Marigot (between the two roundabouts on the waterfront).
Best Ice Cream: Buy it in the markets -- Etna, unimaginably creamy and delicious. The "cafe" flavor is the best, we think. Another choice: go to the Carousel in Simpson Bay (huge round blue and white building near Pineapple Pete's). Italian Gelato, some of which is sugar free . . . and the island's only working Carousel. The Carousel offers discounts to JMB members.
A LITTLE REPEATED ADVICE... PRINT THIS ENTIRE PAGE and take it with you to the restaurants we've recommended for some dining you'll never forget.
Remember that our JMB Website Supporters members get discounts at restaurants across the island. Click "Low Fares / Island Wide Discounts" below the masthead for details.
If you're already a member, go here and see the Discounts Master Index to find our expanding list of dozens of restaurant and other discounts.
Lunches are everywhere, like breakfasts . . .our favorites are:
Mr. Busby's Beach Bar in Oyster Pond, Dutch Side; huge variety, fresh & delicious, responsive staff, amazing location (steps from the beach; beach chairs and umbrellas available.) Definitely bring your camera.
Pizza Pasta in Maho; use the free valet parking next door at Casino Royale. Great food, great consistency, big portions, reasonable prices. Tell them you are Jeff Berger / Everything SXM site readers.
Vesna Taverna in Simpson Bay is a great place for lunch -- super service from Sally and a great selection of lunches plus even some Greek food. Great smoothies too!
Papagayo inside Club Orient at the southern end of Orient Beach has great lunches too. Clothing optional.
About Dinner Reservations: Many SXM restaurants are small, only 8-10 tables, and some are smaller than that. Reservations are essential in high season and advisable in low season. If you can't go once you've made a reservation, please cancel it -- you'll be doing the right thing and helping the restaurant accommodate others who CAN go.
If you're thinking about getting married in St. Maarten, click here. Jean Rich is the most experienced, well-respected planner of St. Maarten destination weddings.
Dinners . . .
Spiga is around the corner from Grand Case Beach Club and just off the far Northern end of Boulevard de Grand Case, French Side. Owned by Lara and Ciro Russo. Lara and Ciro's extensive culinary experience shows in their preparation. Spiga is quite extraordinary -- in our opinion, one of the island's top restaurants. Reservations are a must in season. Located in a rebuilt early 1900s Creole-style building, Spiga has an extensive menu of elegantly prepared, delicious entrees. It is not a meatballs & spaghetti emporium -- just try it once and you'll quickly get why we recommend it so highly.
Their lobster ravioli and their pumpkin ravioli are irresistible. See the menu here. Keep trying different things -- the menu has grown greatly and includes lots of home runs, one right after another. Their website shows you many of their exceptional entrees plus lots of pictures. Spiga is a must. Save room for dessert.
Spiga is generally closed from mid-October until early November. The Euro is the French Side currency; you do best paying cash at most Grand Case restaurants. At this writing it's one-to-one, Euros to dollars, at Spiga when you pay by cash...quite a deal.
IZI Ristorante Italiano, owned by David Foini, is a unique restaurant concept on SXM. It's upbeat, bright, and energetic, and most pasta is home-made. Despite its relative informality, don't be fooled -- this is true fine dining with a fun facade. Try the specials -- many are totally spectacular. Also try the amazing flatbread appetizers -- very creative & delicious. One of their dessert choices is the island's own ultra-creamy Etna ice cream. Wonderful restaurant. [JMB Members: See the Member Benefits list at www.everythingsxm.com/secret for something special for members only from IZI.]
Marios Bistro, newly located in Porto Cupecoy, near Cupecoy Beach, is easily the best French restaurant on the island. Its gorgeous new location on the quiet northern end of the lagoon is exquisite, its service is top-notch, and its food is flat-out amazing. Go early during your trip -- you will absolutely want to return. It's that kind of place -- extraordinary! No matter what you order, you won't be disappointed. After dinner, the only thing you'll crave is a repeat visit.
Daniel's By The Sea in Dawn Beach offers Classic Italian dining in gazebos under the palms with fresh seafood, great steaks, lobster from their live pool, homemade pastas, and fine traditional recipes. Save room for dessert -- you will not be disappointed. The homemade apple pie will remind you of Grandma's. Meanwhile, you can get a full breakfast all morning, and a super lineup of lunches mid-day at Busby's. Make it a point to go to Dawn beach and check out Mr. Busby's / Daniel's, next door to Oyster Bay Beach Resort and about a half mile north of the Westin Dawn Beach. You will not be disappointed. [JMB Members: See the Member Benefits list at www.everythingsxm.com/secret
Vesna Taverna in Simpson Bay is the island's only American - French - Greek restaurant. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but closed for dinner Monday & Tuesday. Great breakfasts, super lunches, and amazing dinners. Everything is flown in fresh several times a week -- even the salmon which comes straight from Atlantic Canada. Amazing mussels (esp. Friday) and amazing steaks. Saturday night is Greek night and it is a total feast; Vesna is Greek & Macedonian and 100% delightful. (Regular menu also available Saturday nights.) Her homemade desserts are decadently delicious and sell out fast so come early and enjoy them. Wonderful place... and don't forget Yannick's home-made peach rum after dinner. Vesna offers discounts to JMB members; see the Secret Site for details (members only get the discounts.)
La Patrona is SXM's first AUTHENTIC Mexican Restaurant -- NOT Tex-Mex, but the real thing, conceived, developed, launched and staffed by Mexicans who know what Mexican fine dining is today and who reflect that in their recipes and their entire approach here. Superb appetizers -- one with shrimp loaded in a half large avocado is downright amazing, practically a meal in itself. Get a bottle of wine with dinner -- not pricey and delicious. Our favorite dinner so far is Chicken Tampico (amazing), but all of their dinners show a flair for great flavor, healthful ingredients, and authenticity. La Patrona is brand new, in a gorgeous seaside location on the Marina Plaza at Simpson Bay Resort which itself just completed a $35-million total renovation. Go...great new restaurant.
Rum & Peas is the latest culinary sensation from long-time island chef Sherman Marten, who also owns Canoa. Local food has never seen so much attention! Rum & Peas with its "bold Caribbean flavors" is attracting both tourists and locals by the boatload. You cannot miss it in Simpson Bay. Easy parking out front or across the street.
Canoa Restaurant in Oyster Pond is beyond amazing. Offering international food with a Caribbean flair, they are renowned for many things but their signature dish is their plantain appetizer -- just order it. Lots of great seafood, meat, and poultry dishes plus vegetarian entrees. And Canoa like so many others offers discounts to our JMB Website Supporters members; see the Discounts Master Index on the Secret Website.
Sushiitto at Princess Port de Plaisance Casino (outside and to the left of the main entrance) has the best sushi on the island and it is priced reasonably, a rarity on SXM. Owned by Pierre Ferland, the "Pete" of Pineapple Pete Restaurant. We love it (we're sushi addicts). They're offering discounts for JMB members too. Do it if you like Japanese, you will not be disappointed.
Lal's Indian Cuisine "Curry in a Hurry" behind Le Gourmet Marche on Airport Road, Simpson Bay, is wonderful. Totally relaxed atmosphere, low prices, and really great food. We love the chicken korma, butter chicken (named for its tenderness --there isn't any butter in it), chicken tikka, naan, and lots more. Many vegetarian entrees.
Top Carrot vegetarian cuisine in Simpson Bay at the Yacht Club also offers some non-vegetarian lunches, but as always is predominantly vegetarian and the best on the island.
Cugini (pronounced koo-jeanie) Restaurant in Simpson Bay between the Carousel and Fedex just moved to the Dutch Side from Marina Royale in Marigot and is doing a huge business there. Plenty of parking. Totally unique relaxed trattoria concept has large-screen movies (many Italian and others), entertainment, and a casual atmosphere. Right on the water. Cugini's menu features thin-crust authentic Italian pizzas made right near the restaurant entrance plus lots more -- fish, beef, eggplant, calzones. Delicious desserts too.
The Stone Restaurant is now located on the lagoon between Rum & Peas and Tropicana Casino. Seafood, meat, and vegetarian entrees are cooked and presented on polished stone tablets that rest on wood -- all outdoors on the water. We've thoroughly enjoyed their salmon, yellowfin tuna, and steak entrees. Johann Roebert is in charge here; he has been on the island for years and is a former private chef on megayachts. Congenial staff and excellent food. [JMB Members: See the Benefits Master Index at www.everythingsxm.com/secret for something special for JMB members only from The Stone.]
Temptation is globally renowned chef Dino Jagtiani's fine-dining restaurant at Starz Casino, formerly Atlantis, near Cupecoy beach. Dino is a multiple award-winning grad of the CIA, Culinary Institute of America. Elegant presentation, true gourmet dining, and top quality are the hallmarks of everything Dino does. The restaurants' ambiance reminds us of high-class Manhattan bistros: the food is great and the atmosphere is chic / elegant. Do try Temptation and tell Dino or Asha we recommended it to you. Again, see the Secret Site Benefits Master Index for discounts.
Taloula Mango's Caribbean Cafe on the boardwalk in downtown Philipsburg is a must stop either when you're shopping in town around lunchtime or for a dinner on the beach. Philipsburg has undergone a renaissance in the last few years and the St. Rose "Arcade" (not an arcade at all in the U. S. sense) is a prime reason. Taloula's is a beautiful piece of architecture, and is the prime tenant in the "arcade" along with small shops. It's near the center of town, convenient to shoppers, not far from center-of-town public parking, and it's also an easy stop for cruise passengers.
Taloula Mango's offers sandwiches, seafood, beef, and pasta, and has vegetarian entrees. They also have great drinks -- definitely put it on your list. Frequently Taloula's has live entertainment. Say hi to owners Norm and Su for us.
Pineapple Pete's in Simpson Bay is big, loud, busy, a bit noisy when there's a band playing, and it's not to be missed! The food on their huge menu is fabulous and they do the unimaginable: provide outstanding service no matter how busy they are. (Pretty incredible.) You'll see their lobster thermidor (their most popular entree, we think) marching on platters in a conga line from their kitchen. You'd expect slow service in a restaurant this busy but you will be impressed by Pete's. Fabulous place, one of our favorites. Ask for "head pineapple" Pierre by name and tell him we sent you. [JMB Members: See the Benefits Master Index at www.everythingsxm.com/secret for something special for members only from Pineapple Pete.]
Jimbo's Mesquite Grill at the Yacht Club, Simpson Bay, is another long-time favorite. Though it promotes itself as Mexican, it's much more than that and offers something for everyone. Great salads, grilled specials, and lots more. The ambiance is about as Caribbean as you can get: in fact we suggested it to a friend in Hollywood who has been working on a St. Maarten oriented film production. Check it out, bring your camera, and most important of all -- come hungry. Tell Jimbo we sent you. [JMB Members: See the Benefits Master Index at www.everythingsxm.com/secret for something special for members only from Jimbo's.]
Many more restaurant reports are in St. Maarten & St. Martin Weekly News (see the top of this page to subscribe, free). More restaurants are below, too, so please read on.
HERE FOR DOZENS OF RESTAURANT DISCOUNTS --
they're all part of your JMB Website Supporters membership.
Parking: In Philipsburg, park in the lot behind the straw market that's behind the historic courthouse, not on Front Street. There is no parking there.
Trattoria "Pizza Pasta".... Tucked deep in the alley between Casino Royale and Cheri's is one of the island's many Italian restaurants, Pizza Pasta Trattoria Italiana, which is a wonderful little homestyle Italian restaurant.
A small, unpretentious place, Pizza Pasta fills up early. Owners Ilde and Dario Figarolo moved to St. Kitts several years ago and turned the reins over to their daughter Selena, who with Miracle, their long-time waiter, does an extraordinary job. The atmosphere is casual, the place is spotless, attractive art is now on the walls where kids drawings used to be, service is fast, and the food is plentiful and piping hot, as it should be. It's a must. Great food!
On every visit we go to Pizza Pasta five or six times, and it never fails to satisfy.
We tend to choose both Melanzane Parmigiani, Eggplant Parm (we opted for the vegetarian sauce), and Spaghetti Bolognese, spaghetti with meatballs, which is so delightful it reminded me of "Carrie" Fargnoli, a friend of my parents who, when I was a kid, made her own pasta (long before it was chic) and the most delicious meatballs.... We also love Pizza Pasta's Chicken & Eggplant Parmigiani. The salads, soups, and of course the incredible, melt-in-your-mouth thin-crust pizza are all top-notch. Prices are very reasonable.
Make reservations, come early or wait - but the wait is worth it. Make SURE you put Trattoria Pizza Pasta next to Casino Royale in Maho on your list. Phone: 1-721-545-4034. Mention Jeff Berger's SXM website! (Updated 3/2017.)
One of the liveliest spots on the island is Cheri's Cafe in the Maho district. Cheri's has sandwiches at both lunch and dinner and a large menu of traditional dinner selections. There's nightly entertainment and dancing into the wee hours. If you just want to sit at the bar, slowly sip on a Pina Colada and people-watch; nobody will hassle you.
Don't forget the nightly street vendors (LOLOs) in both Grand Case (Talk of the Town) and Marigot. They'll grill lobster and chicken over an open flame for you... Treat yourself to it at least once.
You'd need a good couple of weeks at least to sample some of the best Grand Case restaurants: Le Pressoir, Spiga, L'Auberge Gourmande, and Il Nettuno are all very fine restaurants.
Subscribe free to our St. Maarten and St. Martin Weekly News (see link, left) for reviews every week of many fine SXM restaurants.
Here's a quick list of several websites we did for SXM Restaurants and other businesses of note. If YOUR business could use a website, see http://www.websitesthatwork.info and contact us. (JMB Communications is Massachusetts-based and most of our clients are in the US.) Mention Jeff Berger's St. Maarten Website when you visit these and other restaurants mentioned on this page.
These are in no special order:
Daniel's By The Sea Restaurant, Mr. Busby's Beach Bar, and Penthouse Paradise (Oyster Pond, Dutch Side Central East Coast) -- www.dawnbeachsxm.com
Le Pressoir -- www.lepressoir-sxm.com
Spiga Restaurant (Grand Case, French Side) -- www.spiga-sxm.com
The Stone Restaurant - - www.thestonerestaurant.com
Taloula Mango's Restaurant (Boardwalk, Philipsburg waterfront) -- www.taloulamangos.com
Etna Ice Cream - - www.etnaicecream.com
Tricia Altenau's AIA Massage Therapies - - www.aiamassage.com (absolutely the best massage on St. Maarten / St. Martin)
Tropical - Tropicana Car Rental - www.tropical-tropicana.com
Unique Car Rental -- www.uniquecarrental-sxm.com
Da Party Bus - - www.thestmaartenpartybus.com
St. Maarten Beach Weddings -- www.weddings-in-stmaarten.com