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. Many are still there and they're as incredible as ever, but during the last 12 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 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. Reservations are ALWAYS strongly recommended and ESSENTIAL in high season.
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 call.
Our top choices for breakfasts:
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. Try the Bagel Tower. They're open daily at 8 a.m. (7 a.m. on weekends). Delicious!
Check out Sucriere in the next section (breakfast croissants, excellent pastry) and Sarafina in Marina Royale in Margot; see next section.
Another great spot for breakfast is the buffet at La Patrona, the island's only 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 has great breakfasts. You can't miss at Toppers!
New: Guayabera Beach Club on Old Simpson Bay Road (along the shore) about 125 yards north of the Simpson Bay police station. Big, yummy breakfasts.
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. Isola next to Hollywood Casino is great too. Pizza & Co. opposite Vesna Taverna in Simpson Bay is the #1 choice of restaurateurs on the island, and Mama Pizza at Porto Cupecoy has great pizzas as well. Domino's is quite good too. Lots of amazing choices.
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 (now at Marina Royale).
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:
Vesna Taverna in Simpson Bay is a great place for lunch -- super service and a great selection of lunches plus even some Greek food. Great smoothies too!
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.
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.]
Mario Bistro, 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.
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.
Wasabi Charlie 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, it's next door to Pineapple Pete. 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 the small casino on Airport road near the lagoon end of the airport runway 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.
Emilio's where the top chef is the renowned Dino Jagtiani, 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 restaurant is located on the historic Emilio Wilson Estate just north of the Philipsburg Carrefour.
Taloula Mango's Caribbean Cafe / Blue Bitch Bar 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.
You'd need a good couple of weeks at least to sample some of the best Grand Case restaurants: Spiga & L'Auberge Gourmande are both 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.
These are in no special order:
Spiga Restaurant (Grand Case, French Side) -- www.spiga-sxm.com
Taloula Mango's Restaurant (Boardwalk, Philipsburg waterfront) -- www.taloulamangos.com
Etna Ice Cream - - www.etnaicecream.com
Tropical - Tropicana Car Rental - www.tropical-tropicana.com