The soil on Nevis Island is magical. You can taste it in every bite of the local produce and the fresh caught fish. Simple, delicious cuisine made from fresh, locally grown ingredients is the basic philosophy behind every meal.
It is no accident that Nevis is known as the Queen of the Caribbean, Nevis is foodie paradise. The majority of the food consumed on Nevis is grown or harvested on the island itself. There are no fast food or chain restaurants. The island is dotted with Mom & Pop homestyle restaurants and cozy bistros. Seasoned with tropical flair and full of flavor, each meal feels like eating with family, warm and inviting, plus a few characters. From modest roadside shacks to the five-star luxury options at the Four Seasons, there is an earnest joyfulness during each meal or snack.
Drive along any road and it will only be a few minutes until you reach a nearby fruit stand. A small scale behind the counter is as high-tech as it gets. The simple, bright colored tin roof shacks are better stocked than my local chain grocery store!
Near the Ferry terminal in downtown Charlestown, the island’s largest farmer’s market offers a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, eggs, plus shirts and other attire.
Dining in Paradise
Nevis restaurants feature spectacular tropical views of Nevis Peak or oceanfront dining options, while a few offer the best of both. I need way more time to try out all of the dining options on Nevis, but I made good progress eating my way around the island. Here are the restaurants, beach bars, and cafes that I was able to sample during my visit.
Bella Vista at Mount Nevis Hotel
The dining area is the back patio of the hotel lobby overlooking the pool with spectacular views of St Kitts across the water. The staff is friendly and attentive. While service does tend to be on island time, the Caribbean cuisine featured is worth the wait. Offering a good wine selection and fantastic cocktails, the bruschetta appetizer was the perfect example of Caribbean flair to a traditionally Italian appetizer. The entire meal showcased the local herbs and produce in the sauces and preparation of familar dishes.
Chrishi Beach Restaurant
One of the prettiest spots for beach and brunch, Chrishi Beach Club offers a French flair to the European influenced menu of mostly sandwiches and salads. The service is prompt and friendly which can lead to a full afternoon of drinks and fun if you are not careful. The relaxed atmosphere and white sand beach plus delicious food will make you fall in love with Chrishi Beach Club.
Café des Arts
Cafe des Arts is a short walk from the Ferry Terminal in Charlestown. A cozy spot for a delicious cup of coffee and as well fresh, simple lunch options. The cafe offers a short menu of ingredients to create your own salad or sandwich for extremely quick service in a charming atmosphere. Cafe des Arts is as close to fast-casual dining that I experienced on the Island.
Nisbet Plantation Beach Club
The Thursday night seafood barbecue dinner served at Nisbet Plantation Beach Club is a weekly extravaganza! Starting with a hearty bowl of soup at the table, guests are the released to the buffet style serve yourself salad bar and an array of sides to choose from. A variety of prime meats including steak, shrimp, fresh caught fish, and chicken are grilled to your to your liking right before your eyes at the grill station. Be sure to save room for the dessert table filled with fruit, pies, tarts, cakes, and other sweet goodies.
Immediately following dinner, the party starts near the back bar patio with live music. Guests can sit on the beach chairs on listen to the ocean or get up close with the band and dance the night away.
Four Seasons Cabana Beach Bar
Expect nothing less than elegant poolside dining at the Four Seasons. The Cabana beach bar is an upscale open-air cafe between the pools and beach.
The appetizer selection is filled with decadent fried goodies while the lunch entrees feature salads and sandwiches. While my salad (lower left) was fresh and tasty, sampling a bite of the other dishes made me regret not getting the tuna poke or fish tacos. The fried conch fritters (upper left) were my favorite with the guava hot sauce. And all healthy thoughts went out the window when a mouth-watering burger was delivered to a nearby table, I am definitely going to order the burger on my next visit!
Yachtsman Grill is another great beach spot with access to the white sand beach directly in front of the restaurant. Take away the glorious beach and stunning views, and this is still THE spot to go for the food. Yachtsman Grill is simply the best. The service, location, cocktail selection, and the ambiance are second to none.
Dinner at Yachtsman Grill was the best meal that I ate on Nevis (and that is a very high bar of quality). The menu offers so much variety in salads, pizza, pasta, fresh caught fish and lobster, and even more meat dishes. There were a dozen different items on the menu that I wanted!
Not knowing what was to come, I was extremely pleased with the Island Caesar salad (top left) featuring candied walnuts, the highest quality imported shaved Parmesan and the sweet acidic punctuation from the grilled pineapple. Every foodie to visit Nevis should include the Yachtsman Grill, and specifically this salad, on the itinerary.
Unable to decide on an entree, I choose a fish dinner special, which was not on the regular printed menu. The sauce was light and creamy, complimenting the natural delicious flavor of the perfectly cooked fish, the accompanying vegetables explode with flavor. In every bite, you can taste that all of the breads, sauces, dips, and desserts are fresh made daily on premises.
Yachtsman is the place to go wild ordering from the dessert menu. The ice cream is rich and creamy from the abundance of egg yolks, so much so that the chef makes meringues and marshmallows in an attempt to use all of the extra egg whites left over from the ice cream. And I am not complaining (much). The soft gooey marshmallows melt on the tongue. I ate them one after another until I was buzzing from the sugar high. It definitely was not from the exquisite chocolate mousse.
Long after I was stuffed full, the plates of food delivered to surrounding tables continued to amaze and delight.
Bars and Beverages
While on an afternoon pub crawl around the island, we were met by friendly locals and enthusiastically free pouring bartenders. Meeting new friends at each stop, proprietors and customers alike welcomed us in for a drink (or three). The hospitality everywhere on the island is wholeheartedly genuine.
Fair warning, the local moonshine is strong! Each pub makes their own “Hammond” with varying degree of fire water to jet fuel flavor.
One of my favorite activities around the Caribbean is tasting the locally produced rums. Clifton Estate Rum has a bold taste, spiced without being too sweet with a strong orange flavor that compliments any mixer or equally as good served straight up. If Clifton Estate Rum is ever looking for a spokesmodel, I am available and can be paid in barrels of rum!
Locally Made Jams, Sauces, and Sugar Cakes
With the abundance of produce growing everywhere on the island, it is common to find locally made jams, sauces, and sweet treats. Available year round, and easily found during festivals, do not miss out on these local treasures.
I was raised on jalapeno peppers, so I am always ready to sample the hot sauce. Val’s Delights hot sauce is HOT and tasty. If you like extra kick, seriously do not miss out on the pepper sauce! The hot peppers are grown on-site and batches will have a slight variation in heat.
Still new to the island life, I had never heard of nor tried Sugar Cakes. Big mistake, I am quite addicted to these little goodies.
Ermine from Val’s Delights shared her recipe and showed us how to prepare Sugar Cakes, a traditional Caribbean island treat.
Val’s Delights Sugar Cake Recipe
- Combine 1/2 cup water, 2 cups brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger in a saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until boiling
- Add 2 cups grated fresh coconut, continue to boil for a couple minutes, then reduce heat until liquid is gone
- Optional 2-4 drops of bitters while boiling
- Drop mounts of the sugar cakes onto a slightly damp board to cool
Disclaimer: Special thanks to the Nevis Tourism Authority for inviting me to visit as part of an all expenses paid familiarization tour of the island. As always, all opinions are my own.