Dining in Anguilla {2018/2019 Update}

Recommended Dining for Every Traveler

In 2016 I shared a post outlining my top dining in Anguilla, and as we begin the 2018/2019 season I’m realizing that we’re sorely overdue for an update! Anguilla is famed for its culinary scene but with dozens of restaurants available within the island’s 33 square miles, which is right for you? While the foodiest of foodies would be perfectly content spending weeks dining on island, we find that most guests prefer a mix of flavors and vibes: a few fine-dining experiences alongside more casual spots and local establishments.

Since I wrote my original version of this post in 2016, things in Anguilla have changed: Irma passed, closing a number of hotels and restaurants in her wake, but it also created an opportunity for new restauranteurs to jump into the scene. This season is an exciting one, where many tried-and-true favorites are reopening and a go-to fan favorite is bringing a beautiful new menu to the playing field. Some of my recs have stayed the same, which is a testament to consistency with some of the island’s all-stars, but there are some newbies that are shaking up the scene.

Heading to the island? Here’s some inspiration for dining in Anguilla:

For Romance

Straw Hat Restaurant, Anguilla Destination Wedding

When it comes to romantic dining locales, there’s absolutely no shortage on Anguilla. With stunning, perfectly lit beachfront restaurants serving up world-class cuisine, how do you possibly pick? Well, the beauty is that with so many island favorites, it’s hard to go wrong even for the gourmands in the group.

For a romantic seaside dinner a deux, try Jacala for authentic French cuisine, Dolce Vita for Italian (the gorgonzola gnocchi is a must) or Straw Hat for upscale Caribbean fare. Mango’s Restaurant, which was closed for the entirety of last season following the passing of Irma, will be enjoying a highly anticipated re-opening mid-November.

For a Beachy Lunch Break

Dining in Anguilla: Jacala Restaurant

With so much great dining on the island, lunch becomes strategic for many diners. It’s a great way to try a new restaurant (in some cases, places that may a bit beyond budget for dinner), while scoping out different beach scenes. Natural bias aside, one of my favorite lunch spots on the island for both food and setting is Straw Hat Restaurant on Meads Bay. Their Asian salad is my new daily go-to and their spicy fish sandwich may be the best iteration on the island. Other great restaurants for lunch with the option of enjoying beach chairs:

For the Family

Top Dining in Anguilla for Every Traveler - The Wanderlust Effect #anguilla #caribbean

For families dining in Anguilla with young children, the scene can seem overwhelming. The best bets seem to be restaurants that serve up great cuisine, offer kid-friendly options, and a setting that will allow restless little ones to run around in the sand without anyone looking twice. For a casual option, Blanchard’s Beach Shack ticks all of the boxes with great inputs in a perfectly family friendly environment. If you’re looking for something more established, head to Sandbar in Sandy Ground, where little ones can play on the beach when they need to release some energy. The small plates are great for sharing and there’s plenty of kid-friendly options! In Island Harbour on Anguilla’s eastern side, Artisan Pizza is our go-to for delicious thin crust pizza with a menu that’s as thick as a book. We’ve tried a range and they’re all wonderful, plus they’re super thin which means you’ can order a few to share!


Dining in Anguilla: Sunshine Shack
Afternoons at the Sunshine Shack

‘Rice and peas’, served together as a single side, is technically the national food of Anguilla but it would be a sin to eat it solo. The ever-present BBQ, typically chicken or ribs, is the island’s national de fact cuisine, and there’s no shortage of great places to get your fix.

For lunch, the Sunshine Shack has become the island favorite, where you can cozy up on Rendezvous Bay with your choice of ribs, chicken, whole snapper or lobster along with a host of traditional sides. Cocktails will set you back $10 – $12 each, while food ranges from $15 – $25 depending on your order. Chairs are included so take a couple of towels and spend the day in the sun.

The go-to for the island’s best by night? Ken’s Pork in the Valley, a restaurant that operates on ‘the Strip’ (a small stretch in the Valley) under a tent on the weekends. Watch their team work and you’ll see the machine in action: Racks and racks of ribs are lined up on one super-sized grill, with chicken roasting away nearby. A line of locals, tourists, and expats will attest to the fact that these guys do it right, and they have been for years. A heaping container of chicken, ribs, or a combo of the two will typically cost you less than $10, and you can finish it off with rice and peas, or with their buttery garlic bread. Take it to go, or sit on their picnic tables to take it all in.

Most Anticipated Opening of 2018/2019

When I wrote my post in 2016, I was coincidentally anticipating the opening of a Marc Alvarez-helmed restaurant when he was pioneering the revival of the restaurant at Cove Castles. This year, the anticipation is doubly real as Chef Alvarez prepares to open his new concept, Ember, for festive season. Marc is a friend of ours but that doesn’t color my view on his talent: in my mind, he’s amongst the most talented chefs on the island, with a passionate approach to gastronomy and a truly innovative take on melding cuisines. For those that have frequented the island for years, Ember will be where Luna Rosa and AXA Seafood House once resided, and after getting a glimpse into his menu ahead of time, let’s just say it’s shaping up to be one of my favorite menus on the island!

For Great Local Cuisine

Dining in Anguilla: E's Oven

When it comes to great local cuisine in an established restaurant (this excludes those great roadside stands and food trucks), there are a few restaurants that have really positioned themselves as must-tries for the average tourist to the island. My ‘favorite’ seems to change annually but in the last couple of years E’s Oven has really risen to the occasion each time we’ve dined there. Service has always been a bit on the slower side (island time) but the food has always been exceptional. When in doubt, go for the coconut crusted grouper. My favorite newcomer to the scene is Sharky’s, which pleasantly surprised us from our first meal. Since then, it’s become one of our personal favorites for a casual dinner with wonderful food. Headed by Lowell Hodge (formerly of Blanchard’s), the food coming out of the kitchen is great and the menu is continuing to expand. Sharky’s is quite literally based in his front yard, with tables situated on his front deck. To us, that’s added charm, and we’ve never had any diners disappointed with their experience.

For a Unique Setting

How can you not be intrigued by a restaurant best described as a ‘treehouse-style’ setting. On an island where seaside dining is often a prerequisite on diners’ checklists, Veya challenges the notion that you have to be water front to be a fabulous five-star setting. En route to Sandy Ground – but not on the water – Veya’s setting is one of the island’s most unique and captivating. Diners sit outside along a wood balcony surrounded by landscaping or inside in a warmly lit space. The restaurant has music playing downstairs (at Meze Restaurant, their loungey counterpart) many nights of the week, and the local sounds make their way upstairs for ideal volume control. Consistently ranked amongst the island’s best restaurants, Veya’s reputation precedes itself. Their shrimp cigars are a go-to appetizer, and their tuna entrée (served with pineapple and a rum sauce for the ultimate island inspired meal) is a standout.

For Breakfast

Breakfast with a view. ?

Breakfast is always a rather elusive meal on Anguilla. Visitors staying at hotels and resorts will often have breakfast available on site, but what if you want to venture out? There are a few options for splurge-worthy breakfasts with a view, and a few that allow for a casual morning budget-friendly bite. If you’re inclined to start your morning with a sweet treat, head to Village Bakehouse or Le Bon Pain, both of which get rave reviews for their baked goods. For something a bit more substantial, try Tasty’swhich serves traditional breakfast options on the main road. If you’re looking for a view with your morning meal, three options come to mind immediately, all with different vibes: Roy’s Bayside GrillStraw Hat Restaurantand Four Seasons. Roy’s is our go-to for Christmas morning when we sip rummy egg nog overlooking Sandy Ground with our family (Roy’s does egg nog best!), but every other day of the year they offer up a substantial breakfast menu in a family friendly setting. If you want to practically eat on the sand on Meads Bay, Straw Hat is your go-to. It’s as close as you’ll get to Meads Bay, and their breakfast offerings (I can never seem to order anything but the Caribbean avocado toast) bring Caribbean twists to an excellent breakfast spread. Lastly, let’s talk Four Seasons, where I most recently shared breakfast with a gaggle of women for a baby shower. Served at Cobá on the bluff top with sweeping views, you’ll have a choice of a la carte breakfast options or a drool-worthy buffet and while you’re not on the water, the views are a spectacular accompaniment to a morning meal.

For the Best in Fun, Casual Dinners

Top Dining in Anguilla for Every Traveler

Leave it to the Californians to admit that amidst this incredible island dining scene, there’s one restaurant that reigns supreme: Picante. A casual Mexican restaurant with a Caribbean twist, Picante is an expat and local go-to, and consistently a tourist favorite. What’s not to love about fresh grilled fish tacos, Mexican-style street corn, and Serrano chili margaritas? The food is fabulous (if you disagree we’re going to have to have a serious come-to-Jesus), and the setting is atmospheric despite not being on the water. It’s what I think most people truly want in an evening out: not the slightest bit pretentious, with food that leaves you wanting more.

For a Fabulous Lunch

Dining in Anguilla: Jacala
The lobster lunch, available on Sundays at Jacala

A great lunch on the island can take many forms: toes-in-the-sand BBQ, fish sandwiches on the beach, a to-go picnic lunch at your favorite hidden cove, but the most fabulous of island lunches imaginable? JacalaMost people include Jacala in their must-visit dinner list for a weeklong escape to Anguilla but if I’m being honest, I prefer it for lunch. The setting at Jacala on stunning Meads Bay is breathtaking, and the colors are made more awe-inspiring by day when the sun is shining. Equipped with a bottle of crisp rosé and a coursed out lunch that will transport you to the South of France, there’s hardly anything better. Don’t miss their tuna carpaccio to start, and be sure to try their spicy rum for a zesty finish.

For a Burger & Beer

Okay guys, let’s be honest: I don’t drink beer and I’m a vegetarian so I had to defer to my more omnivorous half for insight when it comes to burgers and beer on the island. There’s no clear winner in this category, but there are two that reign supreme: Ferry Boat Inn and Roy’s Bayside Grill. Roy’s is getting a facelift this season and will be unveiling its new look beginning in December. They serve a range of beers, including Heineken on tap. If you’re intrigued with the newly-released AXA Ale, head to Ferry Boat Inn, one of a few restaurants on Anguilla serving the new brew {FBI owner and operator, Christian McClean, is involved with AXA Brewing Company}.

For Small Plates

Dining in Anguilla: Blanchard's Restaurant
Blanchard’s: arancini, cauliflower + risotto featured

I’m a huge fan of small plates, especially as far as groups are concerned. They’re a great way to sample a range of flavors in just a few bites, plus there’s typically something to satisfy all palates and dietary restrictions. Sandbarlocated in the heart of Sandy Ground, has always been our go-to and consistently puts out a range of excellent small plates in a gorgeous setting. This year we’re thrilled to have an island institution bringing small plates to their menu as well! Blanchard’s, historically a go-to for fine dining experiences, has revamped their menu and jettisoned the formality of years past for a more approachable feel with innovative shareable plates that are knocking it out of the park. On our first night, four of us shared upwards of 10 plates – all wonderful – and still had plenty left to try on a future visit. Their grilled octopus, crayfish ceviche, and arancini were standouts, but everything we had was perfectly executed. I always enjoyed Blanchard’s in past years but the Blanchard’s of 2018/2019 is slated to be one of my new faves.

For a Pre-Dinner Cocktail

Drinks at Quintessence: 25 Things to Do in Anguilla
Pre-dinner views at The Q

As far as picturesque bars are concerned, my new favorite to the scene is Quintessence Hotel, or ‘The Q’ as it’s locally known. Their biggest downfall is that they don’t have a proper cocktail list for inspo, just a spirits list, which makes them more of a go-to for classic cocktails vs. quirky craft varieties. Fellow greyhound lovers, you’ll be excited for the fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. ? With lush landscaping, a carefully curated art collection, and gorgeous sunset views, it’s a luxe escape for happy hour and one of my new favorites stops for a special experience with guests in town.

Four Seasons’ Sunset Lounge continues to be a fan favorite for a pre-dinner cocktail as well. The setting brings some serious wow-factor, and while the drink prices aren’t for the faint of heart, the drink selection is one of the best on Anguilla. With offerings like a spicy daiquiris on the rocks, a mojito selection, and great takes on classic cocktails, there is something to satisfy everyone’s boozy desires. Looking for an after-dinner spot? Your best bet is to go on a Friday night when they have live music to really maximize the experience!

We haven’t explored every island in the Caribbean — far from it! — but based on where we have been, Anguilla knocks it out of the park on a culinary level from my experiences. There are other islands we’ve been to with great dining, but rarely with such a diverse offering of establishments all done at such an impressive level. Whether you prefer more casual and beachy or slant towards a nightly five-star experience, dining in Anguilla manages to satisfy a range of palates… and the island views don’t hurt, either. ??

Did your favorite make the list? Any other favorites that are musts when you’re on island?
Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect
?? Planning your island escape? Here’s some inspiration for 25 things to do in Anguilla.

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. Additionally, Shannon is the founder of Compass & Vine, a luxury boutique travel design firm, and is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort. Shannon holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and is a current candidate for WSET Level 3 in Wines & Spirits.