Spicy Jerk Chicken, a popular US Virgin Islands food.

Craving a taste of paradise? The U.S. Virgin Islands food is a uniquely delicious party on your plate. Imagine Caribbean flavors with West African spices, European flair, and American down-home cooking. The result: a mouth-watering experience from breakfast to dinner.

Top Local Dishes

  • Fungi & Fish: Seafood reigns in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Its national dish, Fungi & Fish, combines the islands’ fishing heritage and locals’ love for creative cooking. Fungi (pronounced foon-gee) is a Caribbean staple. It’s a creamy side dish made with cornmeal mush, butter, and sometimes okra for texture.
  • Fish: The “fish” in Fungi & Fish can be anything from the freshest snapper or mahi-mahi to kingfish or marlin. Locals cook it perfectly— steamed, pan-fried, or stewed in a light Creole sauce with Caribbean spices.
  • Conch Fritters: Have you ever experienced a flavor explosion in your mouth disguised as a golden nugget? That’s a conch fritter. Islanders encase tender chunks of fresh conch, a local shellfish, in a crispy, flavorful batter and deep-fry them. They’re the perfect finger food with a cold drink for a sunny beach day.
  • Johnnycakes: These cakes are the USVI’s answer to tortillas, but way more delicious. Locals make the cakes by mixing cornmeal, flour, and water, then frying them until golden brown. They’re soft and slightly sweet, perfect for scooping up stews, mopping up sauces, or enjoying with butter.
  • Roti: This wrap is a Caribbean twist on the Indian flatbread. It’s a warm, pillowy flatbread stuffed with a fragrant curry of your choice – chicken, goat, vegetables, you name it. It’s a hearty and flavorful option for lunch or dinner.

Unique Dishes

  • Cow Heel Soup: This is a local favorite, especially on a chilly day. The slow-cooked cow heel adds rich flavor to the broth, making it surprisingly delicious and comforting.
  • Callaloo: This vibrant green stew is a vegetarian’s dream—a healthy and flavorful side dish or light meal. It’s packed with leafy greens like spinach, okra, and spices. For a heartier option, you can add seafood or chicken.

Seafood Specials | U.S. Virgin Islands Food

  • Mahi-Mahi: This vibrantly colored fish, also known as dolphinfish, is a favorite for its versatility. Imagine melt-in-your-mouth mahi-mahi steaks grilled to smoky perfection and drizzled with a tangy citrus marinade. Or maybe something lighter? Mahi-mahi ceviche is a refreshing option, with the fish cured in lime juice and tossed with peppers, onions, and cilantro.
  • Wahoo: This fast-swimming fish translates its energy onto your plate with its firm, meaty texture. Islanders often grill Wahoo steaks and blacken them with bold flavors to complement the fish’s natural sweetness. If you’re feeling adventurous, try wahoo sashimi for a taste of Japanese flavor. Cooks slice the fish thinly and serve it with wasabi and soy sauce.
  • Conch: Try other conch dishes besides fritters. Conch salad is a refreshing ceviche-like dish for a light lunch. Craving something more comforting? Conch chowder is a creamy soup with tender conch meat, veggies, and a touch of Caribbean spice.

Street Food

  • Pates: The king of USVI street food is the pate (pronounced pah-tay). They’re flaky, golden pockets of fried dough with savory fillings such as spiced ground beef or chicken. Adventurous foodies can find variations with curried vegetables, conch, or lobster. Pates are portable and perfect for grabbing on the go while exploring historic sites or enjoying the beach.
  • Sweets: Save room for dessert! The USVI street food scene has a sweet tooth, too. Look for vendors selling Johnny cakes dusted with cinnamon sugar for a warm, comforting snack. Freshly squeezed fruit juices are another popular, refreshing way to quench your thirst on hot days.

Pro Tip: Embrace the local vibe with street food! Ask vendors for recommendations – they’re usually happy to share their favorites and explain what makes each dish special.

Drinks | U.S. Virgin Islands Food

  • Rum: The U.S. Virgin Islands has a long-standing love affair with rum, dating back centuries. Sugarcane plantations once dominated the landscape, and the leftover molasses became the key ingredient for rum production. USVI rums cater to various palates, from crystal-clear white rums to deep amber-aged varieties. Enjoy them neat or as a base for cocktails.
  • Bush Tea: Try this tea to taste the island tradition. Islanders brew this herbal concoction from various leaves, roots, and spices. You can enjoy it hot or cold. It’s not just refreshing; it’s believed to have health benefits, making it a local favorite.
  • Cruzan Rum Punch: This drink celebrates all things USVI. Cruzan Rum, the territory’s most famous brand, takes center stage, mixed with tropical fruit juices, grenadine, and nutmeg. It’s a sweet, refreshing, and potent way to toast good times under the Caribbean sun.
  • Peanut Punch: The name shouldn’t fool you — peanut butter isn’t in this delightful drink! This creamy concoction is made with rum, milk, vanilla, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s smooth and flavorful, perfect for those wanting something different.

Dining Options

The U.S. Virgin Islands are a foodie’s paradise, catering to every craving and budget. Whether you’re seeking a romantic evening or a quick bite between adventures, there’s something to tantalize your taste buds.

Fine Dining Delights

The USVI has white-tablecloth establishments for special occasions that will tantalize your taste buds and impress your date. Imagine elegant settings overlooking the turquoise waters, with impeccably presented plates showcasing fresh local ingredients. A popular choice is Petite Pump Room Bar & Restaurant on St. Thomas, known for its innovative Caribbean cuisine.

Casual Classics

The USVI also has many casual diners and beachside bars for a relaxed and affordable meal. These spots are ideal for soaking up the local vibe and mingling with friendly islanders. Think fresh seafood platters, burgers, and cocktails enjoyed with your toes in the sand. Tickles Dockside Pub on St. John’s is a local favorite, offering a menu that caters to every appetite.

Global Grub

Craving home or a culinary adventure from another corner of the world? The USVI’s international scene won’t disappoint. From Italian trattorias to French bistros and Asian fusion restaurants, you can find anything. The Twisted Cork Cafe on St. Croix offers delicious and innovative global cuisine, focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Local Legends

No trip to the USVI is complete without experiencing the heart and soul of the islands’ food scene — the local legends. These family-run restaurants, often passed down through generations, offer traditional dishes at friendly prices. Think juicy jerk chicken with smoky BBQ flavor, comforting stews, and fresh-caught fish. Bernie’s Bar & Grill on St. John’s is a beloved local institution, famous for its friendly atmosphere and legendary johnnycakes.

 Farm-to-Table Movement | U.S. Virgin Islands Food

The U.S. Virgin Islands have embraced the farm-to-table revolution, emphasizing fresh, locally sourced ingredients. This brings diners closer to food sources and supports sustainable farming.

Imagine biting into a juicy tomato still warm from the Caribbean sun. Or, savoring fish so fresh it leaped from the ocean onto your plate. That’s the magic of farm-to-table dining.

  • Fresh is Best: There are many reasons to love this movement. Farm-to-table restaurants guarantee peak flavor. Locally sourced ingredients haven’t traveled long distances, so they retain their natural vibrancy and taste. Think sweet, sun-ripened mangoes instead of pale, store-bought ones.
  • Supporting Local Heroes: Beyond taste, farm-to-table dining benefits the islands. By supporting local farmers and fishermen, these restaurants boost the USVI economy and create a sustainable food system. It’s a win-win — diners get a superior experience, and the islands thrive.

Where to Find Farm-to-Table Feasts

How can you experience this culinary revolution firsthand? Look for restaurants that proudly proclaim their farm-to-table ethos. Often, their menus change seasonally, reflecting the freshest ingredients from local farms and fisheries.

Popular picks include:

  • Ridge to Reef Farm on St. Croix: This restaurant is a working farm that offers tours and cooking classes. It also allows you to dine on what you helped harvest.
  • Etel’s Kitchen on St. Thomas: This eatery focuses on local ingredients, innovative cuisine, and fresh seafood.

FAQs | U.S. Virgin Islands Food

Q1: What’s the national dish of the U.S. Virgin Islands?

The national dish of the USVI is Fungi & Fish.

Q2: What popular local dishes should I try?

Must-tries include Fish & Fungi, Johnny cake, Cow Heel Soup, and conch fritters.

Q3: What are the seafood specialties in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

Popular options include grilled or fried tuna, wahoo, snapper, mahi-mahi, grouper, local catches, spiny lobster, and conch. Restaurants like Caribbean Fish Market and Oceana Restaurant & Bistro offer these dishes.

Q4: What are the most popular street foods in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

Popular street foods here include pates, Johnny cakes, and roti.

Q5: Which local drinks should I try?

Sample the famous rums, from crystal-clear varieties to aged amber delights. Try bush tea, Cruzan Rum Punch, and Peanut Punch, too.

Q6: What dining options do you recommend in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

Check out Petite Pump Room Bar & Restaurant on St. Thomas for fine dining and Tickles Dockside Pub on St. John for casual dining—sample international cuisine at The Twisted Cork Cafe on St. Croix. For family-run restaurants, visit Bernie’s Bar & Grill on St. John. For farm-to-table dining, try Ridge to Reef Farm on St. Croix or Etel’s Kitchen on St. Thomas.

Your USVI Culinary Adventure Awaits!

The U.S. Virgin Islands are a paradise for your taste buds as much as your eyes. From fresh seafood feasts to vibrant local dishes, the islands offer a unique culinary adventure. Imagine romantic evenings savoring exquisite cuisine under a starlit sky or afternoons filled with laughter and delicious street food.

Ready to set sail on a luxurious culinary adventure through the U.S. Virgin Islands and beyond? Charter the Caribbean, a member of the CKIM Group, specializes in creating remarkable crewed yacht vacations in the Caribbean. Explore hidden coves and pristine beaches while indulging in world-class cuisine prepared by your private chef on board.

Contact our sister company, ILX Travel, for seamless travel arrangements to the U.S. Virgin Islands.