Culinary Capital

Tiny St. Maarten/St. Martin is a giant in the gastronomic world. The island, in fact, is the gateway to a world of flavors sure to please your palate. With hundreds of restaurants featuring melting-pot menus and innovative entrees, this Dutch-French island lives up to its reputation as the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.”

Across 37 square miles of rolling emerald hills and sparkling sandy shores, restaurants, cafes and bars reflect the cultural tastes of the settlers who have come here from all over the world. Innovative chefs as well are drawn to this regional gourmet capital, where they create fusion cuisines equal to and often surpassing those you’ll find in cosmopolitan cities.

On the Dutch side you’ll find a wide variety of treats imported from Holland: premium aged cheeses, candies like licorice dropjes, caramel-kissed wafers known as stroopwafels and gevulde koek, or almond paste cookies.

French food is ubiquitous, the best this side of the Champs-Élysées. Eateries line Grand Case Boulevard at the heart of a picturesque fishing village on the French northern end of the island. Walk the mile-long beach and work up an appetite as you take in the sunset and spectacular views of Anguilla. Traditional French culinary items such as pastries, bread and escargot star menus alongside Caribbean seafood dishes prepared with continental flair.

In addition, you owe it to yourself to try the local creole fare. Stop by a lolo, a small traditional eatery where you can sample succulent barbecued meats and fish, as well as national favorites like conch and dumplings and callaloo soup.

If you’d like to try exotic foods, indulge your appetite at an Indonesian restaurant featuring entrees like nasi goreng, a fried-rice specialty. Or you can settle back and savor American comfort classics like burgers and fries. You also can globe-trot by plate at restaurants celebrating the cuisines of Germany, Philippines, Japan, Italy, China, Suriname, Jamaica, Thailand, Peru and the Middle East, to name a few.

Wash it all down with a fine wine from France, a thirst-quenching Dutch beer or a ubiquitous rum cocktail. And you simply cannot leave St. Maarten/St. Martin without sampling some of the locally made guavaberry liqueur.

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