While you probably think of exotic tropical flavors when imagining Caribbean cuisine, Red Hook, St. Thomas’ East End hub, is no stranger to delicious bar food. From burgers to pizza to sandwiches to pupu platters, Red Hook really has anything you need for your drunk munchies and/or hungover desperation meals.Read More›
At Endless Simmer, we love to travel, and when we travel, we love nothing more than eating. In fact, when we do visit a new place we almost can’t think of anything to do except for EAT. Museums? Um, sure…maybe if you need to kill some time in between meals. In our travels across six continents, we’ve sampled street food and Michelin-starred cuisine in hundreds of cities. But these five stand out as the very best for foodies.
Australia often gets a knack for having bland food, but that bad rep is not deserved. From deep-fried dagwood dogs to burgers with the works—which redefine what the works are—those Aussies come up with some pretty crazy concoctions. And super-hip Melbourne, more than anywhere, makes good use of the upside-down continent’s year-round harvest, with over-the-top farm-to-table meals on seemingly every street corner.
People (whiny Americans like us, mostly) love to complain about how Paris cuisine ain’t what it used to be. You can’t get a good steak frites anywhere these days; the croissants are often of middling quality; and the bistro are too packed with…well, whiny Americans like us. But despite the perception, eating in Paris has never really been about the fancy restaurants. It’s about popping into random boulangeries, grabbing a fresh-baked loaf of bread and a stinky hunk of cheese from the nearest fromagerie, and sitting in an otherworldly pristine park all day. Oh, and it’s about the macaroons. Obviously.
As luck would have it, the BEST food truck in St. Thomas (or quite possibly, anywhere ever) just happened to be located in the entrance of Sapphire Village, right where we were staying on the East End. When we were in the Virgin Islands last month, we heard they were gearing up to open a second truck on nearby Coki Beach as well. Double your chances to get in on this mouth-watering meat wonderland!
Off the Grid is a BBQ truck with a vibrant Caribbean twist. Pay only $15 for all-you-can-eat meats of the day such as wings, pork belly, brisket, pulled pork (A++++!) ribs, and mussels. Yes friends, BBQ mussels, and they were amazing, basted in a sticky-spicy-sweet sauce. BBQ sides are Caribbean style as well: gooey baked sweet potatoes, spicy-creamy rainbow slaw, rice and peas, etc.
Fellow vacation lushes, don’t worry, because Off the Grid also offers a bevy of booze. I, of course, opted for the bottomless mimosas (mixed with a homemade tropical fruit blend instead of your average orange juice) but they had fresh margs, beer, sangria, the whole shebang. As you probably know, Austin is ridiculously rife with BBQ and food trucks, so you might think an Austinite wouldn’t be able to find the novelty in eating at a BBQ truck on vacation, but this was worlds away from Texas BBQ. Plus, no food truck in Texas has this view.
Note: Off the Grid opens around 11am and closes when they run out of meat, often around 4-5pm. So plan on a big lunch/brunch here, not dinner. Bring your appetite and steel your liver.
More Endless Roadtrip USVI:
1. Caribbean Comfort at Gladys Cafe
2. Bones Rum Shop
When in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, one of my personal highlights is Bones Rum Shop on the waterfront. Bones is super smooth, produced right on St. Thomas using their centuries-old recipe, small batch distilling, and oak barrel aging.
But like I mentioned in my last USVI post, the islands are full of rum. So what’s so special about Bones? It’s SERVE YOURSELF, YO. You pick out your flavor of virgin frozen daiquiri, then they HAND YOU A BOTTLE OF RUM and then you POUR YOUR OWN RUM INTO YOUR DRINK. When Bones made their business plan, they clearly never realized I was coming to town. You do NOT give me that kind of power if you know what’s good for you.
FYI, travelers – Bones is somewhat hard to find online and I don’t know their exact address, but if you’re on the main waterfront, just look for their pirate sign. You can’t miss it.
More Endless Roadtrip USVI:
1. Caribbean Comfort at Gladys Cafe
Last month Rob and I embarked on a big, amazing Caribbean vacation to USVI. We mainly stayed in St. Thomas but went to St. John for a few days, Water Island for one day, and also embarked on a boating excursion around the BVI: Virgin Gorda, The Baths, Cooper Island, Norman Island, and Jost Van Dyke. Do I recommend it? ABSOLUTELY. The Virgin Islands were a badass vacation: the perfect mix of relaxation and activity, plus home to the best white sand beaches I’ve ever experienced.
We stayed in Red Hook, on the east side of the island, but the main town (and cruise port) in St. Thomas is Charlotte Amalie. While it’s very pretty (see the photo above – a clear day with no ships in port!), it gets crowded with tourists and shoppers when the ships are in. Charlotte Amalie is home to tons of duty-free shops, jewelry stores, designer bag sellers, etc… not really my scene. But hey! If you love to shop you might dig it.
But you know what else Charlotte Amalie has? One of the most popular and beloved traditional Caribbean restaurants in St. Thomas: Glady’s Cafe.
For example, if you serve a hamburger with giant onions ring on top, but then even an extra-large-mouthed person has to deconstruct the burger and take the onion rings off to get any kind of decent bite in, then that’s not really that crazy of a dish. It’s actually just a burger with onion rings on the side, but presented crazily, with more work involved for the eater. #foodaddictproblems
In Pittsburgh this weekend, home of the great Primanti’s french-fry-on-a-sandwich, I was fortunate enough to stop in Franktuary and be offered a hot dog served “Pittsburgh style” — topped with housemade, slaw and a housemade cucumber-y ranch dressing on top. Now, this could easily fall into the gimmick category if they overloaded that dog with so many pierogies that you have to pick them off and eat on the side. But with just two crispy pierogies on top it’s just crazy enough that you can actually pick the whole thing up and get a taste of each element — dog and dumpling included — in each bite.
In fact, they didn’t even offer me a fork. Bravo, Pittsburgh.
At Philly’s new V Street, the all-vegan menu is inspired by street food from around the world, fusing flavors from as far afield as Hungary, India, Peru and the Philippines into an amazing array of meat-free snacks like jerk trumpet mushrooms and harissa-grilled cauliflower mixed up with spiced avocado, olive salad and chermoula, an intensely flavorful North African marinade.
The cocktails are particularly off-the-wall—the “Cruz Control” mixes tequila with horchata, lime and tepache—a Mexican fermented pineapple drink—but the true crazy prize has to go to this dessert waffle: it’s layered with rich chocolate ganache, gooey bites of banana, vegan ice cream and a chunky miso caramel, with Sriracha peanuts and syrup poured over the whole thing. Yes, please.
(Photo: V Street)