Five Meals Worth Traveling for in Anguilla

Some of Anguilla's best crayfish at Barrel Stay

I’m cra-cra for crayfish. It’s Anguilla’s fault.

On this Caribbean island, you’re hard-pressed not to find it on the menu. Apparently, the crayfish population is alive and well in the waters surrounding Anguilla. That is until they find their way onto the dinner plate.

What’s a crayfish? And why did I choose lobster over this local delicacy the first time I saw it on the menu?

These saltwater-loving crustaceans should not to be confused with what you find dumped on a paper-lined table along with potatoes and corncobs in Bayou country. No, no. They’re more like the petite cousin of a lobster, but a little sweeter and much more accommodating to being dislodged from their shells.

I’ll always remember our first taste of this island staple. A couple next to us at the cozy and delicious Barrel Stay said they returned there every trip to have the restaurant’s crayfish, claiming it to be the best in Anguilla. One bite and I was a believer.

I only had the opportunity to test that theory one other time. All I can say is both experiences have me craving crayfish as I write.

Even with my newfound love affair with crayfish, there are many more culinary conquests to be had in Anguilla.

Johnnycakes are another must-try. Several restaurants served these warm cornmeal cakes as a part of their bread baskets. Johnnycakes are a cross between a biscuit and cornbread – two of my favorite bread choices and a marriage made in yeasty heaven.

While I expected good food in Anguilla, I had no idea how many great restaurants awaited us. You could easily stay for months and dine at a new place every night. With only five nights on the island, competition was steep for our stomach space.

Here are the five repeat-worthy meals that left a lasting impression on us.

Our Top Five Meals

Veya

Open air and casually elegant, this restaurant is a must-try. Next time, we’d slow roll our meal by starting the evening off with a cocktail in its eclectically designed and whimsical garden patio bar.

With too many tasty options, we asked for a description of the chef’s menu. The chef herself came out to describe it. Leave your order in her hands. You won’t regret it.

Barrel Stay

I could listen all night to the British co-owner of this restaurant recite the specials. In fact, we did ask her to repeat them.

This cozy restaurant delivered one of our best meals of the trip. Next time, I’ll be sure to try one of its signature dishes of seared foie gras. In fact, there are so many tasty options on the menu, it’s easy to make a case for eating here more than once during your stay.

Smokey’s at the Cove

This charming beachside restaurant did win our repeat business. Being within walking distance from our hotel, Cap Juluca, made it an easy lunch choice.

If you’re wanting something more casual, this would be a strong contender for dinner, as well.

Time your visit with one of Smokey’s music acts. The soothing sounds pair beautifully with the restaurant’s calamari, lobster rolls, burgers and rum punch. Pay extra to order the “special” rum punch. It makes for a more enchanting walk back to the hotel.

Jacala

This is another special place run by Frenchman. If French food is your thing, this is the place to visit.

The only disappointment was our starter of cucumber yogurt soup, which sounded interesting but tasted a bit bland. However, the tuna tartare, crayfish and filet more than made up for it in flavor.

Straw Hat

Straw Hat has a festive and lively atmosphere. It’s actually part of a hotel, but feels all its own. Anyplace that delivers warm Johnnycakes in a straw hat is OK in my book.

While the dishes we tried weren’t especially creative, they were solidly good, especially my snapper.

The other restaurants we heard great things about include Hibernia, Ocean Echo and Tasty’s. They’ll definitely make our dining list the next visit.

Until then, crayfish and Johnnycakes will make repeat appearances in my culinary sweet dreams.

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