Friday, May 14, 2010

Savoring St. Thomas


If you crave local creole cooking in St. Thomas, two names will always come up.  Cuzzin's and Gladys' Cafe are the two eateries that specialize in spicy and hearty Caribbean cuisine.   Located in a former 18th century stable on  bustling Back Street, Cuzzin's attracts lots of travelers.  Frothy drinks like the Green Iguana above, cater to touristy tastes but locals go for Virgin Islands home cooking like island style mutton, conch and curried anything.



Saltfish happens to be my favorite so I ordered this overflowing platter of it slathered with peppers, dumplings, plantains and cassava.

Cuzzin's is an intimate spot accented with vivid tablecloths and  brick walls.

The dancing lady logo on the Cuzzin's signs always looks to me like she's trying to shake off all the food she's just inhaled.


Gladys' Cafe is ensconced in a lovely  stonework courtyard, inside of what used to be a 17th century pump house.  The menu above, features a host of Caribbean favorites like roti, conch chowder and curried goat, as well as dishes that I've never seen, like jerked pork chops.


I sampled the curried chicken with rice and peas, macaroni pie and more cassava. You can't avoid starch overload on most islands so I just pretend that there's a vegetable or two on my plate and go for a long walk later.

Gladys' is bigger than Cuzzin's, with checked tablecloths and the gregarious Gladys, who actually hails from Antigua. 


Hot sauce is Gladys' real claim to fame, she makes a mustard version and a tomato based selection that's super hot. There's a rivalry between these two St. Thomas spots, some say that Cuzzin's  is more authentic and that Gladys' focuses too much on tourists and vice versa. Personally, I prefer Cuzzin's food and Gladys' ambiance.  I think both restaurant's offer important elements to  the St. Thomas experience.

18 comments:

A Girl in Asia said...

Both look intriguing - but I can see why you'd need a long walk afterwards! Love the sound of the hot sauces at Gladys' too!

Tiffany said...

I am so jealous of the plate of food looking right at me in this post.

Fly Girl said...

Liz, every meal I had in St. Thomas required a long walk!

Tiffany,so am I, which is why I'm ordering red snapper from my local Jamaican restaurant later!

A Cuban In London said...

Your post just reminded me of a Jamaican takeaway that sadly closed a few years ago and where I used to get my ackee and saltfish from. And that second picture said it all. I love you culinary posts.

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

Cubano, don't make me cry about ackee and saltfish! It's so expensive and hard to get here.

Catherine said...

that chicken curry looks amazing - why are there no caribbean restaurants here in mexico city?? we have just about everything else as evidenced by the Food festival on Reforma this wknd - 80 stalls 80 countries- that means eating my way from Argentina to Vietnam - yummy!!

Fly Girl said...

Catherine, Argentina to Vietnam! I can't believe that didn't have one Caribbean offering. You know, on the coast in Veracruz, the food is very similar to Caribbean style.

Lola said...

That chicken curry looks gooood!

eden said...

Looking at your pictures makes me hungry..lolz. The food looks really yummy. I love curried chicken with rice.

Fly Girl said...

Lola, I forgot to put my usual warning about not reading on an empty stomach with this food post!

Eden, the food was yummy, wish I had some now.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Delerctable. You know all the best eateries in the world.

Mary and Sean said...

I so want to visit St Thomas now, because of all your recommendations. The food looks yum!

Fly Girl said...

Jean-Luc, thanks.

Mary, I highly recommend it!

Footsteps said...

A book I've been reading ("Little Bee" by Chris Cleave) mentions cassava as a Nigerian staple. I'm curious about the taste. What might you compare it to?

Fly Girl said...

Heather, cassava is a staple throughout West Africa. In Nigeria, it's often pounded into a ball calld fufu. In the Caribbean, it's sometimes served in fried discs called bammy and in Latin America it's called manioc. The cassava is a starchy root vegetable that has a bland taste, similar to a white potato.

Viajera said...

Holy cow! The FOOD! Never been to the USVI, but looks worth a visit.

Ibou said...

The food looks delicious!

Fly Girl said...

Ibou, oh it was!