St. Martin and St. Maarten Restaurants

Although most people come to St. Maarten/St. Martin for sun and fun, they leave praising the cuisine. On an island that covers only 37 square miles (96 square km), there are more than 400 restaurants. You can sample the best dishes from France, Thailand, Italy, Vietnam, India, Japan, and, of course, the Caribbean. Many of the best restaurants are in Grand Case (on the French side), but you

should not limit your culinary adventures to that village. Great dining thrives throughout the island, from the bistros of Marigot and the hopping restaurants of Cupecoy to the low-key eateries of Simpson Bay and the many lolos (roadside barbecue stands) throughout. Loyalists on both "sides" will cheerfully try to steer you to their favorites, and though it’s common to cite high euro prices to deter exploration, quite a few restaurants still offer a one-to-one exchange rate if you use cash. Besides, main-course portions are often large enough to be shared.

During high season, it's essential to make reservations; a month in advance is advisable for some of the best places. Dutch-side restaurants sometimes include a 15% service charge, so check your bill before tipping. On the French side, service is usually included (worth checking, here, too), but it is customary to leave 5%–10% extra. Don’t leave tips on your credit card—it's customary to tip in cash. A taxi is probably the easiest solution to the parking problems in Grand Case, Marigot, and Philipsburg. Grand Case has two lots—each costs $4—at each end of the main boulevard, but they're often packed by 8 pm.

What to Wear: Although appropriate dining attire ranges from swimsuits to sport jackets, casual dress is usually appropriate. For men, a nice shirt and khakis or jeans will take you anywhere; for women, dressy pants, a skirt, or even fancy shorts are usually acceptable. Jeans are fine in the less formal eateries.

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