dining in vieques

Nov 19th, 2006, 09:08 AM
  #1  
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dining in vieques

my husband and i will be staying at hacienda tamarindo for a week this winter. i would appreciate any suggestions for places to have dinner that are both delicious and reasonable, accent of the delicious. after many years of traveling in the caribbean, i know that dinner is not "cheap". we will be renting a vehicle but if there are places within walking distances that is preferable to driving at night.
putch29m is offline  
Nov 19th, 2006, 03:31 PM
  #2  
 
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From HT, I think you may be able to walk to Inn on the Blue horizon. Long driveway in, though.
They have a beautiful outdoor bar area with a simple menu, often tapas, then their restaurant "Carambola". We felt the menu was a bit sophisticated, (and expensive) but that is just us.
A short drive from where you are staying is the town of Esperanza, the more touristy of the towns. In a strip along the Malecon there are several restaurants. You will love Tradewinds, lots of fresh fish dishes, pasta dishes, awesome Pina Coladas and Key Lime Pie. Bananas is a great place forlunch or a simple dinner.
Out in the boonies there is a place called Chez Shack, Monday night BBQ, really simple, really good and fun. Calipso music on Mondays, a fun time.
Don;t forget to check out biobay!
mahobaygirl is offline  
Nov 19th, 2006, 06:02 PM
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I have been to Vieques twice, in March 2005 and March 2006. The food at Chez Shack had noticeably deteriorated on our second visit. We had a lovely meal at the Island Steakhouse at the Crow's Nest. The Cheesecake Doghouse on the Malecon in Esperanza has reasonable and delicious breakfast and lunch. No matter where you go, reservations at dinner are essential (except at Bananas). Cafe Mamasonga's near the ferry dock in Isabel also has terrific breakfast.
eaf2007 is offline  
Nov 19th, 2006, 07:01 PM
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Yes, Inn on the Blue Horizon is within walking distance down the hill from HacTam. We only ate at the bar/cafe, not the formal restaurant, but we enjoyed it. The walk between the two inns is not lit, so you might want to ask about borrowing a flashlight from the HactTam, or just travel with your own small one.

I also agree with the suggestion of Tradewinds, where we enjoyed some very good seafood. While the distance itself would be walkable from HacTam, the road is busy and dark leading there, and I personally would not at all feel comfortable walking there for motor safety reasons. We also enjoyed the sanwiches and finger foods at Bananas, farther down the malecon from Tradewinds, but we didn't care for their fancier fare.

Our best fancy meal was at Media Luna in Isabel II. When you make your reservation, ask for a table for two out on a private balcony for a romantic evening. This restauant is the favorite of Alta, the woman who runs the desk at HacTam.

We were hoping to try the tapas menu at Bravo Beach Hotel, but they were closed during our stay. I've heard great things about that place from two friends I know who are building homes on Vieques.

Hope you enjoy your time at the Hac Tam. What room did you end up booking?
ejcrowe is offline  
Nov 20th, 2006, 03:41 AM
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The tapas at Bravo Beach Hotel are wonderful. I love the ambience of the outdoor bar area, it is quiet and dimly lit in red, trees all around you and the pool right there. It is like a little oasis!
They also have an inside restaurant.

We are looking forward to trying Mamasonga's, have heard great things about it, but whenever we are in the area it is closed!

There is also a pizza place by the Green Store in Esperanza. Family run. Very busy, but their number is on the side of the building if you want to call first. The best pizza on the island!
mahobaygirl is offline  
Nov 20th, 2006, 06:56 PM
  #6  
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i believe the room we've been given is #23. even though we made reservations a few months ago, that room was the "best" they could offer. i had second thoughts about our choice of hotels yesterday when i saw that Travel and Leisure magazine recommended ,for a good deal on vieques, bravo beach hotel .
putch29m is offline  
Nov 21st, 2006, 03:24 AM
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putch:
BBH is located in town, can be busy and congested. Though the hotel looks over the beach and is not in the middle of the town, you still need to go through town to get anywhere, and that can be crazy, especially when the ferry comes in! You will be happy withyour choice.
mahobaygirl is offline  
Nov 21st, 2006, 06:40 AM
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I agree with the above poster. Bravo Beach is really a misnomer. Not much of a beach, mostly rock. Very congested area.
HowardC is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2006, 03:22 PM
  #9  
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thank you for making me feel good about my choice of hotels in vieques. Travel and Leisure, i guess, has its own criteria for judging hotels but i trust people who have been there and speak from personal experience. once again, this site has proven itself to be terrific.
putch29m is offline  
Nov 26th, 2006, 08:33 AM
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To add one more voice of agreement, BBH would not be my first choice either. Have a wonderful time!
eaf2007 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2006, 06:24 AM
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Just got back from Vieques and Puerto Rico.... we ate at Tradewinds, Bili and Bananas.

Tradewinds was very good, Bananas was good too and about half the price ( the red snapper sandwich was very good without the pickles!). We picked up food to go from Bili's ... good chicken Waldorf salad and reasonable coffee.

I suggest you do drive at night as the walk from your hotel to the town is just under a mile and there's no lights or sidewalk but plenty of mosquitoes!

We stayed at Hector's by the Sea which was lovely.
highflyer is offline  
Nov 29th, 2006, 11:53 AM
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Just returned from Vieques last night. I was so surprised at how busy the island was after reading about how quiet it was! Seems the thanksgiving holiday weekend is a popular time for the island as many come over from PR for the weekend. It quieted down noticeably Sunday.

We stayed at the Hac Tam. Nice place, very comfortable, great breakfast, good staff. BtwÖ I think room 23 will be very acceptable. I wouldnít have minded it at all. The view is spectacular. We went to all the Garcia beaches, Sun Bay, Media Luna and Navio. We loved Navio best of all. It was the quietest (max 10 people) and the widest.

Vieques is not a place for dining in my opinion. There are plenty of places to eat but nothing spectacular. Tradewinds is ok, Bananas is ok. We tried Media Luna and were very unimpressed. The atmosphere is ok, the food was ok, the service was horrible. It was certainly not a $100 meal I would recommend to any one! There is a Mexican restaurant that is opening this weekend at the bottom of the hill from the Hac Tam in the BioBay building.

We did the bio bay trip and Benicio Del ToroI was on our trip! I had been to a bio bay once before in PR but it was my husbandís first experience. It is one he wonít forget! Island Adventures is out of business for a while because they had a boat fire the night we went. (in the wee hours of the am). You may want to send an email to find out the status of you planned to be there in the near future.

It was our first trip to Vieques. All in all it is a nice island. I found it lacking in Caribbean charm though. Most of the businesses are american run and most of the people who work at them are americans and the food is mostly american.

Donít get me wrong, we enjoyed our stay and likely would go back. We loved the beauty of the island, the wild horses and the beaches.
sunni is offline  
Nov 29th, 2006, 03:31 PM
  #13  
owa
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sunni, Thanks for your trip report. Did you do any snorkeling? I have to agree with you about Media Luna. Small servings and too expensive. We were in Vieques a year ago and will be back there in January. We loved the island and the snorkeling off empty beaches. We like to cook some of our meals so we are renting a house this time. Thanks again, Owa
 
Nov 29th, 2006, 04:41 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Hi Owa,
No we didnít do any snorkeling. We didnít bring any gear with us and to be honest didnít really notice any where to rent any. Do you bring gear along with you? We didnít want to check anything in because our connection on cape air was about an hour after landing and didnít want to wait for baggage if our 1st fight was late.

BtwÖmahobaygirl. I think Mamasonga's may be closed down. A bartender at Alís said it had been closed for about 6 month due to an illness in the family and they are not sure it will open again. I was looking forward to trying it too!
sunni is offline  
Nov 29th, 2006, 04:51 PM
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i don't understand how one person can rave about media luna and 2 other people absolutely don't recommend it. what about tradewinds? is there agreement on that being good? how is dinner at inn of the blue horizon? i am so impressed with the swiftness and the quality of your responses. once again, relating your experiences is so helpful!
putch29m is offline  
Nov 29th, 2006, 05:42 PM
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I think as far as the dining goes in Vieques, just as anywhere, it is all subjective. We all have different tastes and expectations. And you never know if an establishment is having a "bad night".
We have never had a meal at Media Luna, but I have heard it is good, though the portions are more like tapas. We almost went in one night, but they were not yet open. The owner invited us in to sit and have a drink while we waited, but to be honest, the menu just did not appeal to us.
I have also read that the owners of the Parrot Club in OSJ have bought Media Luna. It has been for sale and maybe this is the beginning of the end.
Tradewinds, everyone loves. Awesome breakfast, have the florentine benedict! Their dinner menu is heavy on fish and pasta dishes. We do not love fish. Usually we order from the appetizer menu which is great and have their awesome pina coladas. It is more the atmosphere, sitting at the bar and meeting people that brings us there.
Sorry to hear about Mamasonga's, we were looking forward to trying it. Hope all is well with them.
Sunni, I completely understand what you mean about the island lacking Caribbean charm. I was spoiled by my first time being in the VI's. But the more time I spend there, it does grow onyou!!
You get more of the local feel down in Isabel, not so Americanized.
The holiday weekends, the island is overflowed with people from the big island, it is their holiday spot!! Easter Sunday, very busy on the beaches.

That is a big deal aobut Island Adventures. A young couple just bought the business, maybe a year ago. Hopefully they can get back in gear before the high season.

mahobaygirl is offline  
Nov 29th, 2006, 08:10 PM
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putch, as Albus Dumbledore says, if you're holding out for universal popularity, you'll be waiting a long time!

On any given night two people can dine at the same restaurant and have opposite experiences. By the same token, the same person can eat at the same restaurant two nights in a row and have opposite experiences. If you don't want to take a chance on Media Luna, skip it. There are plenty of other places on the island. It happened to be my best meal for my trip, but that's clearly not the case for folks like Sunni and Owa. You'll just have to decide which places you want to take a chance on.

I've had two different restaurant experiences at the supposed "best" place on the island -- The Cliff on Barbados and Ottley's on St. Kitts. While neither meal was bad, I was underwhelmed by both of them, especially in terms of value. Other folks simply rave about them. Just a combination of luck of the draw and willingness of the palate, I suppose.
ejcrowe is offline  
Nov 30th, 2006, 07:09 AM
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Vieques isn't on a par with Anguilla for fine dining and to be honest we're not foodies.
We ate out at restaurants only twice while we were there for 4nights (Tradewinds and Bananas). Both were good but I wouldn't consider either anything close to 'fine dining'. I did enjoy the shrimp mofongo at Tradewinds but as it was the first time I tried mofongo I can't compare it to any previous experience.

We arrived on the island at Thanksgiving and I wasn't surprised to see many people taking coolers of food on the ferry. We brought a small one with some good cheese but some people were hauling huge amounts and the reason why was evident when I surveyed the food at a couple of local grocery stores.

We found an excellent fruit and veg roadside store near Isabel (with huge walk-in refridgerators full of produce!)and ate our best meals overlooking the sea at our casita. The kids loved the 5lb papaya with lime for dessert!

Really Vieques is all about the beaches or at least it was for us and I recommend you bring your own snorkeling gear with you.

To owa,

I took you report from last year with me and we checked out some of the snorkeling sites you mentioned. Blue beach was our favorite but this might be because we visited Green beach when it was surrounded by boats mooored for weekend parties.

We saw lots of fans at red beach and probably the largest variety of fish in one small area that I've ever seen. Eels, lobster, grouper, angel fish plus tons of the pretty colored fish that I don't know by name. We also saw anemones and starfish. My daughter was brave enough to pick up one and loved the sensation of its sucking tentacles as it crawled over her hand.

We found dozens of sand dollars at Playela ? Garcia beach? the smaller section to the west of Red beach. Again this beach was deserted in the morning and busy (10 people) in the afternoon.

BTW We stayed at the Westin Rio Mar for 2 nights before we arrived on Vieques and although we didn't snorkel on the beach there we did find lots of live sand dollars just behind the point the waves were breaking. I'd never come across live ones before so that was pretty interesting!

On Vieques, Hidden beach was gorgeous and deserted but no fish!
Sun bay and Media Luna beaches were also extremely quiet in the mornings... they didn't start charging entry fees until we were leaving for lunch.

To putch,
Hac Tam was busy while we were there and it seemed car parking might be at issue at times... you could easily walk to the Inn on the Blue Horizon for tapas or dinner at Carambola. (Our hosts recommended the tapas). Carambola is very expensive.

highflyer is offline  
Nov 30th, 2006, 08:55 AM
  #19  
owa
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Sunni, Yes, we take our snorkeling equipment wih us. My husband takes both our snorkeling gear in his carry-on suitcase along with bathing suits, a cover-up for me, water shoes, and sleepwear. If our checked suitcase doesn't arrive, we can survive. Having snorkel gear that fits is extremely important to one's enjoyment. Constantly having water in a mask is not fun. We didn't ever check luggage before the latest liquid requirement. One just doesn't need lots of clothes in the Caribbean. It is so "freeing" to travel light.

Putch29M, ej is exactly right about how different everyone's opinion can be about food. The same goes for snorkeling. One day Green Beach can be wonderful and the next day terrible due to weather.

highflyer, Interesting about the boats on Green Beach. Not a person in sight both times we snorkeled GB. I'm wondering if January will be much busier than early fall.
We also stopped at the fruit and vegetable stand you described. We love good food, but snorkeling is much higher on our list of requirements. Plus, I have to keep in shape to continue snorkeling into my 90's!!! Owa
 
Nov 30th, 2006, 08:57 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Highflyer
Thanks for the trip report, I enjoyed reading it.
I consider going to the grocery store a treasure hunt! Sometimes produce, sometimes none! Same with meats and dairy.
We have come up with some interesting meals (good, too).

Is Hidden Beach the same as Secret Beach? Between Red and Blue beaches?
My husband snorkeled at Secret but did not see much. We scrambled the rocks to the right and that was fun (til it got to be 4 pm or so and the no see ums came out)!


Also, I have not seen this mentioned, but there is a black sand beach. It is a little hike down a dry riverbed (well sometimes dry, but passable in your Tevas). We spent a long while exploring there and were definately the only ones. There weren't even any footprints!
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