Creole cooking has a good reputation and each visitor feels the need to taste it. But traditional cooking amateurs need not worry, in the West Indies you'll find all sorts of restaurants from fast-food to gastronomy and from all horizons.
Creole cooking is simple but so tasty! Many restaurants serving Creole food offer curious visitors the opportunity to discover its unusual tastes and spices. You need to distinguish establishments designed for tourists from the more discreet little restaurants that the locals go to. But whatever your choice, you need to be careful because many little restaurants have just turned to the easy route of serving mediocre food.
In the tourist establishments, Creole cooking adapted to European tastes is offered and contains less spices and peppers. The quality varies but nonetheless this is a good introduction to Creole cuisine and the opportunity to discover unusual vegetables such as the racines (madères, ignames, sweet potatoes), cristophines or the different varieties of vegatbale bananas. Prices are around 15 to 20 euros.
Authentic Creole cuisine can be tasted in discreet restaurants, away from restaurants for tourists. But this is not enough to judge whether it is a boui-boui or a good Creole cantine. You can always tell if a restaurant is good by the amount of local customers, if there are none, then get away. Prices are much lower with formulas of 8 to 10 euros. In these establishments, the service is reduced to the minimum but you're not there for that.
This is where real Creole cuisine is to be found: dombrés and ouassous (pancakes made with flour accompanied with local crayfish), calalou and matété (dishes with a crab and leaf base), ragoût de chatroux (small octopus) or lambis (local shellfish), and the famous colombo (dishes which has been slow-cooked in curry)… Fish with an exceptional taste in the West Indies has a large presence too : small nasse fish or darne de thasar, cooked in a court-bouillon or grilled, not forgetting cod, essential in West Indian food. The great variety of starters must also be mentioned such as frittas which are almost as famous as the ti-punch which goes with them. Finally, for people with a sweet tooth, jams and compotes of exotic fruit must not be forgotten, surelles in sirop or doucellettes ! refer to the article about Creole food
Rare are the restaurants that raise their level up to gastronomy level offering evolutive and refined cuisine, combining French tradition with Creole heritage, based on local products.
Of course the surroundings, service and prices are as high as the gastronomy pretensions displayed.
In the town and around hotels there is a large choice of pizzerias, sandwich makers and crêperies, but also traditional restaurants that often propose a menu of traditional dishes, mixed with a few Creole specialities. The quality differs a lot and the service as well. The prices are a little higher than in metropolitan France due to the insular character of the country with more inflation in the heart of seaside resorts.
The significant Indian community living in the West Indies offers some good speciality dishes. You also can find some asian restaurants like anywhere.
Fast-food restaurants appeared just a few years ago and were very successful with the local population. West Indians enjoy fast food very much or to go as the many pizza and crepes "vans" on the roadside testify, particularly in Guadeloupe. If you are not too wary of hygienic conditions, these itinerant vans are the most economical way to eat.
And what about lobsters in all this ? Although they were abundant long ago, today it is more difficult to find and prices show it. Nonetheless you must be careful because many tables offer lobster for outrageous prices !
Finally, many beach huts are often attractive and practical, but it is best to check that the establishment has running water and that a minimum of hygienic regulations are respected. So just take a look at what some of the clients are eating and this should give you a good idea.