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Go "local" in Turks and Caicos

Ziggy, if you don't already know, is a local food enthusiast / critic in New York City. He's also a very nice guy, and apparently he moonlights as a travel agent. :) Glad you joinred this party, Zig!

Go "local" in Turks and Caicos

We're heading back again in just two weeks. Got a great deal at The Somerset, booked through Turks and Caicos Reservations.Those guys are great.
It's Caribbean lobster season, and I can't wait to try some delicious, local lobster. I'm in culinary heaven! It makes us forget about this terrible winter weather, here in the States.

Go "local" in Turks and Caicos

A new local restaurant opened last week, that's in the heart of the main tourist district. Here's a link to a blog that tells about it. Can't wait to give it a try this January.

Go "local" in Turks and Caicos

Cheesesteak, we were back again, just a few weeks ago. Glad to report that I can add Sailing Paradise (located in Blue Hills) to the list of great local restaurants. They re-opened a couple of months ago, and serve terrific steamed fish. The jerk and curry dishes are also very good, but might be a bit too hot for some. You can always ask them to tone down the heat.

Unfortunately, Club Sodax was destroyed by a fire since we last visited. No word of re-opening.

Other than traditional local food, we also enjoyed very good meals at Coco Bistro, Caicos Cafe, Las Brisas, Mango Reef, Magnolia Restaurant, and Seaside Cafe. If looking for inexpensive baked goods and pastries, be sure to check out Caicos Bakery, located at Port of Call.

Hope this helps. Have a great vacation.

Go "local" in Turks and Caicos

Just an update -- word is that "Sailing Paradise" has recently re-opened in Blue Hills, and is better than ever.

If you're familiar with Blue Hills, but not the Sailing Paradise restaurant, it's located in the colorful, wood-frame buildings, along the beachfront. Can't wait to return there this summer.

Go "local" in Turks and Caicos

vinoduo, Smokey's definitely one of the island characters.

Believe it or not, my wife and I enjoyed our 20th anniversary dinner at Smokey's restaurant, when he was briefly located across from Turtle Cove Marina. I told the waitress it was our 20th, and Smokey came out of the kitchen, wishing my wife a happy 20th "birthday." Yep, he's not only a great cook, but he also knows how to charm the ladies. :-)

Go "local" in Turks and Caicos

Crewsweeper, it's been a few years since we spent time on Grand Turk. At that time, we were basically the only tourists on the island (cruise port had yet to open), and I don't recall the names of the two places where we dined. For that matter, they may not still be open.

Best advice is to ask a TCI resident (called "Belongers") you meet. I've honestly gotten the best dining tips from Belongers, when asking, "Where do you and your family like to eat out?"

If you ask a resort concierge or cruise director, they're going to send you to the local tourist spot, everytime -- that's either all they know, or what they think you're looking for.

Hope this helps. :-)

Go "local" in Turks and Caicos

I'm not a big fan of the regular Tiki Hut menu either, although their Wednesday night ribs are tasty, and a great value. We've also never dined at Baci, mostly because Italian food isn't high on our list when visiting the tropics -- always looking for foods we don't normally eat at home.

Some of our favorite higher-end TCI restaurants include Coco Bistro, Magnolia Restaurant & Wine Bar, Bay Bistro, Coyaba, Grace's Cottage, and Caicos Cafe. Seaside Cafe (located at Ocean Club West) is under new management, and I greatly enjoyed their grilled Caribbean lobster last month -- a pleasant surprise, after not dining there for several years.

No two people are ever going to agree on all the same restaurants, but these forums are a great way to share a little inside information. :-)

Go "local" in Turks and Caicos

I guess no vacation destination is perfect for everyone.

Like most destinations, if you only dine at tourist-oriented and resort / hotel restaurants, you'll most likely not experience the local food / culture, and you'll probably spend a small fortune.

Lessons we've all learned -- usually the hard way. ;-)

BTW, we've stayed at Ocean Club West (4X) since it was mentioned, along with seven other TCI resort properties. I've yet to come across a "bad" Grace Bay hotel or resort. It's a great vacation destination, and we hope to return in a few months.

Another "BTW," don't order your steamed fish as a grouper fillet --- ask for a whole snapper, prepared wiith head-on. The juices remain, and the fish is delicious. Horse-eye Jack's and Club Sodax have the best steamed fish these days, IMO.

Exception : Ricky's Flamingo Cafe has the best curried grouper fillet on the island, IMO. Go for it!

Go "local" in Turks and Caicos

There are two modern grocery stores on the main island of Providenciales -- Graceway IGA, and Graceway Gourmet. You'll find just about all the items you'll find in the States, although prices tend to be a bit higher. Most items are flown in, driving up the costs.

Here's a link that shows Graceway Gourmet, located in the heart of the resort district. It's a very nice store, IMO.

Go "local" in Turks and Caicos

We first visited the Turks and Caicos Islands thirteen years ago, and have returned annually ever since. It's become our favorite vacation destination, not just for the sand, sun, and water, but also for the food.

No, I'm not only talking about the latest fusion creations prepared by classically trained chefs at the most expensive and posh restaurants.. Rather, I'm recommending that visiting "Chowhounds" experience the local foods, skillfully prepared by generational cooks whose formal training was at the apron strings of mothers and grandmothers. Yes, Belongers (TCI citizens) call it "island food," but you might notice some aspects of Creole, Cajun, Soul Food, and LowCountry cuisine. After all, this is where all those forms of American southern cuisine evolved from.

I'm a Southern boy, born and bred, and my accent doesn't hide the fact. So, I've got to admit that I was taken back when I first experienced Turks and Caicos "island food." We stopped by the former "Smokey's on da Bay" in Blue Hills for dinner one night, after returning from a day trip to Grand Turk. For the first time in my life, I tasted authentic Caribbean steamed fish, peas & rice, sweet plantains, vegetables, etc., and thought, "Oh my gosh, this is my grandmother's food." Yes, that was the first time I realized that Southern "soul food" wasn't "born" in the South.

When visiting the Turks and Caicos Islands, I highly recommend that you go off the "beaten path," and experience some true Caribbean cuisine. Favorite local restaurants of ours include Hole in the Wall (near the airport), Smokey's (now located across from The Veranda Resort), Ricky's Flamingo Cafe (curried grouper melts in your mouth), Three Queens (Blue Hills), Da Conch Shack and Horse-eye Jacks (also in Blue Hills), Club Sodax (on Leeward Hwy., my favorite lunch spot), and Middle Caicos Cafe (across from The Alexandra Resort). These are all located on the island of Providenciales, but you'll also find great local eateries on North and Middle Caicos, Grand Turk, and Salt Cay -- just ask around.

There are many wonderful fine-dining restaurants in the TCI, and we enjoy them also. However, mixing your vacation dining with delicious local options is a great way to not only save $$, but also experience and appreciate the local culture.

If you've not visited the Turks and Caicos, or haven't visited in a while, here are some good websites to research: -- a great dining guide, especially higher-end restaurants -- great site for hotel / resort / villa comparisons, rates, specials, and reservations. They're located on the island, and know what they're talking about. -- general information

Hope this helps.