You don’t need a passport to experience delicious Caribbean dishes -- just a plane ticket to St. Croix. The largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), St. Croix is true foodie destination with fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and Caribbean comfort foods. Here are eight traditional dishes plus exactly where to find them when you visit St. Croix.
1. Red pea soup: A hearty comfort food, this soup is swirled with kidney beans (red peas) and dumplings in a ham hock-based broth that thickens as it simmers with potatoes and other starches. Order a bowl from Cast Iron Pot, one of the few restaurants on St. Croix that serves red pea soup regularly.
2. Pot fish and fungi: The unofficial dish of the USVI, pot fish and fungi dates back to when slave rations predominantly consisted of fish and cornmeal. In this dish, fresh fish is fried, stewed with vegetables, and served with the cornmeal mush called fungi (foon-ji). Sample it at Harvey’s, the restaurant basketball legend Tim Duncan frequents when he returns home to St. Croix.
3. Conch: You’ll find fresh conch on the menu at quite a few St. Croix restaurants, where it’s served in the form of fritters, ceviche, and chowder. We prefer the more authentic Caribbean version of stewed conch, which is prepared similarly to pot fish. Try it at Kim’s in Christiansted -- also known for its curried goat and fresh, fried fish.
4. Roti: Roti, an Indian flatbread, has a slightly different meaning in the Caribbean. Here, when people mention this treat, they have in mind potato, chicken, beef, goat, or other fillings wrapped like a burrito in a roti flatbread. Head to Ace Roti Shop where you can sip a house-made peanut punch (a tasty drink made from peanut butter and milk) or a bottled beer with your roti.
5. Salt fish: On St. Croix, salt fish typically refers to a mixture of rehydrated dried cod, lemon juice, and other fresh ingredients that's served on saltine crackers or toasted bread rounds. Place an order for it at Singh’s, where you can find salt fish on the regular. Bonus: Singh’s also has great roti and conch.
6. Ginger beer: Just about every local restaurant on the island has their own version of this intense drink, but we like the pineapple ginger beer at Ital’s in Paradise. The small, upstairs joint also pours "chlorophyll," a green drink made with seasonal herbs and grasses -- not unlike the popular bush tea that’s also served at local hangouts.
7. Red grout: In addition to being the go-to spot for red pea soup, Cast Iron Pot is one of the few places that serves red grout -- a Danish tapioca colored red with guava, otherwise known as rodgrod -- on rotation. If tapioca doesn't float your boat, there's always rum cake.
8. Rum cake: This is the most popular local dessert on St. Croix, and it’s just what it sounds like: cake that’s been soaked in or topped with a hefty dose of rum. We suggest sampling one at Savant, where you can bask in the candlelit courtyard and enjoy a fresh drip coffee prepared at your table.