One of the most challenging things about having to eat gluten-free is finding places to eat while traveling! Especially when you're traveling to a place that's not a top tourist destination. Below I've put together some of the places that Jose and I found to eat in St. Croix and man was it difficult.
Some things to keep in mind:
1. While I didn't have a reaction from eating at these places, I have no control over the food they serve. Always make sure to ask before you order and compare it to your own gluten-free standards.
2. Food on the island is expensiveeee. A low-end restaurant dish for 1 person is upwards of $20 and as we all know, gluten-free options tend to cost more. Just make sure you're going in prepared for that!
3. Grocery stores are a good place to grab some snacks to tide you over if you're not staying at a resort or can't find any gluten-free options nearby. Just be warned though, the grocery stores don't have a lot of options, especially in the fruit and veggie department. In our experience, there was very little to choose from and most of the produce was half rotten (yes, like the food that was for sale). I kid you not, there would be a bin of 4 rotten apples being sold for $5 each. When we talked to our AirBNB host, she said that that's normal and one of the most frustrating things about living on the island. Because of that my suggestion is....
4. Pack lots of snacks! Gluten-free granola bars, fruit, cereal, trail mix, etc. Anything that will keep well and that you can eat to tide you over for a meal. It's way better to be safe than sorry. Plus by the end of the trip you'll have so much extra space to pack souvenirs!
5. Your cell phone may not work. I was told by Verizon that I'd have my normal cell and data coverage while in St. Croix, but as soon as I landed, nothing worked. Thankfully Jose's did, but just go in prepared with some ideas on places to eat and how to get there. I'm sure you'll have wifi wherever you're staying, but back home I'm constantly googling what gluten-free options are at different restaurants before I order. It's a little stressful not to have that easy access especially when you're more uncertain than ever what's on the menu... uhhh cassava??
6. Most restaurants don't have websites. Some have Facebook pages that may have a picture of their menu or hours. Don't get frustrated when you have to go to a few places before finding one with gluten-free options.
1. La Reine Chicken Shack - Christiansted
So the Chicken Shack is not a dedicated gluten-free destination, but it is a must eat. Everyone on the island kept telling us about it so when we got a car, we had to go check it out. It says that it's in Christiansted, but it's more towards the middle of the island. Once you get there, you'll see tons of locals (always a good sign :) ) and the cashier was super nice. It was a little difficult to figure out what should be gluten-free, especially since there were some more local dishes, but in the end it all worked out.
Here's what we ordered: Roasted chicken, cassava, plantains, green figs (although this arrived looking exactly like plantains, sooo we're not sure what happened with that), and Johnny Cakes (just for Jose, those definitely have gluten).
Everything we ordered tasted great, but our favorites were definitely the roasted chicken and the plantains. This was definitely one of the top places that we ate at! What was even better though was that the whole meal was $12. Which was completely unrivaled by any other restaurant on the island.
2. Polly's at the Pier - Frederiksted
This place is AMAZING!!! Unfortunately, we didn't discover it until we were about to leave Frederiksted, but it was the only place we found on the island with a dedicated gluten-free menu. It even had gluten-free bread?!?! It's this adorable cafe close to the pier and has the most friendly staff. It's only open from 8 - 3 PM though so no dinner options, but the breakfast/ lunch was great.
Here's what we ordered: Caribbean Jerk rice bowl, and Southwestern Rice Bowl. Both were delicious, but if I was to go back, I'd try one of their sandwiches on gluten-free bread.
Bonus? They've got great Piña Coladas! Something Jose and I were obsessed with during our trip.
3. Freedom City Surf - Frederiksted
Next to the Chicken Shack, this was our favorite food place on the island. It was like a St. Croix version of Chipotle (and who doesn't love Chipotle?!). The place is right on the beach and while it doesn't have a ton of options, everything we had there was great. As with everywhere but Polly's, this isn't a dedicated gluten-free restaurant, but they did a pretty good job of making accommodations.
The first night that we got to Frederiksted we wandered around for hours looking for food. Almost nothing was open or was only serving fried food. When we found this place we were in heaven. Plus this was our first Piña Colada experience on the island and it totally started our addiction. During our time on this side of St. Croix, we would try to find all of these new restaurants to try, get there and find out their hours were different than online or they didn't have any gluten-free options, and end up right back here. It was our life saver!
Here's what we ordered: Their version of a burrito bowl (we had a few of these and it's a big portion too, so you can take some back home for a meal later on), sausage and fries cone (the sauce that comes with this is delicious and tastes like a fruity version of In-and-Out sauce. It's definitely better than it sounds. This is a little smaller than most of their other dishes, but makes a great snack), and lots and lots of Piña Coladas!
They also have paddle board rentals if that's something you're interested in.
4. Castaway's - East Side of the Island
Sooo, yet again, we were starving by the time we got here and only got pictures while we were waiting for our food... although I guess that means we were just too busy having a good time. Castaway's doesn't have a lot of gluten-free options, but they do have some great food that's not crazy expensive. Their menu is a lot of bar food and they seem to be well known for their pizzas (not gluten-free).
They also had the best priced Piña Coladas on the island! And our first night there the girl made too much and just gave us the extra on the side. Who doesn't like a buy one, get one? This was another repeat destination seeing as there weren't a ton of options near us.
Here's what we ordered: Bar cheese burger wrapped in lettuce and fries (They struggled with the lettuce wrapping, but the taste was great. It was also less than $10 which is a steal for island food. Jose also tried this but with a bun and said that it was pretty good.), bar pizza (not gluten-free), BBQ pork nachos (delicious although very filling).
5. Ziggy's Island Market - East Side of the Island
So we never ate at Ziggy's, but it's right next door to Castaway's. A lot of locals suggested it, but we were always lured away by Castaway's Piña Coladas. There aren't a ton of gluten-free options, but it might be worth checking out.
Here's the link to their menu!
6. Café Fresco - Christiansted
This cafe is hidden in the heart of Christiansted. It's easy to pass if you aren't looking for it, but has this cute secluded courtyard that feels really relaxed. They had some great breakfast options and... we finally managed to get some pictures of the actual food, success! They had lots of great menu options for breakfast and lunch, but their gluten-free options were much more limited.
Here's what we ordered: Migas Wrap (without the tortilla, since that contained gluten), omelette with choice of toppings (for Jose).
Here's the link to their menu!
7. Shupe's on the Boardwalk
This place just has burgers and fries, but is conveniently placed right on the boardwalk. They were able to wrap the burgers in lettuce, but don't have a dedicated gluten-free fryer for the fries, so just something to keep in mind.
Here's what we ordered: 2 burgers wrapped in lettuce with lots of toppings, side order of parmesan truffle fries. Simple and straight-forward.
8. Singhs Fast Food
This place is a little on the outskirts of downtown Christiansted, but not too bad of a walk. One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new place is to try local dishes. This was something that was so difficult to find though in St. Croix! We had heard about Singh's from our AirBNB host and decided to try it out. It's not the most appealing looks wise, but it was fun to try some flavors unique to the island. Just a warning though, it was really difficult to understand what was gluten-free and what wasn't, so I kind of took a chance with this one. I didn't get sick, but up to you how brave you're feeling!
Here's what we ordered: boneless curry chicken combo with sweet potato stuffing and traditional rice. Jose got the same thing, but with goat curry instead. He was not happy haha. He only really likes to eat chicken and the guy was like, sorry we're all out, but you can try the goat. It didn't go so well.
Here's a link to their menu!
9. The Avocado Pitt
This was our favorite place during our time in Christiansted. Mainly because this awesome guy Marcus works there. You know when you just meet someone that has this great personality and makes super engaging conversation? That's Marcus. Oh and they also have some great food.
It's a breakfast and lunch place situated a little up the boardwalk near the fort. They also do to-go lunches which is great if you're going on a Buck Island tour. I'll talk more about that in a later post, but we got screwed over in our original tour booking and ended up with almost no time to grab breakfast. We literally scarfed down our food at The Avocado Pitt, grabbed our to-go lunches and ran. We ended up coming back though when we had more time and had a great experience.
Here's what we ordered: Mushroom omelette, Ham and cheese omelette (gluten free), Oatmeal (gluten-free... if you're okay not knowing if the oats came from a dedicated gluten-free source. Definitely ask for sugar on the side though! This was my to-go "lunch" since none of the lunch options were gluten-free and I seriously wished I had grabbed some sugar packets in my mad dash), chicken wrap (not gluten-free).
10. McDonald's - Central Island
So we were on our way to a bioluminescent bay tour and were told about a great restaurant that's in the little bay where the meet up point was. We drive all the way out there and discover that Flyer's Bar and Grill is the only restaurant for miles and that it isn't gluten-free. Oh... and doesn't offer food until after the tour starts.
So we keep driving and driving and finally give up. The only place we could find was McDonald's haha.
Here's what we ordered: French fries (probably contained gluten. Not recommended).
We told ourselves we'd just get a snack and then get a real meal back at Freedom City Surf and by the time we got there... it was closed. Moral of the story: pack snacks.
I hope this is helpful to any fellow Celiac's traveling to St. Croix! If you found any other restaurants or have any questions, feel free to comment below.