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Providenciales (Turks & Caicos) recs?

Hey fellow hounds -- leaving the winter behind for a week, and was wondering if any of you had been to Provo & had some recommendations....

thanks, as always.

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  1. I was just there over Thanksgiving. I found the dining to be a bit frustrating as it seems that there are two levels of dining- beach shack and $35-$40 per plate. IMO, the very expensive prices are just not justified by the service (which is very island casual). Here is what we enjoyed and what we didn't...

    Anacaona Restaurant was very good. We loved the atmosphere and everyone really liked their food- although I cannot remember what I had so that may tell you something.

    Coyaba- this was my favorite of the bunch. I had a perfectly cooked salmon entree and I thought the service here was the best of the bunch. It was very expensive ($900 or so for 6)

    Parallel 23: we ate here on our first night since it was in our hotel. I really did not like it- I found the service to be rude and very amateur (at one point, the server spilled wine on my bf's white shirt and made eye contact with my sister but still did not verbally acknowledge the mistake). It was ehh food and I just don't like I would return. Full disclosure: this was thanksgiving night so they had a limited menu available due to a tasting menu they were doing in honor of the holday.

    Magnolia: We went 3 years ago and really loved everything: the setting was georgeous and we had a great meal. However, noone this year seemed to be raving about the food so we didn't try it again. If I had to do it again, I probably would have returned to this restaurant instead of Parallel 23.

    Plunge: this is the pool bar/restaurant that was in my hotel- my advice is to avoid it. Noone really liked anything and it was all very expensive.

    Places that I Wish I Tried:

    Hole in the Wall- we went to the conch festival, where we got to sample conch dishes from all of the area restaurants. Their conch chowder was by far the best I have ever had (and I am from south fl. so I have had my share).

    Da Conch Shack- lots of people recc. this to us but I couldn't convince the others in my party to leave to pool to try it. I am not sure if it is just a tourist trap but it sure got a lot of buzz.

    Grace's Cottage- we went to check it out and ultimately decided against it due to its more formal dress code (one of the men in my party didn't have close-toed shoes). It looked extremely romantic.

    Coco Bistro- our concierge said this place was her favorite but we just didn't have enough nights to give it a try. This will def. be on the list next time!

    I hope this was helpful! Enjoy- it is such a beautiful place!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: JAC13

      JAC13 -- whoa. You weren't kidding about the prices here. Just returned from the supermarket where I spent $130 on very few items. OK, 4 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc included, but still... whew. Transportation is also quite the bitch around here, and for the next 2 days, everything will be closed.

      Thankfully, snagged a rez for the 26th at Anacoana, and Coco Bistro on the 27th. Yay. And then I shall be broke for 2008.

      Thanks for you tips, and happy holidays. It is gorgeous here ----

    2. Where are you staying, and will you have a car? The previous posters' recos are pretty much in the Grace Bay area, which is wickedly expensive. There are fun, reasonably priced spots in Turtle Cove around the marina, and a few toward Sapodilla, especially the lobster packing plant where fresh lobster is one of the best values on the island, and a few fun conch places in Blue Hills. Let me know.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        Staying at the Royal West Indies Resort on Grace Bay.... I heard there were a bunch of things in walking distance including a casino -- perhaps that's where I'll have to go to win the money to pay for dinner ;-)

        I heard you can rent cars (expensive), scooters (would be my preference), and our resort actually lends out bikes... of course I am not entirely sure how large the island is, i.e., whether getting around on a bike is feasible.

        Boy, I didn't know stuff was so expensive. That's a sucker info given we have no meals paid for yet..... Mango Reef is on the premises, but we were only planning on going there Xmas day or Xmas eve...

        Thanks for your advice, and keep it coming -- I'm bringing the laptop :-D

        1. re: Veggo

          Oh -- and a lobster packing plant? Please hand over the coordinates right now. Yumboski!

          1. re: linguafood

            To the lobster packing plant: At the roundabout from the Leeward highway about 1 kilometer east of the airport, head south toward Sapodilla and what is called the south dock. Proceed about 2 KM and turn left immediately after the petrol station. Proceed about 3 KM to a "Y" where the left option is unpaved. Go Left, to it's end. There are 2 lobster/conch processing plants on the left. Go about 4:00 in the afternoon when the lobstermen are coming in to weight their catch. You can buy the tails, or the whole lobster, but get the tails, before they are frozen. Bring some curry or your favorite spices.
            You will be on an island where the supermarket price of a six-pack of Coors Light is $11 and a bag of chips is $6, so you might as well eat lobster.
            Too far by bicycle; be careful driving on the left. Get a good map of the island, and check out the restos in Turtle Cove and also Bugaloo in Blue Hills for conch and grouper. There's a car rental place in Turtle Cove that's reasonable for a couple days.
            Grace Bay is one of the prettiest beaches in the world, and also one of the most expensive.

          2. re: Veggo

            I am on vacation here in Provo for 8 days. I have always found chowhounders to be great guides on restaurants and I always prefer this website to others for restuarant ideas. Before I comment, I am going to add that for a beach vacation my idea of heaven is St. Barts, for the combination of beautiful beaches and wonderful food. My husband, however, didn't share this same love of paradise, so this time we are trying a new place.
            We have only been here two days, but we ate last night at Nikki Beach and our food was excellent. We both had the grouper and it was prepared just right. Our service was great, and the atmosphere was wonderful. We sat outside almost in the sand, the tables were lovely as well as the lighting, and everything was perfect. It is on the expensive side, but looks about average compared to other comparable places. But, I would like a place that has local character and so I will try the Blue Hills area. I'd love a beach bar kind of place that is low-key and serves fish sandwiches, preferably on a great beach. I see you also recommend the Turtle Cover area so we will try that, too. I like to feel the special character of an island and so far it is escaping me here. We are staying in a private villa, in the Leeward area, and we have a car. Thank you!

            1. re: Arkansas Gal

              We went to Coyoba last night for dinner. Our table was lovely, outside, with twinkling lights to set the mood. Our service was good, my husband thought excellent. We were very much anticipating this meal from the comments on this website. I ordered the petite lobster with crabmeat (the special of the evening) and it was, without a doubt, one of the worst meals I have had, ever. The lobster was grainy and very little meat at all, the crab meat was mostly bread crumbs, and the sweet potato risoto was oily and I could not even tast the sweet potato. My husband had the lobster thermador and it was o.k., not great, but better than mine. Our wine was good but it cost $75.00 and was one of the most inexpensive wines on the list. The complimentary pita bread with coconut yogurt sauce and cut up carrot slices and celery was good but seemed so out of character for such an expensive restaurant. Today we are going to go to the lobster plant and get our own and cook in. I would not go back to Coyoba again, ever. Oh, another thing. When I called to make our reservation early in the morning for that evening, I was told that they were completely booked, had space only very early or very late. When I said we would wait and come another night, she quickly said they could fit us in. While we were at the restaurant, it was only maybe half full the entire time. Upon leaving we remarked how strange that was, given their initial hesitance to give us a reservation. I know people cancel, but the restaurant was near empty. Anyway, these are my experiences, though I am no expert.

          3. So...what is your report on the places you tried? My entire family is headed to Provo in February for my father's 80th birthday. With 13 of us, we can't handle the really pricey places and the kiddo's wouldn't be welcome I suspect.

            Has anyone tried cooks or caterers on Provo? Maybe our best bet for a festive meal that suits all ages is to have someone make it at the house where we are staying?

            3 Replies
            1. re: arenosa

              Well. I can honestly say that people weren't kidding when they said it was expensive. Apps between $10-$18, entrees starting at $26.... and yes, the supermarket is ridiculously expensive as well. 13 people to feed, oh my. I know there is a catering place called gourmetfood or something like that, located in Grace Bay, and maybe that is a cheaper option. Where are you staying, exactly? I really liked Coco Bistro (same prices as everything else, though), and Anacaona has a nice atmosphere and good food as well. I'd have to say, for the prices most of the food was underwhelming, if good quality...

              Kids should be fine anywhere, when we were there, there were tons of larger families, and nobody seemed to mind.

              1. re: linguafood

                I warned you. If you want to be thrifty on Provo, you have to go buy lobsters :)

                1. re: Veggo

                  He. I never thought I'd say this or feel that way, but at some point during that week, lobster was gettin' a bit old....

                  I realize that sounds horrible. But I would've preferred some more low-key stuff available, without having to resort to the island's Irish pub ---

            2. I have been going to Turks & Caicos every year for 12 years. No matter where you go it will be expensive.

              My favourite experience on the island is Da Conch Shack & Rum Bar. The food is as good or better than any of the high end places and won't cost you as much. I prefer it, however, because of the casual setting and atmosphere. My fondest memories of T & C include sipping beer with my feet in the sand and dominoes in my hands while watching the staff at Da Conch Shack prepare my conch salad & fritters. For that moment, the effects of the harsh Canadian winter are instantly replaced by the casual warmth of island living.

              Can't wait to get back there next week. Look for me with the dominoes!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Amac

                Nicely spoken. Those who camp out in Grace Bay and don't experience the great food and cameraderie in Blue Hills are missing out on the culture and friendliness of the island. Folks seem to laugh a lot more in Blue Hills than in Grace Bay; just my observation.
                While you're there, try the grouper sandwich at Bugaloo!

                1. re: Amac

                  I am going to T&C next month mostly to watch the whales migration I think is in Cockburn Harbour, have you ever seen that?
                  Do you know which is the newest and nicest resort? which island?
                  I am planning to stay for seven days? any suggestions?
                  I will appreciatte your comments. Thanks.

                  1. re: Mayaqueen

                    I notice you are a new Hound, and we concentrate on the food aspect of your travels. The migration of the humpback whales through the T&C channel, especially when the cows divert their calves into shallow water (less than 20 meters) and press them down to feed them milk about the consistency of cottage cheese, is a spectacle that can be observed from numerous island bases there. Cockburn Harbour, on South Caicos, is extremely limited. Grand Turk, immediately east of the channel, is the Capital and has a little more going for it. Provo is the Grand Dame, but very pricey. Throughout the area, the fishing, pleasure, and dive boats keep in constant radio contact as to the whereabouts of the migrating humpbacks, so you will see whales. Choose an island, we'll help with food.

                2. We are staying at the Alexandria for 3 days in a couple weeks. I've been debating whether to rent a car or just have a taxi stop by the IGA on the way in. It sounds like everyone loves the conch shack and the car might help to see other things. So, culinarily speaking of course, does it make sense to rent the car?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: eternalX

                    For 3 days, I sure think so. Conch Shack, Bugaloos, the lobster packing plant, and generally to see parts of the island like Sapodilla Bay. Whale watching cruises depart from the marina on the east end of the island this time of year. For what you are allready paying for the trip, I think you can improve the experience and memories of it by another 50% with some mobility. Taxi's don't regularly cruise and are expensive and inconvenient.
                    The Alexandria is a lovely spot on Grace Bay, but there is so much more. Just be careful adjusting to left-side driving. Check pricing for a car with Scooter Bob in Turtle Cove, 649-946-4684. They will bring it to you.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      Thanks for the info! I will call Scooter Bob. I've driven on the left-side before, in Sydney. Takes a few minutes to get used to and accidentally turned on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal on many occasions, but otherwise survived. :)

                      1. re: eternalX

                        Got a car. Are there any other places you'd recommend for hanging out, snacks, dinner drinks when we want to leave the hotel? Or also for just to check out? We love food and we also love low-key and meeting new friends (even if just other tourists) over beer, wine and drinks. Places on the beach (is that a dump statement?) preferred.

                  2. I have been to Provo three times and hands down Coyaba is my favorite restaurant on the island. The Thai Yellow Tail Snapper, Gnocchi, Shrimp Bisque, Lobster Thermador (if you like old school), and house made Apple Pie are dishes I recommend.

                    O Soliel is also very good and more successfully contemporary than most restaurants in the Caribbean.

                    Aqua Bar And Terrace has good food and is more casual and less expensive than most of the very high priced restaurants on the island. Chef Clive does interesting things with Conch like smoked Conch . Conch is usually rubbery and not very good but this is more than edible and worth experiencing.

                    Smokey's on Da Beach is a local joint with very good deep fried whole Caribbean Red Snapper . This frying technique creates a moist flesh that is not greasy . They serve sides of rice with peas (which are actually beans) , Corn on the cob, homemade macaroni and cheese,and homemade bread. They also have good PiƱa Coladas.

                    Da Conch Shack is another place serving local food which is good. The conch fritters are possibly the best that I have had but you still really do not taste Conch, just fried batter with something rubbery in it. . The curried Conch is tender and has good flavor. The curried shrimp and boiled shrimp are both good. They serve whole fried snapper but were out of it when I have been there. Fair warning , do not go if you are not prepared to wait an hour or more for your food, but it is right on the beach and the ocean is beautiful.

                    Anaconda has been good in the past but I was very disappointed with the food this last trip. I must say that the atmosphere is great dining almost on the beach with a beautiful view of the lights around the bay at night.

                    Magnolia was not good at all. I call this type of restaurant "Upscale Institutional " ,some people call it Cater food or Hotel food. Institutional food trying to masquerade as fine dining. As soon as I saw the single piece of steamed Broccoli, three slices of steamed Carrots , and a slice of steamed Zucchini all in butter sauce on the side of my plate I knew what to most likely expect. A ton of Black Olive Tapanade straight from a jar was dumped over a small piece of fried Grouper and of course the steamed vegetable side. The Tapanade itself was not good but even if it was , it totally overpowered the fish and had no business being there. Another dish, sesame crusted Tuna was dry and flavorless from first being a bad cut of fish and second having nothing done to it at all like a marinade of at least olive oil before cooking. Then they cut the fish so wide that there was a two and a half inch section of fish that was raw and ice cold in the middle of where it had been seared on the sides. I like my Tuna rare and I like sashimi but this was pathetic, it was not sashimi quality Tuna. Gnocchi in a sage butter sauce had no sage butter sauce and the Gnocchi was not really Gnocchi but deep fried and heavy on the potato but it was actually the only dish that was ok.

                    Hemingway's food was ok but in the Upscale Institutional vein and I would not recommend it.

                    Grace's Cottage was extremely expensive and was very Upscale Institutional. They did not have a clue how to put together food that worked, it just looked like trendy food but failed miserably.

                    Bella Luna is terrible Italian food.

                    Matsuri Shshi bar was surprisingly very good .

                    Fresh 1lb. Spiney Lobster tails are $18 a piece at the Fish Plant on the South side of the island and you can buy fish there from the fishermen when their boats come in at around 4;30 P.M.
                    They will filet the fish for you and I paid $10 for two good size fish , about 4 to 5 lbs filleted. I recommend Yellow tail Snapper , Mutton Snapper , Caribbean Red Snapper,or Grouper.

                    Bangkok Express is take out Thai food that is not bad.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Michael K

                      One of our favorite things to do is to go to the Fish Plant, get some fresh conch, then stop at the Graceway IGA for the rest of the ingredients to make conch salad-ceviche style. Any update on the real local places? We've been to Provo about six times, but not in the last couple of years. We used to like Macky's, 3 Queens, Smokey's, etc. besides the usual more upscale places.

                      1. re: markabauman

                        Thanks for visiting Blue Hills and sampling cracked conch, fritters, and salad.
                        If you go to the IGA in the morning and they have fresh conch, (about 40% of the time) they will reserve it for you and clean it and make a nice conch salad you can pick up later in the day.
                        The fish plant (there are 2) at about 4:00 pm for lobsters is awesome! The restos around Turtle cove and the marina are in my range; Grace Bay is in the Stratosphere.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          We're heading to Provo on Sat. and 1 person in our group is gluten-intolerant. Do you happen to know what foods are allowed to be brought in? We can't wait to try the fish & lobster plants!