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Feb 20, 2011 11:12 AM

Turks & Caicos

Headed to TCI in March and looking for suggestions. We love local food and stay away from hotel restaurants, but will go to a hotel for cocktails and views.

We will have a car and we rented a house, so we have a kitchen. One of the must dos is to travel to the South Side and get fresh fish/lobster from the fisherman when they come home. But that is about all I know.

Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

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  1. A couple tips for Provo: bring your own spices for preparing your lobster tails - I often boiled them with sweet curry and they were delicious. I guess you allready know to head to the lobster packers about 3:30 -4:00 when the boats return. Also, when you provision-up at the IGA on the Leeward Highway, check in the morning to see if they have fresh conch (about half the time). The nice ladies will clean it and fix a great take-out of conch salad you can pick up later in the day, it will keep a few days.
    Turtle Cove has a few fun restos, I like the Banana Boat for lunch, Baci for dinner. A trip through Blue Hills and a stop at Da Conch Shack for a local lunch of cracked conch and fritters is a must.
    Both of the Ocean Clubs welcome visitors and do a nice poolside lunch and beverage service. Feast on grouper sandwiches.
    You will check out the action along the Bight Road, but the Grace Bay spots are scary expensive. Anacaona at the Grace Bay Club is elegant but will set you back $400 for a dinner for two. Hemingway's is more reasonable, nice view also.
    Take a nice drive around Sapodilla Bay past the South Dock and enjoy some incredible scenic bays and real estate, don't be shy about using the numerous public accesses to some of the best beaches in the world.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      It has been two years since our last visit but I definately agree with Da Conch Shack recommendation! Loved it so much we ate there twice during our last trip.

      We liked the Tiki Hut in Turtle Cove for dinner. I remember local dishes like curried goat on the menu.

      1. re: Veggo

        Where is this fantastic sounding Lobster Pier? Im heading to Grace Bay next Sunday. I see there is a Thai Resto in Grace bay? Is that true?

        1. re: mmerino

          From the roundabout east of the airport on the Leeward Highway, head south, then left at the gas station toward the "South Dock" (which is on all the maps), look for a "Y" in the road where you can bear left onto an unsurfaced road, and a few KM down you will dead end at the 2 packing plants. It's a fun experience just in itself, and you'll return home with some tails from the day's catch.

          1. re: mmerino

            Just as a caveat, lobster season closed on April 1st. It doesn't re-open until sometime in August, I believe. Don't expect any fresh lobster while you're there.

            Apologies for being Debbie Downer, but I went to Provo on April 18th and found out the hard way.

            1. re: Davedigger

              Good catch, I forgot. In Belize, the season closes for spawning Feb. 15 -June 15, I don't know why the differences. Same critter.

              1. re: Davedigger

                Just returned Sunday from Provo, stayed at Coral Gardens.
                I have to say that the food on TCi is bad & expensive.

                Da Conch Shack & Somewhere Cafe at the Coral Gardens hotel, specifically Conch Salad and Grouper sando, were best. Somewhere had decent daily drink specials. Expect about 6 bucks for a bottle of beer. Turks Head & Dominican Presidente are about 5. I tried to have conch everyday as lobster(TY for the comments both Veggo & Davedigger) was out of season PLUS I just adore the taste of conch. Now I know what they look like dangling out of their shells with their googly eyes, male appendage, and long toe-nail, thanks to Conch World!
                10 bucks a person for a five minute tour is a bit of a rip off but I like the idea of what they are up to and didn't feel that bad about the fee.

                I made a last minute reso at Coyoba and was so sorry I even set foot in that ridiculous place. Looked really lovely in the dining room but the first thing that got put in front of us was triangles of IGA bought pita, dried up celery & carrot sticks, a la school lunches from 1987 and a nasty, sweet sauce for dipping. I should have politely walked out at that but I had seen a gorgeous looking scallop crudo in one of those trashy tourist magazines so I stayed for it. Bad move.

                Ordered some, usually, cheap glasses of Viognier & the scallops to be sure the pita plate wasn't a fluke. Asked if I wanted sparkling or still water. Still. Still, which apparently means Fiji at 9 bucks a bottle! Doh!

                Just after the wine arrived, a nice little shot of Gazpacho amuse bouche came out. Highlight of the experience. A little spicy, good texture. Maybe the pita was a fluke!!

                Then the scallop appetizer arrived :(((.

                The sever arrived & plopped the plate down on the base of my wine glass AND my fork & scampered off muttering. I noticed that muttering/low voiced commenting was pretty usual with service professionals in my travels on TCI. Lots of grunting at "thank-yous," as well.

                Three scallop shells with two previously frozen bay scallops and packaged wakame salad beneath. It was so sad. There was a nice little strip of fried ginger on top but it had gone bitter. There was also that dyed red tobiko on top. It was tasteless, poorly executed and overpriced.

                It was about to 70$ for a bottle of water, two glasses of wine and the bad frozen scallops.

                Paid & got back on the road to try Coco Bistro. Gorgeous setting for sure. Ate a nice shrimp satay appetizer with banana chutney and some Sriracha. Nicely cooked, good shell char & plumpness. I wasn't in love with any of the mains so paid and went back to the condo to cook at Coral Gardens. Looked in on that dive bar in Ports of Call-ick, and Middle Caicos Cafe, food looked/smelled meh. Looked in on Mango & Lemon, also looked like what I had already experienced on quality and price. Tiki Hut in Turtle Cove interested me but when I went to look at the menu, I got bummed with the weird basalmic reductions, cheese, pecans and seafood mixed up on the plate. Is that cruising/resort food?

                Things that worked well for me, food-wise: Quality Supermarket on Five Cayes to provision beans & rice, pork, tomatos, onions, cilantro & scotch bonnets for the condo. IGA is a pricy option and barely has anything local however its a necessity if you want booze, or "American Feeling" Safeway/Vons/Pavillions/Stater Brothers staples. IGA is double price of the smaller less touristy markets. On South Dock, I think, right by the Patties Shop sign, there was a white pickup selling fish-go for that. Well worth stopping if you see them. I ended up cooking pretty much everyday-not a terrible thing but I was hoping for more indigenous food close by. Spent around 300 dollars on groceries for the week at a combo of IGA and Quality Super.

                So dont come here for the dining. Come for the snorkeling & relaxing.

                1. re: mmerino

                  Sorry your Provo trip was less than you bargained for and paid for. The food there is always pricey, but usually not bad. It is off season now, and clearly many restos are slacking off. Off season gets even worse when the rainy season starts in June, and the mangroves and bogs in the Bight produce mosquitos by the billions. One cannot sit outside at sunset

                  The best time to go is Jan -Mar, when the lobsters are plentiful (I used to joke that lobsters are all I can afford on that island, I remember a six pack, bag of chips and a pineapple cost $25 at the IGA when it was the only game in town). Also, the humpback whales are migrating then, and the cows come into the shallows to milk feed their calves then. You are guaranteed to see them on a whale watching trip, and for divers, the spotted eagle rays congregate in fantastic numbers.
                  The Tiki Hut in Turtle Cove is where all the divemasters and boat captains go for happy hour and their repartee is good and the food usually is, and thrifty for their budgets. Some beautiful yachts stay over at the marina there.Off season is really sleepy in Provo, in part because many of the nice homes and mansions are second or third homes and don't have air conditioning and are vacant all summer. Electricity is expensive, about 34 cents a kilowatt, and Provo didn't have a de-sal plant until 2004. My house like most others has a cistern to collect roof runoff in the wet season, and in the dry season a truck of fresh water (but not drinkable) was another $300. The present de-sal water is not drinkable, so you were going to get stuck at restaurants no matter what.

                  I hope you have a chance to visit under better circumstances, it is a beautiful place, especially Grace Bay if the interminable construction with dust and noise and traffic detours ever ends. Glad you loved the conch...same here, in every form.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    I had a great time and loved TCI. Its a really special place and the weather was great. I was just missing the road side conch shacks & mom & pop type places to eat like you see in other parts of the Caribbean.
                    Jan-March sounds wonderful, I will have to check that out :)

          2. we just came back from a brief trip a few weeks ago. we had a nice dinner at Coco Bistro (Grace Bay), lovely setting, efficient service and an optimistic resident cat making the rounds.

            3 Replies
            1. re: rudysmom

              try the lemon cafe for dinner, also hole in the wall for lunch. magnolia nice to sit out side and have dinner.

              1. re: kevin25

                I agree with Lemon Cafe! Has to be the best food on the Island.

                I haven't tried Hole in the Wall yet but will do so soon. I also love Angela's Top 'o the Cove for lunch. Great Philly Steak Sandwich.

                Am not greatly impressed by Coco Bistro's food. I love their setting though. (I live right around the corner from them). Find the food kinda blah and overpriced.

                I love Hemingway's at the Sands for breakfast. The view is amazing!

                Coyaba is pretty expensive but I like the atmosphere and the gnochhi with garganzola sauce is to die for!

                For a great view and to just hang out and have a drink or two along with some nachos and other standard drinking can't beat Somewhere on the Beach at Coral Gardens!

              2. re: rudysmom

                That cat is totally cute. And quite the smart beggar :)

              3. We'll be staying at the Northwest Point Resort in a couple weeks. Is there anything near there that anyone can recommend?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Davedigger

                  you can stop at the Conch Shack on your way to the resort

                  1. re: kevin25

                    Turks is definitely a beach lover’s paradise.

                    Hemingway’s: We ate here twice, given the proximity to our hotel and the atmosphere (located on the beach). This place is great for hamburgers (you can order from the lunch menu for dinner). The dinner menu entrees (we ordered Grouper, Mahi and Chicken Curry dishes) which we found to be mediocre; lacking quality and flavor.

                    Da Conch Shack: Great Grouper (so fresh) and conch fritters were fresh and flavorful.

                    Magnolia: Located in Turtle Cove, this place is nice to watch the sunset. The food is better than Hemingway’s but we were not blown away by the tuna (signature dish) or grouper special. Our wild mushroom and goat cheese appetizer seemed to be lacking any flavor of mushrooms at all.

                    Bagatelle Bistro: We went to this restaurant in the Gansevoort hotel very late (930pm) and split the Mahi and a tomato mozzarella salad. The Mahi was completely over-cooked. This dinner was about $95, after tax and tip and wasn’t worth it. Others said great things, so we could have had a bad experience based on how late it was.

                    Anacaona: By far our best meal. Mahi carpaccio appetizer was very fresh and flavorful and so the Snapper and the Tuna entrees were great.

                    Vix: over-priced American fare

                    Graceway Supermarket (Grace Bay): this is the nicest supermarket on the island and a great place to stock up for your hotel or villa.

                2. Some nice 'local restaurant' recommendations to review on this thread