We recently spent a week in St Croix at the Renaissance Carambola Resort, which is just 10 minutes from Cane Bay, where Rowdy Joe's is. As is our habit of avoiding generic chain restaurants, we always ask the locals for their favorite places to eat. There were three names that kept popping up: Rowdy Joe's, La Reine Chicken Shack, and Harvey's. We ate at all three, and all of them were fantastic!
Rowdy Joe's offers both inside and covered outside dining. Why anyone would ever eat indoors I will never understand... LOL We began our meal with a Rowdy Joe's Dark Stormy, a drink made with a Caribbean brewed root beer, Cruzan rum, and I believe there was a touch of ginger in it. Killer!! You have to try one of those.
For an appetizer, my wife and I shared the coconut curry lamb empanadas. Fantastic! A nice amount of coconut curried lamb was tucked inside a perfectly fried empanada. It was served with their special mango habernero "chutney" sauce, which we were told starts out with mango chutney and is spiked with vinegar and habernero peppers. It was ridiculously good! It is not a thick chutney that you might expect, but a thinner sauce. Any way you slice it, it is amazing. That was just the start of things to come. For our meals, we had their fish tacos. They are prepared with fresh caught mahi. The owner has contacts with local fishermen, so the fish might change depending on what is caught that morning. The fish is delivered in the mornings and cleaned and fileted on site. You can't find fresher fish! The tacos start with small flour tortillas. Inside each is a perfectly cooked piece of fish that is dusted with some sort of blackening spice and then it appeared to be pan fried (possibly grilled?). There was no breading on it, so I am sure it wasn't pan fried. The fish is topped with an undressed cabbage/green papaya slaw and more of that crazy good mango habernero chutney/sauce. They were absolutely fantastic! The sides were also great, although the Greek style cucumber and feta salad offering we chose was a bit strange to have with a fish taco. My bad. We also ordered their Asian bbq ribs. They were also very tasty, although they didn't appear to have been barbequed. I think the menu name relates to the very good sauce on them. I am quite certain they were cooked low and slow in the oven. The ribs were pork spareribs and were fall-off-the-bone tender. The sauce was also quite good. Perhaps a few minutes on the grill would have given them a bit more smoky of a flavor, but I am not complaining! A side of cabbage/green papaya slaw was a great touch and helped to cleanse the palate and lighten things up a bit.
Another thing not to miss is their homemade ice cream! We tried the rum raisin, which we got "to go" to take back to our resort. We actually topped it with this real gooseberry concoction we bought from a street vendor just a few doors down from Harvey's in Christiansted. That ice cream was some of the best we have ever had, with a deep, rich flavor and almost impossible creaminess. Good stuff!
So, if you visit St Croix, my advice is to listen to the locals and don't bother eating at your resort, wherever that might be. Who wants a steak or a piece of corporate chicken from your hotel or resort when you can dine on the best fish tacos you have ever tasted, or fresh conch in a butter/wine sauce (at Harvey's) or the ridiculously good rotisserie chicken or stewed oxtail at Le Reine Chicken Shack?! When in Rome, people... :D
To sum up, if you live in St Croix or if you are visiting, take the very scenic north shore drive to Cane Bay and party! There are a bunch of great places there, such as Rowdy Joe's, eat@canebay, or even the beach bar Spratnet. We highly recommend Rowdy Joe's, and I am not easy to please. Cheers!
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