We were traveling as a group of 5 of us...was suppose to be 6 but me and my bf broke up days before the trip. Note: 2 of the people in the group are pretty obsessed with eating seafood and vacation drinking. We are all kind of foodies but also a bit cheap ($15 an entree for dinner would be considered quite reasonable to us). We stayed in Isabella in a rental house (with a full kitchen).
Anywhoo..this is my take on what we ate and my tips (I am no expert and this was our first time on the island so take it for what it is..an opinion and not a seasoned one at that).
Conuco-Isabella: We adored Conuco. We ate here on our first night and didn't know how amazing it was until we compared the other places we ate. It is in Isabella and right near the in town Mercado Morales (their is one a bit more towards the edge of Isabella as well) and Buen Provecho. I had a lovely light and savory sweet potato soup and a light salad with beautiful mixed greens. My Dad had chicken thighs that he couldn't talk enough about how good they were. My mom had a dish that had an amazing sherry cream sauce (lick the bowl clean sorta situation) as did my Brothers GF, my brother had some sort of mofongo I think. Everyone was super happy with their meal!! The only downside was the service was quiet slow...but being our first night we were happily on vacation and did not mind. It cost roughly $30-40 per person for a entree and at least one drink (maybe more drinks). They had good drinks too. We wished we had gone back here.
Tradewinds-Esperanza: This was our last meal on the island and I am sorry to say it was a disappointing one. The good...the passion fruit salad dressing is yummy and the paella was well loved by my father. My brother and his GF who had been obsessed about seafood were sad that the food seemed bland to them. We were at happy hour so they had some cheap drinks. $20-35 per person (including an entree and a drink). View of the ocean and outside seating.
Duffys-Esperanza: We went 2 times. Once for lunch..and it was ok. Nothing to get excited about. My dad however was ecstatic at their beer selection....a lot of german and wheat beers. Food was fine but not extra good. Service was timely and nice. The second time we went here it was just for drinks and to kill time. View of the Ocean and outside seating. $ 15-25 for a drink and a entree.
Next Course-Mid Island: We had read about it, were recommended it by locals while chatting and called them to check on if they had seafood. If you are a 2 person couple they have cute outside seating. I got the lobster and risotto ($40 dollars) it was outstanding. My parents loved the goyza. We passed around the poke (and all quite enjoyed a bite or two of it). I had the cold cucumber soup and wowza was I glad...I love a cold soup and it make makes me think the chef is brave (so many places don't have cold soup). My brother and his gf had dishes they seemed to like. My Mom had the bayou shrimp and I think she thought it was too spicy (but they do let you decide how spicy you want it when you order). My dad got a very southern dish of fish, grits, creamed corn and some other goodness. $35-50 per person for entree and drink. Oh they have mango and starfruit trees around their building!
Lazy Jacks-Esperanza: Late lunch...we were starving! We ordered nachos, tacos and pizza. It took a LONG time to get our food and it turned out our waitress got part of the order wrong...no worries she fixed it fast. My dad's pizza was pretty ok/good, the tacos the brother and his gf seemed to like, the nachos me and my mother shared and they were just blah. $10-25 per person with a drink and meal. View of the Ocean and outside seating.
Sol Food: We drove by it and it was open and every time after it was closed despite it still being open hours...oh well maybe next time I visit I will get to enjoy it.
Morales in Isabella: Ok basics....a bit like shopping in a big gas station in some towns or a tiny grocery store. We got basics but were missing other main ingredients. I wish we hadn't bought meat for sandwiches here. Prices seemed sorta normal..I did get a great deal buying garlic (ton of shucked garlic for roughly $1.50. Otherwise things were maybe a $1 or 2 more or sometimes equal price. They didn't have limes the day we were there.
Supermercado Morales (on the edge of Isabella): Pretty much the same as a medium grocery store. It had a bit more of the american products and brands. It had a large meat section (we picked up some awesome marinated pork that we cooked at the rental house....everyone loved it) and sliced deli meat. They had some produce here....but not much. We got limes super cheap and some peppers for eating with dip on the beach. We also picked up a HUGE case of Corona's pretty ok deal. They had tomatoes here.
Buen Provecho: Exactly as I had seen in the photos and heard it described. Cute little deli, great fresh bread, avocados (we couldn't find them anywhere else), dried fruit, awesome homemade candy bar (zach bar), attentive and helpful staff, coffee to drink or fresh squeezed fruit juice and some specialty items. Really was happy to find this place!
Corner Grocery Store kinda near the blanco bank in Isabelle: Like a gas station but better..they had some good deals and some random stuff. I would encourage exploring.
*Shop around if you have time...not so much for prices but what you want. If one grocery store doesn't have it is very likely the other one will.
*Don't expect eating on the island to be cheap...it isn't and thankfully we planned on this.
*You can get Medalla beer for a dollar some places.
*We never got in sync with lunch eating and even dinner eating (we were always hungry a bit early it seemed)....most restaurants do not serve dinner until 5pm.
*Eating breakfast at the house and packing lunches saved us money and was nice to be able to eat what we wanted when we wanted...and nice to have a snack on the beach. We fell in love with the cinnomen oatmeal that we bought on the island.
*Plan ahead...I had to keep telling people in our group to not buy more food as we got closer and closer to leaving and our food supply was dwindiling...we have leftovers and they will likely just get tossed out even after all my preventing of buying more food.
*Picking up more groceries along the way was easy..even on Sunday and even in the evening (long as we knew which places to try and it was before 9pm).
*Figuring out where to eat was one of the hardest things I did on the vacation (which shows that the vacation was pretty easy)....tooo many personalities wanting different things....with out any websites to show menus and help them compare and make a decision.
*We never found the fruit guy on 997. Oh well. None of the grocery stores had any exotic fruit (just strawberries, apples and grapes). Thankfully we had a fun yard where we got to enjoy coconut and fresh mangos. Supposedly their are limes all over the island but I couldn't find any.
*I would have loved to go to Mr. Sushi but the rest of the group couldn't be talked into it.
We had a shopper in our group. So after a bit of proding we wandered around Isabella shopping and really we could only find 2-3 shops (not including the 2 gallerias) one of them being the Funky Beehive (fun place but people kept running in and asking if they were closing early which suggests maybe they close early sometimes). The girls in the group all bought stuff. The Funky Beehive has cute clothes, cute gifts, and cute jewelry. Plus they donate the profits of magnets to the human society and they donate the profits of some cute Juntos clothes and wine glasses (I bought some...they will make great gifts). We wandered around Blackbeards and went into a little art studio that was selling a bunch of china items but had some cute photos of Vieques and so I bought one of those. Not really a shopping town and either is Esperanza....if that is what you are seeking then likely Vieques is probably not for you (or at least it wasn't when we were there).