Turks and Caicos isn't just white sand beaches and luxurious lounging; it's also famous for its divine cuisine. The 30 islands that make up the Turks and Caicos archipelago are rich in delicious ingredients, such as bananas, citrus, corn and salt - and of course an abundance of seafood variety. Meat of all kinds is typically served with local corn, rice and vegetables and topped with local sauces and spices. Grits (or hominy) are a traditional side dish, made from dried conch, vegetables, and chicken or fish. If this reminds you of American southern cuisine you'd be right, as its soulful origins were founded in Caribbean cuisine.
A major difference between the American south and Turks and Caicos is welcome absence of fast food chains. You will thankfully not find a McDonalds or KFC on the Islands, which allows the authentic cuisine to stay pure and true to its roots. However, as is the global trend, less fishermen are pulling in catches and less farmers are growing vegetables, and in this reflected in the cost of the food. But you get what you pay for - and at many restaurants in Turks and Caicos that's delicious cuisine that will knock your socks off.
While the fusion fine dining at the resorts is world-class, we recommend experiencing true local Island food, and tasting the masterpieces skillfully created by generational cooks who learned from their mothers and grandmothers. The following top three list of the top-rated restaurants in Turks and Caicos is based on one of our staff member's recent trips. So next time you're in the Islands, be sure to make a stop at these gems. After all, sense memories are incredibly powerful.
1. Porter's Island Thyme, Salt Cay
What many people consider the best dining in Turks and Caicos, come slow yourself down to proper Island Time at Porter's Island Thyme on Salt Cay. Enjoy superbly high quality dining - what they call Caribbean Fusion Cusine (with an Asian flare) - in a friendly and lively atmosphere. Serving meals all day with only the freshest and most pure ingredients, try the homemade doughnuts in Vietnamese cinnamon and sugar or lobster eggs benny for breakfast; conch bites and snapper sandwich for lunch; perfect ahi tuna or Island Thyme Paella for dinner. And the Angels on Horseback are sublime: lobster morcels wrapped in apple-wood smoked bacon and grilled. It's well worth the boat ride from Provo to Salt Cay to feel part of the island family for an unparalleled experience.
2. Coco Bistro, Providenciales
A genuine foodie's fantasy come true, Coco Bistro is a one-of-a-kind taste extravaganza. Located right in the heart of Grace Bay, amidst the largest palm grove on the island, Coco Bistro serves up the freshest local cuisine in a delightful ambience, all vibed up beneath the swaying fronds and brilliant starlit sky. It's earned its reputation as a 'must visit' by continuously pumping out crazy imaginative and flavorful Caribbean cuisine. For a starter, try the Caicos lobster bisque flambéed with cognac and topped with lightly spiced cream; then follow it up with a main course of rare grilled local yellow fin tuna with lime hoisin BBQ sauce and wasabi mash potatoes. The delicious meals are a work of art and the service is exemplary, making Coco Bistro perfect for a romantic evening or special occasion.
3. Caicos Bakery, Providenciales
When it comes to classic baked goods, warm and fresh out of the oven, Caicos Bakery is the place to be. With an excellent assortment of both sweet and savory yummies, like pizza rolls and chocolate croissants, the only dilemma is what to order. Another nice part of the Bakery is the price, very affordable. Just make sure you get there early for the best selection as they do sell out and close in the afternoon.
If you want to read more about the intricacies of local Island food, read the excellent article from Times of the Islands: Peas 'N' Grits & "Penn On": True Turks & Caicos Cuisine.