From Food Truck to Five-Star: Dining in Guadeloupe
On Guadeloupe, long days of hiking volcanoes, touring distilleries, and soaking up sun on white sand beaches can leave anyone hungry. Fortunately, the islands boast a rich culinary tradition that runs the gamut from elegant seaside dining to hand-churned ice cream sold on street corners.
The country — actually a collection of five islands — is just a few hours’ journey from Miami. And, although it’s in the middle of the Caribbean, Guadeloupe is an overseas territory of France. That means the population is a mélange of French tourists and Creole residents, with very few visitors outside of those categories.
Unsurprisingly, this mix of French and Caribbean influences makes for an unparalleled culinary scene. People in Guadeloupe take pride in making (and eating) food that’s beautiful and tasty, whether it’s served in a pricey bistro or on a street corner. And in a country where coffee, bananas, chocolate, sugar, and seafood practically leap out of the ground — or the ocean — and onto your plate, it’s hard to find anything that isn’t delicious.
For those seeking a culinary adventure, Guadeloupe is the perfect destination. The islands are home to gorgeous scenery, thousands of kind and funny people (their favorite condiment, “dog sauce” is said to be so good that it’ll make you slobber like a dog), and, of course, a nearly endless series of food choices that fit any budget, big or small.
It’s hard to go wrong with a restaurant, café, or even a roadside stand in Guadeloupe. But there are some places that stand apart from the rest. Here’s how to eat and drink your way through one of the most beautiful collections of islands in the world.
Restaurant Ti Kaz La
No restaurant has ever been better-located than Ti Kaz La, a fine dining establishment with its toes in the warm ocean. Enjoy melt-in-your-mouth langoustine ravioli and chef Philippe Dade’s specialty: a towering mango soufflé with raspberry coulis.
Bokit Food Trucks
The word “sandwich” hardly describes a bokit, a jumble of frybread, vegetables, meat, and eggs that’s served from food trucks across the islands. Sainte Anne’s are the best, and, for just a few Euro, you can have this massive, warm, indescribably delicious meal that’s guaranteed to stick to your ribs for hours to come.
Fried cod fritters are everywhere in Guadeloupe, but at Popots Maison-Galerie you’ll have the opportunity to make your own — and don’t forget dog sauce, the ubiquitous topping that makes these fritters sing. Aided by French chefs, you’ll mix up your own meal and enjoy it together with a glass of planteur’s punch, a beloved island cocktail.
Tourment d’Amour Carts
A brigade of kind older women whip up these half-cake, half-tart pastries each day and wheel them around Les Saintes in carts, where they’re greedily snapped up by tourists and locals alike. When men venture out on their fishing boats, their wives send them with tourment d’amour — and when the cakes go stale, that means it’s time to come home.
Au Bon Vivre
Terre de Haut
One of the finest restauranteurs in Guadeloupe, chef Vincent Malbec is responsible for blending island specialties with the French cuisine of his home in Toulouse. That makes for a menu that features grilled duck breast beside octopus stew and lasagna pasta made with conch. And, of course, the chef maintains an extensive collection of French wines to serve alongside his culinary creations.
Guadeloupe is the oldest coffee-growing site in the Americas, and La Grivelière is one of the only places where you can taste coffee just as it was prepared back in the 1700s. It’s 100 percent arabica, potent and smooth. After seeing the care with which it’s prepared — staff on site still grow, harvest, roast and grind the beans — the end product is all the sweeter.
Part spa, part restaurant, part hotel, part oasis, Tendacayou is a strange and beautiful creation in the middle of a tropical forest. Visit their restaurant or simply stay for a tea ceremony, during which you can quietly sip out of stone cups and enjoy the magnificent surroundings.