The Working Guide of the Best Places to Eat in Turks and Caicos
Everyone always says Turks & Caicos has the best beaches in the world- the bluest water, the whitest sand. Partly because of that, I’ve always passed it over when considering tropical destinations. Paradise on earth? Too obvious, I thought. How could anything that perfect be interesting? But in the airport on our way down, I see on my IG feed that T&C is having a moment because, apparently, Kim K was there with her whole family. This does nothing for me, but I take it as I sign that the place is still relevant. And, by the first afternoon, I know why. I finally understand why people vacation in the same place year after year. Why, in fact, someone would forgo travel to new and fabulous locations to return to the familiar and beloved. Turks & Caicos, it turns out, is legit paradise and I cried when I left.
We stayed in the Grace Bay neighborhood of Providenciales, on the Caicos islands. (Grand Turk is about 70 miles away, on the Turks Islands. Keep this in mind when booking your hotel/flight lest you end up at the wrong island.) And, yes, dining can get expensive down here, as expensive as everyone says. There’s plenty of popular places recommended purely for their off-the-chain views, but there’s no shortage of pure, accessible beauty on this island, and I’d just as soon skip a fifty-dollar breakfast just because it has beachside seating.
You’re better off buying cold, gorgeous bottles of Minuty Rosé, along with a case of La Croix and whatever you want from the local grocery, (Graceway Gourmet: two thumbs up), and finding the nearest body of water. (Note: my traveling companion repeatedly found hidden-beach paradise by using the ingenious method of looking at a map and driving us to whatever coastline looked least populated. I don’t even want to talk about it because I feel like we unearthed some truly spectacular and untouched spots. Point being, it’s hard to go wrong with the ocean in Turks regardless of where you end up.)
You will want to eat out at some point, though, and you should, but without wasting money on anything subpar. Here are my suggestions for avoiding just that:
By: Janet Mercel
COCOVAN This elevated food truck is housed in a blinging silver, restored, luxury Airstream under a copse of palm trees, and the sight of it was enough for me to bang a U-ey after driving by. Order at the van, head a few feet over to the adjacent tiki shack and have a Down-Da Road, the local IPA, (Turks Head Brewery). Eat as much of the Sriracha/lime popcorn as you can before your (very excellent) fish tacos arrive.
Cocovan is the more casual, next-door child of Cocobistro, chef Stuart Gray’s fine dining experience nearby. They’re both situated in a mini-village of palms, sandy passageways and hidden candlelit niches- very Lost Boys Island. More on Cocobistro later.
People come here for what I hear are the best lattes in Provo, but on my first day I discovered they carry Island Raw Kombucha and became immediately dependent. Bottles of handcrafted, island-made kombucha in flavors like Rose Chai and North Caicos Plum; adaptogen-stuffed superfood balls with cacao, reishi mushroom and maca; and take-aways of chia pudding, (ingredients: chia seeds, coconut milk, honey, cinnamon. That’s it!), and lentil salads perfectly sized for lunch at the beach. Everything is absolutely fresh, and the space is shared with Flowers by EA, a charming floral shop overflowing with local blooms and imports like Surf’s Up candles and Meri Meri.
Wow, Turkberry. This is what a frozen yogurt and donut bar would feel like if Barbie moved into Peewee’s Playhouse and started selling sweets, choose-your-own-adventure style. If you’re going the donut route, they’ll deck it out for you from pots and pots of melted chocolate, caramel, berry frostings, shaved coconut, cookie crush crumbles, sprinkles, fresh fruit- the selection of which is more diverse and creative than any other sweet bar I can name. Same with the frozen yogurt, which somehow miraculously tastes great no matter what swirl combination you can wrap your head around, be it Lemon, Green Apple, Tiramisu, Hot Chocolate with Marshmallow, or Mango Tango. Also, Justin Bieber likes it here, if that matters to you.
Somewhere Cafe & Lounge
Possibly my favorite meal of the entire trip. Somewhere is slightly down the beach from a major snorkeling spot, and after making ourselves sea sick just by bobbing on the water too long, we wandered in for sustenance. (We did manage to see sea turtles, a lobster and a baby shark before calling it quits, though.) The raw fish tostada with queso fresco and pickled red onion was a great opener, briny and clean, but I was craving something familiar and filling, which came in the form of a quinoa taco salad with fresh avocado. My friend’s hangover put him in dire need of something heavy to sop up his feelings of self-loathing; and the pulled pork sandwich with chipotle molasses was just enough sweet and salty on a brioche bun. New obsession: YUCCA FRIES. Just like the potato version, only lighter, crispier, and somehow more satisfying.
When I asked our waiter what he thought was the most impressive thing to order, he gave me a slow smile and drawled, “You can’t go wrong with the menu, mon, just close your eyes and open your mouth.” And, you know, he was right. I don’t even remember which fresh local fish we ordered, but I remember it fell apart perfectly. There was banana chutney and coconut rice, conch ravioli and blistered sweet peppers. They grow their own basil and it makes the whole place smell like a garden, and it all made for a sensational, albeit bittersweet, last night in town.
You can find conch on every menu in town, but Da Conch Shack, a popular beachside spot, has the most variety in terms of preparation. This spot is not near the main stretch of Grace Bay Beach, but it’s well worth a trip for the quiet beach, the great food, and friendly service. Try their conch in a citrus-y conch salad, lightly battered and fried (called cracked conch), or in a flavorful curry. Wash it all down with one of the delicious (and strong) rum drinks or one of the islands locally brewed, ultra-refreshing Turks Head beers. The crowd gets lively at night, especially when there’s live music on Wednesday and Saturday.