Stanley's: Reggae Bar
The inner area of Johnny Cay is a palm tree grove with a handful of little bars and restaurants (they all use the same kitchen to prepare the food) selling fresh fish and cold drinks. It's a joyful place with colourful wooden benches and tables, and plenty of shadow to enjoy your favourite tropical cocktail, perhaps the famous Coco Loco - crazy coconut :) while listening to reggae, typical music of the island.
Stanley, our local guy from the boat, brought us to his bar which was somehow reserved for the group he brings from San Andrés. Since the place was packed we had to order the food in advance, just to make sure that you get it at a certain hour and enjoy the rest of the time for other activities.
Favorite Dish: On arrival I had Piña Colada, a delicious rum-based cocktail which was made with fresh pineapple juice and milk of grated coconut. It was served in a coconut shell and garnished with a coconut piece and a maraschino cherry. My choice for lunch was grilled fish which was accompanied by rice and patacones (fried plantains) and I had one more Piña Colada.
This was quite typical meal of the island and I enjoyed it.
- Food and Dining
Restaurante West View: Balneario, Terraza y Acuario
West View is nothing more than a short pier out into the ocean, from which some tourists feed the fish while others snorkel around in the water, watching the fish eat. A couple of slices of bread are included in the entrance fee. I spent one whole day here and had a good fun. Actually, it was the last day of the year 2008, so one more reason to be a special one.
Near Piscina is a small and charming local restaurant called West View where you can taste fresh seafood including ceviche, fried fish, lobster and crab dishes, as well some typical dishes of San Andrés which include fish, conch, coconut, breadfruit and yucca. The most famous local dish is rondón.
A guy by the restaurant sells freshly made rum and coconut-based cocktails, such as Coco Loco, Coco Fresa, Piña Colada and Coco Punch. Expect loud reggae music from the restaurant and tourist crowd. The atmosphere gets much more relaxed after lunch time.
Favorite Dish: During my visit I had two Piña Coladas. They were served in a coconut shell, decorated with a tropical flower from the nearby tree. And for lunch I did not think twice to have rondón which I rinsed with a cold Aguila beer. The meal was quite tasty.
- Food and Dining
- Diving and Snorkeling
Monica's Place: Las Posadas Nativas
I was staying in Monica's Place, owned by Caselita Forbes, part of the island's homestay programme Las Posadas Nativas. She offers an option with accommodation and breakfast, and other with all meals included. Since there were no restaurants close by I thought it would be better to have a complete supply on one place. But on the other hand, most of the time I was away for lunch so I ended up having only a dinner. The price of the room and all meals was COP 50.000. The meals were served in Caselita's living room.
Favorite Dish: My usual breakfast was bread, cheese, a cup of coffee and a glass of fruit nectar (which I did not like). To my surprise, for the New Year's breakfast I got also one banana and a piece of cake from the supermarket.
The first day Caselita made rondón, a typical dish of the island. It is prepared with fish, conch, yucca, breadfruit, yam, plantain and dumpling, cooked in coconut milk. It was very delicious! I asked her to make it one more time on my last day but then she said she could not get the ingredients (which was hard to believe). My other meals were pasta & tuna salad; fish cutlet, rice & beans and fried plantains; fish cutlet, rice and fried breadfruit. They were usually accompanied by a glass of fruit nectar.
- Food and Dining
Mr Panino: go there for the octopus carpaccio
Mr Panino is a little hole in the wall plus a few tables outside with a very sad name... run by Gianni from Naples and his lovely wife Rosio from San Andres, who does all the cooking, the food is simple but excellent.
Favorite Dish: Once you've read the menu, ask Gianni what he recommends today... he'll tell you what he has off the menu and you can be sure that it'll be something delicious.. actually order what you want, Gianni will surely tell you he has something better nad persuade you to have it.
When we went there he had a superb octopus carpaccio ad rwal olive oil to go with it. The next day he had eggplant ravioli... another day seafood tortellini. Another day again he asked us if we wanted to go in a partnership with him, since they had ask ed him to open a Mr Panino restaurant at the airoport...
Margherita y Carbonara: the first Italian restaurant in San Andrès
Margherita y Carbonara, the first Italian restaurant in San Andrès, is located very conveniently at the end of the pedestrian main street of the commercial centre. Run by Vanni from the Emilia-Romagna area, his food is absolutely wonderful...
The restaurant is nice, too... but some not-very-pleasant Italian young men are stationed there all day and night long... looking for a chat, for young locals girls and for drugs (meaning: cocoaine). Realizing we had nothing in common except the language, we did not always feel very comfortable in their company.
It also made me wonder why Italians DO have to bond when they are abroad, no matter how different they are. And different we clearly were... being the only couple of the lot.
Favorite Dish: Excellent food... especially the meat tortellini (have them with a simple butter and sage sauce, please). Good pizzas, too and a wonderful selection of imported cold means from Italy. if it's real italian salami you're looking for, Vanni is the only one on the island who imports it directly from Italy.
Mojito Pasion: the best mohitos in town, and some good food, too
Mojito pasion has the best mohitos in town, and some good food, too... It is run by Corrado from northern Italy, who is a great person and an endless source of information about the island. his main menu consists of sandwiches and salads - and only 4 pasta dishes... but wow, they are incredibly good.
Favorite Dish: My favourite dish was not any of the pastas, however... but one of Corrado's yummy desserts... salame di cioccolate, chocolate salami. You have to taste it to feel you are in chocolate-heaven. Do not go there on Tuesday, as it's his closing day.
South End - Punta Sur: don't miss the seafood parrilla
We had our best meal in San Andres in a wonderfully decorated restaurant in the middle of nowhere... at South End - Punta Sur, right where the island finishes.... run by a couple of local teachers. They specialize in three things: fried red snapper, crabs in various sauces, and seafood parilla.
Favorite Dish: We had the seafood parilla that Corrado in San Andres had recommended to us, which is the msot expensive item on the menu at 120000 COP for two persons, but it was well worth it. We got a huge platter full of delicious delicacies, stew conch, shrims, lobster with crab and cheese sauce, calamaris, a grilled fish fillet, something else i don't remember - and of course rice and patacon. Definitely money well-spent.
Bibi's restaurant: Bibi the rasta
Bibi the rasta is the owner of Bibi's restaurant, an open-air beach restaurant on Haines cay... There are two resturants on Haines cay... Bibi's tables are the ones decorated with the colours of the Jamaican flag.
Favorite Dish: Bibi has really good grilled fish with patacon, coconut rice and side-salad... and his seafood coconut rice is very good, too. It seems that he also prepares really good cocktails. Well wworth the food, and in case you decide to stay longer and you missed to boat back don't worry, Bibi will give you a lift into town with his boat, for only 10000 COP.
Donde Francesca: an excellent beach but so-so food
Donde Francesca is a beautiful restaurant with colourfu mosaics in a beautful setting... Playa Paraiso is really a paradise, and you can stop there all day, have fun at Donde francesca, leave your things there, and jump in the sea.
Favorite Dish: We did not have a good experience but the food promised to be good. When we ordered the stew conch we asked if they could cook our food without onions, and I saw the very nice waitress write it down clearly AND in Spanish... Unfortunately someone in the kitchen decided to ignore what was written, and everything came with the much hated onions (read: allergy)... Not a good lunch for us (since we barely touched it), but the food looked really yummy.
Terrazas del Rincon: What a view!!
This restaurant is on the West side of the island. We went simply for the view, but apparently the seafood is fantastic as well. They have a wide selection of wine and some very gourmet seafood options. There were more standard options as well for people who weren't as keen on presentation, also there were some non-seafood options.
We arrived in time to watch the sunset and it was magnificent. Just a tip, before you accept the wine that they offer you when you arrive, find out how much the bottle is or specify that you only want one glass. Half of our group unknowingly blew their budget when they accepted the wine and had no money left for dinner so we didn't end up staying.
It would have been great had we known what to expect, I was only drinking water and was a little disappointed when we had to get up an leave without ordering anything.