Eat local at the third branch of Fatty Crab, which opened in mid-February in an open-air space with the only smoker on the island. The menu retains Malaysian flavors but also emphasizes local ingredients, including just-caught deepwater fish and fresh greens from nearby Coral Bay Organic Farm. Try the house-made flat noodle ($19), prepared with turmeric butter and island thyme, and the skipjack tuna crudo, made with habanero chili, coconut milk, tarragon flowers, and holy basil flowers (market price).
Make reservations a day ahead to graze on Caribbean-flavored Spanish fare at La Tapa, a bistro where St. John regular Mario Batali dines when he’s in town. Chef-owner Alex Ewald changes the menu daily, relying on fresh ingredients to create dishes like grilled langoustines with passion-fruit cilantro aioli ($18) and braised pork belly with mango cabbage slaw ($15). If lobster’s on the menu, chances are Ewald went diving and snared the crustacean herself.
Follow locals to Vie’s Snack Shack (East End Road at Hansen Bay; 340-693-5033), a no-frills, cash-only roadside stand with plastic-covered picnic tables and a short list of West Indian specialties. Owner Violet Sewer Mahabir was crowned Miss St. John in 1963, but she’s most famous for her deep-fried garlic chicken ($7.50): The crispy quarter leg is sided with a honey-drizzled johnny cake and goes down well with a soursop nectar ($2.50).