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virgin islands on line : st. john : restaurant & dining reviews

La Tapa 03/24/2004
Reviewers Rating: Stars Excellent
It always amazes me that more (frequent)visitors to St. John don't ever dine at La Tapa! Maybe it's the fact that it's below The Quiet Mon and next to Woody' that I think of it, the first time I saw it, I might have been a little bit skeptical, thinking it might be sketchy.

Could not be further from the truth! The place is cozy and charming. When you sit at one of the 4 tables outside, you are somehow sheltered from all the craziness, yet eyewitness to ALL of Cruz Bay driving and walking by. It's a show. Inside, at the other tables or bar, the atmosphere is cozy yet buzzing--you get that feel of the outside being just steps away.

I can't count how many times I've eaten there, but I can say I've always enjoyed it. And last visit, a few weeks ago, we ate there twice. The food is superb. The specials always include some kind of fresh fish special that is mouth-watering in its description and perfectly prepared. Tuna tartare spring rolls....not always on the menu, but so good...

During our last visit, 12 of us booked the outside and the staff was great at handling all of us. As for seeing Cruz Bay drive by, one of our friends, a local, said that in the course of one fifteen minute period, she saw her sister, her grandmother, and her father drive by. Lindy usually ambles past. Someone with a blaring sound system wil cruise by twice then disappear for the night--all part of the show.

One thing that is always on the menu is a 3-sauces tapas. You can order it with bread or with shrimp. The 3 sauces are so delicious and best served with the bread, though you have to be careful not to fill up. A local friend who was introduced to Manchego cheese at my home in Boston last summer was delighted to see that it was on the menu here, served with Spanish ham and delicious olives. It was great.

The only thing I will warn about is the spicy peanut sauce on pasta, with shrimp. The menu warns you that it is hot, but it is VERY VERY hot. I like hot, but it's too hot for me. And I also must say that as much as I've always admired the fresh, succulent fish that La Tapa serves they can't seem to get their hands on great shrimp.

La Tapa is great. Owner Alex has done a great job with the place for a long time now; you shouldn't be disappointed if you like good food and a vibrant yet somehow-still-intimate atmosphere.


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