St Croix has been undergoing a culinary renaissance for the past decade with the opening of restaurants and food trucks of every variety to tempt your palate. This year’s memorable Hurricane Season hasn’t stopped new eateries from opening up. I recently stopped by two of the newest on the scene braving the aftermath and putting things into over drive to open for season.
Common Cents Pub
This location has a special place in my heart. In the early 2000s I bartended at what was then “Bongos Bar & Grille” and met my now bffs, one who was part owner at the time. We sure made a lot of memories in that place! It’s since gone through several owners as both Bongos and Tavern 1844. Now, two year island resident Jenn Seay is ready to put her stamp – or pennies – on it and I’m so excited!
I’ve only been here for two years and I’ve just been embraced by everyone: locals, transplants, everyone. My St Croix is strong community and sunny days.
The name Common Cents came from the concept for renovating the bar top. Via facebook, Jenn reached out to friends and family both here on St Croix, back home in Nashville and abroad. She asked for folks to send her pennies to cover the expansive bar top and she got lots, from all over. Her network came together to help her fulfill her vision and thus, Common Cents. Fun right?! (And the bar looks pretty amazing too)
Seay, her brother and her wife worked hard completely renovating the kitchen with all new equipment, adding in banquet seating, including a VIP booth in the pub area and will soon renovate the open-air beer garden. As someone who has a history with the place, I’m excited to see the upgrades while they still honored the character of the historic building. Future plans include a small arcade of classic video games on the lower landing.
The menu at Common Cents Pub is Pub-style, Americana comfort food with some Tennessee influences like Nashville Hot Chicken. Get adventurous and try the Peanut Butter Blue Cheese Burger or the Doughnut Bacon Cheddar Burger. Yep, it is on a doughnut! They’ve also got a terrific beer and spirits menu and you’re sure to find the evenings game on one of the flat screens. Common Cents Pup opened on November 14, 2017 and now is open Monday through Saturday with Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 3-7pm. You’ll find Common Cents Pub on Company Street next to our friends at ib designs.
17/64 Kitchen + Bar
Andrew Hyatt came to St Croix four years ago by way of St John following the trade winds and his passion for kite boarding. According to Hyatt, St Croix has THE BEST kite boarding conditions in all of the Virgin Islands. So after a brief stint back home in Southeastern Virginia, he made the move to the big island.
My St Croix is multi-faceted. Truly a melting pot. That’s what America is. I also love that it is a multi-sport island as well. There’s so much to do … I’m never bored here. The restaurant keeps me busy enough, but even if I weren’t doing this: I can mountain bike here; I can paddleboard, scuba dive, surf, I can kite – obviously that’s why I’m here. Or, I can just sit on the beach and drink Cruzan Rum. That’s pretty awesome.
Hyatt has a 20 year history in the industry and designs restaurants for women. He really wanted women to feel comfortable, yet maintain a bit of a masculine touch. He opted for a Coastal Living style beach house. The serene ocean color palette puts the focus is on the food, wine, and cocktails. The goal is for people to come in and feel like they are hanging out in his home where they can sit outside on the patio or in the lounge area enjoying a cocktail or beer with friends without the pressure of having to order a full meal. However, should you opt for dining at 17/64, you’ll be delighted by Chef Kenny Biggs (formerly of Galangal and The Galleon) who is heading up the kitchen and designing a creative American menu with some Caribbean flair. The food is fully complemented by an eclectic beer and wine menu.
17/64 Kitchen + Bar’s custom designed logo is multi-faceted which speaks to one of his favorite things about St Croix. The diversity – in faces, accents, customs, and cuisine. The menu also celebrates the multi-cultural dynamic of St Croix through food.
Andrew said that even with the hiccup of Hurricane Maria, the process of doing business has been terrific after the storm. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs and Fire have all been helpful and efficient furthering the sense of community coming together on the island.
The opening will happen soon (possibly this month) They are now open as of late January 2018 with the restaurant closed Sundays and Mondays for Kite Boarding, Mountain Biking, Scuba Diving! You’ll find 17/64 Kitchen + Bar on Strand Street diagonally across from Crucian Gold.
Fun Fact – The name 17/64 is derived from the longitude and latitude of the island, but it also has another meaning. Not far from where Hyatt grew up in Virginia, there’s an intersection of Rte 17 and I-64. A fun coincidence!
Other Notable new places to grab a bite and a cocktail…
Opened mid-year before Hurricane Maria paid us a visit, Uptown Eatery is one of downtown Christiansted’s favorite new lunch spots. Chef Dave Kendrick is back along with wife Jane and daughter Mia offering a mouth-watering menu that includes fresh pasta in their hip Queen Cross Street Bistro.
Out in Frederiksted in the blue building right across from the Pier, Tap Deck Bar & Billiards opened earlier this summer.
The second floor bar is comfortable, full of custom touches like the hand-painted bar and boasts a terrific tapas style menu. OF COURSE there’s billiards.
Tap Deck is open daily from 3-11pm and features draft beer and a great craft cocktail menu with live music many evenings. If you’re looking to thank the linemen here helping us energize the island or the FEMA folks helping us get back on track, you’ll likely find a few hanging out here with the locals. You can even sign up for a sunset cruise aboard Lyric Sails while you’re at it.