Editor’s note: This article was updated in December 2016.

Shared and divided equally by the Netherlands and France, the dual nation isle of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin has close to 400 restaurants in its 95 square kilometres, easily grabbing the crown of Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.

Culinary traditions here are rooted in a melting pot of ethnic influences, from the indigenous Arawaks (with their love for yucca, cilantro and dasheen) to traditional French and Dutch flavours, to the unique tastes of nearby colonies whose people gradually brought ingredients like onion, breadfruit, plantain, sweet potato and curry spices to the island’s shores. Add fresh seafood and local inspiration, and it’s no surprise Sint Maarten/Saint-Martin’s Creole cuisine attracts chefs and foodies from around the world.

For an unforgettable dining experience, reserve a table at one of these spots.

Bamboo Bernies, Sint Maarten

Nestled above the Maho shopping district, this Asian-styled restaurant uses locally caught seafood in its ultra-fresh sushi and sashimi. Its two bars, SkyBeach and Buddha Lounge, are also popular spots for the party set. Happy hour features sake and sushi specials every night from 5 to 7 p.m. 

Enoch’s Place, Saint Martin

Find a spot under the awning of this modern lolo (a local barbecue stand) and be prepared to sample delectable stew chicken, garlic shrimp or grilled lobster with a side of rice and peas, plantain and salad. 

Hidden Forest Café at Loterie Farm, Saint Martin

Located at the base of the island’s highest peak, this private nature reserve is home to the Hidden Forest Café, overseen by Canadian chef Julia Purkis, who pairs global flavours to enhance numerous local ingredients in classics such as salad niçoise, spicy crab cakes and curry chicken salad with coconut and mango chutney. 

Mario Bistrot, Sint Maarten

Formerly Mario’s Bistro (in Saint Martin), Chef Mario Tardif and manager Didier Gonnon pair their French styles (Tardif from Quebec, Gonnon from France) with Asian and Caribbean to offer dishes such as sautéed jumbo shrimp scallops with crab risotto or bouillabaisse with red Thai curry. 

Temptation, Sint Maarten

A Culinary Institute of America graduate, native chef Dino Jagtiani offers intimate surroundings where diners can indulge in creative cuisine such as spicy tuna with mango guacamole, keshi yena (Creole-style chicken legs stuffed inside aged gouda) or lobster paella with local sausage and saffron rice. For dessert, order the white wine- and honey-poached pear with créme anglaise and caramelized white chocolate ganache.