Wahoo steak, shark hash, mussel pie, fish chowder laced with rum and sherry peppers, Hoppin' John (black-eyed peas and rice), and the succulent spiny Bermuda lobster (called "guinea chick") await you in Bermuda. Of course, you won't find these dishes on all menus, as many resorts and mainstream restaurants specialize in a more Continental or international cuisine. But for a true taste of Bermuda, search the menu for local grub.
Bermudian food has improved in recent years, but dining out is still not a major reason to visit the island. American and British dishes are common. Innovative gourmet fare often isn't -- although the prices might suggest you're getting something special. Dining in Bermuda is generally more expensive than it is in the United States and Canada. Because virtually everything except fish must be imported, restaurant prices are closer to those in Europe.
In general, it's not a good idea to order meat very often; it's flown in, and you can't be sure how long it has been in storage. Whenever possible, stick to local food; for a main course, that usually means fish. The seafood, especially Bermuda rockfish, is generally excellent -- that is, when local fishers have caught something that day. Sometimes the waters are too rough for fishing. A lot of fish is imported frozen from the United States; you may want to ask before you order. To find the dishes that are truly worthy, you'll have to pick and choose your way carefully through the menu -- and that's where we come in.
Most restaurants, at least the better ones, prefer that men wear a jacket and tie after 6pm; women usually wear casual, chic clothing in the evening. Of course, as most of the world dresses more and more casually, Bermuda's dress codes have loosened up a bit -- but this is still a more formal destination than many other islands. It's always wise to ask about required dress when you're reserving a table. During the day, no matter what the establishment, be sure to wear a coverup -- don't arrive for lunch sporting a bikini.
Because of the absence of inexpensive transportation, many travelers on a budget eat dinner at their hotels. If you like to dine around and you're concerned about cost, find a hotel that offers a variety of dining options, or stay in or near the City of Hamilton.
Bermuda's Best Dining Bets
You'll find some of the best sushi at the Harbourfront Restaurant & Komodaru Sushi Lounge, in the basement of the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI) on the outskirts of the City of Hamilton; the best Chinese and Thai at Chopsticks Restaurant in the City of Hamilton; the best sandwiches at Paradiso Cafe in the City of Hamilton; the best British pub grub at Hog Penny in the City of Hamilton; the best ice cream at Bailey's Ice Cream & Food D'Lites Restaurant in Hamilton Parish; and the best pizza at Portofino in the City of Hamilton. For a wide sampling of Bermuda seafood, go to the Bolero Brasserie, on Front Street in the City of Hamilton. Here you can enjoy the best of the day's catch, preceded by a bowl of Bermuda fish chowder. For a romantic dinner with touches of Bermudian history thrown in, head for Tom Moore's Tavern in Hamilton Parish, which was built as a private home in 1652. It once housed Thomas Moore, the Irish romantic poet, and a sense of tragic romance still lingers in a refined setting with a classic French and Mediterranean menu.
A Note on Reservations
Nearly all major restaurants prefer that you make a reservation; many popular places require that you do so as far in advance as possible. Weekends in summer can be especially crowded. Some repeat visitors make their reservations for the most popular spots before they leave home.
Check, Please! A Note on Service Charges
Although a service charge (typically 10%-17%) is added to most restaurant bills, it's customary to leave something extra if the service has been good. However, it isn't necessary -- in fact, many diners find 15% too generous. Be on the lookout for this scam: Some restaurants include the basic 15% service charge in the bill, but leave the service charge line blank. Many diners unknowingly add another 10% to 15%, without realizing they've already paid for service. Scrutinize your bill, and don't be shy about asking if you're not sure what's included.
Dressing the Part
Some of the upscale restaurants in Bermuda ask that men wear a jacket and tie for dinner; some restaurants require a jacket but not a tie. When making reservations, always ask what the dress code is. "Casual but elegant" dress is preferred at most Sunday buffets.
A Note on Hotel Dining
In high season (Apr-Nov), many resort hotels require guests to take the Modified American Plan (MAP), or half-board arrangement of breakfast and dinner. To spare guests the routine of eating in the same dining room every night, some hotels offer a "dine around" program. It allows you to dine at other hotels on your own meal plan or at somewhat reduced prices. Ask about dine-around arrangements when booking your room.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.