Hastings Main Road
Hastings , Christ Church
Tel: 246 420 2995
If Ian Schraeger had designed a beach house, it would likely resemble this high-gloss two-year-old restaurant in Hastings. This seaside open-air eatery is awash in glass and brushed aluminum with distressed wooden floors and low-slung couches in limpid shades of turquoise (a perfect match to the waters beyond). Chef Michael Hinds earned his stripes working at Sandy Lane and at Miami's Nobu before taking to Aqua's stoves. The pair's experience shows: Seared yellowfin tuna tataki with shishimi ponzu, microgreens and wakame, proves a savory prologue to a pave of grilled dorado with spicy puy lentils and arugula salad. The downstairs bar, populated by the beautiful and tanned, is a choice niche for glamorous debauchery. Aqua's Cuban martini is an equally irresistible affair involving champagne, mint, sugar, vodka, and fresh lime.
Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 2:30 pm and 6:30 to 10:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 6:30 to 10:30 pm.
Enterprise Coast Road
Oistins , Christ Church
Tel: 246 428 6172
Visit the Hotel Little Arches' tryst-ready rooftop, and you'll feel like you're at a Mediterranean terrazzo. Mosaic-tiled tables are dressed with tea lights, flowers tumble over a wrought-iron railing and the wind-ruffled waters off Miami Beach provide a postcard backdrop. The menu pairs local seafood (caught daily, and brought in from Oistins Market) with Asian and Caribbean flavors. The spicy tuna sashimi dressed with red tobiko on a bed of seaweed is a winsome app, as are the grilled prawns with potato crisps and tequila lime butter. Thursday is sushi night (try the massive maki rolls), and Saturdays bring lobster from the Grenadines.
Open daily 11 am to 5 pm and 6:30 to 10 pm.
Rockley , Christ Church
Tel: 246 434 3463
Set in a Bajan home on the island's south coast, this restaurant is as lively and casual as it is eminently civilized. Time-mellowed wood floors creak underfoot, tables are swathed in white linen, staff is warm and inviting, and rooms are painted in sunshiny shades of mango and periwinkle. While you're waiting for your table, you can peruse the gallery in the back featuring the work of local artists or take in the view from the second floor open-air terrace. At lunchtime, local businessmen gather there for grilled-fish luncheons, their silk ties flapping in the breeze while tourists in vibrant sundresses toast each other over pina coladas. Continental fare keeps the spotlight where it should be (on seafood): The fresh and zippy kingfish ceviche is among the resto's signature dishes.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 11:30 am to 10 pm.
Derricks , St. James
Tel: 246 432 1922
This glamour-puss of a restaurant, where every table has a terrace view and candlelight glints off the fine crystal, has been wowing visitors since 1995. Chef Paul Owens's aim is to please and also impress—though such dishes as Thai beef salad, mahimahi on potato cake with grain-mustard sauce, or beef tenderloin with Roquefort sauce are a few steps short of au courant. Still, nobody's complaining, what with the full-frontal sunsets over the Caribbean, the attentive service and the good wine list. This is one hard table to score in season—some folks have been known to make reservations six months in advance.
Open daily 6:30 to 10 pm.
Crane Beach , St. Philip
Tel: 246 423 0611
This designer sandwich–boutique is the island's answer to Dean & Deluca. Located across from the Crane Hotel in St. Philip, the laidback eatery has a sky-blue roof and sun-yellow exterior. Tourists in sundresses, with hair still wet from the beach, pop in for breakfast (eggs benny, lattes) and lunch (flying fish, pizzas, smoked salmon salads). Cutters—the Bajan word for sandwich—also serves as a mini market, selling perfect picnic companions (like Veuve Clicquot, and bottles of homemade rum punch, well-spiced with nutmeg). The staff will even prep baskets and deliver them to your hotel.
Open daily 8:30 to 6 pm.
Paynes Bay , St. James
Tel: 246 432 2731
The sister restaurant of a well-known London eatery of the same name, Daphne's serves an upscale, modern Italian menu in an exquisite beachside garden setting. The smoked marlin carpaccio is a standout appetizer; among the entrées, the grilled mahimahi with peperonata and the pork saltimbocca are must-trys. At night, flaming torches, elegantly dressed diners, and good cocktails all add to the sense of romance.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 12:30 to 3 pm and 6:30 to 9:30 pm.
Tel: 246 444 2030
Sandy Lane's signature dining room may be the most posh restaurant on Barbados. A formal spot overlooking the water, it's run by chef Grant MacPherson, whose resumé includes stints at Raffles Singapore and the Bellagio in Las Vegas. MacPherson serves a mostly Provençal and Mediterranean menu using local seafood and produce: spiny lobster salad with pecans and a blood-orange dressing; veal loin with olive-crusted fingerlings and a ratatouille vinaigrette. Try to score a table on the elegant terrace.
Dinner only. Closed Wednesdays.
Holetown , St. James
Tel: 246 432 8356
The tall Casuarina trees climbing from the rocky seascape provide a painterly frame to this elegant, rustic restaurant. Set in an 80 year old Bajan villa, Tides serves its international fare against a crystalline sea backdrop over the soundtrack of frothing waters—a choice setting starry-eyed couples. The restaurant manages to gently buck the pretension of some of its West Coast competitors, without compromising the imaginative polish of its fare. London chef Guy Beasley, who worked at London's Le Gavroche and with Gordon Ramsay of Kitchen Nightmares fame, has divined an international menu with a local bent. Chilled tuna tataki, served with watermelon and seasoned with ginger, garlic, sesame, and chili peppers is a killer app, as are Beasley's pan-fried bay scallops with sweet potato mash, and mango and orange beurre blanc. The mahi mahi atop a bed of salt cod potato cakes, sided with tomato basil fondue and finished with coriander and prawn salsa is also a standout main. Instead of a digestif, take a post-dinner wander through Tides' art gallery.
Open daily noon to 9 pm.
Crane Beach , St. Philips
Tel: 246 423 6220
This upscale resto serves up the best Asian on the island. Inside, all is lacquered black surfaces and low lighting. Glass walls spoil diners (from hushed couples to groups of raucous, sake-sipping friends) with spectacular views of Crane Beach, and the slippers of kimono-clad waitresses whisper across burnished floors. Although the executive chef hails from Vietnam, the menu focuses on Thai and Japanese dishes. The latter is particularly standout with the ready availability of sushi-grade fish. The Chirashi—the chef's 10-piece selection of sashimi atop a bowl of rice—gives Nobu a run for its money. Spicy tuna and spicy hamachi maki are equally top-notch. But for those still phobic of the raw stuff, Thai food (panang curries, pad thais) is fire-licked and artistically served on rectangular white plates. Large parties should book the traditional-style tatami room; diners leave their footwear at the entrance.
Open Mondays and Wednesdays through Sundays 6 to 10:30 pm.