The Maldives Restaurants
Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavaru
Tel: 960 660 0888
The first-floor Shisha Bar of this overwater restaurant named for a North African seafaring scholar has views of the Technicolor fish below and the sunsets on the horizon. The Middle Eastern antiques and elaborate textiles of the upstairs dining room accompany equally authentic fare. The Egyptian chef produces rich dishes, like fried pastry with mint feta and marinated lamb chops with Moroccan yogurt walnut salad, while also excelling at spa cuisine such as cherry tomatoes flavored with pomegranate molasses and fresh cilantro, and grilled Lebanese Haloumi cheese with steamed asparagus. Exotic desserts like Moroccan apple, brown sugar, and cinnamon crêpes drizzled with caramelized milk balance spices with delicate sweetness.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 7 to 10:30 pm.
Anantara Resort Maldives
South Male Atoll
Tel: 960 664 4100
Long narrow walking bridges link both Anantara Veli and Naladhu resorts to this free-standing Thai eatery. The Bangkok-based owners scoured the city for top talent, so you'll get authentic dishes like rice-paper-wrapped marinated white prawns with sweet mango chile, pad thai noodles, and the perennial favorite: green papaya salad with marinated flame-grilled chicken. Main courses are meant to be shared, hence the generous portions of braised pork curry with tamarind and cinnamon, and wok-tossed lobster tail with galangal, green peppercorn, hot basil, and chile flakes. Linger over desserts of mango and sticky rice in the open-air, antique-filled dining room while watching for dolphins to swim past.
Open daily noon to 2:30 pm and 7 to 10:30 pm.
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa Maldives
South Male Atoll
Tel: 960 664 2200
Baby sharks, bluefin jack fish, and stingrays circle this overwater dining room, but little can distract from exquisite dishes like Moroccan-spiced spiny lobster medallions and fresh-caught barramundi in warm Seville orange and honey mustard fizz. Leave bathing suits behind for this fine-dining affair where tables are set with Frette linens and the wine list includes California classics like Robert Mondavi To-Kalon I-Block Fumé Blanc. Start with sumptuous foie gras served as a seared terrine, in a crème brülée topped with cinnamon apple chutney and as a surprisingly tasty ice cream. Playful amuse-bouche like apple air and wild rocket foam appear between courses that culminate in unexpected desserts, from the relatively healthy beet-raspberry sorbet to the deliciously naughty Turkish delight chocolate soufflé.
Open daily 7 to 10:45 pm.
Huvafen Fushi Resort
North Male Atoll
960 664 4222
This blond wood and thatched-roof bungalow perched above the translucent lagoon allows plenty of fresh air to accompany the inventive organic cuisine. No dish here is cooked above 107° Fahrenheit. If the menu seems a little out of your comfort zone, place your trust in the savvy staff, who recommend island favorites like chilled beet soup with goat cheese. The waist-level display kitchen allows diners to query the chef while examining precisely what ingredients go into the Maldivian lobster ceviche tossed with yuzu and served on quinoa tabbouleh, and poached chicken breast with risotto and broccolini in a Kaffir limeleaf tapenade. While some desserts miss the mark, otherslike the black rice pudding with sweet mango purée and pandan crispare low-risk, high-enjoyment indulgences. Call well in advance for reservations if you're staying at another resort, as there is extremely limited availability for nonguests.
Open Wednesdays through Mondays noon to 4 pm.
One&Only Reethi Rah
Reethi Rah Island
North Male Atoll
Tel: 866 552 0001 (toll-free)
Tel: 960 664 8800
The Maldives aquatic environment lends itself well to the atolls' best Japanese restaurant, a striking overwater venue at the One&Only Reethi Rah resort. Japanese executive chef Norimasa Kosaka is also a sake sommelier and selects excellent pairings as well as predinner drinks. Inspired by its London namesake, the relaxed yet refined restaurant receives deliveries daily from Tokyo and Osaka, ensuring the freshest sushi and sashimi selection to accompany delicate seafood caught in the surrounding waters. Book an outdoor thatched-roof dining pavilion for romantic privacy, though service can be slightly slower in these external spots. Start with lobster, rainbow runner, or jack fish as sushi or sashimi then add seared sesame tuna with morel mushroom and ponzu butter sauce, or cold spicy green tea soba noodles. An inventive well-being menu is no less delicious with Japanese sake risotto and steamed vegetables in miso sesame rice-vinegar sauce. Call ahead: The restaurant occasionally refuses to accommodate nonguests if there is a major celebrity staying on property or if they're at capacity.
Open daily 6:30 to 11 pm.