Provisioning in St. Thomas

1 December 2009 By Kelly Sanford

In St. Thomas, there are three main areas where you are likely to dock; Crown Bay, Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook. Depending on which location your captain selects, your proximity to provisioning options will differ. If you are the kind of chef who likes to personally select your own provisions, the ideal scenario is that you will have access to a rental car and have the luxury of using all available resources. Provisioning in St. Thomas will have those familiar challenges of provisioning on any small island; supplies can be inconsistent from week to week, superior quality can be elusive and prices will be high, but we’ve compiled the best provisioning the island has to offer here.

Crown Bay
Crown Bay Marina is located on the south side of the island just a few miles west of Charlotte Amalie. Within the marina plaza there is a gourmet market called Gourmet Gallery (340-776-8555). “You can’t beat the convenience,” says Chef RJ Harvey, “It’s one of the best one-stop-shops on the island. The problem is that sometimes they have really great stuff and sometimes they have crap.” As is true with most of the venues on St. Thomas, it will all depend on how many chefs have picked through the store before you and how many days between deliveries they are. Gourmet Gallery has a full service deli, carries a nice assortment of quality meats, seafood, produce, sausages, breads, cheeses, wines and other gourmet foods as well as many traditional grocery items and some small appliances and kitchen tools.

If you have a hard time justifying Gourmet Gallery prices for “standard groceries” then a short walk from the marina, there is the Pueblo Supermarket. The store is utilitarian and only the cold-case portion of the market is air conditioned. However, this is a convenient and reasonable place to find basic provisions.

Charlotte Amalie
There are no provision markets within walking distance from the City Docks or Yacht Haven, however the central portion of St. Thomas has some very worthwhile places to shop. For produce, there is The Fruit Bowl (340-774-8565). Located in the Wheatly Shopping Center, Staff will do their best to accommodate special orders and delivery is available anywhere on the island.

Plaza Extra is the largest conventional grocery store on the island. Located at the Tutu Park Mall on Route 38, prices are reasonable and the selection is very good by island standards.

Cost-U-Less is the local bulk foods market. Located right next to the island’s only movie mega-plex, Cost-U-Less carries many of the same brands as Costco, but the store itself is very different. The selection is comparatively sparse but still good for the essentials. Chef RJ adds, “If you have to buy or replace a small appliance, this is a good place to get it.”

When shopping in the central portion of the island, make sure you do not need to hurry. There can be significant cruise-ship and rush hour traffic, so bring a cooler for frozen foods, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time and consider feeding the crew before you leave.

Red Hook
The Marina Market (340-779-2411) in Red Hook has excellent produce, a deli, fresh meats and seafood, beer and fine wines as well as conventional and gourmet groceries. Conveniently located across the street from the marina, it is a very easy and very good one-stop-shop.  The biggest drawback is that the market is quite small and can be hard to navigate with multiple carts. However, that is a small price to pay for the convenience and the quality.

Quality Foods (340-774-8600) Prime Foods (340-776-2200) and Merchants Market (340-774-5484) are wholesale purveyors who will all deliver cases of dairy, meats, seafood, paper products and produce directly to the marinas.

Chef RJ is a big fan of National Fisheries (340-774-2109) for seafood provisions, as Joe Buckhalton always keeps an inventory of fresh, regional seafood. Though seafood is their forte, specialty produce is also available. Joe requests 72 hours for orders, and with a fleet of refrigerated trucks, can deliver anywhere on St. Thomas.

Another seafood purveyor on the island is S&P Seafood (340-774-5380) where there is no order too small. As suppliers to many of the island’s sushi restaurants, S&P receives four air-shipments each week during high season and can accommodate special orders with sufficient notice.

If what you require is a little of everything, and time is of the essence, Carrie Freyn is a former yacht chef who has started her own boutique provisioning service in St. Thomas called Perky Provisioning (340-643-2546).