Fine dining is a rarity in Vieques , so thank goodness for BBH (Bravo Beach Hotel , 1 N. Shore Rd., Isabel Segunda, 787/741-1128, info [at] bravobeachhotel [dot] com, www.bravobeachhotel.com , $6–14) with its creative, Caribbean-influenced menu of tapas. The menu is always changing, but plan to dine on the likes of house-cured olives, mussels, seared scallops, duck breast, or New Zealand lamb in the lovely serenity of the minimalist-style setting. Check out the outstanding wine selection in the walk-in wine gallery.
Because many restaurants on Vieques close early, it’s good to know where to find a decent restaurant open later in the evening every day. That place is Richard’s Café Restaurant (Carr. 200, just west of downtown Isabel Segunda, 787/741-5242, daily 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–11 p.m., $6.95–18.95). The dim lighting, fast-food decor, and fake flowers don’t create much of an atmosphere inside the pink concrete structure. But it serves good traditional Puerto Rican cuisine, including pastelillos, mofongo, steak, seafood, and lobster. The full bar serves a terrific passion fruit punch, made with Grand Marnier, rum, and pineapple juice.
For a creative take on Caribbean cuisine, there’s Restaurante Bilí (Amapola Inn, 144 Calle Flamboyan, Esperanza, 787/741-1382, Wed.–Sun. 11 a.m.–4 p.m. and 6–11 p.m., $16.95–29.95). The casual, open-air restaurant’s specialties include mini-empanadillas stuffed with rabbit and goat cheese, dorado in plantain chutney, whole fried snapper, and angel-hair pasta with crab meat stewed in coconut milk. There are also a full bar and a partial view of the ocean.
Also serving Caribbean cuisine is Trade Winds Restaurant (Calle Flamboyan, Esperanza, 787/741-8666, fax 787/741-2964, tradewns [at] coqui [dot] net, www.enchanted-isle.com/tradewinds , daily 8:30 a.m.–2 p.m. and 6–9:30 p.m., $14.50–28). This casual open-air restaurant overlooks the water and serves grilled fish, steak, lobster, pork loin, pasta, mofongo, and coconut curry. For dessert, try the piña colada bread pudding with warm rum sauce. There are 10 small guest rooms behind the restaurant.