Jimmy Buffett loves the Caribbean lifestyle like no one else. He owns a home in St. Barts and frequently mentions the sunny oasis in his island escapism songs. One such song was inspired by an American food classic, the Cheeseburger.
According to Buffett’s Margaritaville web site, the myth of the “cheeseburger in paradise” was inspired by a boat journey Buffett once took in the Caribbean. Buffett states that while subsisting on canned food and peanut butter, he envisioned eating a “piping hot cheeseburger”. He reports that upon finally arriving in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, he was surprised to find a restaurant serving American cheeseburgers:
…we gave particular instructions to the waiter on how we wanted them cooked and what we wanted on them — to which little attention was paid. It didn’t matter. The overdone burgers on the burned, toasted buns tasted like manna from heaven, for they were the realization of my fantasy burgers on the trip.
Luxury Living International Magazine set out to find song-worthy cheeseburgers in paradise and here’s what we found:
Rumfish – Belize
In the tiny fishing village of Placencia Belize (best mainland beaches too) is a great hangout with killer food and the burgers are awesome. This upstairs bar and grill has all kinds of great fresh food but the burgers are really good with just enough heat to make you drink your cold Beliken Beer a little faster.
Perched above the village and over looking the soccer field RumFish is a great hang out for cocktails, too. The Owners John and Pam, from Santa Barbara are usually hanging around manning the bar and swapping stories with customers- which is a great way to hang-out in paradise.
Cool Cat Cafe – Maui
First Cool cat start with 100% certified Angus Beef, always fresh never frozen. Next, they hand patty our 6.5oz. burgers everyday. Each Cool Cat burger is then topped with their own blend of spices and cooked to order.
Great buns are a must for a great burger and theirs are baked fresh daily from a local bakery and delivered every morning.
Together all these ingredients, along with the great atmosphere, is what makes a Cool Cat Burger so fantastic. And they’ve been voted best burger on Maui for 5 years in a row!
The Beach Bar – St Maarten
To many people across the world, Sunset Bar & Grill is known as The Beach Bar; a unique watering hole on the tropical paradise island of St. Maarten. Overlooking one of the Caribbean’s most fascinating beaches, right at the beginning of the runway of the famous PJIA airport, Sunset Bar & Grill epitomizes St. Maarten’s relaxed lifestyle. Soak up some sun and chow down on their popular Cheeseburger or go exotic and try the Swordfish burger!
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you can enjoy top quality live music at the Sunset Bar & Grill. You’ll witness a formidable mix of characters from all walks of life sharing the same passion for great music, from Latin and soul to rock and reggae.
Johnny Rockets – Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island
In the famed Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, next to Nassau in the Bahamas, you’ll find a retro Americana dining experience at Johnny Rockets. Known for their ‘original hamburgers and hand-dipped shakes, Johnny Rockets offers the literal Cheeseburger in Paradise. Johnny Rockets employs a special Grillology technique to ensure each cheeseburger is juicy and grilled to perfection. The Rocket Single combines the delicious orginal favorites including cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce, fresh tomato, white onion and Johnny Rockets’ special sauce.
The burger comes accompanied with fries, of course and to add to the nostalgic feel of the place, table-top jukebokes will serenade you while you chow down – and each song is just a nickel. When you’re satisfied with your meal, head just outside to the luxurious Atlantis Resort where you can swim with dolphins, hit the Ocean Club Golf Course or visit the Mandara Spa for a truly relaxing evening.
If a relaxing evening isn’t on the itinerary, you can take a peek around Atlantis for Justin Bieber, who’s been known to frequent the posh resort, even once with Kim Kardashian!
Pusser’s – Marina Cay, BVI’s
There are few places like Marina Cay. The flower covered, eight-acre island is ringed by a soft, white sand beach. The island is nestled in a sheltered, emerald green, lagoon whose shallow waters are always calm and lukewarm. The island is also home to award winning Pusser’s, the restaurant chain of the Original Navy Rum company, specializing in seafood and cuisine of the Caribbean. The Burger is called the All-American and it’s a half pounder char-grilled and topped with your choice of American, swiss, monterey jack, cheddar, pepper jack or bleu cheese.
With the island location of Pusser’s it is the ideal place for snorkelers to enjoy the colorful fish and sea life that inhabit the coral reef and the lagoon. The quiet lagoon and reef make Marina Cay the ideal place for vacationing families with small children who desire a natural, safe, watersports environment. Likewise it is a wonderful place for those wishing to learn to snorkel and scuba dive.
Le Select – St Bart’s
The best known of the island’s few dive bars is this loud pub decorated with bumper stickers and license plates, where Jimmy Buffet allegedly found his inspiration for the song “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” Other legends claim Jimmy Buffett lent the name of one of his most famous songs to Le Select in exchange for free beer and burgers for life. A frequent visitor to St Barth since 1976, Jimmy has been known to give free impromptu concerts at Le Select over the years.
Le Select is an island institution that is loved by locals and tourists alike. Many returning tourists affectionately call it “the office.” Marius Stakelborough, born on St. Barth in 1923 and still going strong, opened Le Select sixty years ago, and its longevity attests to its popularity. It is a “bare-bones” bar and grill in the heart of Gustavia and a wonderful place to have a hamburger with fries, a cold beer or other libation, meet friends and people-watch–the street activity never stops.
Skinny Legs Bar and Grill – St. John, US Virgin Islands
Although it might be considered foolish by some not to look for good seafood when visiting an island, it is well worth trying the burger when you visit Skinny Legs Bar and Grill. Located in the beautiful Coral Bay on St. John, Skinny Legs offers happy Island vacationers a delicious lunch or dinner.
Skinny Legs is a funky open-air place made of wood and tin so that it looks more or less like a tropical Caribbean shack, Skinny Legs is frequented by a sailor crowd. Of course, on St. John all the members of the yacht club, making this place both classy and down-home at the same time. Also known as one of the better sports bar locales in the area, Skinny legs is a great nightlife destination.
Sea Breeze – Jade Mountain Resort in St. Lucia
The resort’s beach bar (with tables directly in the sand), the cheeseburger on their lunch menu is very popular. Diners love the variety of toppings – from tradition to island-style (pineapple). Known for their unparalleled culinary offerings, the burger here is no exception. James Beard Award winner Allen Susser has created the Jade Mountain Club’s “Jade Cuisine,” incorporating locally-grown ingredients and Caribbean flavors.
The burger is ½ pound Angus Prime Ground Beef served up to your liking.Cheesy choices – Bleu, Cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack with other tempting toppings like Bacon, Mushrooms, Grilled Onions, and Pineapple. All burgers are served with French Fries or Nisbet’s Crisps (combination of Fried Breadfruit, Tania, Plantain and Sweet Potatoes), House Dill Pickles and Cabbage Slaw making this a truly unique take on the classic Cheeseburger in Paradise.