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Authentic Eats in Antigua

One of the best parts of a luxury vacation is branching out to try foods that you wouldn't traditionally order. While many destinations, including Antigua, have recently been implementing more tourist-friendly restaurants that serve up familiar fare, it's often more exciting to sample something new. If you're on the hunt for authentic eats that capture the island's unique culture, these spots are a must: 

Shirley Heights Lookout Whether you choose to dine indoors or outside, the enchanting atmosphere of Shirley Heights Lookout is one of the best aspects of this restaurant. The Caribbean-inspired menu has a variety of options, from traditional fare to new-wave, innovative seafood dishes. On Friday nights, you'll have an expansive view of Nelson's Dockyard & the English Harbor from the terrace as the space turns into an elegant dining area for "Sips & Seconds."

According to Fodors, the space truly comes alive on Sunday afternoons, when travelers & locals alike flock here for a barbecue feast set to the sounds of steel band & soca music. If you're looking for even more cultural exposure, come for Pride in Antigua on Thursday between 4 p.m. & 8 p.m. While noshing on local eats & drinks, you'll have the chance to create a craft that you can take home as a reminder of your trip.

Papa Zouk ​Walking into this kitschy Caribbean hangout with staw lamps, madras table linens & fishnets covered in twinkling lights, you might be surprised that the restaurant was started by two Germans. Still, 365 Antigua explained that the Creole culture is very much alive at Papa Zouk, from the Cajun seafood dishes to the blaring sounds of Zouk music. Guava pepper teryaki & tomato basil coriander sauces add a unique flavor to the grilled Barbudan snapper, but all the fish here is also available steamed or battered & fried. Don't miss the rich bouillabaisse, topped with garlic Parmesan cheese or the staggeringly strong signature rum punch. The news source noted that Papa Zouk has nearly 250 different rums from around the world – the widest selection of rum in the Caribbean & one of the largest across the globe. 

Russell's The environment is elaborate & yet the menu is simple at this restaurant, which was converted from an 18th-century fort into a semi-alfresco dining space by Russell Hodge in 2005, according to Caribbean Edge magazine. Inside, Fodors noted that the walls are covered with swirling avant-garde depictions of vibrant musical instruments, while hurricane lamps & high beam ceilings create an intimate ambiance. Live reggae music Friday & Sunday provides a chill vibe, while open mic on Monday gives newcomers a chance to showcase their talents. There's no shortage of seafood selections here, either. While overlooking the harbor on the stone terrace, be sure to try the crispy conch fritters or some garlic butter whelks. 

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