Dazzling dining in St. John

La Tapa satisfies quest for creative cooking

Maura Curley

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It doesn’t have a view of the water or an airy tropical ambiance.

But that doesn’t prevent La Tapa from being one of the most sensational spots to dine in the Virgin Islands.

Both visiting celebrities, and local residents flock to Alexandra Ewald’s tiny restaurant in the center of St. John’s Cruz Bay to experience the result of her creativity in the kitchen.

During the 2013 annual St. John fundraiser, known as Flavors, which featured food from nearly all the island restaurants, La Tapa tied with Caneel Bay Resort for the top spot

German born Ewald opened her restaurant 17 years ago as a tapas bar, which brought new and exotic tastes to the island. She drew upon her travels in France and Spain, and her previous cooking in the Basque country to create an fresh experience.

Over the years the menu has expanded to full dinners, driven by Ewald’s growing confidence as a chef, and entrepreneur.

Ewald buys local fish and organic greens, grown on St. John, visits vineyards, choosing wines, and makes everything from scratch, including ice cream and sorbets.

Ewald, who speaks multiple languages, relies on her instincts to mix flavors and textures. She was introduced to restaurants as a child, helping her father a successful European restaurateur who later moved to St. John.

During the past decades many new restaurants have come and gone in St. John. But Ewald, who has been named a Star chef has thrived because her approach to cooking and life are authentic. She continues to treat her restaurant like her home and her employees and guests as friends.

Photos: The exterior of La Tapa in the center of St. John's Cruz Bay
"Alex" serving at Flavors 2013, where her food received accolades.

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