By: Kristin Bourne
If you like carbohydrates, more specifically bread, you are probably going to like a johnny cake.
Johnny cakes have existed for many years and have histories from the Northeast of North America, through the southern United States, through the Caribbean and down in to South America.
I'll take my johnny cake on the beach...
The versions vary as some use cornmeal and some flour. Historically they were made using cassava or a rice flour. The variations are baked or fried.
If you shy away from fried foods, then you are likely to prefer a baked johnny cake vs. a fried johnny cake / fry cake. Baked vs. fried divides them in to two different categories for taste and texture.
In Anguilla, the old-fashioned way of cooking a johnny cake does not involve oil as the dough was/is baked in a homemade coal oven - like at Joan and Cyril's Pit Stop.
Don't get me wrong, their johnny cakes are special and really good but…
Since the seemingly more popular version of a johnny cake is a fried one, let's focus on where some of the tastiest ones can be found in Anguilla.
Hands down the most upscale Anguilla restaurant to hold rights to brag about their johnny cakes is Veya.
Known for their cuisine of the sun and chic atmosphere, the night garden scene at Veya coupled with their warm, lightly salted crispy outside and soft in the center johnny cake is a nice way to get dinner started (along with one of their incredible appetizers, like the shrimp cigars or calamari).
Veya's johnny cake basket
Veya serves a few of their special johnny cakes along with a couple sweet breads to accompany your dinner order.
They serve the basket of breads with butter. I suggest trying the johnny cake with and without butter to see which way you like it. The johnny cakes don't really need butter, but it is butter and hard to pass up.
I haven't met anyone who doesn't love Veya's johnny cake and if there is a complaint, it's only that the size of it be larger…
Now that's a good testament!
Known for its gourmet spin on local flavors, Tasty's is another fine dining restaurant in Anguilla where johnny cakes are a part of the experience.
3 of Tasty's johnny cakes
Chef Dale Carty's johnny cakes are not very different from Veya's in my opinion. They also have a lovely crispier outside and are soft in the middle and flatter.
I have not found Tasty's to be lightly salted as Veya's. Tasty's johnny cake sizes do vary.
For example, I've had 3 mini johnny cakes with breakfast before. Another time, I was served one large one. They seem to mix it up!
Johnny cakes do not automatically come with every order at Tasty's…
At breakfast some are included with the Caribbean Sampler Breakfast. At lunch you may have to order one a la carte if you are interested in tasting one.
Dinner at Tasty's seems to warrant a basket of johnny cakes to show up at your table but not if you're ordering tapas.
To be safe, just ask if you are to receive johnny cakes! If the answer is no, then be sure to order one or more so you can sample one of Anguilla's finest.
Not too far up the road from Tasty's, you can find Valley's BBQ. Be sure to click the link to read about Valley and his popular chicken legs.
Comparatively unsung are his "fry cakes". I've yet to have a good understanding of any major differences in a fry cake and a fried johnny cake. I think Anguillians tend to call a fried johnny cake a fry cake. That's a good question for the next time I stop by Valley.
What set's Valley's fry cakes apart is their size...
Valley's BBQ fry cake
They are tasty, again with the crispy outside and softer center. His fry cakes are flatter and larger than the aforementioned. His have the two trademark johnny cake slits in them too.
Valley's fry cakes are most likely not going to be served hot unless you arrive when he is... He is a roadside BBQ that focuses on his stellar chicken legs. The fry cakes heat up nicely but are still very enjoyable at air temp.
Be sure to stop by his roadside BBQ and grab a few… they are only $1 US each.
It's possible that Palm Grove Restaurant, aka Nat's Place up at Junks Hole may unofficially hold the title for best johnny cake in Anguilla.
For years and consistently when someone utters the word "johnny cake" the word "Nat's" is often said in the same breath and for good reason…
They are really good!
Nat's Palm Grove johnny cake
Nat's johnny cakes tend to be softer and spongier than some. They are more pillow-like and not as flat. The dough is a little sweeter too.
The johnny cakes from Palm Grove have been consistent over the years. Upon my last visit however, Nat was not there and a lady served us some very cold johnny cakes.
While this is no crime, it's important to know how good they are when they're hot. Don't be shy to ask for them hot.
And if you like hot sauce, don't be shy to dip a johnny cake in Nat's special hot sauce. There's a bottle on every table at Palm Grove.
An extra perk of Palm Grove over the Veya, Tasty's and Valley BBQ johnny cakes is that you can enjoy your johnny cake by the sea and as "they" say, "everything tastes better by the sea".
Johnny cakes by the sea at Palm Grove
The reincarnated Anguilla restaurant called Flavours isn't on the sea but it overlooks the highly photographed blue waters of Sandy Ground. If you're there at dinner, you won't see the sea but I bet your johnny cake will still taste heavenly...
Flavours johnny cakes arrive to the table in a funky, cone-shaped holder full of somewhat petite, hot and delicious johnny cakes.
Flavours johnny cakes are more of a a cross between Palm Grove's and Veya's. A little crispy but still pillowy and softer. The taste is perfect as they come, no salt or butter needed!
Where is your favorite fried johnny cake found in Anguilla? Please share below in the comments!