Duffy’s Love Shack, Red Hook, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

If you go to St. Thomas, you have to go to Duffy’s Love Shack. It’s a rule. Michael had been here a number of times before during the Boyd’s sailing days. Duffy’s is in a nondescript building perched incongruously on the edge of a small shopping center’s parking lot.

But the exterior bodes well, and once inside, you’re at a beach bar. Music is playing, but it isn’t that calculated mood music — not endless reggae and Jimmy Buffett — but a great mix of traditional classic rock and soul with, as Michael pointed out, a lot of songs by lesser names who actually are much better than a lot if big names.

We all went there for lunch, Nancy and I, Liza and Michael, and Ella and Lily. The interior is pleasant, not at all overcrowded, and interesting.

But before we get into the food, let me tell you about my wonderful summer wear discovery, thanks to my cousin, Scott Griffin. When were were in Marco “Island, Scott saw me in a Vineyard Vines shirt that had a pocket. His advice: John Morgan shirts. I generally wear golf shirts in the summer — collared pullovers — and I usually look pretty bad. John Morgan shirts are really, really good shirts, made from Pima cotton so they sit well, and don’t wrinkle, and last forever. And — here’s the really good part — they have pockets.

To be precise, they have a pocket you can dedicate to your face mask when you are eating, drinking, or outside with no one around. That’s transformative. There’s your mask, convenient to your face, ready to be put on whenever you need to. You don’t need to get up and bump the table to reach into your pocket. When you reach in and pull the mask out of your pocket, you don’t pull out a bunch of change, or golf tees, or matchbooks from strip clubs (these are hypothetical objects: I don’t play golf). You don’t lose the mask when you pull out change, etc., and the mask falls out, perhaps into a puddle or some sort, and then you have to walk around with your shirt pulled up over your nose. You don’t end up setting your mask on the table where it gets drenched by a sweating glass or can or an exuberant squirt of ketchup.

It is the supposedly small things in life that actually loom large, that can make life lovable. Just look at how happy I am, and that was the beginning of my first beer —

You can be that happy, too. (Note how few wrinkles there are, even though the shirt had been jammed into a suitcase for two days before being assaulted by two grandchildren. My Vineyard Vines and Polo shirts looked liked they’re been stored in an accordion.)

Back to Duffy’s. Michael and I each ordered a local beer, a Leatherneck Reef Life IPA, as shown above, and Liza had a Carib. Nancy, who at that point had been below her target weight about 3 weeks, and remains so as I write, stuck with water. Ella and Lily both had lemonade, which came with flowers on the straws and plastic dolphins.

Nice touch. The lemonade was a big hit.

We ordered conch fritters to start

Michael ordered a fish sandwich, which came with fries and slaw,

and the rest of us ordered fish tacos, which came with plantains.

And Ella and Lily shared chicken nuggets.

The conch fritters were very good, well above average. They were fried skillfully, and came with a very good Island pepper sauce. It wasn’t pepper hot, but was a very well designed sauce. I asked for more to go with my fish tacos.

The rest of the food was good. The key to each of our orders — at least for the adults — was the fish. It was perfectly fresh, nicely seasoned, and very well prepared. The chicken nuggets were properly fried (not greasy) and were described as much better than the ones you get in the store, even though Duffy’s nuggets did not come in dinosaur shapes.

This was good food all around, but especially for the grownups. Duffy’s says that it isn’t a restaurant, it’s a bar that serves great food. And they go well beyond bar food, as you can see from their menu. We had fancier dinners — great dinners elsewhere in St. John, including The Easterly, Bleuwater, and the XO Bistro, but you just can’t beat Duffy’s for a dress-down, relaxing lunch.

Since it’s a rule that you have to go to Duffy’s, they do a very good business. Their food is very good and their prices — $12.75 for the fish tacos, for example — are a real treat on an island where food is very pricey, as we saw oh, so often. Do you need more persuasion to go there? Go.

***

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