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ST THOMAS — Tucked away in Tillet Gardens is the newest reincarnation of an iconic bar and restaurant locale. Roots Garden Lounge is an Asian-fusion restaurant featuring one-of-a-kind menu items you won’t find elsewhere on St. Thomas. Using local, fresh, and sustainable ingredients as much as possible, Roots Garden Lounge also offers vegan and gluten- free options, making it an oasis for travelers and residents yearning for a laid-back environment that extends beyond dinner.

For owners Sierra Mendoza and Emily Romer, the historical Tillet Gardens has always held a special place in their hearts. Romer, who is originally from Florida, was a frequent visitor of the island and moved permanently in 2014. She worked in Tillet Gardens at a former restaurant that operated in the same space, which is why getting back there was always a huge goal. By way of Arkansas, Mendoza made her way to the Virgin Islands in 2007, working at bars in Havensight and at XO in Red Hook, which is where she and Romer officially met. Romer and Mendoza’s original game plan was to open a small pizza restaurant toward the back of the building. When they learned the space in the front area would be available, they decided to take them both.

On January 28, 2023, Roots Garden Lounge officially opened the doors of their Asian-fusion restaurant offering their unique take on dishes. Popular items on their small plate menu include truffle baked brie and wasabi cream deviled eggs. The birria oxtail and short rib ramen, along with the local catch of the day served with sweet and sour smashed potatoes and miso cream, are also crowd-pleasers. Lunch time offers sandwich items including a deviled egg sandwich, a sesame tuna sandwich, and the ever-popular Asian sandwich known as bánh mì.

In addition to their eclectic food menu, Roots Garden Lounge’s distinctive cocktail and mocktail options are coupled with a terrific happy hour. Every day from 3pm to 6pm, food and drink specials are available, plus $2 off any drink (except wine), and $5 select wines. On Wednesdays, Vino Bingo kicks off at 6pm through 9pm, with $5 and $6 wine specials. Here is where you will also find incredible live music most nights starting at 6pm or 7pm.

Roots Garden Lounge is open Monday to Saturday from 11am to 10pm; the bar remains open until 11pm. It is in the heart of Tillet Gardens at 4126 Anna’s Retreat. Check out their menu and more at www.rootsgardenlounge. com, visit their Facebook and Instagram pages at @ rootsgardenlounge, or call them at 340.714-0107.

Written by Anquanette Gaspard