Rosa’s Booth, Home of THE VERY BEST Pate in St. Croix for 50+ Years
For many of us, memories of after school snacks are a much-cherished part of our childhoods. For those of us who grew up anywhere near Rosa’s Booth in St. Croix, though, those memories are nothing short of priceless.
From Boricua to Whim Ballpark
Originally born in Culebra, Puerto Rico, Rosalia Ayala (83) emigrated to St. Croix at an early age with her father. The family settled on the west side of the island, close to the home that she resides in today, just across from Whim Ballpark in Frederiksted. It’s here, in a small booth wedged up to the chainlink fence that separates her yard from the main road, that Rosa established one of the Caribbean’s most beloved and enduring culinary traditions.
People love them. They just keep coming!
These words, spoken by Hector “Speedy” Gonzales, could not be more true. Speedy is Rosa’s son. He returned to St. Croix recently to help out at Rosa’ Booth after spending a few years in the States.
The “them” that people love and keep coming back for are his mom’s otherworldly pates.
Profoundly Amazing Crucian Pates
As we’ve noted previously, Crucian pates are a quintessential taste of home for us. To be sure, no one makes ’em any better.
To many (especially me!) Rosa is the undisputed Pate Queen of St. Croix.
It’s a crown she has earned over 52 years. That’s more than a half-century of one woman specializing in one main dish produced in her own home and sold in her yard. In this way, each of Rosa’s amazing pates are infused with the special kind of love and savory goodness only found in traditional West Indian kitchens. Every taste exactly as she would serve to her closest loved ones; incredible.
Pates have always been the primary product at Rosa’s Booth, with very few changes over the years. Mrs. Ayala rises each day near dawn and begins preparing her pates. She sells out of them every day too! Patrons even come from as far away as Christiansted to get a taste!
Staples like beef, conch, chicken, and saltfish have been on the menu here for decades. More recently, though, Rosa has added snapper to the mix, much to my own personal delight. (Here’s hoping she adds lionfish soon, as well!)
Rosa’s Booth Thirst-Quenching Icy Treats
The drinks menu at Rosa’s Booth offers a variety of soft drinks and bottled water. The best refreshment options, though, are the shaved ice treats.
Some call them lindies. To others, they’re snow cones or ice pops. Speedy tells me that St. Thomians call them specials. Most Crucians, though, know them as fraco.
No matter what you call them, the sweetly-flavored icy delights make the perfect pairing with a savory pate on a warm afternoon. Rosa makes and sells a wide range of flavors. Passionfruit, lemonade, black cherry, tamarind, soursop, and guava pineapple were among the options during my last visit in June 2021. Rosa even makes a peanut butter version!
Few things say home to me more than a saltfish pate and soursop fraco from Rosa’s Booth. My mouth is watering and my heart aching just thinking about it…
Still Special After All These Years
So yeah, I am admittedly more than a bit biased about Rosa’s Booth. The reason for this lies rooted in those childhood after school snack memories I referenced above. I never lived in Whim or anywhere too terribly close to Rosa’s Booth. My Godparents lived in Whim, though. A lot of my best friends lived nearby too. Whenever my after school plans brought me down in West (Frederiksted), they often included a stop at Rosa’s Booth.
Every time I land back in St. Croix now, I make a bee-line to Rosa’s to relive some of that long ago, little boy magic. Rosa may not be at the window serving her treasures anymore, but Speedy keeps the same congenial vibe going. The smiles and camaraderie shared among the kids and grown-up patrons are also just as warm and familial as ever. Oh, and of course, the pates are still very much on point.
Indeed, nothing much changes at Rosa’s Booth, which is a very, very good thing.
If You Go…
Rosa’s Booth is located at 94B Estate Whim in Frederiksted. If you can find the Whim Ballpark, you can find Rosa’s. Operating days and hours are somewhat sporadic considering Mrs. Ayala’s advanced age, but generally you’ll find Speedy inside the booth Tuesday–Sunday from 2pm until about 4:30/5pm.
You know, prime after school hours.