Our stay at Sanctuary Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic was all-inclusive. I typically shy away from all-inclusive vacations, preferring instead to immerse myself in the local culture and cuisine. But our trip was short and we were low on cash, so the all-inclusive option really worked for us in this circumstance.
As we were preparing for our trip, I was somewhat frustrated by the lack of information available about the food, so hopefully this will help future travelers.
I stayed at a few all-inclusive resorts in college, and the food was pretty terrible each time, so I wasn’t expecting too much on this trip either.
Sanctuary Cap Cana has five restaurants and also offers 24-hour room service and a mini bar as part of the all-inclusive package. Additionally, there is Ocean Tapas bar offering light snacks throughout the day and a beach front grill that serves food during the lunch hour.
Our first dining experience was at Blue Marlin, an oceanfront seafood restaurant. We ate here for dinner one night, and lunch another day. The food was hit and miss. Tom had a red snapper dish that was really good, and the gazpacho pictured below was fabulous. We also enjoyed the chicken croquettes, the ceviche and the Blue Marlin burger.
Nothing we had at this restaurant was bad, but some of it was odd. We noticed that often times the the descriptions on the menus (at several of the restaurants) did not match the food we actually received. For example, for lunch at Blue Marlin I ordered a Cuban sandwich that was supposed to come with pineapple, pickles and a dressing. Instead I got a dry sandwich with ham and pork and tomato. Tom’s burger was supposed to have bleu cheese and chipotle mayo, of which there was none in reality.
Capriccio is an Italian restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, which overlooks one of the pools and affords distant ocean views. Full disclosure: We ate here as part of a two-dinner night. We had four dinner-only restaurants available to try and only three nights to do it, so this was obviously a logical solution?
We went to Capriccio as soon as it opened, hoping to give our stomachs enough time to get hungry before second dinner.
I had spaghetti bolognese (because what else do you order in the Caribbean?) while Tom had what was described as a sea salt crusted beef tenderloin.
The spaghetti was good, nothing special but I wasn’t really expecting it to be. Tom’s dish was okay as well, though it definitely wasn’t sea salt crusted. The false advertising continued.
But one thing did live up to its expectation and that was this little zabaione of heaven with mascarpone and berries.
This dessert was better than most I’ve had in fancy restaurants. We made plans to go back and get more the next night, but would up being too full. Sad ordeal.
Breakfast and lunch are served daily at Casa Bella buffet. There weren’t any other breakfast options besides room service, so we ate here for breakfast every day and were always pleased. I’m not a big breakfast eater (unless it’s brunch), but enjoyed the fresh fruit and one morning tried a Dominican breakfast with black beans, mashed green plantains and a fried egg that was super delicious. The omelets were also solid, which is impressive for an all-inclusive breakfast buffet.
We only dined here once for lunch, after getting back from an excursion where we hiked and swam and we were starving. There was a wide variety of food from lobster bisque to chicken saltimbocca to osso buco. We ate until we were full, and then we had dessert.
Variations on a theme. All delicious.
Dinner part two was at Wok, a hibachi restaurant in the castle. We made our reservations as late as possible (this is the only restaurant on the resort where reservations are required) but weren’t exactly hungry when we arrived. Luckily, we didn’t have to eat right away as we watched the hibachi chef do his thing and listened to our fellow dining companions chat in Spanish (we tried to follow along, rather unsuccessfully).
The meal was huge, starting with a choice of sushi make, miso soup or green salad (or all three, it’s all inclusive!) and continuing with rice, chicken, steak and seafood. The food was good, comparable to other hibachi restaurants I’ve been to, but definitely more of a fun experience to have on vacation rather than a gourmet meal.
Last, but not least, we found our way to The Steakhouse on our final night in the DR. Or actually, maybe it was the least. But first, a quick note about booze.
We enjoyed our share of pina coladas and Presidente beer over the course of the vacation, and the liquor available was pretty impressive, but we were hurting for some quality wine. For this dinner, we splurged on a $30 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to go with our meat. It was worth it.
This meal was another weird one. We ordered a short rib poutine (pictured below) to share and also had a filet mignon and an order of pappardelle that was supposed to be served with pulled chicken, peas and egg.
The poutine was a big let down. The short rib was way overcooked to the point of being inedible and the fries were cold.
The steak was fine, it was cooked well. We ordered a red wine reduction as a sauce but were pretty sure what we got was the same gravy that was on the poutine.
The pappardelle was not pappardelle but fettucine, the chicken was chopped and not pulled and there were no peas nor any sort of egg. Very strange.
None of this is to complain. For all of its eccentricities, this was definitely the best food I’ve had at an all-inclusive restaurant and the service was always pleasant. I just warn you to take the descriptions with a grain of salt (or without, as the case may be).