Grand Cayman offers a world-class culinary experience, due both to its deliciously fresh local produce and its multicultural community — both of which attract top chefs from around the world. You can read all about it in Forbes, Food & Wine, Tasting Table, or Vogue…
For a local guide to our produce and restaurants, read on for tantalizing suggestions, insights into local food cultures, and histories of our top ingredients.
As a water sports company, we have also created some perfect pairings of our own, advising you what is best before and after your different water sports experiences! Please get in touch with us at Red Sail Sports if you have any questions about our range of Grand Cayman scuba diving and boat excursions.
History of Cayman food
The most important set of cultural influences on Cayman cuisine came from the arrival of enslaved Africans in the eighteenth century.
A cuisine developed from a combination of the rations offered to slaves (salted fish, sweet potatoes, maize), their adaptations of wild produce, such as callaloo, and their knowledge of cultivating cassava, yam, and taro.
Due to the influence of British colonization, there are also British influences in the cuisine, and you are likely to find sticky toffee pudding as an option on many menus.
Influences from Honduras, Venezuela, and the Caribbean’s Southeast Asian cultures are also strong; look out for roti, curries, tamales, and arepas across the island. More recently, Japanese sushi and sashimi have proved a perfect companion to the island’s bountiful seafood supply.
Besides the influences of Cayman’s diverse inhabitants over the culture, the island has long been an attractive destination for world-class chefs, who have brought new fusions and specialties to the island.
For example, Cayman’s Blue, by three-star chef Eric Ripert has gained the AAA Diver Diamond Award, and the menu is deeply inspired by Caribbean cultures and local seafood produce.
Food culture in Grand Cayman
Many local restaurants offer bespoke menus, where you simply say what you would like to eat and the chef will cook it up! For this kind of authentic local experience, head to Cayman Cabana.
Popular food events on Grand Cayman include Taste of Cayman cookout, weekly Sunday brunch, grills on the beach (head to Heritage Public Beach or Colliers Public Beach for local favourites), and the celebration of the full moon, where many places offer parties or discounts.
Note that many supermarkets will be closed on Sundays, so have a plan ready for your Sunday brunch. Our top Sunday destinations include Ms. Pipers, Nova, The Marriott, and Luca. Luca has so many different exciting stations to browse, including a pasta station, carving station, and breakfast station.
Many local chefs offer private services, and you may want to plan a personalized meal on the beach. For an alternative spectacular dining location, try our own Grand Cayman Catamaran dinner cruise.
Seafood is a total staple; you will find it hard to find a good venue that does not feature locally caught fish on the menu. Classics include poke, mahi mahi, and grouper, and many unique dishes featuring conch, such as cracked conch and conch chowder.
The Caribbean twist given to Caryman’s fish dishes can come as a surprise, for example, Cayman-style lobster tail is cooked with the fiery scotch bonnet peppers. Many fish dishes include coconut milk, and swordfish or turtle in coconut sauce are particular delicacies.
For truly excellent lobster dumplings, go to Beach House at the Westin, a AAA 4 Diamond and Wine Spectator’s 2016 award-winning restaurant. Our favourite fresh local catch lunch menu is at Morgan’s Seafood Restaurant, which excels at global fusions of seasoning (don’t miss the wasabi mash and lemon ginger butter!)
For a very ethical seafood option, look out for lionfish; an invasive species and an increasingly popular delicacy!
Cayman vegetables and plant-based options
Vegetarians and vegans will have no problem enjoying the range of tastes offered in Grand Cayman; if anything, it will allow you a greater scope of adventure! These options are also ideal for those preparing for a Cayman diving adventure when it’s good to keep the stomach light and hydrated.
Our favourite salads are made by Ms. Piper’s kitchen and garden (linked above); check out the watermelon salad with sumac or the arugula and fennel which is combined deliciously with almonds.
Many of Cayman’s classic dishes, such as fish stew, have long been made with a rich medley of local vegetables (yam, pumpkin, and cassava in this case), so they are easily adapted for vegans so you can ask at most places for a tailored vegan option.
Our vegetables have phenomenal nutritional properties; yams are high in potassium, copper, and vitamin B6, while cassava is a surprisingly good source of vitamin C. Make sure you try our local breadfruit and ackee; find both in savoury dish options for a truly local experience.
There are also lots of great vegan-friendly restaurants in Grand Cayman, including Vivo, Bread and Chocolate, and Island Naturals. Nearly all restaurants on the island will accommodate vegans and many have developed full vegan menus.
Cayman meat-based dishes
Jerk chicken or pork is the classic Cayman meat option, as well as a range of incredible Caribbean curries, the most famous being the curried goat. Our international guests, particularly from the US, have inspired a wide range of steak options.
For some fantastic meat and wine pairings, go to Abacus, which is also our top location for steak (they do it New York-style with a green peppercorn cognac sauce).
Treat yourself to our global fusions of dessert menus, where the West, East, and Caribbean combine in melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness. Don’t miss Luca’s tiramisu (linked above), nor the banana split at Ave, and take advantage of the latter’s beautiful spa before your meal.
A breakfast before diving or beach adventures is not complete without sampling our spectacular range of fruits. You will have heard of our mangoes, but what about guinep, ju plums, naseberries, or star apples? We invite you on an adventure to find these treats (they aren’t in the supermarkets).
Cayman’s top wine bar is the Grand Old House, located in South Sound. Here you will get a fine dining experience with a Caribbean flair and live music four nights a week. Cayman is famous for its cocktails; check out the menus at Rum Point Club, or for a bit of fun, try out Union Cayman’s incredible cocktail masterclass.
Cayman is at the forefront of science and taste when it comes to spirits and is home to the first-ever undersea rum maturation site. Look out for distillery and brewery tours to find the secrets behind our local Seven Fathoms Rum, Gun Bay Vodka, and Caybrew beer.
Grand Cayman also offers so many alcohol-free options that it deserves a blog of its own. You can easily find a great selection of juices and mocktails. Don’t miss our unique Cayman Swanky: a refreshing beach staple made from limes, native sour oranges, and brown sugar.
Cayman’s top restaurants to visit
While offering a huge range of locally inspired cuisine, Cayman’s culinary fame also comes from its wide range of dining options that span global cultures and inspirations.
For Mediterranean cuisine, check out Aria Cayman. Our favourites on their menu are their incredible Lampuga, which combines local pan-seared Mahi with the Mediterranean seasonings of harissa, almond, and rose petals.
Another wonderful Mediterranean restaurant is Ave, located at the Kimpton Seafire Resort (so take advantage of their beautiful spa before your meal).
For classic Italian, go to Pappagallo, uniquely situated in a 14-acre bird sanctuary and a fantastically atmospheric place. We love the Chilean sea bass and the veal Milanese here — both are exquisitely fresh.
Bacaro is another Italian option — Venetian, to be exact. It is the perfect place for a fine dining express lunch option near West Bay.
There are many Asian influences in Cayman cuisine, and a wonderful fusion restaurant is Blue Cilantro, which combines French Mediterranean, and Asian for a truly unique dining experience. Their Sunday brunch is particularly good, with fantastic twists on Shakshuka, seafood platters, and dumplings.
Blue by Eric Ripert at The Ritz Carlton is perhaps the island’s most prestigious restaurant. And anyone who has dined here will attest that it more than deserves its reputation. The menu can change, but you can expect an especially rich array of seafood dishes that will make you want to start arranging your next visit to Grand Cayman!
It’s better to stop here before we all get too hungry but get in touch with us at Red Sail Sports if you are looking for unforgettable watersports adventures and a vacation like no other.