Where to Find the Best Global Eats on Grand CaymanBy Terry Ward
Is Grand Cayman the culinary capital of the Caribbean? Many foodies say yes. Roughly half of Caymans’ 50,000 or so residents hail from outside the islands. And global influences from such a worldly mix (the West Indies, Europe and Asia are just the tip of the international iceberg here) touch everything.
If you’ve come to eat, you’re in for a treat. From locally-caught fish cooked in the tandoori oven at a long-standing favorite Seven Mile Beach restaurant to specialties from as far away as Australia, here are five global restaurants bringing the world to Grand Cayman on a plate.
Island cuisine gets an Asian spin at this long-standing Cayman favorite on Seven Mile Beach, where the elegant glass-topped bar and a shimmering waterfall feature lend a big city vibe to a night out. Start your meal at Blue Cilantro with a Cayman-inspired cocktail like the Cayman Swizzle, with pineapple juice, fresh lime and dark and light rums.
East meets West on Mumbai-born Chef Vidyadhara Shetty’s menu. Four and six-course dinners might include locally caught snapper roasted in the clay tandoori oven and drizzled with a bright Cayman honey lemon sauce or a carpaccio of local wahoo with shiso leaves and fried jalapeño.
ICOA Fine Foods
The “Colonial-Inspired” menu at ICOA Fine Foods at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach is a fascinating hybrid of Caribbean, Dutch, Spanish, French, British and Portuguese flavors (and many more). Dutch chef Jurgen Wevers finds his inspiration where cultures merge, but sticks to classics, too.
Where breakfast options stay quite mainstream with things like lox bagels and huevos rancheros, lunch and dinner branch out. Will you opt for Korean-style soft shell crab, Dutch “kibbeling” fish and chips made with flopping fresh local red snapper, beef Burgundy or Lamb Rendang from Indonesia? A global food education comes with nearly every course at ICOA.
Over 100,000 Cayman silver thatch palm fronds were used to build the beautiful woven roof of Ristorante Pappagallo, an excellent Italian restaurant overlooking a natural salt water lagoon on the northern tip of West Bay.
The restaurant’s breezy island atmosphere is as inviting as the food, which melds Caribbean and Mediterranean flavors. On the varied menu, things like Caribbean spiny lobster mingle with Italian specialties such as duck ravioli and octopus with fava beans and fried capers.
If you want to try the bounty of Cayman’s waters, opt for the locally caught black grouper and red snapper (done Mediterranean-style with things like eggplant, capers and olives) over the Chilean sea bass, every time.
New World Caribbean flavors that pull heavily from Jamaica and other neighboring islands bring the tropics to your tastebuds at cheerful and casual Cimboco, just a short stroll from the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort.
Golden-fried plantain wrapped in Cayman-grown callaloo (a favorite island green) is served with a spicy sauce with serious kick. Salad-lovers should set their sights on the fresh Caribbean spinach salad with shaved fennel, tropical island fruits and a sprinkling of crunchy pumpkin seeds. Stuffed with curried vegetables, the island-style Caribbean roti (flat bread) sandwich is an inexpensive lunchtime favorite.
Fair dinkum eats from the land Down Under are on the menu at this Australian restaurant with a spacious deck overlooking the water in East End, a village on the southeast coast of Grand Cayman.
“Walkabout Wednesdays” at Tukka feature four-course meals with things like conch and crocodile fritters with spicy scotch bonnet remoulade, the legendary Aussie fish called Barramundi and even kangaroo sausage on the menu.
Seafood caught by local fishermen —mahi mahi, wahoo and sometimes even lion fish (an invasive but extra tasty fish)— are also commonly featured. For something fascinating, arrive early for your meal at 5 p.m. for a magnificent frigate bird feeding, it’s simply amazing to watch the enormous birds that spend most of their time in the air swoop and dive just over your head in search of snacks.