As the intrepid traveller knows, if you want to eat well, eat like the locals do.
There are many reasons to support local dining establishments and to indulge in locally sourced foods while on vacation, but getting a taste of the island’s history & culture is likely the biggest. Some argue it’s healthier too. While local produce is allowed to ripen naturally, and so retains its nutrients, food that travels long distances is often picked before it’s fully ripe and more often than not, chemically treated to survive the long journeys.
In Cayman, supporting the local farming community has seen a rise in popularity. There are many restaurants in Cayman that now support the farm-to-table movement, serving up seasonal dishes and supporting and sourcing their ingredients locally.
So where, then, you may ask, are the best places to go for authentic Cayman cuisine? Where the ingredients are locally produced and sourced and the dishes prepared in traditional ways? Fear not, foodies! We've compiled a list of local favourites, the insider's guide if you will, to authentic Caymanian cooking.
With a name like Heritage Kitchen, it's no surprise that this quaint little eatery is at the top of our list. Perched on quiet Boggy Sand Road in the West Bay area, it's run by Caymanians for Caymanians but welcomes visitors from across the world with open Caymankind-arms. Its menu offers authentic Cayman cuisine and the venue allows for breathtaking views of the clear Caribbean Sea while you feast on fresh coconut Mahi Mahi, Cayman-style grouper and other favourites.
As you approach Georgetown harbour you're greeted by a palm-lined sky the clear blues of the Caribbean sea lapping up the shoreline and other sensory delights of Cayman. It is at the heart of this that you'll find local treasure - Cayman Cabana. The inviting island-style establishment offers authentic Cayman-cuisine and ample space to soak up the Caribbean sun while you enjoy a tropical drink. Although a sure favourite amongst visitors, especially cruise-shippers stepping straight off of the boat immediately through its doors, it manages to retain and delight the local clientele by staying true to its heritage.
Cayman Cabana has a delightful menu of traditional Cayman fare that includes local dishes and flavourful cocktails. As part of their farm-to-table offering, they serve up Caribbean favourites like lobster ceviche, marinated conch, herbed wahoo, jerk chicken and plantain-wrapped callaloo to name but a few. “The decision to join the farm-to-table movement came quite naturally as our passion for delicious and locally inspired food has always been a part of the mantra at Cabana,” says Cayman Cabana owner, Luigi Moxam.
Peppers Bar & Grill
Peppers Bar & Grill in Grand Cayman is THE go-to local hangout on Seven Mile Beach. An island-style thatch roof, soca sounds and the sensational smell of food prepared on an open flame greets you upon entry. The laidback atmosphere is carried through from day-to-night, attracting young and old. Whether you are grabbing a beer at the bar, treating the family to a feast or in the mood to dance the night away under the stars - you're sure to have a memorable island-style-time at this local favourite.
Da Fish Shack
As one of the Cayman Islands' oldest standing institutions, this Caribbean style restaurant and bar on the George Town waterfront is not to be missed. The rustic locale dishes up large portions of fresh, locally caught seafood an exciting cocktail and drinks menu and offers an abundance in what one can only describe as 'good vibes'. Lovingly referred to as "Da Shack" by the locals, it has an authentic and relaxed Caribbean atmosphere, a deck overlooking the beautiful Caribbean Sea and is sure to make a lasting impression.
From Jiri Zitterbart, former head chef at Morgan’s Harbour and Grand Old House, comes this unassuming, homely roadside stop. It offers buckets of local charm and unpretentious cooking that packs a flavourful punch - as only Caribbean cooking can. Grab a beer at the local liquor store around the corner and wash down your fall-off-the-bone Caribbean-style chicken wings while relaxing under the shady comfort of the thatch roof.
Where are your favourite spots to eat local in Cayman? Drop us a comment below.