Whether you’re heading down to scuba dive, check on your money or warm up from the winter blues Grand Cayman Island has its variety of dining for everybody. Considered by many to be the culinary capital of the Caribbean (say that a few times after a few Pina Coladas), Grand Cayman is a rather small island in the western Caribbean Sea with several influences native to island or imported. The majority of the dining scene is on the western side of the island near George Town, but throughout the island you’ll find several other restaurants (in some cases barely that) frequented by locals which is the best way to taste the flavor of the island and the region. This is exactly what we did on a recent visit.
Surrounded by turquoise blue water, you’d be correct if you guessed that a lot of seafood is being served along with “jerk” food. “Jerk” is a mildly spicy seasoning found throughout parts of the Caribbean including Jamaica and Grand Cayman. The use of cloves gives it a distinctive flavor than most other spicy seasoning and it’s most commonly found on chicken and pork.
After getting some recommendations from hotel employees and checking local guide books we made our way to Rankins Jerk on Shamrock Rd. on the border of Bodden Town and Lower Valley. No big menu at this walk up restaurant just a few daily specials and couple of staples that include Jerk chicken($8), Jerk pork ($10) both w/ red beans and rice and small salad which were very tasty as was the Mahi Mahi filet and the chicken soup. We knew it would be good as we walked in to the minimal looking dining room to await our food, which was packed with locals eating lunch. So quiet you could hear a pin drop. It was also one of the few places I saw goat on the menu but decided to pass.
If you’re craving kangaroo or crocodile Make your way to the Gun Bay area of the Eastern Districts to Tukka www.tukka.ky where Chef Ron who hails from the Queensland area of Australia will introduce you to Australian food with a Caribbean flare at his beach side restaurant. With an extensive menu we were there for his Walkabout Wednesday tasting menu which included 3 courses for $40 C.I plus gratuity. Crocodile and Conch Fritter, Breaded Brie and a Lobster & Shrimp Spring Rolls were the 1st course followed by a choice of pan seared Barramundi, Grilled Mahi Mahi and Prawn Skewer, Mixed Grill Brochette consisting of lobster, shrimp, chicken and lamb cutlet or Angus beef filet and Kangaroo sausage. All the food presented tasted great and the presentation was the best we’d seen on the island. The Date & Walnut pudding w/ Butterscotch sauce was my choice for dessert delicious and had me wanting to lick my bowl. This was by far the fanciest restaurant of our visit.
If you make it to the North Side be sure to visit Over the Edge Restaurant www.over-theedge.com over looking Old Man Bay. With a variety of sandwiches, salads and main courses served in a nautical setting this was the restaurant we kept saying we had to get to and finally did for our next to last lunch. With a nice variety of fish that included Snapper, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Codfish and Lobster just to name I few. I went with the Fish & Fries (fish n chips). This was not your battered and fried fish that I was expecting but a seasoned and breaded then pan-fried filets which was a pleasant surprise. It was also the only place I noticed turtle steaks on the menu for those that crave it. Also be sure to ask for the jar of pickled peppers if you want to add a spicy kick to your meal.
If you find yourself hungry in George Town or along Seven Mile Beach and want to avoid the touristy places you can watch the waves rolling in at The Royal Palms Beach Club www.royalpalmscayman.com Part beach club, part patio restaurant this was slightly more mainstream with burgers, pizzas, salads and sandwiches. I went with the Mahi Mahi sandwich ($10.50 C.I.) with the Jerk mayo which was very good.
We also ate a couple of good meals where we stayed at the Morritt’s Grand Resort on the northeast corner of the island at Colliers Point. At David’s Restaurant the seafood risotto and coconut shrimp salad were winners.
Other good choices we visited was the Wreck Bar and Grill at Rum Point www.rumpointclub.com for eating at picnic tables and under the palm trees after a visit to Sting Ray City. On one visit I went with the Traditional Style Jerk Pork ($11 C.I.) which was a generous portion
of pork along with red beans and rice, corn on the cob and coleslaw. For my final meal of our trip we returned I had the Jerk Chicken Wrap off the special board which was very flavorful. Definitely the most kicked back place of our visit with its hammocks and clear blue water to stare into.
A few other places were recommended to us that we could not get to were Chester’s Fish Fry in Bodden Town, South Coast Bar & Grill on the water by Frank Sound and Vivine’s Kitchen in Gun Bay that looked like someones home and identified by a sign hanging on a street side mailbox. All of these were in the Eastern Districts part of the island.
The Cayman Islands have their own currency (C.I.), some places quote both C.I. & U.S. dollar prices & U.S. prices are 20% higher due to the exchange rate and any change given from U.S. dollars is given in C.I.
So whatever your reason for visiting Grand Cayman Island be rest assured you won’t go hungry and if you take these recommendations and others from the locals you should be leaving very satisfied and a few pounds heavier.