How To Eat Like A Local On Your Next Visit To Cayman

Food |

Besides enjoying sun and beaches, most visitors to the Cayman Islands also want to experience a bit of local flavour.  

Although the term doesn’t necessarily apply to food, we do think that the best way to get a true taste of the islands (no pun intended) is through their culinary traditions. And that means not only going to where the locals eat, but also eating what they eat.  

So where and what would that be? There are plenty of local dishes and venues at which to try them, but here are a few suggestions.  

Conch

Found throughout the Caribbean the sweet, delicately flavoured meat of the conch is prepared in myriad ways: you’ll find conch fritters, cracked conch, conch stew and even conch ceviche on local menus.  

Conch season in Cayman runs from November to April and during this period conch will be freshly plucked from local seas, making it even more tasty.  We love the rich conch stew served at Over the Edge, a simple and authentic seaside eatery in North Side, and the Cracked Conch served at the West Bay restaurant of the same name.  

Jerk chicken + pork

Smoky, crispy, juicy and fiery hot all at once, a piece of jerk chicken or pork is one of the most satisfying fast foods you could ask for. Although originally a Jamaican specialty, you’ll find plenty of jerk stands across the Cayman Islands – often with a long line of hungry folk waiting their turn. A firm favourite is Rankin’s in Bodden Town where you can grab a portion to go, or sit down at the picnic tables and dig right in.  

Image courtesy of Oceania Cruises

Cayman-style Lobster

Lobster season in the Cayman Islands runs from 1st December to February 28th. Caribbean Lobster is a delicacy and quite frankly, the best of its kind. You’ll find fresh and irresistible lobster dishes in risottos, pastas and even patties all over the island, but one thing you simply must try is Cayman-style lobster tails from our favorite spots including Lobster Pot, The Wharf or Deckers who do an all you can eat lobster! Cooked with butter spiced with hot sauce and scotch bonnet peppers, this spicy, tender dish is nothing short of exquisite.

Image courtesy of Beach Box TV

Turtle

Historically, turtle was a staple of the Caymanian diet. In days gone by, other sources of meat and protein were extremely hard to come by, but turtles were abundant, and thus became an essential food. Although this might not be for everyone, these days turtle is considered something of a delicacy. If you want to sample an authentic turtle stew, make your way to Champion House on Eastern Avenue, George Town. It’s the special on a Saturday evening and you’ll get a hearty portion of stew plus all the trimmings: fried plantains, rice and beans and coleslaw.  

Image courtesy of Uncommon Caribbean

Patties

For a grab-and-go snack that embodies the flavours of the islands, a patty is hard to beat. The light, flaky pastry pockets are filled with spicy vegetable, chicken or ground beef mixture that you can eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. A fierce debate rages around whose patties are the best – whether it’s Island TasteTastee or Juici. No consensus has yet been reached, so why not sample a patty or two when you are on island and let us know your opinion? 

Image courtesy of Visit Cayman Islands

Heavy Cake

A dense flour- and egg-free cake, Caymanian heavy cake or (Cassava cake as it’s often known) harks back to the days when such ingredients were rare luxuries. Instead, it is made with grated cassava, brown sugar and coconut milk and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. It’s a fitting end to a typically Caymanian meal, so the best place to try this is at Vivine’s Kitchen in East End, a simple restaurant where you can sit looking out over the sea while your home cooked meal is made to order.  

Image courtesy of Grand Old House