Must-Try Cayman Island Foods to Satisfy Your Cravings on Vacay

Cayman cuisine is a splendid amalgamation of various culinary influences. You will find Jamaican, Cuban, and British cuisine influences in the local dishes.

Try seafood like conch stew and jerk fish from restaurants across the island. You can also have turtle rundown and cassava cake. For desserts, go for the traditional heavy cake made with rum or a fruit cake.

Conch Stew

Grand Cayman Restaurants serve a diverse array of cuisines and are sure to please every palate. Whether you prefer a filling plate of truffled prosciutto and oxtail stew or a vegetarian feast of aubergine ratatouille, kalamata olives, and pine nuts, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants in Grand Cayman. Everyone is familiar with the lovely conch shell, but few people know that the sea snail’s meat has a mild, sweet, clam-like flavor. This local delicacy is a must-try when you’re in the Cayman Islands.

The dish known as “menavlins,” or the remaining parts of the turtle minus the shell, is combined with turtle meat to make turtle stew, the national dish of the Cayman Islands. It is a hearty and flavourful meal best enjoyed in a restaurant where you can dine by the ocean, such as the ‘Over the Edge’ on the North Side.

Another must-try is the fried and deep-fried cassava (or yam) cake. A popular dessert in the tropics, this root vegetable is mixed with coconut milk and sugar for a sweet, dense dessert that’s also a comforting snack on a fantastic day. You’ll find a delicious version of this traditional Cayman Island food at ‘Seaside Kitchen’ in West Bay.

Cayman Style Beef

The Cayman Islands are famous as a global financial center and vacation destination with beautiful Seven Mile Beach, but they also have a rich culinary heritage. Local cuisines include coconut, cassava, plantain, yams, and rice. Caribbean influences from neighboring countries inspire many dishes but still have a distinct Cayman flavor. Cayman-style beef is among the most tender cuts of meat you will ever savor. This dish, also known as stewed beef, consists of slow-cooked shreds mixed with hot spices and allowed to soak up the flavors in its juices. It is a comforting and satisfying meal, reminiscent of a time when beef was challenging to come by on the island.

Another classic island dish is fried fish and cakes, served on the menus of most restaurants across the Cayman Islands. This seafood feast is a salute to the island’s maritime past. Fillets of snapper, grouper, or whole mahi mahi are soaked in lime and salt before being fried with onions, butter, peppers, and other spices for a deliciously traditional Caribbean meal. Jerk chicken is a Jamaican favorite taken very seriously by Caymanians, leading to passionate debates over who serves the best version on the islands. It is a complex dish that balances heat, smokiness, and char with sweetness, juiciness, and savory spices. Grape Tree Cafe, owned by jovial locals Ozzie and Nancy Bodden, is a popular spot for this classic dish.

Cassava Cake

A root vegetable similar to tapioca, cassava is used in this dense Caribbean bake, typically flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg. Older cooks swear by homemade coconut milk, boiled down to create a thick syrup. Other grated tubers like yam, sweet potato, and cocos; breadfruit, pumpkin, green pawpaw, cornmeal, or cream of wheat are also common additions. While you’re in Cayman, be sure to try the island’s signature escovitch, a whole snapper or mahi-mahi lightly battered and fried, then smothered with a fiery sauce of vinegar, peppers, and spices (scotch bonnets are a must) and served over rice. Grape Tree Cafe in West Bay is a wildly popular eatery for its take on the dish, and you’ll find an even more authentic version at Vivine’s Kitchen in Gun Bay.

Cayman’s coconut ceviche is a local favorite for those looking to keep it light and fresh. This refreshing fish dish has sliced coconuts, finely chopped onions, and cilantro mixed with lemon juice, lime zest, and pepper. Jerk chicken is a Cayman Islands staple, and you can find it everywhere, from seven-mile takeout restaurant Boggy Sand Kitchen to celebrity chef Huey Crawford’s self-proclaimed jerk pork BLT at Island Bites on Seven Mile Beach. At the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, executive chef Michael Smith offers a more refined dish with panko-crusted mahi-mahi and a tomato, cucumber, and saffron salad.

Fruit Cake

A trip to a new destination is only complete with trying out the local cuisine. The Cayman Islands are no exception! Their unique food scene is filled with delicious dishes you’ll never find anywhere else. With the islands being a melting pot of African, East Indian, and Caribbean cultures, Grand Cayman has developed its unique culinary style. From rustic hole-in-the-wall jerk chicken stands to five-star international dining, Cayman’s restaurants serve an incredible array of delicious treats. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant in Cayman that doesn’t feature seafood on its menu, but you’ll also discover that the local food offers many other delicacies. Cayman’s local foods are diverse, from saltfish (codfish) and ackee to callaloo and fried plantain.

A popular local dish is the Cayman Island’s version of fruit cake, a dense Caribbean bake made from grated cassava (a root vegetable similar to tapioca), homemade coconut milk, brown sugar, and spices. It’s served for special occasions and is usually flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg. Another popular dessert is the Cayman Islands’ bread pudding, which uses breadfruit. And if you’re looking for a truly authentic taste of the Cayman Islands, be sure to stop by Bacaro for their passion fruit Panna Cotta, which is perfect for a soul-soothing finish to any meal.


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