Food, Drink, and Tourism on Grand Cayman

I love partaking in local cuisine whenever I travel, and Grand Cayman provided an interesting challenge in that respect. There was absolutely local island cuisine, but part of the Cayman DNA is also British (tropic British?). Also, several of the restaurants near our condo had a Mediterranean theme, for some reason–still great food and with local ingredients, but focused on a completely different part of the world.

I associate tropical islands with tiki drinks and cocktails…not sure how “local” they actually are, but they seem to fit well there. I loved trying the vast variety of cocktails–particularly the rum-based drinks, as rum is produced on Grand Cayman and other Caribbean islands.

One dish we saw on pretty much every menu was the conch fritter, which is kind of like a spicy hush puppy with bits of conch meat inside. They were always a tasty way to start the meal.

One of our best dishes was also one of the most cost-effective: Heritage Kitchen. It’s a small beachside shack with really good fish and rice. I think I had grouper, and Megan had barracuda!

Peppers has a name that makes it sound like a chain restaurant, but it actually served some of the most locally inspired dishes. I made a somewhat bold choice: There were more appetizing sounding dishes on the menu, but it sounded the most traditional, and I went for it. And it paid off! It was a mix of fish and local fruit called aki, along with boiled bread (not great), plantain (very good), and an unsweet banana. I also experienced my first “Miami Vice”: a pina colada mixed with a strawberry daiquiri. So good!

Below is the meal at Ms Pipers (amazing food, drinks, and desserts) where I definitely should have just shared Megan’s huge salad, but I couldn’t resist the vegetarian nachos. They were delicious, but easily enough for 2 people by themselves.

Cayman Cabana was our final big meal of the trip, and we were joined by two good friends who just happened to be traveling to Cayman at the same time as us (overlapping by one day). I had a salad topped with seafood, and it was very, very good. I was also served a ridiculous drink called the “Cayman Cider,” which I thought was going to be in a normal glass, a mix of mango daiquiri and hard cider. But no, it was a full pitcher of mango daiquiri and a full cider tipped inside!

Our condo building was right next to a Marriott that had a great restaurant called Veranda–we ate two meals there, and they were excellent. We also had some tasty gelato there, including a flavor based on a local fruit that was actually quite good: souphop, I think?

Do you like to try local cuisine when you travel? Does any of this food sound good to you?

To cap off these posts about our trip, I wanted to add that I truly hope that as tourists we were respectful of the Grand Cayman culture. It does seem like a lot of the economy is built around tourism, but when I visit someone else’s home, I live by their rules and respect their traditions.

Cayman was particularly interesting because the entire island was leveled by a hurricane 20 years ago, so most everything was rebuilt after that. Yet the buildings are still at the mercy of the salty, humid air, so everything still has a much older feel to it.

I loved our trip to Grand Cayman, if anything just to get out of the St. Louis cold! Given how relatively close it is to St. Louis, I could see myself returning someday. Have you every traveled there or to any island in the Carribean?

4 thoughts on “Food, Drink, and Tourism on Grand Cayman”

  1. I wonder, was the gelato flavor Soursop?

    I lived in Belize for a couple years after college and discovered Soursop down there. It’s delicious!

    One thing I appreciate about Belize is that there are no food chains in the country. No Burger King, McDonalds, Applebee’s, etc. Every restaurant you eat at is very likely owned and operated by a Belizean and serves local food.

    The one exception is in Belize City and is literally called Tourist Village. When cruise shops dock off the coast of Belize, boats bring passengers to a to a tiny half-block sized row of restaurants and stores designed specifically for cruise ship tourists. We heard a good gelato place opened in Tourist Village one time, but we discovered we were not allowed in – because we weren’t from the cruise ship! Now, I’m not Belizean, I was an American living and working down there, but the idea that a piece of land could be bought and built up by cruise companies from other countries, then block out the actual people living in that country, was baffling to me.

    On the topic of food, my favorite local Belizean foods were conch ceviche, panades (tiny little fried empanadas), and hudut (a traditional Garifuna fish soup).

    Oh man I could write about Belize all day, I love that place so much. This blog post is sending me down memory lane, thank you for that!

    Reply
    • Soursop! Yes, that’s the one.

      That’s very odd about Belize City.

      Two of the people we traveled with had previously been to Belize and spoke very highly of it. I also had some conch ceviche in Cayman; it was quite good. I think I’d like Panades and Hudut too.

      Reply
  2. We have one rule when we travel: If we can get it at home then we don’t get it on the trip.

    The most unique local cuisine I can think of was when we were down in the Caribbean on a snorkel tour. One of the workers on the boat dove down and grabbed a conch, brought it back to the surface, and then proceeded to make a fresh salad out of it right on the boat.

    Always talk to the locals for the best food. We’ve been going to Sedona for over 20 years and on recent trip met a teacher who was hiking the same trail. She told us about a favorite place of hers that we had driven by a hundred times and never even noticed. She even met us for dinner that night.

    Reply

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