Religion, per capita income and immigration are some of the oft-touted reasons as to why Cayman is one of the safest places to live or visit in the Caribbean. All of these observations are of course true, but I wanted to introduce another one, the abundance of restaurants and good food. Oscar Wilde, the Irish author and playwright, famously quoted, "After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives." With Cayman’s incredible number of restaurants maybe Oscar Wilde has hit on something. It is often said that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so perhaps the way to living in harmony is through the abundance of good food and of course good wine! I am being frivolous, but one cannot deny that enjoying good food, particularly with friends or family, is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
Just in the last year, with the emphasis on value for money, Cayman’s restaurant scene has experienced a considerable shake-up. Restaurant goers still want to enjoy good food and company, but they are being more particular about the perceived value that restaurants are offering, where value is determined not just by the cheque at the end of the evening, but by the overall experience. Restaurateurs have had to adapt to the changing and demanding requirements of their customers. Those not nimble enough have sadly closed, while others have quickly moved to introduce more variety on menus, often with lighter, healthier dishes. And as part of the on-going global drive towards reducing wastage, minimising global warming and avoiding pesticides and herbicides we have seen restaurants introduce more seasonal and locally grown produce on their menus.
Having said all of this, regular visitors and Cayman residents have come to appreciate the well developed restaurant scene in Cayman and, with one of the highest standards of living in the world, the high-end restaurants have continued to evolve to satisfy the demands of their patrons. The finest ingredients are imported from all over the world and are brought together in ever more inventive ways by award winning chefs attracted to Cayman’s beautiful shores.
To complement the food, Cayman imports a fabulous selection of fine wines from around the world. In fact, a third of all restaurants with award winning wine lists in the Caribbean are located in Cayman! With a relatively high import duty on wine it only makes sense to import good to very good quality wines, making the wines cellared in Cayman possibly the most upmarket of any country in the world. At the top end of the restaurant scene you will find restaurants which excel in pairing food with wine, either as part of the main menu or even on a special tasting menu.
The local food in Cayman is also something not to be missed, and amongst the traditional Caymanian dishes you will find turtle stew, rundown and fish tea. Our farmed turtle meat is a much loved local favourite tasting a little like chicken, and even though it is a red meat, it has absolutely no cholesterol making it ideal for the health conscious diner. Other Caribbean favourites include curried goat, jerk chicken, and ackee & codfish. So venture into a local restaurant and soak up the atmosphere – you might even end up playing a game of dominoes!
Another source of food and fun are the bars in Cayman. Options range from ultra-chic martini bars which would put Manhattan to shame, to nightclubs with all the latest sound systems, to more traditional pubs which would make a Dubliner feel at home. Sports fanatics will never find themselves too far away from the ‘big screen’ while those just wanting to chill-out and enjoy a sunset, a cool drink and a view of the beautiful Caribbean Sea will find endless options. For those needing their daily caffeine fix, or for those struggling to switch off from the pressures back home, Cayman’s coffee shops, many with internet access, should satisfy this craving.
So enjoy the food Cayman has to offer, but in the words of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, “We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink”.
Also check out this link for Grand Cayman restaurants, which is Cayman's most comprehensive dining guide.