The Cayman Islands bill themselves as the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Foodies should focus on the main island of Grand Cayman, home to more than 200 spots serving both local specialties and global fare. Whether you’re a resident or a traveler, you’ll love these top Grand Cayman restaurants. Not headed here anytime soon? Find a restaurant near you on OpenTable.
Blue by Eric Ripert at The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman
The James Beard Award-winning chef has been wowing diners on Grand Cayman since 2005 when he opened this seafood-focused stunner, now the Caribbean’s only AAA Five Diamond restaurant. There is the option to experience a tasting or simply dive into the menu. A la carte options are divided into three sections: almost raw (caviar service, tuna pounded thin and topped with foie gras), barely touched (poached scallops with smoked butter emulsion, seared octopus with tomato crème), and lightly cooked (grilled swordfish with green papaya, butter-poached lobster complemented by pea tortellini). Splurging has rarely tasted so good.
Rave restaurant review: “If you are looking for an amazing experience with intricately prepared food served in a beautiful way, this is the place to go! The servers make you feel like royalty! The food is unbeatable. Amazing experience overall!”
Make a reservation at Blue by Eric Ripert at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman.
They take sourcing seriously here. Overseen by four gardeners, the restaurant’s screened-in greenhouse, right outside the dining room, is home to 20 raised beds growing an astounding array of produce – from bananas and Barbados gooseberries to okra and cucumbers to Cuban oregano and mint to Swiss chard and callaloo. Trees dotting the property provide avocados, starfruit, and curry leaves. Offsite, the team raises chickens, tends beehives, and oversees a grove of 200 coconut trees. They even have partnerships with local fishermen, who go out for them exclusively. The fastidious attention to detail adds up to a locally charged, changing-daily menu that might feature smoked fish dip with green mango escabeche, catch-of-the-day ceviche, mango and radish salad, and gooseberry meringue tart. To get a true taste of the Cayman Islands, don’t leave without dining here at least once.
Rave restaurant review: “This was by far the best dining experience I will probably ever have in my life! The food was incredible, so fresh. The chef’s menu with wine pairing was perfection. Thank you for making my birthday so special.”
Make a reservation at The Brasserie.
Situated on the isle’s western shore, the cozy vegan café is one of the best spots to watch the sun take its daily plunge into the Caribbean Sea (and keep an eye out for hermit crabs scuttling across the floor). While you’re taking it in, knock back a cold one from Cayman Island Brewery or a tropical-accented cocktail. Rather than traffic in the usual plant-based fare, the dinner menu is full of clever creations. There’s ceviche made with tender strips of young coconut pepped with spicy coconut-lime dressing and crackly rashers of coconut “bacon;” veg packed Indian curry enriched with cashew cream and coconut milk; beetroot-boosted hummus served with a rainbow of crudité; and a seitan-based “chicken” parmigiana with a side of truffled potato wedges. The portions are generous, so tread lightly if you want to have room for the ridiculously rich chocolate and avocado mousse.
Rave restaurant review: “We loved VIVO so much we went back the next day. You can’t beat the view. Very intimate but not pretentious. Food was fresh and delicious. Best rum punch ever and the organic wine was also very fine. I was happy to be able to have gluten-free options.”
Make a reservation at VIVO.
Ave at Seafire Resort & Spa
You know you’re waking up in paradise when you start your day here. The breakfast buffet is epic, a smorgasbord of freshly baked pastries, cereals, build-your-own bagels, fresh fruit, substantial entrees, savory sides, and an omelet station. Or you can order a la carte. Fluffy buttermilk pancakes are a hit with little ones and adults alike, while the Cayman Scramble bursting with local peppers and callaloo greens lets you savor the flavors of the islands. Fresh coconut water served in its shell is an excellent complement to your meal. Come back in the evening for Mediterranean-inspired fare, such as tamarind-glazed pork ribs and squid ink fettuccine tossed with shellfish and pepperoncini tomato ragu.
Rave restaurant review: “Ave brunch was lovely with a good variety of food. Excellent service and spacious seating. We had a great view even though we were inside. Would definitely recommend. A great value!”
Make a reservation at Ave at Seafire Resort & Spa.
Andiamo at The Ritz-Carlton
Perched on the edge of a winding waterway, the family-friendly Italian trattoria focuses on familiar stalwarts – pizzas, pastas, and salads – and sunny service. Highlights include arugula salad livened with chunks of local mango; house-smoked burrata; slender sliced truffle fries dusted with parmesan and rosemary; and ‘za fired up with ‘nduja and jalapeños. Though much of the regular menu has crossover appeal with the younger set, there is a dedicated kids’ section that will satisfy pickier eaters. Gelato is made in-house and worth exploring, either on its own or as part of one of the sundaes (Nutella fans should order the chocolate-y, hazel-nutty Paradiso).
Rave restaurant review: “Beautiful restaurant with a lovely open-air location. Very friendly and extremely attentive service. But it deserves more than 5 stars for the food. The cheeses and smoked meats were delicious. But the best was the waffle sandwiches and pizza!”
Make a reservation at Andiamo at the Ritz Carlton.
Avecita at Seafire Resort & Spa
Savor a taste of Spain at this sleek stunner inside the equally charming Ave at the Kimpton Seafire Resort. Executive chef Massimo De Francesca oversees a tapas-style menu including plenty of familiar greatest hits – salted cod croquettes, boquerones atop pan con tomate, and patatas bravas. For the more adventurous, there are modernist options, like Ferran Adrià-inspired “olives” and foie gras spheres. A hickory-fired grill adds a smoky kiss to primo steaks, whatever the local fishermen are catching, and octopus. For the full experience, opt for the chef’s counter, which includes a front-row seat to the action and five courses with optional wine pairings.
Rave restaurant review: “Amazing, amazing!! Service was excellent and the food was just delicious! My new favorite place and I’m sad that it is in Grand Cayman but a great excuse to go back! You will not be disappointed!”
Make a reservation at Avecita at Seafire Resort & Spa.
Catch Restaurant & Lounge
Overlooking the North Sound, the breezy bistro reels in guests with the latest catches from local fishermen. Depending on the season, expect to land fresh-from-the-sea snapper, yellowfin tuna, mahi-mahi, wahoo, conch, grouper, and more. They’re all offered seared or blackened with a choice of sauces, such as Caribbean curry and mustard butter, as well as two sides. A great way to sample a cross-section is the ever-changing ceviche. Looking for something more creative? Triggerfish schnitzel, spiny lobster Bolognese, and wahoo pastrami are seaworthy spins on terra firma traditions.
Rave restaurant review: “Beautiful atmosphere. Magnificent service. Delicious food. Need I say more? We dine here every year during our Cayman vacation. One of our favorite restaurants for sure.”
Make a reservation at Catch Restaurant & Lounge.
Taikun at The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman
In the mood for sushi and sake? This is the top spot on the island. There are sashimi and nigiri choices galore. Wanna roll? The maki selection is as colorful as it is creative. There are more traditional options – California, barbequed eel, and salmon – alongside the house’s inventions, such as the Taikun Rainbow (Hamachi, tuna, salmon snapper, tiger prawn, avocado, cucumber) and spicy king crab bedazzled with orange tobiko. For plant-based diners, there several cut-above vegetarian options. In keeping with Japanese tradition, fresh wasabi is grated on sharkskin tableside.
Rave restaurant review: “One of our all-time favorite restaurants with amazing food + great service. They made my birthday special and we are looking forward to dining again before heading home … so many great things on the menu, you have to schedule more than one visit!”
Make a reservation at Taikun at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman.
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Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Nevin Martell (Andiamo, The Brasserie, VIVO).