Grand Cayman‘s natural riches — sugar-sand beaches, crystal-clear water and balmy breezes — have long attracted visitors searching for paradise. However, many tourists don’t know that the destination also offers a treasure trove of delicious culinary experiences.
While you will find global influences in the Western Caribbean island’s many restaurants, you also will discover Grand Cayman’s bounty of fresh seafood everywhere from conch shacks to fine dining establishments. Whether you want to dine at a restaurant helmed by a chef with a household name or uncover a hot new spot, you will get a taste of paradise.
This whimsical casual restaurant brings the imagined character of Ms. Piper, a free-spirited world traveler, to life with a quaint cottage and garden with an outdoor bar, a secret pool lined with pink-and-white-striped umbrellas, more blush-toned décor and an inspired international menu. It calls pristine Seven Mile Beach its tropical backyard.
By day, dine in the garden. Croquetas and zucchini and carrot fritters complement cocktails like a frappé-style Negroni, a fanciful frozen delight. At night, join Ms. Piper inside her cottage to peruse a cocktail list that takes its cues from iconic women. Sip the Yoko Ono-inspired Grapefruit 64 (Ketel One, housemade kombucha, monk fruit syrup and grapefruit) or the Audrey Hepburn-influenced Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Grey Goose, Dolin blanc vermouth, St-Germain and peach eau bitters).
For dinner, start with wood-oven empanadas, Korean ribs or tuna crudo, and then move onto mains like the 10-ounce skirt steak, chicken schnitzel with leek sauce or jumbo shrimp skewer grilled to perfection with garlic butter.
At The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s Blue, chef Eric Ripert, of iconic New York City restaurant Le Bernardin, applies the techniques of haute French cuisine to the island’s bounty of local seafood. The result: an elegant marriage of simplicity and refinement, best demonstrated by dishes such as the tuna foie gras and the Dover sole, served with a red wine jerk au jus.
In the primary dining room, the Grand Cayman restaurant offers a prix fixe menu served in either four, six or eight courses, but it can accommodate vegetarians and children. Consider splurging for the optional wine pairings; each dish is expertly matched with a selection from the cellar housing more than 700 bottles.
For those hesitant to commit to a coursed dinner or would prefer to enjoy an impeccably crafted cocktail with a snack, an à la carte menu is available at the lounge and bar. (Editor’s note: Blue by Eric Ripert will reopen for service Nov. 2.)
Ripert has such a love of Grand Cayman, that he also holds a food festival at the Five-Star hotel called Cayman Cookout. The 15th annual celebration of international and Caribbean cuisine will take place Jan. 10 to 15 and feature prominent chefs, including José Andrés, James Kent, Kristen Kish, Emeril Lagasse, Angie Mar, Enrique Olvera, Kwame Onwuachi, Andrew Zimmern, Orlando Soto and Pano Karatassos. Top mixologists Charles Joly and Tj Vong and sommelier Aldo Sohm also will join the culinary festivities.
Find Grand Cayman’s most unusual cocktail bar in the lobby of Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa. The Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel converted its former library into a bar that’s a dream for bibliophiles and cocktail connoisseurs. Library by the Sea carries a collection of literary-inspired drinks that’s as curated as a reader’s bookshelf. Every element of the space tells a story: the restored, handmade catboat suspended on the ceiling; the dutifully detailed menu arranged by literary genres like “page turners” and “masterpieces”; the technical preparation; and the whimsical presentation of the libations.
Take the Monte Cristo, a cocktail inspired by the Alexandre Dumas classic. It features vintage liquors such as a pre-Phylloxera Louis de René Cognac, Prohibition-era Mount Vernon rye whiskey, Benedictine, Martini Gentiane, Secrestát bitters, Brun-Perod China and J&B Curacao. As befits the Monte Cristo’s location in the “rare and first editions” chapter of the menu, the bar only offers 25 small bottles of the drink. Each comes with a wax-sealed, numbered scroll that reads, “From the desk of Messieurs Dantès & Dumas.”
The cocktails might be the primary draw at Library by the Sea, but light bites and book stacks invite readers and drinkers to get comfortable and linger a little longer.
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s Saint June guarantees a view of the ocean, no matter if you choose to sit on the terrace, on the deck along Seven Mile Beach or at the bar. Along with the stunning scenery, the restaurant, which debuted in 2022, provides lunch, dinner, pool and beachside service. The daytime menus pack bold Caribbean and South American flavors in light dishes such as the Tajín shrimp bowl with quinoa, cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, roasted corn, avocado, sunflower seeds and lime aioli as well as blackened fish tacos.
The restaurant’s Ophelia Bar opens at dusk and offers the perfect transition from day to night with unobstructed sunset vistas and cocktails like the Guanabana (Avión blanco tequila, Facundo Neo rum, soursop, lime and simple syrup). Stay for dinner at Saint June, which serves entrees like wagyu beef picanha, a local snapper with chorizo cream and a coconut lamb shank. (Editor’s note: Saint June will reopen for dinner service Oct. 20.)
Cap it off with a Caymanian dessert: cassava cake (also called heavy cake) with coconut crème anglaise and coconut crumble.