Culinary Styles

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Long sunny days spent exploring Cayman's shops and museums or soaking up the gorgeous Caribbean surf will incite a formidable appetite.

Luckily, the Cayman Islands have enough options to suit every palate. In fact, the culinary styles found on the islands reflect the rich cultural heritage of the area while still managing to incorporate many pleasant yet unexpected international flavors.

Many of the national dishes prepared on the island are made of seafood. Fish is the most common type, with several varieties available: grouper, snapper, marlin, and tuna are among the most popular. In many restaurants, turtle steaks are also available, supplied by island farms specializing in this local delicacy, and turtle stew is the national dish.  Conch is also readily available and a favorite of locals. Shellfish, being scarce in local waters, is often offered but quite expensive. Generally seafood is broiled or baked, but the "Cayman style," topped with onion, pepper, and tomato, is also well-received by most visitors.

Rundown is another local favorite...


Many Caribbean staples are given an unusual twist with the use of jerk seasoning and saltfish with ackee, which are two examples derived from spicy Jamaican cooking. Rundown is another local favorite, comprised of fish cooked in coconut milk and served with breadfruit and cassava. But travelers shouldn't expect a typical island spread. The Cayman Islands have been heavily influenced by their colonial history and their dishes reflect this. For example, locals have their own distinctive version of pepperpot, a thick stew made with potatoes and local greens. They also make use of many British dishes, including heavy puddings, whelk pie, and meat patties known as pasties.  This mixing of culinary cultures is known throughout the Cayman Islands as Continental Caribbean Cuisine.

Many people accuse Cayman-style cooking of being too plain, falling into one of two categories: "breadkind," which are dishes made up of breadfruit, cassava, yams, potatoes, and other starches; and a "meatkind," your typical chicken, beef, fish, conch, and turtle dishes.  Both "kinds" are typically served  together in one meal, along with coconut milk and a bevy of seasonings.  Sure, it looks simple, but the truth is, most of these dishes are slowly prepared, and the end result always shows the intensive labor that goes in to creating such delectable eats. 

A few other locally popular dishes not mentioned above include:

  • Fish tea;
  • Fried crab lobster;
  • Johnny Cakes;
  • Conch stew;
  • Flitters;
  • Heavy cake.

International cuisine can also be found throughout the islands and can be a comforting choice for vacationers looking for a familiar alternative. American fare is served alongside local specialties in many of the most popular restaurants. Italian food is not difficult to find either, with options ranging from the formal Italian restaurant to delivery pizza. Asian favorites such as Japanese, Chinese, and Thai styles are all represented on the island, as well. Even French cuisine can be found at gourmet restaurants. 

After learning about the national cuisine of the Cayman Islands, your culinary tour can begin. Our Restaurant Directory allows you to search restaurants by name, or if you are interested in a particular cuisine, click here. If you are still undecided where to stay, you can learn about restaurants at specific hotels in several ways. First, consider visiting our article listing the Best Hotels for Dining Options. Or, select hotels that interest you from our extensive list (A to Z: Hotels in Detail), and read about their restaurants, as well as other nearby dining options within our detailed discussion of each property.

Visitors are usually pleasantly surprised by the wide range of foods offered throughout the region because the multicultural influences ensure that everyone is able to find something they like. Enjoying the delicious fare that abounds on the Caymans is the perfect way to end fun-filled days spent exploring the islands.


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