This guide to the best local restaurants in the Cayman Islands presents the country’s top spots for authentic local dining experiences. From no-fuss food trucks to hole-in-the-wall digs and family-run stalls, these venues serve traditional Caymanian cuisine at prices the locals can afford.

    Caymanian cuisine is hearty and delicious with its eclectic blend of Jamaican influences and age-old British traditions. Seafood takes centre stage, with delicacies like lobster and conch to tempt the palate. If you’re a meat-lover, you’ll adore Caymanian-style jerk chicken, stewed beef, and slow-roast pork belly. These top local Caymanian restaurants serve the best renditions on the island.

    1

    Big Tree BBQ

    Awesome alfresco barbecues on the east end of Grand Cayman

    Big Tree BBQ is an authentic open-air venue serving an array of mouthwatering chargrilled Caymanian treats. Located near the beach in Gun Bay, it’s a convenient, low-cost lunch option for travellers exploring the east end of the island. Its owner/chef runs the modest operation under a tree he planted 27 years ago.

    On the menu, you’ll find a small but delicious selection of BBQ seafood delights – the Cayman-style grilled lobster and stewed conch are superb. Landlubbers might prefer the baby back ribs or chargrilled chicken; both come slathered in a tangy barbecue sauce with a hint of local rum.

    Location: Ridgefield Dr, Gun Bay, Cayman Islands

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 345-938-8314

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    2

    Island Bites

    A popular local food truck in Old Man Bay

    Island Bites is a beloved local food truck serving made-to-order Texan-Caymanian cuisine in Old Man Bay. The owner plucks most of his spices and vegetables straight from his own herb garden. Portions are huge, prices are low, and each dish gets served with a smile.

    The jerk chicken rice bowls and slow-cooked pulled pork tacos are among the most famous creations, although the succulent conch fritters are known to sell fast. Whatever you order, exotic sauces such as mango scotch and spicy aioli infuse extra flavour into your meal. If dessert is on the cards, don’t go past the homemade coconut ice cream.

    Location: 74 North Side Road, Box 471, KY1-1602, Cayman Islands

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 345-938-2483

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    3

    Chicken! Chicken!

    The finest roasted bird on the island, hands down

    Family-run Chicken! Chicken! is a Caymanian institution for its mouthwatering Caribbean-style wood-roasted poultry. This wildly popular open-hearth rotisserie has earned endless accolades over the past 2 decades and long lines of locals queue up here on any given day.

    The award-winning wood-roasted chicken is the obvious choice – you get a ¼ or ½ serving of breast, thigh, or wings. Lunch and dinner specials feature additional tasty sides – think spinach pesto pasta, new potato salad, or crisp and spicy vegetables. If you’re still hungry, throw in some homemade soup or Cayman-style cornbread to make it a proper feast.

    Location: West Shore Centre, Cayman Islands

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 345-945-2290

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    4

    Vivine’s Kitchen

    Good value Caymanian seafood with a waterfront view

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    Vivine’s Kitchen is run by a lovely local lady who serves authentic Caribbean fare at reasonable rates from her home on the East End. Her charming rustic home backs onto the sea to give diners a waterfront view and a cool breeze – keep an eye out for seabirds swooping for their own meals.

    Traditional Caymanian seafood is the order of the day, with home-cooked delicacies like lobster, conch, and fresh fish – give the grouper or snapper a go. Vivine’s custard-laden Philippines-style cassava cake has a cult following on Grand Cayman. Her chocolate, carrot and rum cake hits the spot, too.

    Location: 524 Austin Conolly Dr, Gun Bay KY1-1801, Cayman Islands

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 345-947-7435

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    5

    Kurt’s Korner

    A superb low-cost local eatery in Old Man Bay

    Kurt’s Korner, also known as Caboose, serves no-nonsense Caymanian fare on a sheltered patio in Old Man Bay. While the rustic, corrugated iron-roofed structure isn’t the most glamorous venue, rock-bottom prices and superb cuisine ensure every order is of excellent value.

    The coconut curry grouper is the top pick – order it spicy for an extra kick and soothe your tongue with a cool glass of fresh carrot and ginger juice. Other outstanding options include puffy conch fritters and crispy chicken. The service can be a bit unhurried, so set your watch to island time.

    Location: Frank Sound Rd, Old Man Bay, Cayman Islands

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm, Friday–Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 345-947-8899

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    6

    Barry’s Golden Jerk

    A top local spot for meaty delights on Cayman Brac

    Barry’s Golden Jerk does the best jerk chicken and pork in all of Cayman Brac. Fine dining it certainly is not – this unremarkable wooden shack with its rusty old barrel smoker out the back feels world’s away from the glitzy restaurants of Camana Bay. But Barry makes up for his modest abode with 25 years of smoked meat experience and friendly, easygoing service.

    There are only 2 dishes available here: jerk pork and jerk chicken. If you’re struggling to decide, it’s cheap enough to order both. The portions are enormous, so you’ll end up with a big heap of leftovers either way. Slather on a generous serving of his special spicy sauce to top off your meal.

    Location: West Side Rd, West End, Cayman Islands

    Open: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 3.30 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 345-917-6713

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    7

    Heritage Kitchen

    A rare authentic Caymanian eatery in the touristic West Bay

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    Heritage Kitchen is a brightly coloured bamboo hut on West Bay Beach that serves some of the best-value Caymanian dishes in the area. Its secluded location on the aptly named Boggy Sand Road evokes a tranquil vibe – the beachfront setting doesn’t hurt, either. Grab a seat at the shaded communal picnic table or sit on the sea wall to dine with a view.

    The signature dish is the Cayman-style grouper, freshly caught and grilled to perfection. Other recommendations include the coconut mahi-mahi and mixed barbecue. Speaking of meat, the team run a popular local barbecue event on Sunday afternoons.

    Location: Boggy Sand Rd, West Bay, Cayman Islands

    Open: Saturday–Thursday from noon to 6 pm, Friday from noon to 7 pm

    Phone: +1 345-939-3474

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    8

    Grape Tree Café

    Casual seafront dining in Bodden Town

    Grape Tree Café is your best bet for delicious fried fish in Bodden Town, a small village on the southern end of Grand Cayman. Its owner/chef runs this no-fuss affair with his lovely wife – the duo has been serving hungry locals since 2009. The laidback shack sits right on the sands for a casual beachfront dining experience.

    You’ll find 3 types of fried fish on the menu: snapper, mahi-mahi, and swai. If fish isn’t your thing, they also do awesome tenders, wings, chicharron, and conch fritters. Ask for the homemade lemonade to wash down your meal.

    Location: Bodden Town Rd, Bodden Town, Cayman Islands

    Open: Friday–Sunday from noon to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 345-324-5860

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    9

    Herman’s Fish Fry

    A fabulous fish fry venue that won’t break the bank

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    Herman’s Fish Fry is an East End favourite for assorted Caymanian fried fish. This charming, budget-conscious restaurant serves its fatty fishy delights from a bright and cheery patio overlooking the sea. Its captain/owner and his buddy fish or dive for most of the fresh highlights themselves.

    Although the fried fish here is terrific (especially the snapper), the pick of the bunch has got to be the curry shrimp. A wee bit spicy and loaded with rice and beans, it packs a punch and fills even the emptiest of stomachs. Their curry goat comes in a close second.

    Location: East End, Cayman Islands

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +1 345-924-4007

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    10

    Cook Food Caboose Little Cayman

    Great jerk chicken and other local dishes in Little Cayman

    Cook Food Caboose is your 1-stop-shop for delicious jerk chicken and other traditional goodies on Little Cayman. The unpretentious local eatery offers a casual but comfortable place to eat, with basic tables set up inside the owner’s home.

    Jerk chicken is the signature dish, and the Caboose team does a mouthwatering rendition. Their barbeque dishes like fish, beef and chicken also go down well, each flame-grilled to perfection over red hot coals. A rotating menu evolves throughout the week, so there’s always something new to try. Keen for a novel meal? Try the lobster mac and cheese.

    Location: North Coast Rd West, Little Cayman KY3, 2501, Cayman Islands

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 9 pm, Friday from 11 am to 2 am, Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 345-923-1773

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    Harry Stewart | Contributing Writer

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