Perhaps it’s the way the sea air interacts with food, but there’s something special about eating a meal on or by the beach. And in the Cayman Islands, that holds true whether you’re visiting for the first time or you’re a lifelong resident.
There are many restaurants on Grand Cayman that offer oceanside dining, but only a small number located by Seven Mile Beach, and even a smaller number that offer the kind of high-quality cuisine people have come to expect in the Cayman Islands. There’s nothing wrong with cheeseburgers in paradise, but the following four Seven Mile Beach restaurants offer so much more.
PIZZAS IN PARADISE
The Royal Palms Beach Club has been a popular Grand Cayman hangout for decades. On weekdays when cruise ships are in port, there’s a $2 entry fee that covers the use of the pool and its facilities. On those days it’s packed with tourists off the ships, but on non-cruise ship days and weekends, it’s an ideal base for a day at the beach or pool.
The restaurant offers beach-bar fare like burgers, wings, and conch fritters, but also items like jerk chicken or mahi mahi sandwiches, coconut shrimp or fish tacos, and salads, including a very tasty octopus salad. There are also pizzas on the menu, with the prosciutto pizza being the most popular.
Every evening, a more upscale menu is served, on beachside deck, in Prima, the fine dining restaurant upstairs, or on the beach in your private cabana — a toes-in-the-sand experience offered to diners at no extra charge. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, there’s also DJ entertainment.
One popular cocktail is the Palms Rum Punch, which can be ordered in small, large or pitcher size. The Royal Palms Beach Club also has a unique selection of “Beergaritas” and an extensive wine list.
SUSHI IN PARADISE
Since it reopened last spring at the former Grand Cayman Beach Suites site, Hemingway’s has been a popular spot for locals and residents alike. Owned and managed by a group of Grand Cayman restaurant veterans that own Ragazzi and LUCA, Hemingway’s isn’t your typical beach bar and restaurant. It offers both poolside and beach dining as well as a more upscale indoor option. Patrons get free use of the pool and beach, including the chairs.
There’s also a swim-up pool bar. Popular menu items at this Asian-themed restaurant include truffled tuna tartar tacos, blackened mahi mahi sandwiches served with mango cole slaw, pork belly bao buns, duck spring rolls and a substantial selection of sushi. In addition to beer, Hemingway’s offers a full bar with various signature cocktails, including a unique take on a Cayman lemonade. It offers an impressive wine list complete with various sparkling wines and Champagnes.On Friday’s, there’s an all-night happy hour starting at 4 p.m.
TACOS IN PARADISE
Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa promotes its beach restaurant, Coccoloba Bar & Grill, as “part Mexican street taco joint, part beach hut.” While that description might fit the general broad category of cuisine served at Coccoloba, the words “joint” and “hut” don’t do justice to the classiness of the al fresco decor or the presentation of the food.
The tacos, made with fish or smoked chicken, and the tostadas, made from pork or beef, are especially popular, as is the elote corn. Although these and other Coccoloba dishes do indeed have their roots in Mexican street food, they are upscale takes on those dishes.
At 6 p.m., Coccoloba transitions to its dinner menu that still has many of the popular daytime dishes, but adds entrees like seared scallops, coriander-crusted tuna, flat iron steak and braised adobo chicken.
The wine list is good but not expansive; however, Coccoloba has access to wines available at Kimpton Seafire’s other restaurants for those wanting a different wine. Frozen cocktails include the “Coccoslide,” a version of the famous Cayman Mudslide made with cold brew coffee, and the Shivering Burro, a refreshing vodka-based cocktail made with fresh pressed ginger, lime juice and soda served in a skull glass.
RITZ SERVICE IN PARADISE
Many Cayman Islands residents would be surprised to learn that Bar Jack, the beach restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, is the busiest restaurant on the island. Serving the restaurant, the beach and the pool areas, it will serve more than 1,000 meals a day during the high season and it’s open only until 7 p.m. The restaurant offers tables and sofas that are a spilled-glass of water away from the beach.
Bar Jack does many things very well, but it all starts with the renowned excellence of Ritz-Carlton service and the desire to cater to just about every culinary taste and dietary restriction. Three of the six salads on the menu can be served vegan or can include various meats or seafood optionally. The restaurant can accommodate gluten-free requests on most menu items and if there’s a peanut allergy, they can source food from a special kitchen in the restaurant Seven.
For the meat lovers, Bar Jack’s burgers, made with Niman Ranch all-natural beef, are some of the best on Grand Cayman. Other popular menu items include the tacos — the fish tacos are most popular, but they have several others and one vegetarian option made with cauliflower — and the salads, which recently added a Buddha Bowl to the list that was an instant hit.
When it comes to cocktails, Bar Jack’s frozen Pina Colada is billed as being the best in the Cayman Islands and it’s hard to argue with that statement. The Ritz-Carlton margarita, made with fresh lemon and lime juice, is also a popular cocktail.
Bar Jack’s wine list includes eight choices of sparkling wine or Champagne ranging from Prosecco to Krug Grand Cuvee.