Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Grand Cayman has no shortage of first-class restaurants, and, probably because the island is so international, many of them cater to vegetarians.  It's not hard to find them, either.  Just check out the Good Taste dining guide for a comprehensive list.  The website is terrific -- you can search for restaurants using a variety of different criteria, check out the menus (which clearly identify which items are vegetarian), and make reservations all in one place.  The magazine version is also widely available around the island (look for it at the airport or at your hotel), and it includes maps and sample menus to get you started (but without the vegetarian markers, unfortunately).  

Four nights in Grand Cayman was not nearly enough time to explore all of the restaurants I wanted to visit.  But I did have four fantastic dinners.  Twice I dined at the hip Camana Bay development, where some of the island's newer and more popular restaurants are located.  

My favorite meal was at Ortanique, which is a Cindy Huston restaurant, just like the original in Miami.  Ortanique serves modern Caribbean cuisine in a romantic and elegant setting.  My callaloo and shitake wonton soup, made with the freshest ingredients, was absolutely delicious!

Callaloo and shitake wontons, served with tofu, baby bok choy, and carrots in a hot-and-sour broth

Also at Camana Bay is the recently opened Mizu, which serves typical pan-Asian cuisine, including typical pan-Asian vegetarian dishes (edamame, spring rolls, noodles, etc.) in a more urban, energetic environment.  I was particularly impressed by the wide variety of vegetarian sushi options.

Futo maki, avocado nigiri, shitake maki, and spicy vegetable maki

I had a more casual yet lively (and slightly off-the-beaten track) experience at Agave Grill, which serves great Mexican food and is very accommodating of dietary restrictions.  The side dishes, most of which are vegetarian, are really tasty -- the roasted pumpkin with cumin is not to be missed!

Veggie tostadas (one is vegan, without cheese, and the other is just vegetarian), with white rice, vegetarian black beans, and pico de gallo

Fried plantains (left) and roasted pumpkin with cumin (right)

Finally, although I recently discovered the best vegetarian Thai food in the world right here in DC, I could not resist checking out Thai Orchid, which devotes an entire page of its website to showcase its vegetarian Thai selections and, like Mizu, also offers an extensive array of vegetarian sushi options.

TIP:  If you plan on dining outdoors anywhere on the island at sundown or shortly thereafter, bring bug spray to shield off the mosquitoes!