Grab your sombrero and get ready to shout out “arriba!” A new restaurant brings an authentic taste of Mexico to diners in Cayman.
Casa 43 is co-owned by Max Hillier and Lloyd Brown, an accomplished chef who has worked in kitchens across Cayman for the past 20 years.
On the menu you’ll find a host of Mexican classics, from tacos and enchiladas to quesadillas and freshly made tortilla chips.
Fresh, quality ingredients are key to the dishes served at Casa 43, whose chefs use local ingredients wherever possible.
Hillier said business has been fantastic since the restaurant opened a few weeks ago.
“Our concept is to offer always fresh, authentic Mexican flavors, with a Casa 43 twist,” Hillier said, adding that the restaurant aims to play Spanish music to help create a “true authentic Mexican vibe.”
When my guest and I entered Casa 43 one Saturday evening, the atmosphere was buzzing and the restaurant was packed.
The menu offers plenty to appeal to all, including a wide range of meat and seafood options and a small selection of vegetarian dishes.
For appetizers, we chose the “Warm Tortilla Chips with Trio of Salsas” (tomatillo Serrano, fire-roasted tomato chile de arbol, and pico de gallo), and the “Trio of Ceviches” (tuna chino-latino, Caribbean shrimp, and Peruvian-style red snapper). Standouts included the pico de gallo, a traditional Mexican dish made from fresh chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro and fresh serranos, and the Peruvian-style red snapper ceviche. Both of these appetizers are perfect for sharing or enjoying as a light bar snack and come with a huge basket of tortilla chips.
The tacos are the restaurant’s signature dish, designed to be ordered individually, therefore allowing diners to enjoy a varied selection. There are eight different tacos on the menu, priced at around $5 each. I ordered three, which was more than enough; “Fried Rock Fish” (Tecate beer battered rock shrimp, sriracha aioli, bacon guacamole, and pico de gallo); “Pescado” (grilled mahi, pico do gallo, guacamole, manchego cheese, fresh cabbage, and crema); and “Polla Asado” (shredded chicken, cabbage slaw, avocado sauce, radish, pickled onion, and cilantro).
One taste and it’s easy to understand why these are a runaway success.
“It’s the combination of fresh homemade corn tortillas, handmade rubs and marinades, slow braising or smoking the meats for hours and then pairing them with fresh sauces and textures like shaved radish, homemade slaw, and pickled onions,” said Hillier.
My dining partner ordered the “Hanger Steak Asado,” an ample-sized grilled Certified Angus Beef steak, served with a mojo marinade, red chimichurri sauce, roasted baby potatoes, beets and carrots. It was cooked to perfection.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the cocktails. I’m a big margarita fan, and the margaritas at Casa 43 were simply divine.
Hillier said the key is using freshly squeezed lime juice, homemade simple syrups and high-end tequila brands, including reposado tequilas – tequilas that have been aged in wood barrels, giving a more mellow taste that is gentler on the palate. If you’re not a cocktail fan, then try the restaurant’s signature Mexican beer, Tecate, which is served with lime and salt.
While Casa 43 is primarily billed as a restaurant, the bar offers a great spot to enjoy a cocktail and a few appetizers to share.
The restaurant is sure to be a hit. The food is very good, the atmosphere is enjoyable and relaxed, and the prices are reasonable. Note, however, that the 32-seat restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so unless you get there early, be prepared to wait. We arrived at just after 7 p.m. and were informed it would be about an hour’s wait. Thankfully, it was well worth it.
Casa 43, located next door to Copper Falls Steakhouse, off the West Bay Road, is open from 5 p.m. until midnight, Monday through Saturday. The kitchen closes at 10:30 p.m. Lunch opening is planned shortly.