Despite its reputation as a tourist destination and catering to people from cultures around the world, late-night eats on the island — particularly midweek – are a bit limited.
Island newcomer Ric Midanik, 56, says he made several passes up and down West Bay Road and thought he was going to be limited to “hotel bars and pizza joints” before landing at Lone Star Bar and Grill, on a recent Thursday night. The restaurant stays open till 11 p.m. weeknights.
“I was ecstatic,” Midanik says, sitting with his wife Kimberly Watkins. It was his fourth late-night visit to the restaurant in the two weeks he’d been in Grand Cayman.
Watkins, 54, says she was “very surprised” there isn’t more available on the island after 10 p.m.
“It was frustrating,” she says.
Theirs was among several tables being served food at the late hour.
But Lone Star, as it turns out, is not alone. So when that beast in your belly begins to growl late in the evening there are a handful of places – not counting fast food and gas station gastronomy – where you can quiet that monster and enjoy doing it.
Resorts and restaurants
The restaurant with perhaps the latest hours on the island is the Anchor Bar and Lounge at the Grand Cayman Marriott. Manager Lee Perry says the restaurant has been staying open to midnight every night during the seven years he’s been there.
“It’s not our busiest period,” Perry says, estimating that the restaurant does perhaps 10 percent to 15 percent of its business between 10 and midnight. “It’s a lot more snack items, things to share. You don’t generally get people coming in for a three-course sit-down dinner.”
While the resort supplies the majority of customers, he says, about 40 percent of late-night diners are locals who know they’ll find a full menu at the restaurant.
“We get people who may be finishing work late,” Perry says, as well as those from cultures that keep later hours. “You’ve got to consider the Europeans and South Americans, where eating at 9 or 10 o’clock is the norm for them. We got our inspiration from traveling to Barcelona and Argentina.”
One local leader in the restaurant business says the scarcity of late-night options is a reflection of market demand.
“If there was a need for it, I would stay open later,” says Julie Allan, manager of Rackam’s and the tourism board’s director of restaurants and nightclubs. “Anywhere I’ve worked we’ve never stayed open past 10.”
And that’s true of Rackam’s.
Allan says the main activities tourists come to the island for, such as scuba diving and enjoying the beach, don’t generally lend themselves to late eating. Divers and snorkelers are usually in bed by 10 p.m., she explains. Even those who just want to enjoy the island’s famous sundowns, generally don’t eat late.
“The sun sets early here,” she says. “If you want to catch a sunset, you’re usually going to want to get something to eat.”
Staying open late is no guarantee of business. On the same night that Midanik and his wife were part of the crowd at Lone Star, two restaurants in Camana Bay that stay open till 11 – Mizu Asian Bistro and The Brooklyn – had no customers at 10 p.m. That’s not normally the case, says Mizu manager Ramon De Beer. He says he often gets customers who are coming out of a late movie at the nearby Regal Cinema. Residents of the adjacent apartments will drop in for a snack, and Asian diners also show up.
“Asian people do usually eat later,” De Beer says, “and sushi is kind of a light thing. You can have something to snack on and go home and not feel uncomfortable.”
De Beer says he sometimes visits Lone Star when he gets off work late. He also likes Agua, which stays open until 11 p.m. weeknights.
Agua bartender and server Emmanuela Quesada says she sees a lot of late-night diners who work in hospitality, depending upon the time of year.
“In the high season, a lot of people arrive after 10 o’clock,” Quesada says. “It’s not our big hour of the night, but we do get people coming in. People love to come and they are happy we are open till later.”
Here is a list of some of the restaurants open until at least 11 p.m. weeknights:
- Ristorante Pappagallo
444 Conch Point Rd., West Bay; phone: 345-949-1119
- Duke’s Seafood and Rib Shack
1428 W Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach; phone: 345-640-0000
- Pirate’s Den
Galleria Plaza, 638 W Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach; phone: 345-949-7144
- Le Vele Restaurant
147 N. Church St., George Town; phone: 345-233-8353
- Mizu Asian Bistro and Bar
10 Market St., Camana Bay; phone: 345-640-0001
- The Brooklyn
10 Market St., Camana Bay; phone: 345-640-0005
- Lone Star Bar and Grill
688 W Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach; phone: 345-945-5175
- Agua Restaurant
Galleria Plaza, 638 W Bay Rd., Seven Mile Beach; phone: 345-949-2482