Passenger Pick of the Month
Casa 43 Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar
Casa 43 is rapidly becoming known as one of Cayman's best restaurants; so you definitely want to put it on your list to visit while on Island. Owners Lloyd Brown and Max Hillier met playing golf, and common friends (who are restaurant owners) suggested they start a restaurant. That small seed took root and blossomed into the realization of their dream with a now very popular restaurant along Seven Mile beach. As this month’s Passenger Pick of the Month, we wanted to learn more about the story behind Casa 43, so recently we caught up with co-owner Max Hillier.
PP: So…two guys open a restaurant, tell us why a Mexican restaurant on Cayman.
MH: There was a gap in the market on Seven Mile Beach for authentic Mexican food and the space that became available lent itself to a transportive “hole in the wall” type of restaurant concept.
PP: What makes Casa 43 different from typical Tex-Mex?
MH: Our recipes and the way we present our authentic Mex-Mex dishes steer away from the “gringo” styles of ground beef, lettuce, sour cream, hard shell tacos, nachos, and ingredients that you would not find on the streets of Mexico, especially certain cheeses and chilies. Our tacos are as you might find on the streets of any regional Mexican city with careful attention to balance, flava, and authenticity.
PP: Passengers share that you are Farm to Table. Can you unpack that for us?
MH: Sure! In Cayman, being Farm to Table means sourcing all available products that are farmed in Cayman like our tomatoes, certain herbs and spices, mangoes when in season. So strictly speaking no one in Cayman can be 100% farm to table, but what sets us apart and creates that feeling is that our food is made fresh with fresh ingredients, homemade meat rubs, sauces and salsas, our very own hot sauce, and fresh lime and other juices for our cocktails!
PP: So tell us how you and Lloyd chose to name Casa 43.
MH: Well, we wanted to create a "welcome to our kitchen" vibe so “Mi casa es su casa” jumped to mind and “Casa” stuck. “Naming a restaurant” research told us that adding a number to your name creates an elevated customer expectation of a good restaurant and our street address 43 Canal Point Road! So Casa 43 it is!
PP: What can folks expect when they dine with you?
MH: A transportive and friendly experience with great flavas, great service, fresh dishes and ingredients, incredible cocktails and the best margs on the island! We have an awesome kids menu, daily specials and a very strong local and residential following.
PP: So we’re hearing a lot about Taco Tuesdays. Tell us about that.
MH: Taco Tuesdays is a fun and interesting day here at Casa 43 because we give the Chef freedom to create three unique tacos that are always interesting, out of the box and deelish!
MH: We support the CI Humane Society with our retail merchandise by donating 10% of our net profits from retail to the shelter, and will entice even the most hardy taco fan to give these a whirl.
PP: We have tasted Casa 43 tacos, and agree. They are delicious! Passengers have shared you have the largest collection of Tequila on island. True? How many kinds do you have?
MH: We are really proud of this and would say that, to our knowledge, we absolutely do with somewhere around 80 choices right now and some super rare tequilas you can only find here.
PP: What is the most ordered margarita?
MH: Our signature margarita is the Casa 43 Marg and it is yummaliscious! Made with 2 oz (normally 1.5 oz in other places) freshly squeezed lime juice and our homemade simple syrup and lime salt rim using higher end tequila, Herradura Reposado, which helps make this possibly one of the best you will ever drink!
PP: Max, tell us about your desserts.
MH: Our desserts are amazing – the fun ice cream filled churro basket is a huge hit, and the homemade tres leeches cake is amazing. We also have churros with our own cajeta sauce, a Mexi chocolate muffin, a Khalua creme brûlée, and fried ice cream - Yum!
PP: That does sound yummy! Can folks make reservations?
MH: We do not take reservations and recommend that if you plan to join us that you get here about 10-15 minutes before you intend to sit down, in case there is a wait, and we can get you on the list and seated asap. We do offer our full menu to-go and Casa 43 catering services for events, weddings and other gatherings which are becoming quite popular!
PP: That’s wonderful. Tell us about your partner, Chef Lloyd Brown.
MH: Chef Lloyd is an accomplished chef in the Cayman Islands, and has opened several restaurants as Executive Chef including Decker and Prime. He graduated from California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and spent 11 years working in some of San Francisco’s and Seattle’s finest restaurants. Lloyd loves Mexican cuisine and brings his “Mission District” experiences to the Casa 43 kitchen. Lloyd also offers “Dining at Home” for intimate, family and large parties and can conjure up almost any menu you desire.
PP: What a great partner to have in Lloyd! His experience is invaluable. Tell us about your chefs in the kitchen.
MH: Our chefs bring influences from all over Mexico and Latin America with specialization in regional Mexican dishes. Allan is from Costa Rica is a true creator of balanced and unique taste combinations, has opened Mexican restaurants and has a passion for the regional flavors of Mexico. Bryan hails from Costa Rica and is a skilled butcher with amazing skills to run our hot side of things. “Ram” is from India and is an expert at both the hot and cold stations. Liberia is from Oaxaca, Mexico, and brings that authentic regional “like Mama used to make it” knowledge to our team along with great pastry and dessert skills. “June” is a maestro at everything and is our go to prep and meat brazing expert who also creates food art for special occasions, and Manuel and Jorge are our newest additions from Costa Rica and add to our team’s experience.
MH: One thing you will notice is that our team is amazing and it is because of them that our little Casa has become one of the must go to restaurants on the island.
PP: Well said. Folks, this is a must stop as part of your Cayman experience.