Caribbean Cooker strives to take diners on vacation

Restaurateur Todd Denny noticed that there weren't a lot of dining options in town for people who wanted something with a Caribbean flair.

So he decided to offer one, the Caribbean Cooker, 65 S. Stephanie St. in Henderson. The restaurant opened in March with Denny's driving goal of providing something unique and fun but with serious food, he says. There is something on the menu that appeals to every appetite, he adds.

"We've tried to give people an escape where they could feel like they're going on vacation," Denny says. "It's more casual. We call it funky. We try to satisfy everyone as though you were in the islands, no matter your budget."

The Caribbean is actually a diverse region made up of thousands of islands, such as Aruba, Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas, notes the restaurant's executive chef, Antonio Nunez. The menu features a taste of most, including dishes with Cuban flavors, Jamaican and even Creole.

More than 30 tapas are offered along with entrees, salads, burgers, sandwiches and soups.

The dining room is casual and seats 120, with an additional 40 patio seats.

Hours are from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Reservations are not required, but are recommended for parties with more than eight people.

Specialties: Valencia paella with shrimp, scallops, clams, crab, chicken, sausage, $19; braised short ribs with a Scotch bonnet pepper sweet glaze, $9; housemade coconut cream pie, $7

Appetizers: Ahi tuna lollipop with mango glaze, $8; shrimp won ton tacos with Caribbean slaw, $6; speared gator bites with mango, peach and tomato, $7

Soups and salads: Callaloo stew, $4 for a cup, $6 for bowl; curried Jamaican goat stew served with rice, peas and flatbread, $12; Virgin Island spinach salad with grilled shrimp, scallops, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and black beans, $13

Entrees: Peppercorn crusted tuna, $16; coffee molasses pork tender with pear and pineapple chutney, $15; jerk chicken with chorizo black beans and salsa, $14

Desserts: Banana pudding served with wild berry poundcake, $6; drop doughnuts, $5; Key lime pie, $7

Information: 888-6565