Tucked below ground, in the heart of Santo Domingo, is the city’s most adored and unique dining experience–to those who actually know about it, that is. The Caribbean is no stranger when it comes to hidden treasures–off the beaten path or hidden in plain sight. Mesón de la Cava may be nestled in the Caribbean’s largest metro area, but it’s a totally unique experience you don’t want to miss.
What was once operating as an active storage facility by soldiers of the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1965, the natural limestone cave was created by the impact of ocean waves over millions of years. Before the 1960s, like way back when, the cave was home to many different kinds of people throughout history–pirates, Taino Indians and even foreign rebel forces during battles of the 1930s. However, just two years after opening as the storage facility, in 1967, it re-opened its doors as Mesón de la Cava–and the rest is, well, history.
When you decide to go for lunch or dinner in a cave, you don’t simply go just for the meal. You go for the experience. Once you arrive, you’re greeted by the lush foliage of a charming little garden that leads you out onto a bright terrace and bar. Grab a drink or two before heading down the spiral staircase–they’re a bit cheaper up there. The tropical outdoor terraces are often turned into dreamy wedding spaces, musical events, romantic dinners and other activities.
Once you start heading down, the lighting gets dimmer and you’re met with a quaint, formal atmosphere. Recess lighting, white linen tablecloths and hanging vines trailing along parts of the cave walls help give the aura a romantic touch. Enjoy a selection of exotic, non-traditional dishes paired with a glass of wine.
While places as unique as this often rely on the experience or location and lack in other areas, that isn’t the case for Mesón de la Cava. In fact, the authenticity of this restaurant is why it has remained one of Santo Domingo’s most prized hidden treasures–it’s known for serving up some of the region’s best cuisine! No matter what you order from the Spanish-influenced, French-Caribbean-style menu, you’re guaranteed locally sourced, hand-selected ingredients that are brought in daily, such as fresh seafood from the Caribbean Sea.
While the menu items are a little pricey*, the food and the experience at Mesón de la Cava are well worth the splurge. Heading off to Santo Domingo soon? Be sure to add this at the top of your “must-do” list! Want to see more hidden gems of the Caribbean? Check out some of our fave hidden beaches and off the beaten path resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico!
*Don’t worry, the meals don’t cost hundreds–the prices are listed in Dominican pesos.