Let’s talk Bahamian cuisine.
Remember when your parents would give you a beautiful sea shell and tell you to put it up to your ear and ‘listen to the ocean’? Yeah, it also happened to be an empty shell of a large snail that is most indigenous to the Bahamas. The most incredible part? It tastes amazing, whether raw, battered, on a burger bun, or marinated in lime juice, and there’s absolutely no shortage of it on any of the Bahamian islands.
So, whether you are looking to expand your palate with local conch-related flavours and spices, explore the hidden gems and dive bars, or simply drool over the vibrant photos of food, I got your back.
Arawak Cay Fish-Fry
Travel Rule #1: When looking for a place to eat and drink, follow/ask the locals, and in Nassau, the Arawak Cay fish-fry should top their list and with good reason. Just imagine yourself bar- and drink-hopping a collection of over 30 vendors that offer fresh meats and seafood, endless rum-based cocktail creations, and live Junkanoo bands. On several occasions, we indulged in everything conch-related (ceviche, cracked, and fritters), grouper steaks, and cracked lobsters, plated with beans, rice, and lightly fried plantains, and paired with boozy Miami Vices, mango daiquiris, and chilled Kalik beers. Similarly, the strip is family-friendly, walking distance to Junkanoo crystal clear waters, and is generally open between the hours of 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Lastly, to enjoy the full fish-fry experience, make sure to ditch the traditional one-meal sit-down, and enjoy a drink and a bite one restaurant at a time (Read Caroline Russock’s “The Bahamas Fish Fry Is The Ultimate Caribbean Feast” for more history, restaurant recommendations, and mouth-watering food descriptions).
In hindsight, with the popularity of the Bahamian offshore financial market, it is no wonder that this Italian restaurant would be hidden in the plain sights of Nassau’s downtown for financial meetings and client-shmoozing. Think suits, sales pitches, and lots of great wine, with the latter overpowering the first two. While I might have come for people-watching and the downtown Toronto-like atmosphere, I stayed for the daily specials, wine-heavy sangrias, and natural garden views. At night, the courtyard and veranda, with the help of dim lighting, is transformed into a more intimate and romantic atmosphere. While I recommend the baked cheesy eggplants and a fresh conch ceviche for starters, tender veal with red wine reduction and tomato-based lobster linguini for mains, and a light avocado mousse with raspberry sauce for dessert, I also suggest taking advantage of the specials and recos of the knowledgeable staff. Lastly, keep in mind the fine-dining appropriate attire and a pricier damage to your ‘magic card.’
While Harbour island is known for its pink sands, boutique hotels, and wealthy tourists, it also maintains its small-town charm with a strip of small beachside restaurants that are frequent local stomping grounds and are relatively inexpensive. If you are looking for a consistent dose of vitamin D, an open concept space, and a more laid back atmosphere, you will make Queen Conch your top priority. Similarly, we recommend an order of the flavour-rich shrimp, refreshing conch ceviche (the first place that actually inquired about my preferred level of spice, owning their made-from-scratch approach), conch fritters, and entrusting your bartender to make the cocktail choice for you (you’ll thank me, and him, later). Lastly, click here for tips to getting there with time to spare.
Known for its abundant menu options, fresh seafood prepared in front of you, and staff that are absolutely killin’ it in customer service and shaking up mean rum-based cocktails (the 80-20% rum to juice ratio is what i live for).
As I’ve mentioned earlier, Junkanoo beach was our stomping ground for many reasons. Aside from the nearly unpopulated beach and the different shades of blue waters, you’ll be quick to realize, by the sweet Jerk smell and the smokey air, that the outdoor BBQ is yet another local specialty. While adhering to the ‘while quantities last’ policy, you should not dare to miss the marinated fall-off-the-bone ribs and charred chicken drumsticks, not to mention the juicy plantains, with your taste buds being most rewarded on a Sunday afternoon, that’s if long lineups are not a bother for you (a refreshing blended drink, purchased at the same beach bar, should ease your hanger). At a $25 rate for two meat, rice, and plantain-stuffed takeout containers, even the security guards at a near by liquor store were willing to swap for a bottle of rum (we might all have laughed, but I don’t think they were kidding). In conclusion, if you were to visit only one of the hotspots mentioned in this post, I would highly recommend paying a visit to Junkanoo beach and let your scent senses take the lead.
The Bearded Clam
Yes, the name is incredibly classy and both of Laura’s bars were opened after hers and Chip’s “alcoholic brainstorming adventures” in Belize, but the pub-style food is incredibly flavourful and the drinks give the term ‘stiff’ a whole new meaning. Located in the centre of the cruise ship port, the Bearded Clam is known for its daily specials, both food- and drink-wise, and caters mostly to the cruise ship crowd, as it is open only until 5 p.m. If travelling on a budget, I highly recommend taking advantage of Taco Tuesdays, with the Killer Shrimp and Cilantro Fish as my top choices, and Wing Wednesdays, with Spicy Maple and Peppa Jerk flavours to love. Splurging on the ‘Clam Nummer,‘ my new drink of choice to recreate at home, as it has 7 different types of Bahamian rum and is topped with a mere splash of juice, is definitely a must. Lastly, staff are knowledgeable and super casual, making for great conversations and incredible local recos.
There you beauties have it, my top eats and drinks in the Bahamas. Now, I promise that this is the last of posts in the Bahamian mini-series, before I complete and organize the full guide to experiencing the Bahamas.
Let me know in the comments below if you have enjoyed my recent travel posts, have some amazing recommendations of your own, and any questions that you might have.
Hope everyone is staying safe during these ‘April’ freezing showers.