If white sandy beaches, swaying palms, and mysterious secluded cays don’t entice you to visit the incredible island paradise of the Bahamas, perhaps Bahamian cuisine will! You might think that the only meals a nation of islands could offer would be chock full of seafood. However, Bahamian cuisine offers so much more. Take a look at some of the most delectable dishes and coziest restaurants you’ll find when you set foot on this archipelagic Caribbean country:
Typical Bahamian Cuisine
Yes, Bahamian cuisine does offer plenty of succulent seafood dishes, including fish, shellfish, lobster, and crab. However, here’s one type of marine meal you may not have tried: conch. Pronounced “conk”, it’s considered the national food of the Bahamas and occupies a large place in Bahamian culture. Some even believe it to be an aphrodisiac! Technically, it’s a gastropod mollusk, but at first glance, it appears to simply be a large orange and pink shell. However, hidden inside is a kind of giant snail. All parts of the conch meat found inside the shell are completely edible. Locals eat it raw, deep-fried, in salads, baked in fritters– the options are endless. It’s one food you must try the next time you’re vacationing in the Bahamas.
The islands of the Bahamas contain their fair share of tropical fruits. Take a bite of delicious avocado, banana, mango, pineapple, coconut, grapefruit, or orange and savor the taste of produce grown locally. There are also a few Bahamian crops (mainly on the outlying, most populated islands) that you may not have heard of before or tried. These include the Persian lime, scarlet plum and sour orange.
Staples of Bahamian diet include rice, peas, pigeon peas, pork, and potatoes. You’ll find those ingredients, plus typical spices and seasonings such as garlic, lime, cinnamon, rum, and coconut in a wide variety of dishes. Chicken, goat, and iguana are other main sources of protein in Bahamian cuisine.
On your next trip to the islands, look for local traditional Bahamian dishes such as the following:
Cracked Conch, Conch fritters, and Other Conch Dishes
You’ve got to try them at least once! Even if you’re not a fan of seafood, you may love this delicious deep-fried snack, complete with dipping sauce. If you’re feeling adventurous, order fresh conch salad (the conch is served raw!)
Often accompanied by island-style sauces made with coconut butter and citrus fruits, rock lobster is one of Bahama’s staple dishes. In many restaurants, you can choose a live lobster from the establishment’s tank and have it freshly cooked in minutes.
Goombay marmalade and Goombay punch
These items aren’t exactly dishes, but they’re worth mentioning because they’re named after Goombay, a form of Bahamian music that uses the goombay drum, which is traditionally made from goatskin. Furthermore, they taste fantastic! Goombay marmalade is a jam made from papaya, green ginger, and pineapple, while Goombay punch is a commercial soda that’s extra sweet.
Bahamian Chicken Souse
This is a scrumptious, healthy soup made with chicken (can be substituted by turkey or pork) potatoes, vegetables, and allspice. Pronounced “sowse”, Bahamians often devour this delicacy with “Johnny Cake” on the side, a light, buttery cake similar to cornbread but made with flour instead of cornmeal.
The Best Places to Eat in the Bahamas
There’s no shortage of excellent restaurants in the Bahamas. Although you’ll also find Mediterranean, Asian, European, and American cuisine on the Bahamian islands, don’t pass up the chance to taste authentic local food while you’re there. Here are just a few of the best places to find traditional Bahamian cuisine:
Bahamian Cooking Restaurant and Bar (Nassau)
As its name suggests, this is an excellent place to try some authentic Bahamian cuisine. As a mid-range restaurant, prices aren’t too high, and the atmosphere is family-friendly. However, they do sell alcoholic drinks like the “Bahama Mama” (a mix of coconut rum, Bacardi rum, and orange, pineapple, and cherry juices). Don’t be fooled by restaurant’s humble appearance from the outside, and simple decor on the inside. As one of the top-rated restaurants on Trip Advisor, they have been delighting customers and “serving authentic Bahamian food since 1986”, according to their slogan.
Lukka Kairi Restaurant and Bar (Nassau)
Located right on the oceanfront, this establishment offers a wide variety of local dishes and drinks for you to enjoy while watching the cruise ships dock in the harbor. Savor the ocean air as you dine on specialties such as shrimp and grits, flank steak, and mofongo (smashed cooked plantains with meat).
Robinson’s Seafood Delight (Grand Bahama Island)
Located conveniently at Freeport Harbour near the cruise terminals, this place has some of the best fried fish and fish tacos on the island. It’s the perfect place to get your seafood fix for the day. An extensive menu offers you the opportunity to try nearly any Bahamian seafood dish you’ve been curious about. Their delicious conch salad is cut, prepared and served fresh while you wait.
Viola’s Bar and Grill (New Providence Island)
This little eatery on New Providence Island offers a casual dining experience and plenty of Caribbean comfort food like mac n’ cheese, conch and shrimp flatbread pizza, and fish tacos. It’s also an excellent choice for Caribbean-style burgers, creamy conch chowder, and hearty chicken souse.
Tropic Breeze Beach Bar & Grill (Great Exuma)
If you’re looking for a spectacular place to dine on the island of Great Exuma, look no further than Tropic Breeze Beach Bar & Grill. Try some crispy seafood nachos for lunch after a long morning of swimming and snorkeling. Or, enjoy the ocean views by night as you sink your teeth into a juicy lobster hamburger (dubbed the “surf and turf burger”). According to the chef, the menu changes daily, so there will always be something new to try!
What are you waiting for?
Stomach growling yet? You can try all these food and more when you choose the Bahamas for your next vacation. Want to know more about the Bahamas and the fabulous activities this island nation has to offer? Read all about the Bahamas here.