Conch (pronounced 'konk') is a local delicacy that is relished at all times. It's eaten raw, dipped in lime juice and condiments, or deep-fried in the form of fritters. It is, by far, the national food of the Bahamas.
What comes to mind when we think of a tropical islander's meal? Seafood infused with milky flavors of the coconut. Desserts that are divinely reminiscent of the local seasonal fruits. Decadent drinks made of mangoes and passion fruit, laced with generous helpings of rum.
Well, the Bahamas aren't too different, when you consider the above description. However, having said that, the islands have had a flourishing tourism business over the years, which has obviously extended its influence over the culture and the cuisine of the region. As a result, international cuisine is far easier to find, as compared to local fare. But, fear not, as we're bringing to you the very best of Bahamian cuisine, and more importantly, where to find it.
Typical Bahamian cuisine comprises seafood, seafood, and a whole lot of seafood. Conch meat is a perennial favorite with the locals―you'll see them polishing off the fare throughout the day. The Bahamian lobster also has a dedicated following, especially when it is prepared in coconut gravy.
The soups made in local kitchens mainly use grouper, to which celery and onions are added, along with a choice of spices and sauces. Worcestershire sauce is a local favorite, and can be added into most chowder recipes.
Conch Fritters make wonderful starters.
When it comes to snacks and starters, conch meat invariably becomes a part of the menu. The white meat of this mollusk is used in a variety of snacks, including salads, fritters, and even soups. Fried conch or cracked conch is a popular snack, similar to a breaded cutlet. Conch fritters, which are deep-fried, are served with hot sauce and are made with finely minced sweet peppers, onions, and tomato paste. Raw conch easily finds its way into several salad recipes, where the meat is marinated in Old Sour (a hot pepper sauce) to break down its tissues and add extra flavor. This tangy dish is served with diced, small red (or green) peppers and chopped onion.
Enjoy Stuffed Conch as your main course.
The main course includes a variety of fish, and within them, the grouper is the most popular. Fish fingers are often made using the grouper. Baked bonefish and baked crab are much-loved here, with the latter being prepared in a trademarked Bahamian style. The lobster is perhaps the star of the menu in most local restaurants. Fresh variants of the lobster are available from April to August, beyond which you will have to make do with the frozen version.
If you're really interested in trying out typical and everyday Bahamian fare, try the Johnnycake, a pan-cooked bread made with butter, milk, flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Also, try peas and rice, another local delicacy made with pigeon peas or black-eyed peas with salted pork, tomatoes, celery, rice, thyme, green pepper, onion, salt, and pepper.
Sip on a Bahama Mama anytime.
Desserts predominantly comprise tropical fruit, case in point―their divinely succulent guava pudding, pineapple sweets, soursop ice cream, and coconut cake. Papaya is an omnipresent ingredient in most of their desserts, as well as main course dishes, along with marmalade, more specifically, the Goombay marmalade, and cocktails (the most easiest to recall being the Bahama Mama).
Graycliff Restaurant on West Hill Street is a Bahamian institution of sorts, and happens to be the first 5-star restaurant in the Caribbean. Although it has expanded to include a multitude of cuisines from around the world, its Bahamian fare is certainly not to be missed.
The Poop Deck, located on East Bay Street is, again, and old player feeding loyal customers for close to four decades. The seafood here is delectable―by far the best on the island of New Providence.
Traveller's Restaurant, located a stone's throw from the Lynden Pindling International Airport prides itself on its simplistic and authentic Bahamian fare. The place is quiet and delightfully charming, and focuses mainly on the traditional aspect of food, sans all the fancy trappings.
So the next time you're coming to the Bahamas, skip the usual pastas, pizzas, and sandwiches, and go local. The assault of Bahamian flavors on your taste buds will leave you hungry for more.