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Nassau/Paradise Island in Bahamas

  • j

Any recs for good chow? I'm looking for one or two very nice meals and the rest, inexpensive 'hound finds.

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  1. Cafe Matisse in Nassau for great Italian or Dune at the One and Only Resort for possibly the best food and atmosphere on the island.

    For cheap eats try Anthony's Grill right across form the Atlantis resort, or hit the Fish Fry a few miles west of town for some cheap fresh fish and cracked conch.

    Avoid the places at the Atlants. IMO they are way overpriced and I have been told from an extremely reliable source that almost none of the seafood is fresh. It's almost all previously frozen due to the quantity of food they have to prepare every night.

    3 Replies
    1. re: toro head

      We just got back from a trip to Atlantis and luckily had read this review before we went. Although we enjoyed the resort, we avoided eating there. We ate at each of these restaurants mentioned above and loved them all. My favorite was Cafe Matisse (fabulous atmosphere and food) and my husband's favorite was Dune (although Dune was extremely expensive, it was worth it). We ate at Anthony's Grill for breakfast and a couple of lunches (and my husband boasts that they have the best ribs ever). The Fish Fry was quite a "local" experience and delicious food! The Poop Deck was great too. It was more than worth it to take the cab into Nassau to eat! Being forewarned, we had decided to try the buffet at Atlantis one night and was extremely disappointed in the quality of food, not to mention the price. But we made it up with the dining we did off of Paradise Island. I must say that the little stand on the beach in Atlantis between the Beach Tower and the Lagoon that served lunchtime munchies did have great fish & chips. It was the only thing worth buying there besides the $7 pina coladas! Thanks for the help on making our dining decisions!!

      1. re: cyninco

        Glad you saw my thread and ate well in Nassau cyninco!! When I was there, I met up with a friend who was living on island, so he had the inside scoop on the above places and took us out to the Fish Fry. He was my 'extremely reliable source".

      2. re: toro head

        Even the sushi at Nobu? We have reservations there next week....

      3. Nassau is a weird town. I'd say that other than Cafe Matisse, everything else is just blah. I always had the feeling, in Nassau, of getting just a little bit less that what I wanted. For instance, the fruity rum drinks are made with essentially, Tang, or some other processessed fake sugar water, not actual fruit juice, and they are weak, so all you really get is a stomach-ache.

        The Fish Fry is pretty good, however. Expect your fish to come with the head.

        1. travellers rest for an early dinner, original poop deck for lunch and the fish fry should give you a flavor for decent food at decent prices. all three bring something to the table.

          high-end is very subjective. i don't mind wearing a jacket and tie to graycliff but others might. it's expensive but after sailing for a week or so, i want (need?) a "splurge" meal. this place works for me. buena vista is a decent backup but not in the same category.

          my basic rule of thumb in the bahamas is to always eat local. try the exumas (family islands) next time you visit.

          1. Having just returned from a weekend in Nassau, my two cents:

            McPhee's food wagon - this was the unequivocal chow find of the trip, a food truck on the beach, about a 10 minute walk west of downtown Nassau. Phenomenal conch fritters, and a jaw-droppingly good grilled crawfish served with plantains, onion, and tomatoes, in a genuinely spicy habanero lime broth.

            Poop Deck - good, if not great seafood. The whole red snapper was quite tasty, as were the crab legs. Pretty nice wine list with a good selection of French whites in the $40 - $70 range. Overpriced for what it is; apps and dinner for two and four drinks cost $160 after tax and tip.

            The Shoal - good Bahamian food, well off the beaten tourist path. Best peas and rice of the trip, very good plantains, well-prepared local fish, and a tasty, meaty okra soup. Business has apparently been seriously hurt since the owner had a religious change of heart in '04 and decided to stop serving shellfish or alcohol. But what remains is good, inexpensive, large portions of local fare served by a really friendly and gregarious staff.

            10 Replies
            1. re: finlero

              I've left a few LONG posts on a couple other threads this morning. Bottom line -

              Cafe Matisse is our favourite. MUST GO. http://www.cafe-matisse.com/

              Poop Deck East (by PI bridge) good - on the water

              Mesa Grille at Coves Atlantis - excellent, but not unique to here

              Dune - Phenomenal but really expensive - great brunch - perfect for that really upscale meal

              Graycliff & the Humidour Churascarrio - wouldn't bother - expensive and not very good

              Restaurants in Mariner Village - expensive and mediocre, with the exception of Cafe Martinique, with is expensive, but very good.

              Downtown - Athena - great Greek - sauteed octopus melts in your mouth and the hummus is to die for.

              PI - Hurricane Hole - Zio Gigis - thin crust pizzas - build your own are the best ones - we have the Margherita and add speck, roasted red peppers, onions, spinach, and goat cheese

              If you're interested in anything west (Cable Beach and West) let me know.

              1. re: Food on the brain

                Food on the brain (or anyone else who can answer), I had a question regarding Cafe Matisse.

                Despite all the good reviews on this site, we actually specifically avoided Cafe Matisse because we live in the Boston area, home to any number of phenomenal Italian restaurants.

                So my question: How does Cafe Matisse stack up against Italian restaurants in your hometown and/or elsewhere in the world? Or to put it another way, if CM moved to your hometown, how excited/non-plussed would you be?

                1. re: finlero

                  That's too bad you passed up on Cafe Matisse. Even though it is listed and advertised as an Italian restaurant, I don't consider it your typical Italian restaurant, as I would Luciano's or Villagio.

                  While Matisse's menu items are all listed in Italian, I don't feel that all the items or preparations are particularly Italian, but perhaps they are just unfamiliar to me. Some items are very typically Italian, but many are not. They will bring in different meats sometimes, including wild boar and buffalo, which I don't think of in Italian cuisine.

                  Matisse's draw for us is the atmosphere, in combination with the consistent food (95% consistency at a very good to excellent rating), decent wine list, and consistently excellent service, even by North American standards, which would be absolutely fabulous for Nassau standards.

                  The atmosphere in the courtyard is fabulous - a sunny, enclosed, quiet tropical courtyard for lunch, or a candlelit and romantically lit courtyard for dinner; upstairs on the verandah, it is quiet and intimate, and inside there are lots of small dining areas. Outside is best - we rarely go if we can't get a table outside.

                  We live in Nassau, and we think of it as one of the best - actually, the best in Nassau. Over on Paradise Island there is better, but also way more expensive. Matisse's price point is perfect for that casual or important lunch or dinner, and the price point is mid range.

                  If Matisse were located in South Beach, or New York, or Chicago - we would still go often because all the pluses are consistent. Greg and staff always leave patrons feeling like old friends, even if it is your first time, and you can go in jeans, shorts, or tuxes and feel comfortable. There is no pretence. As I said though, it isn't what I would consider a typical Italian restaurant - if I want a really good Italian menu and good Italian food, I have to go away (from Nassau - to Florida at least).

                  Check out the menu: http://www.cafe-matisse.com/menu.php

                  Hope that answers your question!

                  1. re: Food on the brain

                    It definitely does. Thanks for such a detailed response!

                    1. re: Food on the brain

                      You are right on target. I used to live on Paradise Island having formerly been the General Manager of a major hotel. There is no question about the quality of Cafe Matisse. Greg and Alan try real hard to provide a wonderful dining experience. Don't miss the Calamari appetizer. Not a large portion but overflowing with taste. Also, the Veal Tonnato - just great. Of course, try to get a table outside, especially on a nice night.

                      One little known restaurant is Design Divas on Shirley Street. It is in an old house and the food is really marvelous. Definitely one of my faves.

                      1. re: Alfred G

                        What type of cuisine is Design Divas?

                        1. re: finlero

                          How would you describe American/Contental? Simple food elegantly prepared. Small restaurant so resv are essential.

                  2. re: Food on the brain

                    Boy do I dissagree with that. We have had some absolutly fantastic meals at Graycliff. The Fish is incredibly fresh and service is excellent. We thoroughly enjoy Graycliff and consider it the highlight of any trip to Nasau

                    1. re: Food on the brain

                      I'm staying at the Sheraton on Cable Beach from Dec 27 to January 1st and would love to hear your Cable Beach recommendations!

                    2. re: finlero

                      Never did find McPhee's Food Wagon . I did find an extremely dubious looking converted U-haul badly painted as "Claudette's Native Food" where I got some shockingly good conch fritters and jerk chicken for the princely sum of $2.

                    3. I'm not a fan of Bobby Flay, but I must say Mesa Grill at the Cove (Atlantis) was fantastic.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: byeCalihelloBahamas

                        I thought the food at the Atlantis over all was of incredibly high quality for a resort/casino. I certainly wouldn't shy away from any of their establishments because the fish may have been frozen. There is nothing inexpensive about the Atlantis though. I'm not sure I would venture there to eat if staying elsee where but when staying on Paradise Island the only place we have felt worthy of leaving for is Graycliff.

                        1. re: Docsknotinn

                          My original post about avoiding Atlantis restaurants due to the fish being flown in frozen was prior to Mesa Grill and Nobu being open. I would assume that these 2 places have exceptional quality seafood and would be an excellent choice for a meal. At a price of course.

                      2. We just returned from a few days in Nassau. I think the whole town is ridiculously expensive and a tourist trap.

                        Anthony's Grill is especially a rip-off. I don't know why people say go there for cheap eats. They charge $24 for a pasta bolognese!!! We ordered the ribs as per the advice in this post. Although the sauce was good, the meat wasn't tender. Definitely not worth the $30 we paid for it.

                        The Nobu in the Atlantis has prices way more than the original one in New York.

                        The only two places worth going are the Fish Fry and Cafe Matisse. And, I agree with "Food on the Brain." I would go to Cafe Matisse if it was here in New York. The staff was attentive and friendly and the food was excellent.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: gdragon

                          Where exactly is the Fish Fry place that everyone recommends?

                          I am going to stay at the Atlantis next month.

                          Anyone have more suggestions for some simple local seafood?
                          I'm particularly looking for just plain fresh grilled fish / seafood.
                          Would really appreciate some good recommendations.

                          1. re: wileen

                            It's on the main road between the Cable Beach area and downtown. It's basically a strip of seafood restaurants. I would recommend Seafood Haven. Another place that was recommended to me but I didn't have time to try is Three Brothers.

                            1. re: gdragon

                              Many thanks!!
                              I will definitely try seafood haven and check out Three Brothers!

                              If anyone else has any suggestions, I would much appreciate it!
                              I have a few more weeks before I leave. Thanks!

                              1. re: wileen

                                How was your trip? Any chow finds? We're going this weekend and would love some recomendations!

                        2. If you like old world colonial charm, then this is the place for you. It is a hotel, restaurant, cigar factory, bar, and an all around place to be in Nassau for old world nostalgia.

                          The food here is great, and served with a marvelous charm. Dinner feels like you are eating in the Governor’s private dining room, with all of the appropriate accouterments, including furnishings and proper service.

                          They even have an in-house cigar factory, and roll their own. Cigar fans claim are just right, but I wouldn’t know about that.

                          Depending on whom you listen to or what you read, they have a wine cellar that houses between 180,000 and 250,000 bottles. They have the third most valuable private wine collection in the word.

                          Our party of 13 consumed about six different wines, and each was delicious and quit reasonable.

                          JetSetWay tip: The wine list here is a book, but they will help you select one that pleases your pallet and accompanies your meal at a reasonable price.

                          Barry Shulman

                          1. Just tried the Mesa Grill: a three restaurant chain located in New York, Las Vegas and The Cove at Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

                            It serves good, dependable high-end Southwestern cuisine in a lovely setting. The quesadilla is more like a small pizza and is as good as you will find.

                            The chili rallano is the best we have ever had, and we have had many.

                            The topper was the dessert of profiteroles topped with Mexican chocolate. It was a chocolate laced with cinnamon, cloves, and what seemed to be a bit of chili pepper.

                            Michael, my son, particularly enjoyed his double espresso when he put in a spoonful of the chocolate.

                            Barry Shulman

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: jetetway

                              I will also be staying on Cable Beach, at Wyndham, in April, and would love to hear your Cable Beach food recommendations!

                              Also, how long would it take to walk to Fish Fry, Poop Deck or Cafe Matisse from there or should I just take the bus?

                              Any and all recommendations appreciated! Thx!

                              1. re: monamiestephanie

                                Okay, I haven't been here in a while, so am catching up with my recs! :-)

                                Now, in the Cable Beach resort is Moso as well as the Black Angus Grille. Both very good. Going west from the Wyndham (to the right when you leave the hotel), about a 15 minute walk, across from the Burger King, there is Milano - a lot of people like to go there for the pizza. Don't know - never been. Another 20 minutes or so down the road, on the left, you will see Starbucks - around the corner is Indigo, and across from there is Capriccio. Both reasonable, but not great. Another 20 minutes beyond at the next roundabout, there is the Bob Marley Resort. The food is good, although hot food doesn't always come out hot. The service is spotty. BUT, if you sit outside and it's nice, it really is a beautiful setting - you're right over the beach.

                                Just beyond there, across from Bally's you will see the beach. Then, there is the Beach Club Cafe - great Mohitos and Margaritas (although a bit pricey at $10), beautiful view, beautiful setting (white and ocean blue tables) and excellent food including thin crust pizzas. Just past Beach Club is the Poop Deck west.

                                Coming back to Ballys, if you go all the way back in Olde Towne Mall Sandyport, take the walk along the canal - there you will find Le Dolce Vita Bistro - great Italian, small and unassuming. Continuing to the end of the walk, and there is Provence. Very good food.

                                This is likely as far as you want to walk! :-) However, if you cab it, you can go to Caves Village to Villagio Restaurant (excellent double cooked duck!) and further yet are Traveller's Rest and Compass Point.

                                These are the best choices going west, and offer lots of different styles of dining. See websites below.

                                Going east from the Wyndham, Arawak Cay (Fish Fry) is about 2.5 to 3 miles. Keep in mind that restaurants in Arawak Cay do NOT automatically add gratuity. This is the only area in Nassau or PI where gratuity is NOT automatically added. Everywhere else, it is added to your bill.

                                Across from Arawak Cay is the Cricket Club. Lots of great Bahamian and British fare. If you're lucky, maybe you can catch a Cricket Game too!

                                Downtown is about 4 miles from the Wyndham and 1 mile from Arawak Cay. If you want to hop the jitney (bus), Number 10 goes up and down West Bay St. to and from downtown. I think the fare is now $1.25 per adult.

                                Check my post http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6944... for recs downtown, PI, and east.

                                Have a blast!!


                                1. re: Food on the brain

                                  Thanks for the excellent post, Food on the brain! Very helpful!

                                  1. re: monamiestephanie

                                    I'm back to pick your brain again, Food on the brain, along with the brains of others that would like to share some insight.

                                    I'm going back to Atlantis in July with my family--a group of 12. I tried to book reservatins at Dune, but was told that I had to pre-order from the $115 or $130 prix fixe menus with a group of our size.

                                    I, then, asked if we could separate into 2 groups, so we could order from the less pricey regular menu, but was told that our reservations had to be an hour apart.

                                    Does this sound a bit ridiculous or is it just me? Do you know a way around their restrictions?


                                    1. re: monamiestephanie

                                      Hi Stephanie,

                                      Unfortunately, they want to make sure that they get their money for a group that size. Given that they have a smaller dining room, they likely don't want to commit to the number of people in the even that not the entire group shows.

                                      I would call back (twice) and book two different reservations for 6 under two different names. Then, the day of your reservation, go see them before they set up for dinner and ask them if they will put the tables together and beside one another.

                                      It is unfortunate that they have this policy - hopefully they don't ask for a credit card to guarantee with a minimum charge.

                                      Good luck! We're going for our anniversary this weekend. Mmmmm.

                                      1. re: monamiestephanie

                                        By the way, how did you make out with your trip in April!?

                                        1. re: Food on the brain

                                          The trip in was excellent. Thanks for asking!

                                          Here's a trip report (though it's a bit fuzzy, since it's already been 2 months):

                                          DAIQUIRI SHACK: It's located directly across the street from the Wyndham Nassau, where we stayed, and was the first stop we made on the island. There was a large variety of fresh fruit, and the daiquiris were amazing, with or without alcohol. You can request any combination of fruits for the same price. We made daily trips back to the shack!

                                          SEAFOOD HAVEN AT FISH FRY: We were highly disappointed with the conch fritters, which, in comparison to the light, crisp and flavorful ones we'd had at Twin Brothers a few months ago, were drenched in grease and extremely dough-y. My grilled fish and conch were chewy and overcooked. However, their pina coladas tasted just as good as those from Twin Brothers, and are the best on the island. Service was slow. I definitely won't be going back.

                                          MOSO: Because we received $100 dining credit with our hotel reservations, we dined at this Wyndham restaurant. Our food was iffy. The seared ahi tuna tataki was good only because it tasted fresh. However, the spicy thai beef salad was a salt lick! It was inedible. The waiter was very gracious and apologetic, said that the chef who normally prepared the dish didn't prepare our's, and had it removed from the table. My chicken green curry was surprisingly tasty, and I gobbled it all up.

                                          MCKENZIE'S AT POTTER'S CAY: We loved this stall, which is the first on the left side of the row. The woman and man behind the stall were really friendly and kind. We watched as they prepared our conch salad, fried snapper, cracked conch and plaintains. The salad was fresh with the perfect amount of lime, and the fried goods were light, crisp and not greasy at all. We asked them what they recommended, and the woman immediately mentioned their crab rice. However, she said they always sell out during lunchtime. We'll definitely be back to try that!

                                          CAFÉ MATISSE: Yet again, it was my favorite restaurant of the trip. My fiancé was wary about eating at an Italian restaurant in the Bahamas, and didn’t remember that we’d already been there a few months prior, but he certainly won’t forget the restaurant this time! The dishes were unique, delicious and beautiful. He had a cured meats and crabmeat tagliolini, and I had the lobster salad and shrimp trofie pasta. Yet again, everything we had was perfect. Service was impeccable. Our waiter was attentive and kind. I look forward to going back again.

                                          THE TRUCK: I’m not really sure what the truck is really called, but it was literally a truck that was parked across the street from the Sheraton. The women that cooked and took our orders served all the food through a small opening at the back of the truck. The menu that changed daily was a piece of paper taped to the back of the truck below the opening. The food was delicious and cheap! They served anything from eggs to grits to BBQ chicken, and even local specialties such as conch and fish stew. They baked fresh breads daily too. They opened at 7AM (I think) for breakfast and lunch, but usually sold out of almost everything by noon, so go at 7AM, and pick up breakfast and lunch while you’re there.

                                          Now an update on Dune! After we opted out of dinner there because of their restrictions, they offered us a dinner reservation anyway! No need to split our group up or even put down a credit card in the end.

                                          Thanks again, Food on the brain.

                                          1. re: monamiestephanie

                                            Sounds like you had a chance to really explore when you were here a couple months ago! Glad you were able to get Dune to accommodate you!

                                            Another couple new places are the Wine Lounge/Villa de Florence (same location, one in back of the other) and Chef Chea's Corner Bistro.

                                            Wine Lounge/Villa de Florence is on East Bay just west of the Green Parrott, just west of the PI bridge. http://www.winelounges.com/winebar.aspx There is no site yet for Villa de Florence, but they offer the Wine Lounge Pizzas, as well as some really yummy aps and entrees. every so often they bring in some special meats for entrees. Mmmm - had ostrich a couple weeks ago.

                                            Chef Chea's is a wonderful new place at the corner of Armstrong and Dowdeswell (in case you are walking or taking a cab). It is just around the corner from the Wine Lounge. If you are walking along Bay Street, turn South (away from the water) at the corner just west of Texaco and go up one block. It is the little blue building on the left hand corner (North East corner). The food is divine and they likely could accommodate 12 for lunch or dinner!

                                            Have a blast!

                                            1. re: Food on the brain

                                              Hi to all, esp Food on the brain... We are going to Atlantis during the peak season (week before Easter) and would like to eat a few meals there for convenience. Any suggestions? Expensive is fine as long as it is good. Also, ~10 years ago when we were there, we ate at The Sun and... It was an awesome meal at that time. Is that still there? Is it any good now? I haven't seen any mention of it in various threads. Thanks for any advice.

                                              1. re: jdpart

                                                Hey jd - sorry I didn't respond sooner, but you still have a week before your trip. Hopefully, this info does not come to you too late. :-)

                                                At Atlantis, for a lovely meal and beautiful setting, go to Dune at One & Only Ocean Club. You can take the shuttle from your tower to One & Only if you like. Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill is also really good. It is in the Cove. Those would be my only recs for eating at Atlantis.

                                                Away from Atlantis, I would strongly recommend Cafe Matisse downtown - eat outside in the courtyard - you would never imagine that you are downtown.

                                                A great place is Wine Lounge between Downtown & the PI bridge. However, be sure to go to the Wine Lounge on the south side of the street (the side that Shell gas is on) - it is in building that looks like a house. NOT the one beside the Green Parrott. (There is a whole story behind the one at the Green Parrott). The Wine Lounge I am talking about has recently reopened (from its original location where the Green Parrott Wine lounge is now!). Ruben has brought in some fabulous wines, and Raquel has come up with a fabulous menu! The pizzas are amazing, and there are some amazing apps. Lunch here is really great too, and Thursday nights there is live jazz. Oh, you may want to double check whether they are set up for credit card payments yet.

                                                Chef Chea's Corner Bistro, on Dowdewell at Armstrong (one block south of the Texaco on Bay Street) is also really good.

                                                I do not recommend the Graycliff, unless you are going primary to see the wine or cigars. The food is not all that spectacular. Sun and.... is still around, though has changed ownership in the last 10 years. I find that the food there is often a bit salty. I would much prefer Matisse hands down.

                                                These would be my picks for some really nice meals in that area of the island. Lunch at the Wine Lounge and at Matisse and Dune would all be equally fabulous.


                                                http://www.winelounge.bs/ (this website is still being constructed)

                                                1. re: jdpart

                                                  Hi! Have a fun trip! We just returned from Nassua and we really enjoyed the food at Twin Brothers. The conch fritters were the best I have ever had ANYWHERE! We also got spicy chicken wings to start which were very good but not amazing. My husband had the "steamed grouper" (?) which was smothered in some sort of amazing tomato sauce and I had the fried group and shrimp combo. Everything was perfectly cooked and delicious. We had guava duff for dessert. The hubby loved me but it was too sweet for my taste (but then I am not much of a dessert person).

                                                  I would also recommend trying the sky juice cocktails. They are VERY strong due to the cococut water that is in them so don't have too many.

                                                  We also ate at Seafood Haven. It was better than the food at our resort (Sandals) but not nearly as good as twin brothers.

                                                  Sadly, we missed our chance to eat at Cafe Matisse but we walked by and it does look lovely.

                                                  When we were touring Atlantis we stopped under the bridge, or under the dock as the locals call it, for some conch salad. We enjoyed the open air, local vibe and the conch salad was quite good.