We are going for a long weekend getaway to the Bahamas in May (staying at the Hilton Colonial in Nassau) and wanted to get some ideas where to eat good LOCAL food.
I am sure we will spend a few hours on the Paradise Island and from reading other posts it seems we should try the Fish Fry- right? Also, maybe somebody stayed at that hotel or in the immediate area and can suggest something close by . Also, what is worth trying other than conch fritters and rice with peas? I am not very familiar wit Caribbean cuisine, so any suggestions will be appreciated.
We just got back, but had a kitchen as we did timeshare right there next to Atlantis (actually tucked in between Marina Village and Harborside).
We prefer local native food, where the tourist don't go but keep in mind we walked at lot to keep the lbs from creeping up on us.
We found a great place on Paradise Isl for our last night, overlooking the harbor - excellent food at decent prices ($18-$40 entres, $7-$10 apps) called Columbus Tavern. Ambiance was great, food was phenominal, service was fantastic (we found this was lacking a bit throughout our dining experiences - except for the real native local places - Potter's Cay (under the bridge) and Fish Fry at Arawak Cay - awesome friendly folks (several restaurants are there, everyone said Seafood Heaven was the best as was Twin Brothers - we did Seafood Heaven and loved it.
Have a blast, you won't be disappointed if you just accept that it is expensive. Water Taxi is the best way to get to Paradise Island and back (we saw Nicholas Cage - waved to us from his yacht outside his home). If you like cigars, do Graycliff (very close to your hotel) - tour the factory and watch them doing/rolling them. Easy walk to the base of the exit bridge to Potter's Cay - Mckenzies is fantastic and the most crowded for great local food. You'll see many vendors set up under the bridge, it's a real local gathering - some though didn't seem sanitary but McKenzies was awesome. All local native food, fantastic - I fell in love with conch, especially conch salad but really enjoyed snapper and grouper - l kept hearing that I should have gotten the crab rice, also loved their peas and rice (which was pigeon peas, more like beans to me). We had cracked conch which is very similar to fried calamari, we had conch fritters, I almost got the scorched conch but they said it was very similar to the salad which I'm bummed that I can't make this at home (I'm going to make it with tiny maine shrimp just to get that flavor again).
One place we heard about from people like us who love local native food was the Nassau Stadium (??) but never made it there.
Have a blast, hope that helps.
When are you going to be in Nassau? Junkanoo is a big style of parade and celebration here, and If you are here on the 16th, one of the major groups has a float parade and rush out. Rush out will start within a walk of the Hilton and continues out to Awarak Cay. There will be lots of stuff going on in Arawak Cay that day, including lots of BBQ stands, the permanent restaurants at Fish Fry, music, and lots of stuff!
Keep in mind that gratuities are included at all restaurants in Nassau and PI except at Fish Fry!
Conch fritters are definitely worth trying, but there are good ones and then there are doughy and greasy ones. Potters Cay and Arawak Cay are good places to try them. Conch chowder and conch salad are must tries as well. Cracked conch is also really good. You'll see a lot of grouper and snapper on local menus too, cooked in lots of different ways, and often caught fresh.
Peas & rice......well.......depends on if you like rice with peas. It's really popular with locals, but it isn't anything particularly special.
If you're staying at the Hilton, there is "Conch Fritters" across the street. I admit, I can't vouch for the food there anymore, since I haven't been since they reopened it after a brief closure about 3 years ago.
If you're looking for a really nice meal while here, check out Cafe Matisse (walking distance from the Hilton) - eat out in the courtyard.....it's a beautiful setting. Not "Local" food, but one of our favourite restaurants. http://www.cafe-matisse.com/ (the pictures don't do it justice, though)
For a really innovative and fabulous meal, check out the Shogun Revolver - a longer walk or a short cab ride. http://www.shogunrevolver.com/ Chef Michael's Faith Menu is always fabulous! Definitely some of our best meals here.
While here, take the water taxi over to PI and back - $6 return. It leaves from the docks behind the Straw Market around the corner from the Hilton.
Have a blast!
re: Food on the brain
Just got back from Nassau on Saturday, having stayed at the Hilton. I can report that "Conch Fritters" across the street from the hotel is atrocious. My wife and I had the single worst meal of our trip there (a literally inedible grilled conch). AVOID AT ALL COST.
That said, we had some great food as well, so here you go:
Arawak Cay Fish Fry: As stated many times before on this board, it's the place to go for some fantastic local fare. Conch Salad (my wife and I literally ate this every other day during our trip), Crack Conch, Conch Fritters, all great. We usually hit either Seafood Haven or Twin Brothers. You'll be happy with either.
There are some streetside joints just east of the Fish Fry that are great as well. We had a grilled conch from a simple black barbecue setup - it was as great as the one from "Conch Fritters" was bad.
For non-local fare, I'll second the above posts.
Cafe Matisse is very good Italian, with a really pleasant patio. A great place for lunch.
Shogun Revolver was awesome. You'll pay a pretty penny (well, not just here, anywhere really) but you won't regret it for a moment once you taste their food. The drinks are awesome too - really inventive and tasty as hell. It could stand up to most places in NYC. GO HERE.
Luciano's of Chicago was pretty good as well. Again, on the pricey side, but some very tasty Italian (Tuscan?) offerings. Don't ask me why it's "of Chicago"...
We didn't hit Graycliff, but did go to The Humidor, it's attached Brazilian churrascaria. It was very nice (great wines as well) and the grounds are stunning. It was worth it for the tour of their cigar-rolling operations and a nice walk around the garden if nothing else. The meat was very good as well, and I'm still craving the grilled pineapple. If you like churrascaria and you're tired of seafood, give it a shot.
Finally, don't be afraid of the Filipino restaurant behind the Straw Market (next to the nauseating Senor Frog's)! It's a total hole in the wall and a little bit intimidating (read: minimal-to-no descriptions of the menu items and a staff who have trouble articulating what exactly they are), but it was damn good and CHEAP! My wife and I ate lunch there, just looking for something different that wouldn't break the bank and were totally shocked by how good the food was. Here's an endorsement: When we were in there, there were three other parties, all of them Filipino, and all of them looked pretty happy with the food.
Have a great time - you'll spend $$, especially for the more upscale joints, but you can find some deals if you're adventurous and willing to explore a bit.
Well, good to hear that Conch Fritters is no better since it reopened than before! :-) Hubby once deducted all the gratuity when he paid the bill.
As I said above, Matisse is one of our favourites, especially in terms of atmosphere, and Shogun is phenomenal. Chef Michael has started doing some fabulous wine paired dinners about every 4 to 6 weeks that are absolutely fabulous. A group of us who are all foodies all agree that 2 Saturdays ago was the best meal any of us had had in a very long time! DEFINITE MUST GO!
Luciano's - nice view, food is ok.
Glad you had a good visit, taystahl......glad you had some good Chow!
re: Food on the brain
Wow, I will have to print this post again.... thanks for all the great info! We are leaving this Friday, coming back Monday so we won't have much time but I am sure we will still have a chance to enjoy some good food. My foodie daughter (16) is already talking about a conch salad and a Bahama Mama(virgin of course). Husband will eat anything, but prefers simple local food.
I feel pretty ready for this quick trip, just have one , not really food related question-is it legal to bring one of these beautiful conch shells back to the US?
re: Food on the brain
Thanks for your great posts on restaurants in Nassau. We're heading there in March for our girlfriends trip and want to ask you about Bahamian Kitchen . Worth a trip? and Where do you recommend for lobsters? We also love to watch fishing boats coming in. Where would be a good place to catch them? Probably in the afternoon early evening right?
Thanks a million
Hope you catch this reply - never been to Bahamian Kitchen. Never heard anyone hear really talk about it. For crawfish (aka spiny lobsters), many will have them on the menu - Matisse has some nice dishes. Watching the fishing boats come in isn't really at any specific time, unfortunately. It's been rather cool, so not as many boats have been out.
Under the bridge coming back from PI is Potter's Cay is where some of the fishing boats come in, but I haven't really seen them coming in. Montague is where most of the local fisherman selling to the locals will be. There is a boat ramp there, and they will have their tables lining both sides. There will be lots of crawfish and other wonderful fresh caught fish there. However, if the weather isn't very nice, they may not bother. It is busiest on the weekends, mid to late afternoon.
To get to Montague, you would take East Bay Street out east, just past the sailing club. There will be Fort Montague Beach, then a rough parking lot, then the ramp.
we ended up at Clay oven 3 times in total. Very consistent.
We went back to an old fave, Matisse. While it was very good, it didn't thrill us like before.
At Atlantis, I have new found respect for Nobu and Flays Mesa Grill. Both were excellent though of course, exorbitant. Murrays was pretty good to for "inexpensive".
Bahamian Kitchen in ton is also very good and reasonable place where the locals have lunch.
Just getting back from a trip. Went to Fish Fry which is a chain of restaurants on a strip. we went to Twin Brothers Fish Fry and SO and his friend has red snapper which was really good, although a bit too salty. Good prices as well and large portions. I had the conch chowder and it tasted exactly like Campbells vegtable soup with conch added. Did not enjoy it at all.
Also, went to the Fish Fry Roast corn stand and had the lobster/shrimp fritters. Not a trace of lobster and they used the smallest shrimp. Mostly dough and very heavy.....not recomended.
Been to Nassau many, many times, and as others have stated in this thread, I too strongly endorse Matisse ... their grilled fish platter is somewhat "local", although the food in general is French inspired.
If you go to Graycliffe, go for the cigars, DON'T go for the food ... very disappointing and we don't know any "foodie" locals who go there.
Yes, I did see Matisse endorsed many times on here and other places, however I was not interested in going for Italian in Nassau. I preferred to try something more Bahamian. I was happy to try it and enoyed the experience. Was not really looking for where all the "foodie" locals go as I do not consider myself a foodie, just into finding local Bahamian food and giving my opinion. Noticed lots of local workers stopping in on there lunch including police, construction, security.