The Bahamas may be most famous for stunning weather and world-class beaches, but the area also offers some excellent options for eating out too. The focus is on fresh and healthy seafood, including island dishes like red snapper, lobster and the Bahamian national food conch (a local shellfish that can be prepared in dozens of different ways).
To save wasting precious beach time, consider this your guide to eating out in the Bahamas. You’ll find a few favorites within Atlantis Resort, along with local hotspots in Downtown Nassau – it’s time to tuck in!
Eating at the Atlantis
An extended trip to Paradise Island’s Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas offers endless opportunities for activity and entertainment.
Whether you’re swimming in one of the property’s 13 pools, splashing around in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea or grinding it out playing cards in the poker room, enjoying the entirety of Atlantis Resort is an active experience. Accordingly, guests usually work up quite the appetite; which is convenient considering the great food available on the resort.
Atlantis Resort is home to eight fine dining restaurants and nine more casual dining spots. Here are some of our favourites…
Café Martinique is owned and operated by French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who manages to fuse the traditional recipes of his homeland with Thai and Bahamian influences. Specialties include crunchy roasted grouper and steak au poivre.
For an Asian-Bahamian fusion with a touch of Peruvian flavors, Nobu is the ticket with king crab tacos ($18.00) and scallops with wasabi pepper ($34.00) among the highlights on the menu.
If you’ve had your fill of fine dining and seafood, then head to Virgil’s Real BBQ for a Carolina pulled pork sandwich ($13.95) or sliced Texas beef brisket ($14.25). They also have the best selection of local beers that you’ll find anywhere on Atlantis, and several happy hours for you to save a few dollars.
Finally, at 77° West they serve up the best in South American cuisine, including anejo tequila flamed shrimp ($45.00) and roasted Chilean sea bass ($59.00).
No matter where you find yourself on Paradise Island, a quick look around is likely to lead you to several world-class restaurants, some of which are headed by celebrity chefs for those looking for a classy night on the town, and others offering quick, affordable food.
A guide to the beloved conch
The Bahamas prides itself on local fish caught in the tropical waters of the nearby Caribbean Sea. This abundance of seafood species includes snapper, grouper, lobster, crab, and of course, conch.
For residents of the Bahamas, no food is more commonly enjoyed than conch – a mollusk-type shellfish that has the look and texture of a scallop when prepared. Most visitors who haven’t yet eaten conch flesh will at least recognize the creature’s signature shell, which can be blown into to create an echoing trumpet sound, and will be familiar to anyone that has read William Golding’s classic Lord of the Flies.
As a food source, conch is abundant and easily caught, creating a staple product of Bahamian cuisine for several centuries. In the Arawak Cay district of Downtown Nassau, which is referred to as Fish Fry by the locals, fishermen have plied their trade for generations, diving into the shallow waters off the coast and scouring the seabed for clusters of conch.
Conch can be served in any number of alternative dishes, including raw conch salad, which allows lime and citrus juice to cook the meat in a style similar to Mexican ceviche. If you prefer a little more heat on the flesh before eating seafood, conch can be grilled, scorched, cracked and battered, served in chowder, soup, stew and gumbo, or even formed into hamburger patties. When dining in most restaurants throughout the Bahamas, these conch staples and certain house specialties are invariably on the menu.
Exploring Downtown Nassau
The Bahamas’ capital city is located just south of Atlantis Resort, and you can get there in just a few minutes via car by crossing Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge or by foot over Paradise Island Bridge.
However you get to the city, a veritable smorgasbord of seafood spots, international imports, chain restaurants and kitschy cafés will await…
Doc Sands’ Conch Stall
This hidden treasure is the pride and joy of proprietor Nicola Sands, who stands by her street-side stall ready to prepare fresh conch salad made to order. Guests enjoy the full show, as Sands shucks the conch flesh with a chisel-like device, before chopping it into cubes and adding the requisite tomatoes, onions and cilantro, finishing things off with a flourish by liberally splashing lime and orange juice.
Doc Sands’ Conch Stall can be found tucked away in the Potter’s Cay district, which is nestled in the shade provided by Paradise Bridge overhead. That means you can walk over from Atlantis Resort and have a conch salad or a “cracked” deep-fried conch burger, along with a cold beer before your swimsuit is done dripping.
At just a few American dollars for the freshest of seafood meals – and filling ones at that – cooked right before your eyes, Doc Sand’s Conch Stall can’t be beat for budget-minded travellers looking to save a buck while still soaking in the beauty of Bahamian cuisine.
Goldie’s Conch House
Once you’ve crossed over one of the two bridges and reached East Bay Street, heading westward along this main thoroughfare will bring you to yet another fish and seafood stand, but Goldie’s Conch House is run by none other than the self-proclaimed “King of Conch” himself.
A local legend, Kirkwood “Goldie” Evans, staked his claim to the Arawak Cay Fish Fry district back in the 1980s, serving up conch salad and the like from a humble roadside stall. Today, his eponymous Conch House has grown leaps and bounds under Goldie’s management and you won’t be able to miss the multicolored rainbow hues of the former-residence-turned-restaurant.
Essential appetizers like conch fritters (eight for $4.00) and the signature conch salad ($10.00) are affordable and dinners range from mid-range items like the conch burger with fries ($10.00) to higher-end fare like steamed snapper ($15.00) and grilled grouper ($18.00). If fish isn’t your thing, American alternatives include the cheeseburger with fries ($10.00), BBQ ribs ($15.00) and peppercorn steak ($18.00).
While you eat, don’t forget to ask for Goldie’s famous “Sky Juice,” a delightful mixed drink blending gin or rum with coconut water, condensed milk and a hint of nutmeg, to wash everything down.
The Cricket Club
Bahamian locals love to play cricket and the fitting-named Cricket Club provides the perfect setting to take in a match with your meal. The restaurant and its attached pub overlook a regal sporting ground where local batsmen and bowlers can be found mixing it up in friendly matches.
The Cricket Club can be found just a few blocks south of Arawak Cay on West Bay Street near Hanes’ Oval Cricket Field.
The Cricket Club’s menu trends toward the fine dining side, with what most visitors might call luxury Bahamian entrées like pan fried grouper ($17.50), grilled conch ($18.00) and broiled lobster ($23.50). The Cricket Club also serves a wide selection of British meals, including bangers and mash ($13.50), shepherd’s pie ($14.00) and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding ($14.00).