Bahamas Traditional Food and Drink

Spicy grilled fish, fried plantains, and peas and rice in the Bahamas

In this blog post, I share commonly eaten foods and drinks in Nassau, Bahamas, where to buy fresh seafood, and a few of the top, most highly rated and budget friendly restaurants.

why Bahamas?

The Islands of Bahamas are made up of 700 unique islands, and span over 100,000 square miles. The surrounding area boasts white sand, clear crystal waters, and warm tropical temperatures year-round. It’s no wonder why millions of tourists flock to the Bahamas every year. 

While visiting the Bahamas, you’ll come across the mix of rich culture and cuisine here. You can’t miss it, especially in the food. Bahamian food is a unique combination of British, Spanish, and African cuisines. From fresh seafood to coconut flavored drinks, there are several true Bahamian specialties you must try before heading home.

Sunset View in Bahamas

top Seafood in Bahamas

Most of the food is imported into the Bahamas, but fortunately, seafood is not one of them. The beautiful waters surrounding the islands have provided plenty of fresh seafood and shellfish for generations. In the Bahamas, seafood is a food staple and the most commonly consumed are conch, lobster, fish, and crab. Although seafood is more accessible, the cost is slightly cheaper compared to the United States. 

Where to purchase fresh seafood in bahamas

If you decide to purchase fresh seafood, go where the locals go – Montagu Fish Market! Located slightly off the beaten track, you’ll find local fisherman selling the freshest fish, shellfish, and conch available straight off the boat. A little bit of haggling is accepted.

Montagu Beach Fish Market in Bahamas
Conch

Conch, or pronounced “konk,” is the treasure of the sea and national dish of the Bahamas. It is a tropical mollusk or sea snail with firm, white flesh found in a spiral shell that bears a flared lip. To tourists like myself, the conch shell was associated with the popular folk myth that if you put it to your ear, you can hear the sound of the ocean. To Bahamians, conch is a delicious local favorite and enjoyed often. For the record, the sound in the conch shell isn’t the ocean, but in fact, the surrounding noise echoing within the shell.

Locals love conch so much, you’ll find it prepared in a million ways. Here are just a few:

1) Cracked Conch – also known as “conch fritters” which is breaded, spiced, and fried. 

2) Conch Salad – similar to ceviche, it’s a mix of chopped tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, and celery drenched in citrus juice.

3) Conch Chowder – tomato based soup with stewed conch.

4) Conch Hamburger – I believe this is not a local favorite, but geared toward tourists. It is definitely worth a try if you love conch in a bun!

5) Steamed Conch – made with tomatoes, onions, lemon, herbs, and stewed together and served with a side of rice and coleslaw.

Conch shells in the Bahamas
Conch salad in the Bahamas
Conch Fritters in the Bahamas
Lobster

Lobsters in the Bahamas are called “rock” or “spiny” lobsters because of their lack of claws and large antennas. Don’t be fooled by the different look, they taste exactly the same as lobster in colder temperatures (ie: like Maine lobster). We bought (for about $15 each) our lobsters at Montagu Fish Market from a local fisherman and made grilled lobsters for dinner drizzled with butter, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. 

Rock, also called Spiny lobster in the Bahamas
Fish

Fish are abundantly available, and similar to all seafood, ridiculously fresh in the Bahamas. Commonly served fish include grouper, bonefish, and snapper. We also bought our fish from the Montagu Fish Market. For a few bucks (tip anywhere from $5-$10 for several fish), you can ask one of the fisherman to fillet your fish for you. If you decide to cook a few nights, I recommend lightly breaded fish tacos with a vinegar based coleslaw.

Freshly caught fish in the Bahamas
Crab

Another wildly popular shellfish eaten among the locals is crab! If you travel to the Bahamas in the summer, watch out for the swarms of red and black crabs that cross the island! You can join the locals and partake in the crab festival ever year. It’s recommended to grab a bucket and catch those crabs! Bahamians pair crab with rice, rice and peas, or grits. 

meats, grains, and other in bahamas

Most popular meat dishes include goat, chicken, beef, and pork, and you’ll find these options on the menus. While in Bahamas, you’ll find the freshest seafood. If you don’t have any seafood allergies, I recommend trying as much fresh seafood as possible. Plus, a diet high in red meat isn’t as healthy as other food options. 

Many Bahamian restaurants includes several side dishes to choose from. Many of the choices include grits, baked macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, potato salad, boiled vegetables, fried plantains, johnnycake, pigeon peas, peas and rice, and cassava bread, just to name a few.

Rice in Bahamas

Rice is everywhere in Bahamas and considered another staple food item. Bahamians pair rice with just about everything – fish, meat or chicken. When combined with other local favorites like pigeon peas, it becomes a nutritional powerhouse.

pigeon peas in Bahamas

If conch is the national seafood of the Bahamas, pigeon peas are the national legume. It’s most commonly eaten with rice, and referred to as “peas n’ rice.”

JohnnyCakes

Common with Bahamian stews, johnnycakes are a favorite among locals. Although prepared differently, the closet comparison would be to American old fashion corn bread. Johnnycakes are anything but sweet, and most locals would go as far as compare their johnnycakes to bread.

Johnny Cake in Bahamas

Fruit/veggies in bahamas

With tropical temperatures, the Bahamas home to growing fruit and vegetables year round. Although most of the food is imported from other places, there are a few fruits and veggies grown on the island. Produce is sold in grocery stores such as Solomon’s, but you’ll often find individuals selling produce off busy streets as well.

Fruits: limes, grapefruit, oranges, mangoes, avocados, coconuts, bananas, pineapples, watermelon.

Vegetables: pigeon peas, beans, corn, tomatoes, cabbage, sweet peppers, okras, cucumbers, pumpkins, cassavas, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, hot peppers, onions.

Check out the season list here.

Desserts

When it comes to food innovation and creativity in desserts, Bahamians are on the top of the list. Here are a few desserts I love!

Guava Duff

One Bahamian woman described this dessert similar to the American cinnamon bun. Although the ingredients used are different, I agree they look similar. The guava duff is a spongy, soft dough rolled with guava spirals in the inside. It’s served with warm rum sauce and a highly popular dessert with the locals. 

Rum cake

If conch is the national dish of the Bahamas, rum cake is the national dessert. Back in the day, rum supply was bountiful and the locals began using rum in many of their local recipes to preserve their food. Hence, rum cake was born. Years later, rum cake is still highly popular and an important ingredient in cake. There is a Bahamas Rum Cake Factory in the heart of downtown Nassau.

Rum Cake in the Bahamas

Top 3 Bahamian Drinks

The Bahamian drinks, both alcoholic and non alcoholic will fulfill any sweet tooth as many of these drinks are high in sugar.  Most of the Bahamian alcoholic drinks have rum, which is produced in the Bahamas.

1) Sky Juice

Highly popular drink among locals and tourists, sky juice is a blend between gin, coconut water, and more often than not, a splash of sweetened condensed milk. 

2) Yellow Bird

Yellow bird is an alcoholic drink for any citrus lover. Made with rum, liqueur, orange juice, and pineapple juice.

3) Bahama Mama

Made with rum, grenadine, orange juice, pineapple juice, it’s a popular alcoholic drink among tourists and the locals. It’s also fun to say…”Bahama Mama!”

Bahama Mama alcoholic drink in Bahamas

Top 5 restaurants in bahamas

Eating and exploring the Bahamian cuisine and culture is an experience. For that reason, I recommend eating out a few times during your vacation. Depending if you choose ocean front view or local-style, the restaurant bill can add up quickly. With 6 in our party, we opted for more budget-friendly restaurants. The best options are located on West Bay Street in Nassau called Arawak Cay, or commonly known as “Fish Fry.” It has many authentic Bahamian restaurants, with tourists as well as locals visiting for a traditional bite to eat.

1) Oh Andros – This was definitely one of my favorite spots. Expect to either split the entree or take home the leftovers because portions here are huge. Spicy fish was perfectly cooked, rice was deliciously spiced, and I’ve never been so obsessed with fried plantains before. Cash-only accepted. Check out the Trip Advisor reviews.

Spicy grilled fish, fried plantains, and peas and rice in the Bahamas

2) Twin Brothers – There are a few locations including one located in Fish Fry, but we visited one of the locations off Boyd road for a quick bite to eat. This location was cash only and we only sampled conch fritters and fish fries. Twin Brothers is very popular with tourists, and I recommend visiting the restaurant once. Check out the Trip Advisor reviews here.

Twin Brothers in Bahamas

4) Lukka Kairi – This is another highly rated restaurant among tourists because of the location, views, and presentation of food. Unfortunately it was closed at the time we were visiting, but check back to see if they are open. Prices may be on the high side, but the experience may be worth the visit. Check out the Trip Advisor reviews here.

5) Daiquiri Shack – Also known as the “Daq Shack,” this cute, small shack will make fresh, non alcoholic and alcoholic drinks for a great price. Check out the Trip Advisor reviews here.

A man slicing coconuts in Bahamas

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment if you’ve been to the Bahamas!

Comments