Shark Feeding and Diving in the Bahamas
Shark Feeding and Diving in the Bahamas

Best Food In Nassau: How To Find Local Flavor Fast

For many, Nassau is the new foodie capital of the Caribbean.

By Melissa Alvarado Sierra | Published on March 22, 2022

Just saying the word "Bahamas" brings to mind alluring images of placid, clear lagoons washing over sugar-white sands. But beyond the pristine shores lies a city that's known for its inventive cuisine, one that's fueled by a passion for good food and good times. From fried conch to cracked fish, the city of Nassau has delicacies that are a great culinary way to experience each of the islands in the Bahamas. You just need to know where to look.

1. Arawak Cay Fish Fry

This stretch of shacks with stands was built on the sand in the 1960s, and it's the place to go for authentic Bahamian cuisine. It includes food stands as well as food trucks and terraced restaurants, all painted in colorful and bright hues of yellow, green and pink. The Fish Fry, as people call it, will take you on a culinary tour of the area's best food staples, with some spots named after specific islands so you know the origin of the flavors.

The traditional method of frying fish has spread all over the islands, with the day's catch marinated in distinctive spice blends. In Arawak Cay, local chefs and cooks prepare the fish with seasoned oil, usually made with hot spices and peppers. This sauce is used to drench grouper, conch, snapper and more. Sides usually include stick-to-your-ribs classics like macaroni and cheese or yellow rice.

2. Cafe Matisse

Although Cafe Matisse doesn't offer Bahamian food, locals and visitors alike adore this quaint Italian restaurant, which is found inside a century-old building in the historic part of Nassau. The interior is decorated with the art of renowned artist Matisse and the atmosphere is elegant and romantic. They also offer a verdant garden courtyard, if you want to dine al fresco among the palm trees.

The menu includes an array of authentic Italian dishes such as Parmesan terrine, cassava gnocchi with porcini mushrooms (a dish that blends classic Italian cooking with the local cassava) and veal chop cutlet gratinated with Parmesan cheese. Their desserts are a must, so make sure to try their vanilla ricotta cheese pudding, almond panna cotta or avocado mousse with raspberry sauce.

3. Poop Deck

Don't skip this place because of the name. In naval architecture, a poop deck is actually a deck built in the back of a ship. The name for this deck originates from the French la poupe, meaning "stern." A favorite for decades, this restaurant offers classic Bahamian dishes like conch fritters, crab cakes and the cooked-to-order catch of the day. The most common catches are snapper, hogfish, grouper or lobster.

While you wait for your meal, enjoy the views. The panoramic vista is one of the big draws of this place — their deck faces Nassau's harbor, which is dotted with sailboats. You can also see Paradise Island in the distance. There are two restaurant locations to choose from: the one on Sandy Port (with the views of the water) and the one on East Bay Street. Sandy Port is usually more crowded, so make sure to call ahead of time.

4. Graycliff Hotel And Restaurant

The pink colonial mansion that houses this restaurant is one of the best hotels in the Bahamas, and the restaurant is just as prestigious. The first eatery in the Caribbean to be certified five-star, the Graycliff has remained a culinary institution in the Bahamas. The interior is elegant and there's a wide range of continental and Bahamian dishes to savor during your dinner. The recipes are apparently a secret.

The dining process is also different from other restaurants in Nassau. First you're taken to a parlor, where a server will take your drink order. While you wait, you're given a dinner menu, then you order your dishes and your drinks arrive. Then you're escorted to your table. The chateaubriand is famous and it's divine, but also try their mushroom pasta or their grouper in Dijon sauce.

5. Frankie Gone Bananas

This is the place to relax and kick back Bahamas-style with a refreshing frozen drink and some finger foods. There are two different locations, with one located on the east side of Arawak Cay and the other at Marina Village in Atlantis. Frankie Gone Bananas is known for its coconut Kalik soup and lobster tail, and there's also fried plantains, conch ceviche and macaroni and cheese as appetizers or sides. You can also order a combination of steak, shrimp and lobster with all the fixings. One favorite drink among locals is the Bacardi-flavored conch salad shots, which are served at the sports bar and are a must-try.

6. Twin Brothers At Potter's Cay

Everything on the menu is authentic here, from dishes to drinks. A local favorite, Twin Brothers serves gallons of their local conch salad and crisp, palate-refreshing favorite beers like Kalik and Sands. There's also great local music. Conch cracking is a sport in the Bahamas and Twin Brothers offers conch cracking competitions and shows.

Start your visit with a side of conch salad with an ice-cold beer. If you're visiting for lunch, go with a big conch sandwich. For dinner, try the cracked lobster or a seafood platter, which will almost overflow your plate. Also give the Bahama Mama a try, which is a cocktail made with coconut rum, orange juice, pineapple juice and grenadine syrup.

7. Goodfellow Farms

Good Fellows Farms is an organic farm that supplies produce to restaurants and families around Nassau, and they also offer one of the best lunch menus on the island. The family-run, lunch-only restaurant caters to those who enjoy fresh dishes that change with the seasons. That means that sometimes the menu changes daily, but their hanger steak, mahi-mahi and salmon are always available. Some menu items in the past have included curry pumpkin soup and grilled lamb chops. Tables are located in a lovely garden, where you'll enjoy a healthy and delicious meal while overlooking the working farm.

Start with these local favorites or craft your own culinary path through Nassau the next time you vacation with a cruise to the Bahamas.


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