Experience an Authentic Bahamian Fish Fry

This website was a great resource for learning more about the foods of Nassau, most famously their fish fry. I was surprised and saddened when I heard from friends that fishfrynassau.com, which I had recommended they check out before visiting Nassau no longer existed.

I first tried conch at one of the pastel colored clapboard style buildings where most visitors try their first fishfry. I was in Nassau attending a wedding. My wife and I were staying at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. I just love that place. They offer everything you could want or desire in a tropical resort making it a wonderful destination wedding location. Even with all the options available for entertaining oneself, including gambling at their casino which is just huge, I admit that I sometimes sneak away to my hotel room for a few hours of playing online at one of my favorite legal US casino websites. The quiet coolness of my room allows some just "me" time playing online slots or a variety of poker games. Mt wife teases me about my "addiction" to interent gambling, but I've seen her at the airport during layovers, pulling out her blackberry to play some online slots to while away the time. Well, after trying conch the first time in a salad which is a spicy mixture of chopped conch mixed with diced onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, hot peppers in a lime and orange marinade, I have now had conch grilled, fried or cracked conch, conch chowder, and even conch fritters. All of which are available at Heritage Village on Arawak Cay.

You can imagine my astonishment when I recently discovered that the site's domain was now available. I decided to buy it with the goal of recreating some of its original content from the fishfrynassau.com's archived pages. I did not want someone else to purchase the domain and re-purpose the site for something that had nothing in common with the original website. There were lots of great nuggets of information regarding Nassau, its food and people, that deserve to remain visible on the web for others to find.

The site may not look like the original website, but I hope it does express some of the viberance that is part of the Nassau experience.


The adventurous traveler knows that no two vacations should ever be exactly alike. Some people will prefer a tranquil stay by the ocean while others are eager to immerse themselves in the local culture. Fortunately, the options for dining in The Bahamas can accommodate both the footloose and formal vacationer.

While restaurants in The Bahamas can range from casual vendor stands to upscale bistros, the legendary island hospitality and delicious cuisine will always stand out.

Cultures in the Caribbean are like unique, homemade stews cooked from a mixture of influences. People from far-flung parts of the world who have endured hundreds of years of migration, slavery, exploration and colonization now happily call the Caribbean home. Many such experiences have guided the history and culture of the people of The Bahamas, creating a friendly and celebratory group of people who are proud of their cultural heritage. Today, this cultural heritage can be seen in the way we prepare our meals.

Heritage Village is the scene of the “fish fry”, a venue featuring plenty of down-home island cooking and local entertainment. It is where the locals go to eat fresh seafood that has just been captured from the waters off shore.

Heritage Village is one of the best places to knock back a Kalik beer, chat with the locals, or sample traditional Bahamian cuisine and cultural goodies in an informal atmosphere. The ambience is further enhanced by the scent of sea breeze and the cooing of the seagulls nearby.

A fish fry is a Bahamian version of a seafood festival, similar to a Bahamian backyard experience.

What began back in the 1960’s as a few ramshackle huts hastily constructed to serve quick meals to folks on their way to and from the old Bahamas Customs facility, is today a thriving Bahamian business community. Stalls now number close to forty and they are considerably better built.

The food continues to be as close to home-made as you can find.

Centrally located, 5 minutes west of the downtown shopping district and just north of the Hanes Oval Cricket Pitch and Adastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Center, the pastel colored clapboard style buildings are situated on an inlet overlooking the Nassau Harbour and Paradise Island, home of the Atlantis Resort. Fish and conch are the featured options and can be prepared in many different ways.

For example, there is grilled conch, fried or cracked conch, conch chowder, conch fritters and the all time favorite, conch salad. This is a spicy mixture of chopped conch mixed with diced onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, hot peppers in a lime and orange marinade. Just watching the expert chopping of the ingredients is a show as good as any in town. The choicest of the islands fish, grouper or snapper, are served fried, steamed or grilled.

Meals are typically served with peas and rice, French fries, potato salad, Cole slaw, Bahamian macaroni and cheese and fried plantains. For desert there is guava duff, a local favorite and a Bahamian delight. Guava Duff is a steamed pudding made from dough with guava slices jelly rolled, wrapped in cloth and steamed for several hours to give a light, fluffy texture. The finishing touch is a sauce made from the strained guava pulp and flavored to taste with rum, vanilla or confectionary sugar. The guava fruit is available year round, but is most plentiful during the summer months. ; These meals may be prepared for dining in or take out.

To wash it all down, try our locally brewed beer, Kalik named after the sound of Junkanoo cowbells or Sky Juice, a potent gin and coconut water concoction with condensed milk added as flavoring.

The site has a Police Station, a story telling porch and a rock-oven commonly used on the Family Islands for baking. There is a village green where festivals, cultural events and concerts are held.

A Junkanoo “rush-out” is held during the month of June, the purpose of which is to give visitors who are unable to attend during the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations a taste of what the parade is like.

Behind the village is a cay, an artificial island, which was built from sand dredged from the Nassau Harbor. This cay is called Arawak Cay however, the locals have taken to calling the Fish Fry at Heritage Village, Arawak Cay.

While the fish fry is a hot spot, for most tourists and natives alike, one would not be able to find a full compliment of Bahamian cuisine there.  A number of native restaurants over-the-hill, on the outskirts of the city of Nassau and in the Adelaide Village are options and would be well worth the further inland trek.

Under Da’ Bridge

You keep getting this feeling that you can’t quite define. You’ve been on vacation in Nassau/Paradise Island for the past three or four days. You’ve been having nothing short of a great time! Wonderful beaches, excellent duty free shopping, unforgettable water sports, casinos and night life, you’ve sampled it all. But there’s still this lingering feeling that you’ve missed out on something. Your sixth sense is always right! There is an experience —a truly authentically Bahamian experience — that has eluded you until now.

Tucked away, under a bridge, in the shadow of the towers of world famous Paradise Island Atlantis Resort is Potter’s Cay. Potter’s Cay is a place you could easily bypass. Several yards east of the first bridge to Paradise Island, on East Bay Street, just before the second bridge, the sign on the far left, “To Potter’s Cay”” ushers you into a hub of activity that will surprise you by its contrast to what you’ve seen thus far of Nassau/Paradise Island.

The half square mile area under the foot of the bridge for traffic exiting Paradise Island is the world of Potter’s Cay. This is where Bahamians come to buy seafood from the day’s catch or to select the freshest in produce from stalls piled high with fruits and vegetables of every color and description. On the eastern water front of this market place, mail boats disgorge a steady stream of passengers and freight from the far flung islands of the Bahamian archipelago. Potter’s Cay is a beehive of activity but it is mostly a place to hang out and enjoy good, down home Bahamian food.

The aromas that greet you as you enter Potter’s Cay signal that you’re in for a culinary treat. Lining the western water front is a row of about twenty wooden food and fish stalls. Stalls vary in size; from small take-away stands operated by a sole vendor to outfits with interiors large enough for a kitchen serving a full course menu.

At the stalls of Potter’s Cay, fresh seafood is king. Conch, the Bahamian mollusk, is served in all its variations. Cut in strips and seasoned with salt, red pepper and lime juice as Scorched Conch. Diced and mixed in with onions, sweet pepper and celery and drenched in lime juice as Conch Salad. Pounded, lathered in egg & flour mix and deep fried as Cracked Conch. Mixed in spicy herbed batter, and deep fried in balls, Conch Fritters. There’s grilled conch, steamed conch and conch chowder. Fish and lobster – fried, steamed or grilled – are two other seafood items big on the Potter’s Cay menu. The choice of side orders include hearty servings of savoury peas & rice, macaroni & cheese, fried plantains, Cole slaw, lettuce & tomatoes or Bahamian bread called Johnny cake.

At Potter’s Cay, there’s take-away, but to really savour the ambiance of this sea-side food village, you need to take a seat. Along the concrete sidewalk that stretches the entire length of the row of shacks, every few paces, there are clusters of tables and chairs. Nothing fancy. A wooden or plastic table with seating for four or six, in the warm sunshine refreshed with light breezes wafting in from the surrounding sea.

Visitors to Potter’s Cay will not be impressed by any physical installation. The wooden construction of most stalls is fairly rudimentary. The facades of many are freshly painted and tiled. Some are roughly hewn, but all are clean and presentable. But very quickly, what becomes more noticeable is the atmosphere of the place. There’s the sunshine, conviviality, good food and a palpable sense of pride exhibited by the food vendors who are all proprietors of their operations. You sense this same pride in the manner in which the food vendor prepares your order. After a few minutes, you begin to feel like an appreciated guest at the table of a good friend.

A stroll along the sidewalk takes you pass an eclectic variety of stalls. Interspersed among the row of stalls serving cooked food are several stands selling fresh fish.

Fresh fish stalls make for an interesting site and contribute to the general “out door” market feel of Potter’s Cay but the food stalls are most memorable.

Once the meal is finished, patrons to the tables of Potter’s Cay need not hurry away. Take some time to walk off a few calories. Just across from the row of food stalls are other sights and sounds that complete the Potter’s Cay experience. Friendly female vendors sit placidly in front of fruit and produce stalls teeming with bananas, plantains, pumpkins, papaya; red peppers, tomatoes, cassava, yam, eddoes. In front of many stalls are cages of swarming black crabs, a popular ingredient in stews, soups and rice. A baked or stuffed crab is another tasty treat of the island.  Fishermen in rubber work boots hoist giant bags of fresh fish from the well of fishing smacks anchored dockside. A crowd of local customers close in on a crew of fishermen scaling and cleaning the catch of the day.

Farther along the eastern edge of Potter’s Cay, mail boats identified as the Lady Frances, the Captain Moxey, the Nadine and the Current Express take on freight for islands with quaint sounding names like Eleuthera, Andros, Cat Island and Long Island, a few of the many island destinations in the chain of Bahamian islands that beckon for a visit, on your next trip to The Islands Of The Bahamas.


The Bahamian Breakfast

If there is a foundation to the Bahamian breakfast, it’s grits. Anything else on the plate is a bonus. Grits are dried, ground hominy or corn mixed with boiling water.& When cooked, grits becomes a porridge ranging from a thin gruel to a stiff paste as thick as mashed potatoes.

During slavery, Bahamian owners gave each slave a weekly corn or grits ration, which slaves reconstructed with boiling water. While grits or hominy is an American-Indian food, cooking ground grain in hot water is also a connection back to Africa.

A typical Bahamian breakfast is centered around grits, souses and fish, boiled or stewed. With the grits Bahamians like to add a serving of fried bologna/sausage, corned beef commonly referred to as “fire engine” because of the colors, steamed tuna or tuna salad, mackerel or sardines. To compliment the meal, avocado pear is served as a side dish, when in season.

Although you can find almost any kind of international cuisine in The Bahamas for breakfast, from pancakes and waffles to muffins and bagels, some dishes are unique to the islands. The Bahamas is the delight of fresh seafood lovers who enjoy the bountifully rich treasures from the sea. Stew fish, stew conch and boil fish is a jump start for many Bahamians every morning. Seafood is considered a staple of the Bahamian diet. Conch (pronounced “konk”) is a large type of ocean mollusk that has firm, white, peach-fringed meat.

Boiled fish is a broth soup with the fish bones, skin and sometimes even the head still intact. It is a matter of pride and a test of “Bahamianism” how well you can clean the meat off the bones. Restaurant cooks prefer to use grouper because of the meat, but snapper or any catch of the day will do. Stewed fish makes different use of the day’s catch, smothering it in thick brown, tomato-based gravy.

Stewed conch is a less common variation. Conch also appears in souse (rhymes with house), another ubiquitous breakfast concoction in several guises. Souse is another Bahamian breakfast soup. Prepared much the same as boiled fish, some souses feature chicken (most common), pig feet, mutton, or even sheep’s tongue. Sheep tongue, a classic favorite, dates back to the times of slavery. Instead of fish, souses use chicken or other meats.

Described as “too thick for soup and too thin for stew”, souse combines vegetables – often what the cook has on hand – and meat together. Such vegetables as carrots, potatoes, miniature corn-on-the-cob and plantains are favorites. These are used to “stretch” the pot for sharing with large groups. Salt, goat pepper, and lime season the meal. When the cook is generous with the lime and pepper, the souse packs a punch, which is why Bahamians consider souse the perfect meal after a festive night. Some claim that it is a cure for hang over. Bahamians expect a side serving of grits, home-made bread or Johnny cake when enjoying a hot bowl of souse with cut lime and pepper on the side to further season to taste.

Whatever their breakfast choice, Bahamians wash it all down with tea, coffee, a selection of juices or lemonade.

Not all Bahamians eat the traditional breakfast everyday, but do most typically on weekends.Bacon, eggs and pancakes have made their way into the islands’ morning diet, especially in the city of Nassau, New Providence. Bahamians still enjoy their traditional breakfasts at home and at restaurants on the weekends.Increasingly, when they don’t have time to eat at home they grab something quick on their way to work.In recent times the 99cents breakfast has become very popular and can be seen on almost every street corner.


The Bahamian Lunch

The foundation of any Bahamian lunch is the staple of peas n’ rice (peas and rice). Most cooks prefer to use Pigeon peas and sometimes substitute the peas for Kidney beans. Bahamians have added their own twist to the infamous peas n’ rice served throughout the Caribbean using their select choice of spices, tomatoes, onions and some indigenous special items.

Many Bahamian dishes can be traced to native African dishes. Although Pigeon peas and rice is actually native to Africa (known as the Congo Pea), the route of the Pigeon pea to The Bahamas can be traced by way of the American Colonies. After the Revolutionary War, many British loyalists fled from the colonies choosing to start anew as plantation owners in The Bahamas. Most of them brought their slaves, of mostly African descent, and these slaves brought their African staples with them to America and then to The Bahamas. Here in The Bahamas, the Pigeon pea was readily cultivated and became a mainstay of the local diet. It is also used to make peas and grits which is prepared just like peas and rice, only substituting the rice with grits.

Another such rice specialty is crab and rice. When crabs are in season, which is during the rainy months of April, May and June, you would find this dish being served in almost all of the native restaurants and homes.Bahamians even carefully preserve and store some of the crabs to save for preparation for special occasions and family functions like a birthday parties and Christmas and New Year’s Day dinners.Some crab dishes include crab soup, crab and grits, stuffed or baked crab and boiled crab and dough.

A typical Bahamian meal consists of crab and rice and delicious steamed fish, served with a number of sides.; Options for sides include baked macaroni and cheese, potato salad, Cole slaw, plantains, beets or corn. There is usually a choice of two per meal.

Besides steamed fish, other popular Bahamian dishes would include the following soups: split peas, okra, bean and dumpling soup. The more popular Bahamian style steamed meats are turtle, chicken, pork chop, ham and mutton. Curried chicken and mutton, fried chicken, fish and grouper fingers. Meals are generally followed by desserts which vary from a native dessert called guava duff to cheese cake. Other Bahamian choice pastries are bread pudding, potato bread and coconut and pineapple tarts.Such typical meals also explain why there are so many Bahama Mama’s.