What: If everyone who’s visited the Bahamas was asked to name one local dish, chance are, it’d be these, the ever-popular conch fritters. (Anyone familiar with the Florida Keys is likely to say the same.) Local queen conch is chopped up into small pieces and folded into a batter (with onion and, usually, sweet and hot peppers), rolled into balls, deep-fried till golden and crispy, and then served with a creamy, spicy pink dipping sauce (sometimes called “calypso sauce”). It’s the classic conch-for-beginners dish, as the pieces are small, not chewy, and hardly tasted at all within the soft fritter. There’s just something about these sweet little balls of batter and conch that wins people over. Did we mention they’re deep-fried?
A note about conch: Queen conch, the large marine snail (technically a gastropod mollusk) in the gorgeous pink spiral shells you see everywhere, is pretty much the national food of the Bahamas. But it’s an overexploited species across the Caribbean (it’s now prohibited to harvest queen conch in U.S. waters, thanks to decades of overfishing off Florida’s coast), including in the Bahamas, despite the common thinking here that the mollusks are more than abundant. As we recently reported in the post “To Conch or Not to Conch?” one conservation campaign is targeting the problem of harvesting juveniles by encouraging everyone, including visitors, to request to see the conch before you eat it. That’s impossible to do in the case of conch fritters, so do the species a favor and limit your intake of these if possible.
Where: Pretty much any seafood restaurant will have these as an appetizer, particularly if you’re eating at the famed “Fish Fry” on Arawak Cay (the collection of colorful shacks is pretty touristy, but it remains a worthy visit for seafood, and many locals love it, too, especially at night). Ours are from a popular spot there, Oh Andros (242-326-7115; map). We snacked on these outside (alongside some “sky juice,” a potent blend of gin and sweetened coconut water) while waiting for some friends to show up for a late lunch.
When: Daily, noon-midnight. The Fish Fry shacks definitely get going later in the day.
Order: The conch fritters have a pretty unbeatable price—10 for $3. They aren’t, to be honest, obviously bursting with conch meat, but they were very tasty, perfect soft, bready, pepper-flecked balls with a spicy dipping sauce. This is fun-to-eat food. If you stick around (and why wouldn’t you?) for more, go for a great grilled/fried seafood platter inside.
Alternatively: Any of the shacks around here should serve a good conch fritter, from Twin Brothers to Goldie’s Conch House. Also consider Bahamian Cooking (Trinity St., approx. map) in downtown Nassau, or The Poop Deck (East Bay St., map) an upscale spot just opposite the bridge to Paradise Island.