Food in Bahamas
As you would expect from an island nation, seafood is very popular. The national dish is conch (pronounced “conk” with a hard K), a type of mollusc served fried (“cracked”) or raw with a lemon zest, and as elsewhere in the Caribbean, the classic side dish is peas and rice.
Regular meals can be purchased for $5 to $25 per plate. Authentic island dishes are available at Fish Fry, a collection of small open-air restaurants where many locals congregate. Meals can be had for around $8. On Sunday nights, locals flock to this area for an authentic Bahamian nightlife experience. There are fast food chains such as KFC or McDonalds, especially in the city centres, but as it is a very touristy country, there are many nice restaurants serving many different cuisines. Most restaurants serve American or British food, but you can also find the usual island atmosphere, especially during the Fish Fry in June. Most places add a 15% service charge to the bill; additional tips are optional.
The service differs from the American standard. You put the customer first. You are expected to wait patiently for your turn. In fast food restaurants, the waiter only deals with the first customer until they have left the service area. Do not expect to be in a hurry, even in a fast food place.
Service in the Bahamas is conducted at a relaxed pace. Travellers can expect their meals to proceed at a leisurely pace. Expect polite, if slow, service in most establishments.
Drinks in Bahamas
Soda can be quite expensive in hotels and you will only find it on a soda tap in a good restaurant; otherwise you will usually get it in a can. The cheapest way to get it is to go to a local food mart.
Goombay Punch is the local lemonade. It tastes like pineapple and is what the locals call a “sweet” lemonade as opposed to a cola. It is sold in cans in all grocery shops and is also available in almost every restaurant in the Bahamas.
Non-alcoholic malt beverages are also very popular. The main brand of choice is Vita-Malt.
Kalik is the national beer of the Bahamas and is always served at all-inclusive stations. There are three quite different varieties: “Kalik regular”, which contains 4 % alcohol and tastes refreshingly mild; “Kalik Light”, often compared to a Budweiser, is a light lager that tastes like regular Kalik but has a lower alcohol content and fewer calories; “Kalik Gold” contains 7 % alcohol, is very strong but has an excellent taste and gives an additional impression of the island. Guinness is also very popular.
There is a new beer called Sands. It is available in many resorts and local liquor shops. It is similar in structure to Kalik. Sands is now available in both regular and light versions.
Imported beer can be incredibly expensive in hotels, but it is not overpriced in bars and liquor shops. Cases of beer are available in various duty free liquor shops.
In Freeport, at the market and in the marina of Port Lucaya, there are many bars offering two Kaliks (and a few other beers) for $5.
The minimum age for drinking alcohol is 18, but enforcement is weak and youth drinking is widespread.
The Bahamas has a large number of liquor shops in relation to the country’s population. You will find liquor shops in the city centre, in hotels, in the market in Port Lucaya. If you are not sure where these shops are located, please ask for help.
It’s the best drink choice in the Bahamas. It’s as cheap as you can get it ($2 to $10 a bottle), tastes great and is made fresh by three different companies. The biggest is the Bacardi rum factory in New Providence, south of Nassau, where you can take tours and get free drinks if you take a two-hour bus ride (Bacardi is closed!).
The Bahamas has its own indigenous rum with a variety of brands to offer which include Ron Ricardo Rum, Ole Nassau Rum and a very popular Fire in the Hole Rum. This Fire in the Hole Rum has a golden colour and a very distinctive bottle label that is sure to be a good topic of conversation around the house. Both Ron Ricardo and Ole Nassau rums are available in a variety of flavours. Ron Ricardo Rum is the best coconut rum used for the ever-popular island drink “The Bahama Mamma”. Other flavours include mango, pineapple and banana, golden rum, light rum and 151 rum. Ole Nassau Rum also offers all the flavours of Ron Ricardo’s rums. The bottle label is also very unique and creative, showing a pirate ship in the Bahamas.