This guest post was written by Spencer Hope Davis from the Observations from the Road Less Traveled blog.
When I headed off on an extended vacation to Nassau, the capital city and largest city in the Bahamas, I searched the web for places that might be vegan friendly and frankly, I didn’t find a lot of possibilities. Happy Cow didn’t help. No restaurants were listed when I Googled “Nassau vegan.” In fact, the few blog posts on the matter specifically said Nassau had no vegan friendly spots. I was concerned, but not deterred. After all, my blog is about observing the road less traveled, so I was stubbornly certain that I would find what I was looking for by looking hard enough—even in the land of conch (sea snail) fritters.
However, I didn’t go blindly. As I’ve written about in the past, in posts on my blog about traveling while vegan, I prepare for times I might not be able to find vegan fare. That said, the first two days were still tough. Amazingly, a plate of steamed veggies was very hard to find. I found myself eating the same thing repeatedly those first two days: Plantains (sweet fried mini bananas), fries, and peas & rice.
All three items were very good, and the plantains and peas & rice quickly became my favorites, but one cannot nutritionally survive on this alone. As the days wore on, I began to feel sick and that pushed me to find healthy food with even more urgency.
Let me tell you, Nassau may not be vegan friendly but if you look carefully there are places to fill your belly and nourish your social experience in this unique Caribbean city. Nothing is cheap —vegan or otherwise— so be prepared to spend nearly $20 USD for every entrée. The key is to find entrées that provide the most food for that higher price.
So, in order of the amount of food on the entrée, here are the spots I found:
The Clay Oven
At The Clay Oven I found Indian vegan meals in a comfortable sit down setting. The vegetable samosas were fresh and the Dal Makhani (spicy lentils and kidney beans) was made with coconut milk instead of ghee at my request. This was my first real meal after the two days of plantains, rice and fries. I was delirious. The food was excellent. As is the case for vegans, asking for minor changes works.
100 West Bay St across from British Colonial
British Colonial Hilton – Aqua Restaurant
At the British Colonial Hilton’s Aqua Restaurant, there’s really only one meal that can be adapted for a vegan diet, but at least it’s a good one. They made me a penne pasta dish that came with an exceptional cranberry, walnut and mandarin salad. It was served with a yogurt-based pomegranate dressing (pictured here before I switched it), but after a simple request they returned with a citrus dressing and I was good to go.
British Colonial Hilton – Aqua Restaurant
First level of the hotel
West Bay Street
Tel: (242) 322-3301
Other Vegan-Friendly Spots in Nassau, Bahamas
Wyndham Hotel Cable Beach Restaurants
West Bay Street at Cable Beach, Nassau, Bahamas
Restaurants in the Wyndham are what I call “frou frou” fancy. But the restaurants are just an escalator ride away from the casino floor. Lots of fun to be had at the Wyndham. In the hotel you can find Moso, a restaurant with great Thai and Asian fare, including spring rolls, miso soup, Thai green curry with lemongrass and Ma Po Tofu. All of these dishes can be made vegan and are very filling. At the Black Angus Grille you can find coconut peas & rice, roasted garlic mash and penne pasta, all of which are vegan.
Cricket Club Restaurant & Pub
Haynes Oval, West Bay Street, Nassau, Bahamas Tel. (242) 326-4720
At the Cricket Club, you won’t find a lot of food for vegans, but it’s a great atmosphere spot. Here, you can watch rugby on TV and scream and holler with other patrons. Even better, when the weather is right, eat on the balcony and watch a live cricket match on the field right outside the restaurant. This place is known as a great breakfast spot. Here I had grits, fruit, garlic bread, and fresh juices. Sparse but excellent!
Andros – The Fish Fry
Across the street from the Cricket Club
The Fish Fry is a strip of restaurants that are across the street from the Cricket Club. This is where locals gather nightly for fresh seafood, loud and fun conversations, as well as Sky Juice – a quickly intoxicating mix of gin and coconut water served at your table in a styrofoam cup. Sky Juice is made with milk but you can ask if they will make you a glass with the gin, coconut water and a dash of coconut milk. There are about a dozen different restaurants at the Fish Fry. This is a place to enjoy the scenery. It isn’t very vegan friendly because of the fresh conch fritters, snapper, lobster, and other seafood served. But in order to enjoy myself I gladly ate my early staples at Seafood Haven and Twin Bros.
At these restaurants I had plantains, fries and a green salad. In Nassau, green salad means chopped iceberg lettuce, green peppers and tomatoes. There wasn’t a dressing I could use; no vinaigrette here. My waitress brought fresh limes over and suggested I squeeze them over my salad and add some salt and pepper. Perhaps it was the Sky Juice, but this simple dressing was a delicious mix I’d never considered before.
The Marley Resort
Cable Beach, Nassau, Bahamas
The Marley Resort, which is owned by the Bob Marley Estate, is an expensive hotel that boasts an even more expensive Simmer Down Restaurant with food based in the Rastafarian Ital tradition. If you just want to feel close to “the man” and don’t care if you’re paying $20 for a small amount of food, knock yourself out. The restaurant is beautiful and sits facing the ocean. Here you can enjoy entrées of steamed veggies with boiled bananas and sweet plantains. Or how about the spinach, coconut and vegetable ragout with a side of black bean corn fritters while listening to reggae and chatting with some of the Rastafarian locals.
So, fellow vegans, head confidently to Nassau and enjoy yourselves. Stay vegan while connecting with the culture in many other ways beyond that of their seafood heritage. Stop by some of the spots I’ve mentioned and your grumbling stomach will thank you!