The port town of Nassau, Bahamas, bustles with endless souvenir shops and touristy bars. If you want to escape the crush of cruise ship passengers, you need to get off the beaten path. I asked around among the locals, and that’s how I ended up making the trek to Potter’s Cay in search of fresh conch.
If you’re not looking for Potter’s Cay, you’ll likely miss it. It’s not really a cay at all, it’s more of a row of colorful market stalls clustered in the shadow of the bridge connecting Nassau to Paradise Island.
The locals told me that the very best conch is available right where the divers bring up their shells. Wooden food and fish stands line the waterfront, varying in size from small take-away stalls to structures with tables and an ocean view. My friend and I ducked into one of the larger structures and nabbed a table with a window seat.
We dove into the menu. Offerings included scorched conch, conch salad, cracked conch, conch fritters, grilled conch, steamed conch and conch chowder. We ordered conch fritters, which are chopped conch mixed in a spicy herb batter and deep fried. Washed down with local Bahamian Kalik beer, the fritters were delicious! The fresh conch tasted tangy – maybe a bit like calamari, and the batter reminded me of a really good southern hushpuppy.
While we enjoyed our fritters, we were surprised by a diver emerging from the water right outside our window. He had tied his conch together and hauled them up by threading a rope through a hole broken in each shell.
Although the fish and conch stalls in Potter’s Cay were simple, they were all spotlessly clean. The atmosphere was friendly and the proprietors had a noticeable sense of pride in their operations.
Nearby, more conch arrived on fishing boats, and old-timers extracted the critters from their shells at nearby wooden tables with umbrellas.
The old-timers were entertaining, chattering with each other as they worked. A steady stream of customers bought conch as fast as it was shelled.
I was glad that I skipped the tourist traps in town and discovered this local Bahamian treat instead. I still have a craving for conch fritters!
If You Go
From downtown Nassau, Potter’s Cay is about a 25-minute eastbound walk along East Bay Street. I recommend taking a taxi. Note, however, that a taxi in Potter’s Cay can be hard to find, so give yourself plenty of time to return to town.