I’ve been to the Bahamian capital of Nassau four times while cruising, but only once had I ever explored it (my first ever visit). So when planning our three night Disney Bahamian cruise last month, I knew that I definitely wanted to get off the ship, as a return visit was long overdue (I had first been to Nassau more than a decade ago). While I came across various activities to do while there, I ultimately settled on a food tour, because let’s be honest, they’re one of my favorite things to do while traveling. And Tru Bahamian Food Tours did not disappoint.
While there were some in our group who were staying at a hotel in the Nassau area, our group (myself, D, and my parents), and another couple were all from a cruise and it really is a great activity to do while in port (and even better, something totally different and unique from the standard-snorkel, dolphin encounters, etc). Multiple tours are offered daily with the first one starting at 11:30 AM which is well after ships come into port and before they debark too. The starting point for the tour was also only a 10 minute walk from the cruise ship terminal (i.e. no taxi or public transportation involved).
Our tour guide Alex was great and shared a wealth of knowledge on not only the foods we tried but also the history side of things too. My only minor quibble was the spacing of the stops. The tours are listed as lasting between 3 and 3.5 hours. There were a total of six places where you have tastings. Well, at least on our day, the first two hours of the tour were solely at the first two spots. I never felt the last four were rushed by any means, and yet I think it would have been better if there had been more of an even distribution. But this was also my first food tour outside of the United States and I did remind myself that I was on “island time” after all.
The stops included both traditional restaurants and food shops, and tastings ranged from small samplings to basically what I would consider a full meal. Here are all the places we stopped at in the order of the tour:
As Alex explained, the first stop was also the most food heavy of the entire tour. So in a sense, with all the food we got here, it was tough knowing that five more stops still awaited us. This was a great local restaurant that I could definitely see as being off of the tourist path, not to mention it was family run too, which was cool. It was here that I got to tried conch (pronounced conk) for the first time (in the form of fritters-these were better than I initially feared), and then a plate of home cooked favorites-delicious chicken, plantains (this made me happy), Bahamian style macaroni and cheese, seasoned rice, and on our way out, a glass of a delicious lime flavored drink to go. No surprise, but this was my favorite stop on the tour.
-Graycliff Cigar Factory & Chocolatier
I wasn’t familiar with it, but Graycliff basically does everything-luxury hotel and restaurant, cigar factory, chocolatier. It’s housed in a beautiful and uber historic building right in Nassau’s downtown and was gorgeous to walk through and take pictures of. I got to see cigar makers hard at work (what a process-it’s all done by hand, if you can believe it), and also sample two delicious treats-a chocolate truffle and a key lime flavored white chocolate. It was here that we also had the choice of either trying a Bahamian beer (Sands) or a Bahamian soft drink. We ended up buying a box of beautiful chocolates to take home with us.
-Van Breugel’s Bistro and Bar
While not exactly a Caribbean sounding name, Van Breugel’s is one of Nassau’s top spots for European style cuisine with a twist. Here I had conch for the second time that day, but this time it was Thai inspired conch chowder (so it had a bit of a spicy bite to it). I think I liked the fritters more but the chowder was still tasty.
-Genuinely Bahamian Boutique
This was the stop with the smallest of the tastings but that was fine as it was nice having more of a stomach “down” period. This is a food and beverage store (rum’s the name of the game) and here we tried a variety of local condiments (sauces ranging in spicy levels), some jellies, a fruit beverage, and one of the best tasting salt water taffies I’ve ever had. Any foodie would definitely have a field day here with all of the seasonings, spices, and other products for sale.
-Athena Cafe & Bar
I never thought a food tour in the Bahamas would include a stop at a Greek restaurant, but I learned that there’s been a large Greek population here for generations, descendants of Greek laborers who came to the Bahamas in the late 1880s to develop the sponging industry. And so it’s quite natural that there’s a Greek restaurant right on the popular Bay Street. We had a tasty Greek salad here but to me, Greek salad is Greek salad.
-Tortuga Rum Cake & Company
Our final spot of the day ended on a very sweet note. If you’ve ever been to the Caribbean you’ve no doubt come across the quite popular and ubiquitous Tortuga Rum Cakes. Well, here in the Bahamas, they’re actually made locally (the company itself originated in the Grand Cayman islands) and that’s what we got to try. They’re incredibly sweet and while the rum is baked off during the cooking, you can still taste it.
All in all, each of us loved our Bites of Nassau tour with Tru Bahamian Food Tours and are really glad we did it. When you take a Caribbean cruise, some of the activities seem a bit stale and repetitive; thankfully, a food tour is none of those things. It really was the perfect port adventure.