It would be a stretch to describe the Bahamas‘ Harbour Island as a gastronomic hot spot — a well-known food critic of my acquaintance once remarked, “Lovely place, shame there’s nothing to eat” — but in fact it’s possible to dine agreeably at contrasting restaurants, which range in style from formal to sand-in-the-shoes casual. Most visitors seem equally at home with both simple and sophisticated, and even the owners of the gazillion-dollar yachts anchored out in the bay can be found at lunchtime eating conch salad off plastic plates, washed down with a local Kalik beer.
The most obvious choice for dinner in gracious and traditional surroundings is the Landing, a restaurant that is part of a 13-room hotel of the same name, housed by a colonial building with an atmospheric interior that is the work of well-known designer India Hicks. Located on Bay Street, overlooking the harbor, three minutes’ walk from Bahama House, the Landing is at the epicenter of the island’s social scene. Unsurprisingly, the menu emphasizes local fish and seafood; the cooking is enjoyable if not exactly stellar.
Tel. (242) 333-2707
Close by, in an elevated location, Rock House has a lovely airy dining room, with white tablecloths, hardwood chairs and a terrace that overlooks the harbor and the coast of North Eleuthera. In high season, the outdoor tables are probably the most sought-after on the island. Expect dishes like lobster curry with ginger, and grouper with lima beans and bok choy.
Tel. (305) 433-2024
Another restaurant with a (very different) view is the Clubhouse at The Dunmore, which surveys the pink sands and Atlantic waves of the island’s eastern shore. The food is well prepared if a tad predictable, with appetizers like tuna tartare and stone crab claws, followed by Caribbean bouillabaisse with catch of the day, shrimp, lobster and jasmine rice, or beef tenderloin with wild mushrooms, Briland farm greens and peppercorn demi-glace.
Clubhouse at The Dunmore
Tel. (242) 333-2200
Nearby, Sip Sip (which means “gossip” in the local slang) is almost universally regarded as the best place for a casual lunch with a view of the ocean. The menu is self-described as “Bahamian with a twist,” but you will invariably find tuna burgers, grouper sandwiches, grilled mahi-mahi and the famous — at least on Harbour Island — lobster quesadillas.
Tel. (242) 333-3316
Another, even more laid-back lunch spot is Queen Conch on the waterfront in Dunmore Town. This is not a place for those in a hurry, and patience is definitely a virtue. But there are reasons why this beach shack restaurant is so popular, and the outstanding conch chowder is one of them.
Tel. (242) 333-3811
Finally, for those suffering from sushi withdrawal, a remedy can be found at Da Vine Sushi & Wine Bar, located on Bay Street close to Bahama House, which serves surprisingly good sushi, sashimi and ramen.
Da Vine Sushi & Wine Bar
Tel. (242) 333-2950