March 2018–Turks and Caicos Islands
When traveling to Turks and Caicos, there are two popular restaurants that the tourists and locals alike rave about. So of course, those two restaurants were on my radar for a few reasons.
- I LOVE seafood.
- I’m on an island where the seafood is caught fresh, daily.
- I’m always open and willing to try new things, and conch was the island specialty.
Let’s start with the Da Conch Shack simply because it was my first stop, and even my second. What can I say? My first impression was amazing. My only disappointment is that I didn’t have time for a third stop! (I realllly wanted to try the rum cake desert).
My first few days on Turks and Caicos Island were spent relaxing at the beach and doing a bit of exploring in and around Grace Bay Beach (recently named by TripAdvisor #1 Beach in the World!) I was researching the perfect tour around the island to get a feel for the local culture, and to see every nook and cranny. After a bit of searching, I found exactly what I was looking for, a safari tour that took us exploring around the island, with a stop for some fresh local conch. I’ll get into the island tour with TCI Safari with another post, but for now lets talk about that fresh conch! Included in the tour was a seafood platter, more than enough for two people; including conch fritters, cracked conch, grouper fingers, jerk chicken wings, fried plantains, and home fries.
Holy conch!! This food was delicious. If you’ve never tried conch, I encourage you to do it! The fritters were my favorite, I loved the mix of conch and spices. I know I don’t have anything to compare them to, but as far as I’m concerned these were top notch! The jerk chicken was so good, that we ordered a dozen more wings for the road. It was a lot of fried seafood, which I normally would never order, but this wasn’t greasy and the taste of the seafood prevailed!
Not only was the food delicious, the atmosphere and beachy vibes were exactly what we needed to enjoy the night. The restaurant is located directly on the beach with a colorful open air seating area. There is a bar with plenty of island cocktails (also pitchers of island rum punch), tables on the beach, and even the Bimini Ring game which we played and pretty much failed at. At some point in my life, I WILL get the ring on the hook!
The next day, I rented a car so I could ride around the island at my own speed. I also was really excited to drive on the wrong side of the road, but still keeping a left sided steering wheel. After checking out a few beaches and hidden gems along the way, it was nearing lunch time and I headed back to non other than, Da Conch Shack. I couldn’t resist, it was on my path, and I was in the mood for some more fresh seafood!
This time I ordered blackened grouper, which was served with island peas & rice and coleslaw. I’ve tasted a fair amount of grouper in my day, as it’s actually one of my favorite grilled fish. So I was pleasantly surprised when this grouper was THE BEST I’ve ever tasted. The fish was cooked perfectly, juicy and flaky with the just the right amount of cajun spice. It was a generous portion mixed with the island sides, also flavored and cooked to perfection. This meal was a steal for just $18. Not only was the food amazing, it was a Sunday afternoon, and to my delight, a local guy was playing the guitar and singing some of my favorite reggae riddims.
Let’s move on to Bugaloo’s Restaurant. Another local restaurant located on the beach, and well known for its fresh seafood. The ambiance is perfect for beach lovers, families and groups of friends. There is plenty of outdoor seating with colorful decor. Loads of island cocktails to choose from, not to mention the famous island rum punch. The food is just as fresh coming in daily from the local fishermen.
First thing I ordered was a nice, refreshing strawberry daiquiri. Flavorful, and thirst quenching, but considering I was on an ‘rum heavy’ island, there wasn’t much rum to be found in this cocktail. I considered ordering some conch here as well, but I was really in the mood for another piece of fresh grilled fish. Their market fish of the day was snapper, caught fresh daily. I ordered this with my choice of a side of plantain chips. The meal was a generous portion, with a huge filet of snapper. It looked amazing! Unfortunately it only tasted OK. The snapper was quite dry, even with the dousing of lime juice and some tarter. The plantain chips were greasier than my liking, but still enjoyable.
After dinner, I walked around the beach area and was able to catch the fisherman cleaning out the conch from the shells. This was a neat experience, which can also be found at Da Conch Shack, I just happened to miss it the times I was there. I enjoyed my evening at Bugaloo’s in an atmosphere that exuded fun, but my particular meal just wasn’t that good. If you’re looking for a budget friendly option, try one of the sandwiches or an appetizer averaging around $10-$15, as this particular meal and drink for one was close to $50
So with all that in mind, I’d suggest to give them both a go! If you love seafood with a beachside setting, you’ll be happy with either. But if you’re looking for the BEST food, you must head over to Da Conch Shack!