We were staying at the fabulous Sandals Emerald Bay Resort in Great Exuma but on one day decided to hire a taxi for a mini tour of the island and George Town. My favorite food on the planet is cracked conch and our driver, a great guy named Gregory, suggested Big D's Conch Stop.
We debated on whether to dine before the tour or after. Jeffrey suggested that we dine at the end of the tour and it was a good suggestion.
We pulled up to Big D's Conch Stop at just about 2pm. Our driver looked puzzled because the place was not open. Then just seconds later the proprietors arrived. They explained that they had remained closed that afternoon to attend a health expo. This is typical of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean. They call it "Soon Come" time. When a restaurant lists that it opens at noon, that's not the case every single day. It's just the way they operate on the islands.
You have your choice of seating here. You can dine indoors or on a huge deck overlooking the beautiful turquoise water. We chose to dine outside. The sun was in and out and the trade winds were blowing gently making it most comfortable.
We are conch maniacs and had hoped to start out with what everybody on the island raves about--conch salad. However Gregory, our driver, noticed that in the spot outside where conch salad is usually prepared fresh, there were no ingredients out. Turns out that's because they opened so late they had not yet had time to venture out into the ocean to fetch fresh conch for the salad. So we started out with conch fritters.
The fritters were crisp on the outside and moist inside and they were loaded with chunks of conch. Then we moved onto cracked conch for our main course. Cracked conch is simply when the meat of the conch is removed from the shell and pounded out to tenderize it. It is then battered and fried. It was very good although quite a bit different than I'm used to. I've had conch in many different islands (Aruba, Cayman, Barbados, Turks and Caicos, Nassau, Cancun, etc.) and usually it's a large cutlet of conch that you need a knife and fork to cut up. Here at Big D's Conch Stop it was fried up in smaller pieces, almost in nuggets. But it was still good. We had a number of sides to choose from but it turns out that in reality, we were limited to just two. That's because they were out of the others sides. So our cracked conch came with rice and peas (delicious) and friend plantains (also delicious). Actually I chose cracked conch and so did Gregory. My wife, always the rebel, went with steamed lane snapper with veggies, which was very tasty.
It's interesting how they get their conch. They catch them live and and then drill little holes in them so that a wire can be strung through them. They are kept live in the ocean just outside the restaurant and then collected, as needed, for diners. The wire, which is anchored, keeps them from scurrying off. It just doesn't get any fresher than this!
This isn't a particularly cheap place to eat but it's the genuine item with extremely friendly servers. In our case we were assisted by Big D himself and his wife. Very nice and accommodating people. We invited our driver, Gregory, to dine with us and the bill for all three of us including sodas came to $82. And if you're in a hurry, this isn't the place for you. Our lunch lasted for more than 2 hours. Remember that "Soon Come Time."
If you do consider a tour of the island via the Sandals concierge, I suggest that you request Gregory. He's very funny and knowledgeable. Plus he's a bit of a star on the island since he hosts his own radio show evenings on their one and only radio station!
The cuisine at Sandals is very, very good. But once during your stay I suggest that you take a cab and give this local spot a shot. The setting is perfect and you can even swim at their beach if you'd like.
They're located just a mile or two from Sandals. Your cab driver will know right where to go!
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