Research shows that more than half the population choose their desired destination for vacation based on the food of that place. Now, before coming to the islands of Turks and Caicos, I knew very little about the island’s cuisine. My limited knowledge assumed that the food would be similar to other Caribbean islands, which mostly consists of locally available resources, such as tropical fruits, fresh seafood, rice, and some veggies.
During my stay in Providenciales, the largest commercially developed island, I booked a Taste of TCI Food Tour online. Mrs. Sheniqua, the proprietor of the tour company, picked me up from my hotel at 11am, and we were off to conquest some of the culinary treasures of the island.
Sheniqua gave me an overview of the day, which restaurants will we be going to, and what we will be tasting there. As we drove around the island, she also pointed out sites of important significance, such as the original transportation sailboats, and ground for Thursday Fish Fry.
Our first stop is a small casual restart, Fresh Catch, centrally located at the Salt Mills Plaza. Sheniqua claims this is her favorite place for creamy conch chowder. The art to cooking conch is to harvest it, and eat it right away, Weather you are making conch salad, conch fritters or conch chowder, it will taste more flavorful and less rubbery. Fresh Catch also offers a Wednesday night seafood buffet for only $30 per person.
Next stop was Mr Grouper, who has received many awards for the best fish in town. The grouper we had was fried and had a nice crisp from the flour, bread crumbs and spices. It was served with baked macaroni and cheese pie, which was flavored with onions, spices, and light cheese, unlike its American counterpart.
Bendiciones near the airport was a Dominican Shack serving both Dominican and TCI dishes. We tried the chopped lobster in bell peppers, with okra rice, and fresh salad. The ambiance was not much, but the food made from the heart.
Walking into Bugaloos island restaurant, I was greeted by Mr. Berlie “Bugaloo” Williams, himself standing in the garden. He was elderly, and walked with a stick, but he still held his fort everyday. Bugaloo started catching conch and made his truck into a Conch Shack. The concept caught on and he became well known all over the island. Now, he has a funky establishment, right at the waters edge. Guests come in to soak their feet in crystal clear waters, walk on the soft sandy beaches, grab a Laval Flow or Rum Punch, and munch away on the most talked about conch platter on the island.
Our last stop was for drinks and dessert. Flavors of the Turks and Caicos (aka FOTTAC) is a great place to buy locally made rums, beers, cakes, hot sauces, jams, teas and more. We do a little rum tasting of Bambarra Coconut Rum, 2 Year Old Silver Rum, and 8 Year Old Reserve Rum. I end up taking a bottle of the Reserve Rum, and 4 boxes of the most delicious Bambarra Chocolate Rum Cakes homes. They didn’t last very long!
Food tours are an educational and entertaining way to get to know the history and culture of the destination. I recommend doing the tour during your first or second day, so that you gain familiarity with the local dishes and restaurants. Then you will know exactly what to order during the rest of your stay.
The Taste of TCI Food Tour is a 3 hour walking, riding food tour visiting 5 locations that are native Turks & Caicos Islanders favorite spots to enjoy great food. Tickets are $99 per adult and advanced booking is required. The mix of restaurants picks changes regularly based on Sheniqua’s latest finds.
~ This tour was sponsored by Taste of TCI Food Tour.