Miami chef cooks roadside conch

Chef Darryl Johnson cooks conch fritters in Miami.

Darryl Johnson works out of a mobile kitchen under a tent just west of Miami Shores, where he serves conch two ways. 

He shapes fritters like flapjacks and shallow-fries two to an order. Alternatively, he dresses conch in fresh lime juice and pureéd pineapple with optional hot sauce.

Johnson was born in Miami and learned to cook from his Bahamian grandparents and mother as well as mentors at the Miami Culinary Institute downtown. 

After someone outbid him for a restaurant space in Liberty City, he opened Chef DP (Darryl’s Place) a year ago, saying he prefers to cook outside.

Six days a week, the chef pulls his custom-built stainless-steel stove, hitched to a flatbed, to a street corner near his home. His customers include police officers, firemen, office professionals, postal workers, politicians, fellow chefs and neighborhood regulars. 

Johnson provides a few folding chairs set under palms, but most folks eat in their cars. 

They come for his chunks of sweet, tender conch imported from the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos. Or for his fritters, made from a batter that has bits of conch, green pepper, onion and secret seasonings. 

When one side browns, Johnson flips the discs and taps them with a spatula so steam escapes before slipping them in a paper bag. 

Be sure to grab plenty of napkins and try the Sabroso Sauce that Johnson bottles from a tomato and cayenne base. It makes a finger-licking-good fritter dip.

Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.