Used to be that if people in Coconut Grove hungered for collard greens and other proper Southern side dishes, they had to drive to Peoples Bar-B-Que in Overtown. But last fall, Snappers Fish & Chicken flipped on its neon conch sign in the West Grove and began serving up Bahamian soul food.
This fast-food eatery may be known for its fried seafood, but the sides are the real appeal, specifically the plump, salty hush puppies, the mounds of fried okra and the fresh conch salad with just the right balance of hot and sweet peppers sprinkled among the diced, citrus-soaked conch. There are also collards, macaroni and cheese and pigeon peas and rice served alongside an everyman array of fish that includes catfish, grouper, tilapia and snapper.
Unfortunately, the thick fry batter has little seasoning except salt, which overpowers almost every dish. We couldn’t finish even our two favorite entrees, fried shrimp and fried tender conch, because we became so bloated by sodium. All dinners are served with a tiny container of mayonnaise-heavy coleslaw and a huge pile of limp fries, with a slice of soggy white bread soaking up the grease underneath. No part of the chicken goes to waste here. Along with tenders, nuggets and buffalo or honey barbecue wings, chicken gizzards are floured and fried.
One of about a half-dozen Snappers primarily in historically black neighborhoods throughout South Florida, this late-night, no-frills addition to the West Grove is a welcome sign of activity in the once-vibrant Afro-Caribbean neighborhood marred by vacant lots, empty storefronts and aging concrete apartments. Orders can be called in and picked up at the open kitchen’s counter. Go for the sides, the fried shrimp and the conch – and be prepared to drink lots of water.