Best Places To Eat In Belize
Belize is a small country with lots of flavor. Because the country is home to various cultures and ethnicities, visitors can sample multiple types of cuisines that take advantage of local ingredients. Chefs use fresh seafood from the Caribbean, herbs and vegetables from organic gardens and tropical fruits from local markets to create culture-blending dishes. Here are spots all over the country where you’ll enjoy the best of contemporary Belizean food and drink.
1. Ms. Bertha's Tamales, Belize
Driving in any direction on the Hummingbird Highway, it would be hard to miss this white shack surrounded by cars, in a small clearing immediately next to the road under the shade of a very large tree. Ms. Bertha’s Tamales has little signage, but no signs are needed for locals. Everyone knows about Ms. Bertha Lisbey and her tamales. They are said to be the best in Belize. One of her spiced, gooey chicken-and-corn tamales is a perfect break. Pair it with a hot sauce she has been making almost as long as the tamales, and a cold soda in a glass bottle. Since Ms. Bertha is now 75 years old, some days it is her daughter who’s the one serving loyal customers and first-time visitors, drawn by the stories that you’ll hear in every corner of the country. The small shack can serve hundreds of tamales a day during peak season yet each one is prepared with the same attention and love. Everyone sits on benches, patiently waiting their turn. There aren’t many places to stop along the Hummingbird Highway, but that’s not the only reason you shouldn’t pass by Bertha’s without turning in. Make sure you stop.
Elvi's Kitchen, Belize
Before I went to Belize, anyone I spoke with who had already been told me that I had to have a meal at Elvi’s Kitchen. What started out as a take-out burger window in 1974 eventually became a sit-down restaurant serving lovingly prepared Caribbean dishes such as conch soup and fritters, mojo de ajo, fried green plantains, and street corn. During high season you might have to wait in line to eat dinner at the restaurant, but most of the time, there isn’t much delay. Save room for dessert. Elvi’s Kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
3. El Fogon Restaurant, Belize
In San Pedro, a town on Belize's northern island of Ambergris Caye, the Mestizo traditions are strong. The Mestizo people are descendants of the Maya and the Spanish, and when those two cultures mixed, a new one was born. You'll find many Mestizo people in San Pedro, but you'll hardly find a better Mestizo restaurant than El Fogon, a spot owned by a local woman known as Miss Suzanna and run by her daughter. All of the food is cooked in a traditional outdoor oven (fogon means "kitchen hearth"), and everything is delicious. Try the salbutes, a tacolike dish made with fried tortillas, with a texture that's somehow both soft and crunchy, or the pig tail with split peas. And the coconut rice is to die for.
4. Maya Beach Hotel And Bistro, Belize
The Maya Beach Hotel's bistro is hands down one of the best restaurants in Belize—in fact, it's been named Belize's restaurant of the year not once but twice. The food is a French spin on traditional Belizean fare, and the outdoor seating area is right on the beach, just steps from the Caribbean Sea. Order the coconut shrimp (served with a spicy mango sauce) and the roasted pumpkin-coconut-green chili soup to start, and lobster grilled cheese (with cheddar, brie, and brunoise) or layered veggies (roasted potatoes, onions, and plantains with a tomato vinaigrette and jalapeño-tofu aioli) for a main course.
5. Bird's Isle Restaurant, Belize
Bird's Isle, a staple on the Belize City local dining and socializing scene, is just five minutes south of the noisy downtown along a waterfront, with an open dining room that enjoys breezy views of the dock and the birds hovering nearby. The kitchen serves Belizean Creole dishes and seafood as well as burgers. A lively crowd of locals flocks here for the daily lunch specials—especially Tuesday's beef soup—and in the evenings, you can expect a crowd for happy-hour deals and a fun atmosphere. Thursday is karaoke night.
6. Sumathi Indian Restaurant, Belize
Belizeans have been known to drive to Belize City for the sole purpose of eating Sumathi’s Indian food. Not only is the authentic Indian cuisine worth a trip, the long-running restaurant's lunch buffet is also one of the best deals in Belize City. The menu includes everything from curries, kormas, biryani, masalas, and dosas to mango lassis. It’s also a solid bet for vegans. Sumathi is set off the beaten path on a residential street and has a spacious interior as well as an outdoor veranda.
7. Sahara Grill, Belize
Belizean cuisine includes a healthy dose of Middle Eastern influence, thanks to the small but established Lebanese community in Belize. If you're on the hunt for authentic shawarmas, kebabs, hummus, and gyros, the tastiest and most affordable versions you'll find are at Sahara Grill. The restaurant, across from the Best Western Biltmore, might not look like much from the outside, but that quickly becomes a distant concern once you dig into one of the flavorful platters.
8. Wendy's Creole Restaurant And Bar, Belize
Placencia’s best sit-down local restaurant is located smack in the heart of the village. Wendy's is a favorite with locals for its hearty breakfast—fried eggs with refried beans and tortillas—before work or before heading out on a sun-and-sea excursion. The restaurant is also a solid choice for lunch and dinner, and is reasonably priced for the wide variety of dishes it offers, like quesadillas, sandwiches, burgers, pastas, beans and rice, and seafood. The walls are covered with local art, and the spacious veranda offers views of the comings and goings along the village’s main road. Wendy’s rarely closes and seldom disappoints, in food or in service.
9. Nahil Mayab Restaurant And Patio, Belize
Just as taking in some of the iconic sights. Mayan temples and rivers is a must for visitors to Orange Walk, so is stopping for a meal at Nahil Mayab. The restaurant, the name of which translates to "House of the Maya," is owned by a respected Orange Walk family. The garden restaurant serves a variety of typical Mestizo and Caribbean-inspired dishes in an inside dining room or outside on the patio under an umbrella. Sample the popular tacos arracheras (skirt steak), the pork salpicón (a chopped hash that's an Orange Walk specialty), fried fish, quesadillas, or a variety of burgers, salads, steaks, and pasta. The atmosphere is casual and lively, particularly on the weekends, when many Orange Walkeños gather here to catch up.
10. Tina's Kitchen, Belize
One of the most convivial Garifuna dining spots in Hopkins is run by the entrepreneurial Tina, born and raised in the village. Sample local dishes, such as the breakfast fry jacks, and Tina's Garifuna hudut—snapper simmered in a seasoned coconut stew, with a side of mashed plantain. You’ll also find a variety of surprising daily specials, including curries and lobster cooked several ways, and small bites like quesadillas. Locals come in and out all day. There are Friday evening Garifuna drumming sessions in the open-air thatched restaurant.
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