One of the great things about being on Ambergris Caye or anywhere in Belize, in general, is when it comes to eating the local dishes. There are a variety of options to choose from that meet any price range from a $2 taco to a delicious extravagant meal and everything in between. Since I live on the island I am primarily focusing on Restaurants in San Pedro.
Fry Jack – Simple bread dough fried in oil served instead of toast. Best with the local honey, if you ask me. Local jams are another choice and with so many fruits to work with you have lots to choose from. I also will dip these into my refried beans or fill them with eggs and veggies from my plate – much more versatile than simple toast.
Johnnycake – These are made from flour, coconut milk, salt, and oil, traditionally cooked over an open flame. They can be eaten along with breakfast or made into a sandwich, often filled with eggs, beans, or ham & cheese. Perfect for traveling, and why it’s original name used to be called “journey cake”.
Meat Pie – Made by the local bakeries and sold in stores, on street and from bicycles this is very popular with locals. Filled with savory beef, pork or chicken and some vegetables, this flaky crusted, palm-sized treat is sure to hit the spot on the way to work. And if it’s lobster season the lobster pies are not to be missed.
Roadside Bar BQ – a daily staple for many and by far the most served dish in the country. Belizean Fast Food. They make it easy for you by setting up their carts or cooking stalls near to roads. Choices of meats are usually chicken or pork, sometimes beef too. Always on a bed of rice & beans with a dollop of coleslaw on the side. This country runs on rice/beans. if you are lucky you also get some fried plantain as a sweet finish. These places appear only for the meal times and then quietly disappear, although the larger, more permanent ones leave their tents and barbeques and sometimes even table and chairs. Tamales – This is pureed cornmeal, stuffed with beans, pork or chicken and some onions and tomato then wrapped in plantain leaves and steamed – It is severed still wrapped in the leaf. Tamales are relatively healthy and cheap, often made with a mole negro.
Stewed Chicken – the name says it all with chefs using many local ingredients such as fruits, cassava, and sweet potatoes and usually red recado is added. Recado is a spice mixture that usually includes annatto, oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, garlic, and salt. It has a very distinct red color. Served with some rice/beans and coleslaw.
Chimole or Black Soup – This soup/stew is made with achiote paste, which gives it a distinctive black color. The soup version is thinner, using chicken and eggs as the main ingredients, whereas the stew version has more vegetables added.
Ceviche – This is a great substitute for salsa. Originally a Peruvian dish, it has traveled all over Central America. It is made from onions, tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, and cilantro in a lime juice with fish, shrimp or conch. This dish is served fresh so the seafood can be raw, as the acidity of the lime will “cook’ the meat.
Cochinita Pibil Pork – This is often referred to as Yucatan slow-roasted pork. The recipe has its influences from both Maya and Europeans and is very popular in Mexico as well as Belize. The meat is marinated with citrus and annatto, providing the distinctive red color, peppers, garlic wrapped in banana or plantain leaves, and then very slow roasted. Both the acids of the citrus and the slow roasting technique ensure that this meat is very moist, very tender, and definitely tasty! Served with tortillas and you guessed it – Rice and Beans with a dollop of coleslaw!
Garnaches, tostada, salbutes – Not really a meal, more of an appetizer or tapas these are a little hard to separate sometimes. It all has to do with the toppings and style of the bottom, I think. A garnache is a fried tortilla chip with refried beans, cabbage and cheese. A tostada is the same bottom with more toppings – beans, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, onions, salsa, and meat. And a salbute is a deep fried, puffed tortilla served with lettuce, avocado, pickled veggies, and chicken. All tasty and can be very affordable from street vendors.
You can often find local made sweet treats near the cash at variety stores here.
For restaurants look for desserts made with local ingredients such as cassava pudding, anything coconut, anything with soursop or craboo and let’s not forget about plantain. Plantain, fried in coconut oil, then drizzled in local honey with a dash of cinnamon is a personal favorite.
Wishing you the best time eating your way around Belize and trying delicious new things.
16 thoughts on “Belizean Food”
Either place is okay for a solo female, both easily accessed by Tropic Air. San Pedro is a bit bigger with a little more action and the beach walk is great for pictures. Caye Caulker is very cute and colorful, Lazy Lizard also known as the “the split” is great for pics as well.
You’d get much better (prettier) experience snorkeling during the day although nighttime snorkel is very cool if you plan to do more than once.
If you stay in San Pedro – Seaduced by Belize is great for snorkeling option. http://seaducedbybelize.com/half-day-hol-chan-and-shark-ray-alley-snorkeling/
Thanks for this blog. Truly helpful.
I am undecided between spending my 2 nights in San Pedro or Caye Caulker (the rest being in San Ignacio/Guatemala). Which do you recommend for me, a solo female traveler? I would like to do a snorkeling tour (which is prettier, day or night?) And sightseeing/taking pics in general. I’d like to make the most of the 2 days, do as much as I can. Preferably solo-friendly. I’d really appreciate it if you could provide a some advice!
Thanks for the compliment John. I do not have kids and likely never will unless they come ready made in a future relationship 🙂
I will not be at Canucks Sunday as I will be sailing to Roatan with the two Ecologic Catamarans for a short getaway.
Kelly if you are reading this thanks for sharing.
â€˜tacogirl, appreciate all this information! I think I sat next to your daughter Kelly on the plane into Belize. She shared this site with me and maybe weâ€™ll meet this Sunday at crazy canucks!
Excellent Rick, glad you found my blog very informative and you saved money on Tropic Air flights.
Thanks for the compliment Jennifer, glad you are finding my blog useful. I am you will both be planning your second trip before your first one is done.
You are amazing!! Me and darling husband are visiting AC this month and I’m soooooo excited!
Your blog is so informative – thank you!!
So much to do in 8 days…..I’m already thinking a 2nd trip will be in order ????
Jeniffer from Corpus Christi, TX
My wife, son and I are coming to Belize in May. Our son is graduating from N.C. State University in May, the trip is one of his graduation presents. Your blog is very informative. A big help. We used the Tropic Discount, saved us some money.
If you have a cart Jane, Secret beach north west of town in Grand Belizean Estates area is a popular beach spot. In town the beach at Ramon’s is a good spot and south of town Caribbean Villas both have restaurants onsite.
Sent you sent email Michaela to find out more on what you are looking for.
Coming for easter wkend. Would like to take advantage of discount on catamaran day trip/snorkeling.
If San Pedro is not typically known for its beaches, where is the best place to go to have access to a nice beach?
If I come across it I will let you know Randy. I have never had Li Chee’s chicken. Sun up in San Pedro does a good friend chicken.
Hi. I am desperately trying to find a recipe or procedure for making Belize chinese fried chicken like you can get at Li Chee’s in BC or Pirates on Caye Caulker. In your travels have you come across a recipe for this type of chicken or do you think you could ask someone how they make it.
Thanks for the compliment, do my best to be informative
San Pedro is not typically known for it’s beaches. Many of the resorts have seawalls with loungers for their guests. Some do also allow “non -guests” to use their loungers if you are patronizing their bar or restaurant. Ramon’s Village, Caribbean Villas and Banyan Bay are all places with good stretches of beach to hang out at with food and beverage options available.
The best thing to do to find a “beach bar” you like is to take a morning stroll along the beach and have a look see. Many aren’t open until 11:00am but you can still get a feel for where there are and what they’re like. The locally owned ones are mostly in town. A huge favorite locally owned one is Wayo’s https://www.facebook.com/wayos.bar
One of the best local dishes would be Ceviche’ which can be found in several restaurants – but the 2 locally owned ones in town would be Hurricane’s (page is not up to date but it is the correct place)https://www.facebook.com/hurricanescevichebarandgrill and Pou’s
The restaurant with links in the article are “expat” owned Blue Water Grill, Casa Picasso and Wild Mango’s are good places with the gluten free options. All of the restaurants listed at the end of the page are locally owned but unfortunately may not have the gluten free option.
For something totally unusual you might want to try the lion fish dishes a Pirate’s Treasure.
First off, thanks for this blog it has been very informative thus far 🙂
My gf and I are coming to San Pedro for a week over Thanksgiving. We were really wanting to get “local” experience and stay away from touristy stuff. We enjoy all kinds of food and are especially interested in fresh fish and local flare. She is gluten free ad I have directed her to your GF suggestions.
Can you recommend any mellow beaches, bars and restaurants that aren’t super trendy and are affordable?
Thanks so much!