Belize offers plenty of different flavors when it comes to food. The culture is a true melting pot and the food is no exception. From traditional Mexican dishes and Belizean staples such as rice and beans to a broad range of seafood fished right out of the Caribbean. While spending time there, I had the opportunity to try many new things while discovering the culture of the country. To be honest, Latin American cuisine isn’t really my forte but I still managed to enjoy several of the foods that I tried.
Regarding restaurants in San Pedro, I really enjoyed Elvi’s and Pineapple’s Restaurant for dinner while Estel’s was great for breakfast.
Elvi’s was a fun seafood joint with a great atmosphere that served many traditional Belizean plates. I enjoyed the conch fritters, a speciality of Caye Ambergris. To me, they tasted like a crab fritters but less fishy. Conch has a very mild taste that can be associated with the taste of chicken. However, they were still quite tasty as the batter was fried perfectly and presented on top of sticks resulting in a fun but unusual presentation. Other people had various kinds of fish or ceviche and we agreed that they were all prepared very well. The atmosphere is like a beach even though it is indoors. There is sand on the floor and fake lit up trees. The walls are covered in paintings made by local artists. They were all for sale and contributed to a very colorful ambiance.
Pineapple’s Restaurant’s food was similar in that they served a lot of fresh seafood. However, it was slightly less traditional and maybe a little more Americanized. The atmosphere is what made the experience stand out. The restaurant is located outside just off the beach under a canopy of thatched roofs and tiki huts, creating an ultimate tropical dinner experience complete with a fresh Pina Colada. I ordered the coconut shrimp which was ordinary but excellent while many of my peers ordered the lobster, being the first day of lobster season down there. They found it amazing, pointing to the fact that it was super fresh and they were enjoying it on the beach.
Estel’s has been a long time favorite among San Pedro visitors and I can see why. They are known for their classic Belizean breakfasts and their fabulous location on the beach. I ventured over there with my group for the first breakfast we had in Belize. They set the bar very high. So high that no other place could top the food at Estel’s for breakfast. Everybody ordered the fryjacks which are a Belizean variation of a french beignet. Top them with butter and sugar, jam, hot sauce, you name it… They will always be delicious. I preferred them with butter and sugar since I could fully appreciate the fried goodness of the actual fry jack without too much flavor. Besides the fryjacks, Estel’s had great omelets and fruit that one could also have to fulfill a big appetite.
These restaurants were a delight but it was the smaller stands and speciality food shops that really characterized the best in Belizean Cuisine for me. The Belizean people are masters of sweet and deserts. After a long morning spent working in extreme heat, walking through town eating a fresh popsicle or milkshake was extremely refreshing. Here were some of my favorite places to satisfy a sweet tooth on Ambergris Caye.
My favorite was hands down The Belizean Chocolate Company which was conveniently located right near where I was staying. This place was fabulous. Not only did they offer homemade gourmet chocolates and truffles but also these amazing chocolate shakes, available in three different flavors. In addition, the boutique sold a wide range of bath and body products made from Belizean chocolate. My group made a habit of visiting this place everyday after work to cool down and splurge on the chocolatey goodness. I would recommend the chocolate banana shake and the Island crunch toffee truffle. If toffee isn’t your thing, then try the Mayan Pyramid which is filled with coconut rum cream.
Another fun place was a local fruit and snack stand on 3rd street in San Pedro. It didn’t have a name but it had a lot of great fruit, nuts and treats that we all enjoyed. The mango on a stick was perfectly rip and I loved it even though I’m not a big mango person. Also, the coconut candy was out of this world while we all fell in love with Tamarin nuts, a tropical nut that tastes either like brown sugar or a spicy chili being that their were two kinds, sweet and spicy.
A great place for dessert or an afternoon snack was Manelly’s homemade ice cream. Many people enjoyed the ice cream but it was the popsicles that blew our minds away and kept us coming back multiple times. All made right in the shop, the popsicles sat in a cooler ready to be taken out and enjoyed for only 65 American cents! Flavors ranged from traditional strawberry to exotic “Sweet corn” and tropical coconut. I tried many but the sweet corn was my favorite as it was different and unconventional.Together, the foods I tried in Belize really helped shape my understanding of the culture while enriching my overall experience. Not everything was amazing but I can say that I tried a lot of great new things while creating memories that will last forever as I continue to explore the world with my tastebuds!