Lost in Belize III: Where to Eat in Ambergris Caye

Belize, Dispatches from the Road, Restaurant Reviews — By on March 9, 2010 at 6:00 am

Though traditional Belizean cuisine features many fried dishes, such as the fry jacks or fried corn tortillas, there’s plenty of healthy fare to be found in Ambergris Caye, such as grilled red snapper caught daily, tropical fruits platters, and conch ceviche. Here’s a roundup of my favorite places to eat on the island.

Breakfast: Walk along the beach to the southern part of town to have breakfast on the water at the Blue Water Grill. For less than US $12, the small fruit plate with fresh papaya and watermelon and the breakfast burrito with eggs and refried beans is the way to go.

Lunch: Started as the Burger Isle take-out stand back in 1974, Elvi’s Kitchen is run by a local family right in the center of San Pedro. It’s a causal stop for sampling traditional cuisine with its sandy floor, thatched-leaf roof, and tree trunk in the middle of the dining room. The conch ceviche or conch chowder and fried plantains made us want to order seconds. Also good for cooling down in the 90-degree weather: The banana smoothie.

Dinner: There are so many gourmet spots strong on both ambience and flavor that I couldn’t narrow it down to just one. Here are my top three picks.

I liked Hidden Treasure best for the romantic atmosphere. It was a perfect combination of elegant and rustic, with a simple open-air pavilion, a thatched-leaf roof, and tables covered in white cloths and topped with candles. It’s not on the main drag, but located in the center of a neighborhood close to the south end of town. It’s run by a Belizean husband-wife team (the owner, Ruben, is pictured here), and offers simple-but-fresh seafood dishes. I had the Mojarra a la Lamanai, or red snapper rubbed with Mayan spices and steamed in a banana leaf to a flaky perfection.

The luxury resort Victoria House has a restaurant overlooking a pool and tables set with white cloths and candles. It’s a gorgeous spot for a fancy, romantic dinner and the food is even better. You can’t go wrong ordering fresh catches such as shrimp, snapper, or lobster (when in season from mid-June to mid-February). I ordered calamari as an appetizer, and it wasn’t fried but deliciously sautéed and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. If you’re a chocolate lover, don’t leave without tasting the gooey, molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.

Red Ginger is located inside the Phoenix Resort, and has cool red-painted walls and a smiling staff.  When I asked our waiter, Armando, for olive to oil to dip the bread he brought out for the table, he returned with a bowl of oil with sprinkled with spices and Parmesan cheese, and watched proudly as I tasted his special mixture. We ordered crispy shrimp with lime-habenero sauce served atop a fried plantain patty with guacamole, and loved the tangy-but-sweet taste so much that we ordered two more.  I got another chocolate molten cake with coconut gelato for dessert. I’m definitely going to return home carrying an extra five pounds as a souvenir. But it will be so worth it.

Photo credit: Mike Bristol

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    3 Comments

  • MW says:

    Plus, you absolutely MUST go to Wild Mango! Spicy, delicious, fresh food on the beach front. It’s run by Amy Knox, the former Victoria House chef, so it has the same high quality food but in a much more casual setting (and cheaper! I stayed in Victora House and still couldn’t afford to eat at that restaurant more than once).

  • casinos says:

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  • mar says:

    HI! Dou you know if there´s a place to buy fresh fish?? form local fishermen or something like that, not at groceries stores.