Eating Your Way Through Ambergris Caye
One of the things that makes a vacation great is the food that one experiences while there, and Ambergris Caye is nothing short of a culinary paradise for foodies. While Belize is a cultural melting pot of sorts, our cuisine is a diverse representation of the nations that make up our country. Much of our cuisine is influenced by our Mexican, Caribbean, and Mayan background and despite the nation's culinary diversity, there are still several Belizean staples that stand out as truly authentic. For example, refried beans, eggs, rice, and cheeses are enjoyed with nearly every meal, and are almost always accompanied with flour tortillas and fry jacks. Tamales, fried meat pies called panades, and garnaches (fried tortillas filled with beans, cheese, and onions) are also traditional dishes, which closely represent Belize's Mayan roots. With a large population of Garifuna comes a heavy emphasis on seafood, and the Kriol population brings a love of plantains and cassava to the table. As you can see, when it comes to food, Ambergris Caye offers it all. From fine dining to foreign flavors, authentic local cuisine and delicious dessert, no matter where you dine while on our turf, you will be left satisfied.
Below are our top ten favorite restaurant recommendations to help you eat your way through Ambergris Caye. While they may or may not all follow the traditional lines of Belizean cuisine, each one of these restaurants is sure to leave your appetites satisfied and your hearts full so be sure to check them out when you visit the island.
- Experience unforgettable cuisine at Las Terrazas Resort's very own O Restaurant! A local island favorite for its fusion of international, Caribbean and Central American cuisine, O Restaurant offers seasonal menus
showcasing fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, as well as nightly dinner specials ranging from traditional Belizean barbeque to Mediterranean favorites. Don't forget to stop by for Chef Nolvin's famous Friday Night Sushi Night. From tuna, salmon, eel, and unagi to land fish over lobster and delicious lobster rolls, Chef Nolvin's sushi without a doubt rivals any authentic Japanese restaurant and his sushi night is not to be missed. You definitely cannot leave the island without trying O Restaurant's legendary Bailey's-infused chocolate sea urchin. Traveling with your sweetie? Embrace the beauty of the island by enjoying private dining on our beach
, where you will receive a custom menus and service from an attendant dedicated to your needs. With its ocean-inspired décor and sophisticated ambiance, dine inside of O Restaurant in air conditioned comfort; watch the stars emerge and enjoy a glass of wine at the Rooftop Sky Lounge on top of O Restaurant; or, start your day with a traditional Belizean breakfast and fresh-pressed juices while relaxing by our 70' infinity pool. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, our beachside restaurant offers incredible food and dining experiences on Ambergris Caye and a staff that is guaranteed to remember both your name and your favorite cocktail.
- This San Pedro restaurant is the place to go for an authentic meal. When translated, El Fogon means "The Fire Hearth" and for good reason: they specialize in Belizean cuisine that is cooked in its most primitive and traditional way - over open firewood. A family-operated restaurant, the owners' hope is to preserve the true Belizean heritage that they grew up with in hopes of sharing local tastes and flavors with all who walk through their doors. Offering a plethora of dishes that have long since been a part of Belizean's diets, their primary specialty is seafood. El Fogon won Best Lobster Dish in 2016 and the TripAdvisor Excellence Award for the past four years in a row. To experience the old Belizean style firewood cooking that El Fogon is known for, be sure to stop by during the day (as opposed to dinner) … though no matter what time you stop by, you won't be disappointed.
- What started as a burger joint in 1976 has since grown into one of the oldest and best restaurants in all of Ambergris Caye. Founded by Elvia Staine to provide for her six children, this once hole-in-the-wall takeout restaurant grew and evolved right alongside island tourism. Over time, Elvia closed the takeout windows and expanded both the restaurant and the menu; she first began incorporating authentic Belizean dishes such as rice and beans and now offers everything from crab claws to lobster, to conch and other classic island entrees. We can personally attest to their Mayan red snapper in adobo (deliciously wrapped in plantain leaf) paired with pumpkin and butternut squash and plantain and be sure to order the watermelon juice and white rum cocktail. Elvi's is the recipient of the International Gold Star Award for Quality and Excellence and is the only restaurant in Belize that is known for preserving a part of the Mayan culture. The restaurant's sandy floors and thatched roof are reminiscent of Elvia's Mayan roots. Celebrating those roots even further is Elvi's Mayan Feast. Every Friday night, the restaurant hosts a Mayan buffet of traditional Mayan dishes, complete with a serenade by Pablo Collado - an authentic Mayan experience. And speaking of literal roots, huge flamboyant tree grew adjacent to her home that grew right along the restaurant, providing shade over the takeout window as Elvi grew and expanded her business. It was sadly brought down by Hurricane Keith in 2000. She rescued the tree and cemented it right inside the restaurant. Smack dab in the middle of the dining room, it continues to watch over Elvi's diners as they sit back and enjoy her delicious cuisine.
- Loved by many Las Terrazas Resort staff members for their authentic food and great patio, Carumba's is the place to be. Serving local Mexican and Caribbean cuisine, this restaurant lets its food speak for itself. You can hand pick your fresh seafood (anything from fish, lobster, stone crab, shrimp and more) from ice boxes right outside, and then they are cooked to order by their chef. Known for having a professional, personable, and fun staff who provides great service, you can be certain that you will be taken care of at Caramba's. Though they often have a busy crowd and are buzzing with activity, you will be seated quickly, and the lively atmosphere still allows for conversation with your party. This is a fun and happening spot that will leave you coming back time and time again.
- You can't visit Belize without experiencing an authentic Belizean ice pop, otherwise known as a paleta. Made from organic tropical fruits, these Spanish popsicles are full of flavor, making the perfect afternoon treat. Founded by Regina Sansores, these handmade paletas are a local favorite on the island and are the perfect reprieve on a humid day. Regina's paletas boast of variety; her menu offers more than 15 flavors and includes both water- and cream-based treats that are natural, healthy, fresh, and rich in taste. Traditional flavors range from Chocolate to Watermelon to Pina Colada, but Regina doesn't stop there; she even incorporates seasonal flavors like Pumpkin Pie and Eggnog around the holidays. For a true island taste, be sure to order the Sour Sop. While Regina's paletas can be found at her own personal shop as well as at establishments throughout town, a wide assortment of flavors is also available at our very own O Restaurant. Order one to enjoy pool side, or for a truly refreshing spin, request one in your cocktail! The combination of fresh and fruity flavors will explode in your mouth in the most delicious way.
Estel's Dine by the Sea
- A popular breakfast spot by tourists and locals alike, Estel's Dine by the Sea is an oceanfront restaurant that just can't be beat. Situated right on the shore, you can literally run out to dip your toes in the water while waiting to be served; it just doesn't get more islandy than that. Run by the Worthington family, this restaurant has it all - from authentic Caribbean flavors such as breakfast burritos, fresh fish, tamales, and frijos to more Americanized options like sandwiches and burgers. There really is something on the menu for everyone. They open early, so be sure to rise with the sun and watch the waves crash in over a hot cup of coffee. There's truly no better way to start your day on the island than at Estel's.
- Popular among many of Las Terrazas Resort's larger wedding groups for buy outs and events, Rojo Lounge is the perfect spot for your next party. Their iconic beach bar is a huge hit among patrons and is the hippest place to be on the island. Whether you are hosting a beach barbecue or want to throw a pool party on a sunny afternoon, Rojo can accommodate your group. They fill the coolers with Belize's famous Belikin Beer, stock the bar, make an awesome rum punch, light the tiki torches, fire up the grill, and above all, promise a great time. Not hosting a party? No problem! Stop by for food or drinks; everything they make is from scratch and is local, fresh, and in season. Their small staff works hard and does it right, living by the mantra that they are only as good as the worst meal they put out. This team seeks to provide only the best and they have a host of clientele to boast about it.
The Belize Chocolate Company
- It wouldn't be a vacation if you didn't indulge your sweet tooth! This quaint family-owned chocolatier boasts itself on fair trade, Belizean bean-to-bar service. They pride themselves on their artisan chocolates, ranging in everything from cookies and brownies, to truffles and caramels, drinks such as coffee and milkshakes, and even cacao vinegar and chocolate body products. For an unforgettable experience, consider signing up for one of their chocolate classes. Sample chocolate as you learn the process of how these local, organic cacao beans are turned into artisan treats. Classes are 30-45 minutes long and are offered weekdays at 10:30 for $15BZ per person. Known for their service, the Belize Chocolate Company won the 2018 Hospitality Award of the Year at the annual Belize Tourism Board's National Tourism Awards. As if that recognition isn't enough, they also won the Silver medal for the Americas in last year's International Chocolate Awards
. They seek to bring pleasure and joy from their blend of genuine hospitality and delectable chocolate, and you cannot come to the island without stopping by for a treat.
- For a fine dining experience, be sure to make reservations at Mambo at Matachica Resort. Located just north of Las Terrazas Resort, this restaurant offers a romantic, candle-lit dining room, as well as the option to dine on the patio or at the end of their pier, overlooking the crystalline Caribbean waters at sunset. It is this ambiance, coupled with their fresh ingredients, mouthwatering flavors, and creative dishes that has earned awards in excellence and global cuisine. Though they specialize in seafood, their menu also features Mediterranean style dishes with handmade pasta dishes prepared each day, a homage to their original Italian owner. Known for their sophisticated wine list, you can find the perfect pairing to any dish. For a more laid-back dining experience, be sure to visit Danny's Tree Bar, Matachica's newest bar that is situated right on the beach. Their cocktails and light bites are the perfect way to unwind after a day in the sun.
- What makes Red Ginger so great is not only the exceptional food, but the values for which they stand. With a focus on higher education in hopes to challenge and grow our local community, owners Kelly and Makul Kanabar, give full scholarships for their staff's children to attend both preschool and high school. Beyond that, each month they pick a different local cause, raise money, and match all donations in order to bless and help our community. Since 2009, they have contributed more than $100K to the Liberty Children's Home, which cares for abused and abandoned children in Belize. Their staff members enjoy free memberships to enjoy yoga, a local gym, or CrossFit center. And they are family oriented, offering highchairs, a children's menu, and changing tables in the restroom. Red Ginger serves fresh, tropical cuisine in a modern dining room at the Phoenix resort, while also offering dining options on their outdoor patio and upstairs bar. Be sure to check out this restaurant and support the amazing work they are doing in our community.
Hungry? Browse the menus from O Restaurant, located at Las Terrazas Resort
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