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. From Mestizo and Mayan to Garifuna and Kriol, Belizean food is diverse—and tasty. Typical dishes include fry jacks (a type of fried bread), rice and beans made with coconut milk, curry chicken, hudut (a Garifuna stew served with fish), and various seafood dishes that make use of the country’s access to seafood like conch, lobster, and other fish. Luckily, foodie travelers can sample many of these dishes in Belize’s restaurants. To make sure you only sample the best, here are our top restaurants in Belize.
Bistro at Maya Beach Hotel
This Placencia spot with outdoor beachfront seating is a favorite with locals and visitors alike and is known for its take on “tropical comfort food,” which turns out to be a French spin on traditional Belizean fare. The cacao pork chops are legendary, the watermelon salad with feta cheese, tomato, and mint syrup is super refreshing, and the lobster bread pudding is irresistible. Trust in the wine list, which has one two Wine Spectator awards. And make sure to leave room for the justly famous Peanut Brittle Ice Cream Pie.
Belize’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year by the Belize Tourism Board, the Grove House is located inside the Sleeping Giant rainforest lodge. The restaurant is located on the second and third floors of the lodge, affording lush views of the rainforest. The kitchen cooks North American and Belizean food sourcing ingredients from its farm, neighboring villages, and local markets. Dishes include stuffed fry jacks, coconut shrimp, Creole oxtail stew, and pollo asado.
Elvi’s Kitchen is a classic on Ambergris Caye. Chef/owner Elvia Staines and her daughter Jennie have been serving diners typical Belizean food in San Pedro for 39 years. The two are local celebrities and the restaurant has won several awards. Be sure to try their Belizean style crab claws, fried chicken with rice and beans, and butter poached grouper with corn and beet sauce and roasted corn and habanero relish.
Estel’s Dine By the Sea
Located right on the beach in San Pedro, this family-owned restaurant has sand floors, and is a favorite for breakfast, which is served from 6 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The chalkboard menu boasts dishes like Mayan eggs with beans and fry jacks; omelets with fillings like lobster, shrimp, and bacon and cheese; and French toast. You can also make your own egg plate, choosing from different types of eggs, meats, and sides like beans, toast, and of course fry jacks. And that’s just the breakfast options!
Nahil Mayab Restaurant & Patio
Nahil Mayab translates to “House of the Maya,” and this garden restaurant is a must-stop for anyone in Orange Walk looking to experience classic Mayan and Mestizo cuisine. Some of the favorite dishes include smoked pork or chicken salpicón, which is a sort of chopped hash that’s a local specialty; anafres, which is known as Mestizo fondue and made with mashed beans, shredded pork, and gooey cheese and served with homemade tortillas; coconut rice and beans served with stewed chicken and fried plantain; and their take on Irish stew: Beef and Belikin Stout Stew. There’s also some Western food like burgers, salads, steaks, and pasta.
Blue Water Grill
Beachside and owned by a born-and-bred San Pedro woman and her husband from Houston, Blue Water Grill in San Pedro serves sustainably-sourced seafood and sushi, plus pizza, pasta, and salads for non-fish lovers. Open since 2001, owners Kelly and Mukul McDermott make monthly donations to social causes in Belize and provide educational scholarships for all of their staff’s children. They’ve contributed more than $100,000 to the Liberty Children’s Home since 2009.
Named for its fire hearth, the center of the Belizean kitchen, El Fogon serves traditional Belizean cuisine. Started by the Arceo-Eiley family in the early 2000s, El Fogon still uses a fire pit and wood-fired stove to cook everything from stews to game meats to lobster. There’s often live music playing and the palapa-like structure provides a laid-back ambiance.
Chef Rob's Gourmet Cafe
This restaurant inside Parrot Cove Lodge in Hopkins Village is one of the few fine dining experiences in Belize. Chef Rob, who’s originally from the Netherlands, has worked in restaurants in Switzerland, Australia, and London before moving to the Caribbean and then Belize in 1999. Chef Rob’s four-course or a la carte locally sourced menu changes frequently, depending on what he can get his hands on. His dishes are inspired by Maya, Garifuna, and Asian cuisines, and may include beef carpaccio, fresh fish cooked with ginger, coconut, and lemongrass, and hibiscus marinated pork tenderloin with cranberry and balsamic sauce. This is one of the few restaurants in Belize where reservations are recommended.
This posh restaurant is part of Francis Ford Coppola’s luxury resort the Blancaneaux Lodge in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in Cayo. It has its own organic garden, supplying vegetables, herbs, and fruits for the restaurant, which features Italian food, including Coppola family recipes from Basilicata, Italy. Get a glass of Coppola’s wine to accompany your meal. The romantic cande-lit dining room is dotted with colonial era antiques, handmade wooden furniture, Guatemalan textiles, and ceiling fans from the set of the director’s award-winning movie, Apocalypse Now.
Guava Limb Restaurant & Café
This restaurant in downtown San Ignacio is by the same owners of the lauded Lodge at Chaa Creek. There’s outdoor seating that overlooks a park and the menu makes use of organic fruits and vegetables that come from their 32-acre Maya farm in the Macal River valley. The cuisine is mostly Western with a twist, with dishes like guava buffalo wings, blackened fish, sriracha coconut shrimp, and a chorizo and garlic shrimp burger. There’s a wide selection of salads, Panini, pasta, and pizza. The dessert menu includes a variety of cheesecakes like red velvet, Bailey’s, and soursop.