The Gastro Guide to Belize

Fried chicken is a staple ingredient in Belizean cuisine

Whether it’s your first time traveling to Belize or you’re a seasoned holidaymaker in this beautiful country, you’ll soon discover that food here is a delight for all the senses. Belizean cuisine features a real medley of flavors, with traditional dishes incorporating Mayan, Spanish, Mexican, Latin American, Creole and Caribbean techniques. More recently, international cuisine has become more popular in Belize, with Chinese and Indian dishes the most prevalent.

It’s hard to define what Belize cuisine is, other than incredibly tasty and flavorful. However, here’s a quick guide to the best dishes on offer and where to find them.

Seafood

Given its perfect location right in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, Belize is renowned for its seafood. You’ll find all the usual shellfish suspects here, especially on the beachfront, island towns and villages.

In the past, one of the top Belizean exports was lobster. But all this overharvesting meant that local populations began to decline in numbers. Although it’s not exported the way it was during historical times, you’ll still find lobster in abundance here, especially during the high season (June 15th to February 14th).

Conch is a shellfish that is more commonly associated with Bahamian cuisine. However, here in Belize, you’ll discover some new and delicious variations on this classic Caribbean dish. Even though it’s often served as a main course in conch ceviche (with lashings of lime juice, cilantro, onions, tomato and habanero peppers), a real Belizean take on the sea snail is to deep fry it as a fritter and server it as a delicious appetizer.

Creole Favorites

You’ll find creole dishes in abundance in Belize, especially good old rice and beans. Usually served as an accompaniment to main dishes, there are some fascinating rice and beans variations to try in Belize. “Rice and beans” dishes include the two ingredients cooked and served together (often in coconut milk for a fresh flavor), but “beans and rice” dishes are cooked and served separately. Although you may find black beans in some of the dishes served in beach shacks, most restaurants and food stalls use small, red beans for this dish.

Creole stew is another significant element of Belize cuisine, especially stew dishes like chicken, fish and beef. Deceptively simple, you cook these dishes in an intoxicating combination of spices and red recado, giving them a dark and rich appearance. Another stew variant that you’ll find in Belize is chimole, aka black gumbo or black dinner, which is more of a soup and includes boiled eggs in the recipe.

Hot Sauce!

It wouldn’t be a Belizean dish without a dash of Marie Sharp’s Hot Sauce. Made from a spicy base of habanero peppers, onions and carrots, this one is one of the most recognizable and distinctively “Belize sauces.” Although the house of Marie Sharp has expanded its line to include a range of hot sauces, chutneys and jams, it’s the original (once called “Melinda’s”) that you should keep an eye out.  

Liquor

As you might expect from a Caribbean destination, rum is the number one liquor of choice in Belize, and there are several distilleries producing rich local varieties. The most popular brand is One-Barrel, which, with its added vanilla extract, has a smooth and sweet flavor. An exciting rum variation is the Caribbean Coconut Rum, from the family-owned Cuello’s Distillery.

If you’re a wine lover, you may be disappointed to know that homegrown grape wines are hard to come by here due to the climate. The Rendezvous Restaurant & Winery found on Ambergris Caye does sell a range of wines produced and bottled onsite. However, they come with imported grape juice rather than homemade. Fruit wines are more of traditional Belizean wine, made from native fruits like pineapples and bananas. Typically, sweet, much like fruit liquor, you’ll find that some of the homemade wines are more like cider.

Must-Visit Restaurants

If this summary of Belizean cuisine has got you fired up to enjoy a meal, here’s a short list of the best restaurants and bars found in the country:

Dit’s Restaurant, Belize City

Chef Rob’s Gourmet Cafe, Hopkins Village

Rojo Beach Bar, Ambergris Caye

Riverside Tavern, Haulover Creek

Nahil Mayab, Orange Walk Town

By | 2019-01-25T13:43:39+00:00 January 25th, 2019|Blog|0 Comments

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