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Belize's Culinary Riches

April 18, 2011 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent


Belizean food
More than 10 cultures contribute to Belize’s delicious dishes.

When I visited Belize for the first time about two years ago, I wasn’t as thrilled about the endless possibilities for adventure—from climbing through caves in San Ignacio to swimming with sharks in San Pedro—as I was about the food. The country had one of the best cuisines of all the places I have traveled to over the years, from the Caribbean to Asia.

Almost no one had ever heard of culinary tourism in the country until the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) finally saw fit to aggressively promote its great food—something I wish they had done much earlier.

Belize is an exceptional culinary destination. With more than 10 diverse cultures—including Maya, Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, Mennonite, and more—this English-speaking country is a treasure trove of tastes, specialties, styles and traditions from across the world. To showcase its authentic culinary offerings, tourism officials developed a campaign, dubbed SavorBelize, which talks about everything related to Belizean cuisine.

While the big launch of the SavorBelize campaign is still in the planning stages, the BTB has recently posted a “teaser” website to provide interested parties with a taste of what’s to come. The full SavorBelize site is set to be launched in collaboration with Chocolate Week in Belize and the Toledo Cacao Festival, a popular chocolate event in late May. With restaurant reviews, profiles, culinary tours and foodie blogs, the site will serve as a culinary resource for travelers.

Travel agents won’t have to wait for the campaign to take off. Here’s a collection of culinary tidbits to entice your foodie clients to visit this Central American country and sample some fine dishes.

Toledo Cacao Festival

Now in its fifth year, the Toledo Cacao Festival will be held from May 20-22.

This unique and diverse festival creatively brings together cacao farmers, environmental groups, artisans, performers, restaurants and the tourism and transportation industries to dynamically showcase the culinary and cultural offerings of Belize. This year’s Toledo Cacao Festival will feature a number of events, musical productions, competitions, dances and a range of culinary fare. The festival is held within the Toledo District, home to organic cacao orchards, where the pods are grown, harvested and processed into delicious natural chocolate.

Belize’s Ambergris Caye
The popular resorts of Belize’s Ambergris Caye are also home to some of its finest restaurants.

Vegetarian Items at Portofino Beach Resort’s Le Bistro

On the heels of the renovation of Portofino Beach Resort’s Le Bistro restaurant, a new vegetarian menu has been introduced there, featuring 14 vegetarian dishes, such as Mushroom Lentil Pattie and Insalata di Cesare, in addition to traditional European and Caribbean favorites. Agents can make reservations by calling 888-240-1923 or e-mailing [email protected].

Mystic River Resort’s La Ranita to Grow Organic Ingredients

A testament to Mystic River Resort’s dedication to protecting the environment—and the freshness of its food—is the new onsite organic garden where the ingredients for its La Ranita restaurant are grown. Agents can contact Gina Garcia (011-501-834-4100, [email protected]) for reservations.

A Taste of Maya History From Nahil Mayab

Nahil Mayab Restaurant & Patio has just introduced an expanded menu that has a new section called From Our Ancestors—Yucatecan Maya Inspired Entrées. Guests can sample traditional dishes like Bu’ul, which includes black beans seasoned with black recado and pig’s tail. Agents can contact owners Jan and Sandra Van Noord (011-501-322-0831, [email protected]).

New Menu at Bella Vista Resort’s AJI Tapa

AJI Tapa restaurant at the Bella Vista Resort in Ambergris Caye has unveiled a new Spanish-style menu, a perfect complement to its popular white and red wine sangrias. Agents can contact Victoria Wolski, food and beverage supervisor, at 011-501-226-4047.

Sangria and Tapas Night at Hotel Phoenix’s Red Ginger

Red Ginger at the Phoenix Resort in San Pedro serves a combination of dishes popular across the Americas and the Caribbean, including innovative versions of more familiar recipes as well as lesser-known regional cuisines. Some of the most popular dishes are honey-chipotle glazed braised beef short ribs; truffled mac n’ cheese; and pan-seared red snapper with coconut milk-curry sauce and ginger rice.

The restaurant recently introduced Sangria and Tapas on Sundays and Wednesdays. Agents can contact Brooke Maggiotto, public relations manager for the property, at 011-501-676-6034.

Author’s Pick

Now, I can’t say this is the best place to eat in all of Belize since I wasn’t there long enough to try out all the restaurants, but I can say the food at Azul Hotel in the San Pedro region of the country was probably some of the best I’ve had in this part of the world.

When I visited with co-owner Vivian Yo, I was really impressed with the location of the restaurant, just steps away from the ocean. The open-air dining facility wasn’t cramped either with only about 10 tables, allowing Yo to drop by every table and chat with the guests.

We sampled about seven items off the menu from ribs to conch, wontons and more, and everything was delicious. And washing it all down with some cold, local Belikin beers never hurts.
Agents should call Yo at 011-501-226-4012 for reservations. 

Cuisine of Belize
From beach bars to elegant hotel restaurants, the cuisine of Belize is getting noticed.



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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...

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By Joe Pike | April 18, 2011
A trip to multicultural Belize is also an adventure for the palate.