Belize - Jaguar Paw and Ambergris Caye
My wife(woohoo!!) and I spent 9 days in Belize for our honeymoon. I asked about recs on this site after a search turned up zero posts since 2004, and got nothing. Maybe this will start an avalanche for one of the greatest eating places I've been.
Jaguar Paw - simply, skip it. I mean, it was a good place to stay, and the tours were great, and the rooms were nice, the people were great.....but I planned the honeymoon around great food. This was far from great food, and no choices. If you wanted to eat, it was in their restaurant. It looked good from a check online, and the travel agent said it was good food(I'm a bit embarassed that was the first question I asked her). Salmon was inedible, rice was tough and sometimes crispy. Heard about a place later in the honeymoon called the Moapan(sp?) River Lodge where the wife cooks for everyone while the husband tour guides. This seemed like the place to go for a jungle portion of the trip in belize.
Ambergris Caye was a phenomenal food experience. The highlights:
Wild Mango - 'Try the grouper!' was a repeated cry from everyone we talked to. They were right, but forgot to mention the Banana something dessert. Perfectly done, on the water in town. The chef worked at Victoria house and won all the awards they were given, and moved out on her own. My wife and I had this whispered conversation in the middle of the third dinner we had there:
me - "I think that's her."
D - "I think so too, she's got the apron and she looks like she's in charge."
me - "You think it would be weird if I just went up and hugged her and said 'Thanks'?"
D - "Yeah, but if we both went up and did it she might not be so freaked."
Try the food, you'll understand.
Monkey Bites - Fresh sandwiches made in front of you or soups slow cooked and available until they run out. It's a place with three tables. You can taste the homemade stocks and fresh ingredients in the soups. We asked why she wasn't serving a sandwich we wanted one day and the reply was 'The avocado's aren't good around here, and my assistants mom forgot to send some down from Mexico'. She refused to make the sandwich because it wasn't right w/o the avocado. This was our favorite lunch spot by a wide margin. Be careful, as she is selling the location and name about now(aug 2006) and will be opening a new restaurant north of the cut.
Bluewater Grill - We had one great and one below middling meal here. The service on our first visit was horrid, we felt like we were being rushed from the get go. This wasn't a subtle thing. When the waitress showed up for the FIRST time she said 'The kitchen is getting close to closing' and stayed there until we ordered drinks and dinner. We went back for the promise of the food the first night, and were rewarded(after refusing service from the same waitress who had made the closing comment) with the third best dinner of the trip. Two of the three at wild mango took the tops.
George's Country Kitchen - When we didn't make breakfast ourselves, this was the best 'other' option. Heard about a place north of the cut, but would go back to George's in a heartbeat if I was in San Pedro. Eggs were the best.
Caye Coffee - best coffee I've had. We grind Starbucks french roast every morning at home and believe it's pretty good. The two darker roasts from Caye Coffee blow it away, and are about the same price(there).
Sausage Factory - Right next to Caye coffee, this was the place to get meats. No chicken except for whole or halves, which is hard to cook when on vacation. Basic bacon and sausages. Mostly pork stuff.
Jambal Jerk - Heard good things on trip advisor, had an utterly forgettable meal. Do you ever wish you could erase a meal from your stomach so you could go eat somewhere else? AND this is after we'd just got done with a two tank morning dive. I'd send someone there if they ever said to me 'Carlos and Charlies??!! I loved it!' After I kicked them in the knee.
The french place south of town by the bay - The only place on the island where you could get a decent bottle of wine and a port after dinner, but absolutely crap food. Not true...it was bland, and should have been a lot better with what they had to work with. The dichotomy between the great ingredients and tasteless 'final' product was incredible, in a bad way.
Rereading the above, it would seem that we had as many bad meals as good. That's not true, either. Every place we went would rate a return visit besides the two specifically mentioned. The ones I didn't talk about were in the middle for ambergris, but didn't stand out for anything in particular.
Xanadu Island Resort: Beautiful place with an OK pool and great owner/operators. They made the entire stay with them very easy, from booking tours to taking care of our room and balcony. The no-big-deal tropical wave that went through while we were there sounded like a big deal while it was going on, but they had the furniture replaced and everything cleaned up by noon the next day.
Go cave tubing. It's an experience you will never forget.
Zipline tours are great, but expensive for how long/what you get.
The scuba diving was amazing. Hol Chan at night was the favorite. Missed the blue hole/aquarium dives. Still bitter about that.
Question for anyone that got this far:
What is your favorite place in the caribbean for great food and spectacular diving?