My husband and I are going to be in Belize for a couple of weeks in January. We'll be in San Pedro for the first 4 or 5 days, and then the rest is unplanned. Does anyone have any "shouldn't miss" recommendations for San Pedro or elsewhere (including mainland/inland)?
Good call. Both offer beauty in different forms, but in choosing travel destinations, I'm like you and I let food be the tiebreaker. I can't count my Belize trips, all with memorable eats. Of my Costa Rica trips, my only memorable meals were a great black bean soup with a poached egg, and a tuna that a guy from Ohio caught off Nicoya and shared with all of the guests at the Ocotal Hotel. That experience is unlikely to repeat.
In San Pedro, I recall a red grouper one of my dive buddies caught, and our hotel chef fashioned cheese- filled pockets in the fillets and cooked them in a light tempura batter, for one of the best fish dinners I have ever experienced. If you like rum drinks, be on alert for 1 Barrel, a vanilla-nosed Belize curiosity that marries well with....anything.
Great food awaits you on Ambergris! For the mainland portion of your trip, you should study up on Garifuna cusine, which can be hit or miss.
I'll add a few others. I enjoy Wild Mango's, on the beach in town. Open for lunch and dinner. The owner/chef was formerly at Victoria House.
Caroline's is about a mile south of town, located in the Perla Escondida condo building. Small place, but really good curry. Also good barbecue on the weekends.
On the weekends, if you're hungry for really good barbecue, head north of the bridge a bit to the Lazy Croc. Really excellent pulled pork. Sometimes the ribs are better than others though. There really is a crocodile that hangs out in the lagoon that the veranda overlooks. He's not a captive, he can come and go as he pleases.
I like Caliente's Mexican lunches. I'm not as big a fan of their dinner menu as I used to be.
Ras Safari was, unfortunately, closed all last winter. I was told Robert, the owner, was back in the US.
I really found the food in San Pedro/Ambergris Caye to be very good. Standouts were meals at Red Ginger, Palmillo at Victoria House and Rico's at Villas at Banyan Bay. Celi's and Wild Mangoes were good too. Breakfasts with their famous johnny cakes are great.
I'm British and had fantastic fish and chips in Caye Caulker at a weird place on the "main drag" (if you can call it that, it's pretty much a dirt road). Belizians are excellent at frying.
On Ambergris, I'll start with fine dining and work downward:
Victoria House - south of the airport- the most elegant Inn, grounds, and restaurant in my 23 years of trips there. Service, wine list, and food are superior. Pricey, but to be expected. Jerry Jeff Walker (Mr. Bojangles) lives within a short walk, and it's his favorite, also, he mentions it in a song.
Capricorn - a couple miles north of the cut, across the mini-toll bridge, is excellent. Fresh colossal stone crabs daily from Caye Caulker and a nice wine list are the features. Kit, the owner, will arrange a water taxi for diners without golf carts. I have been known to go early in the day as the crabs arrive to pick out a few monsters for that evening.
Very good - and central in San Pedro in the Sunbreeze Hotel - is Blue Water. Best grouper and coconut shrimp on the island. a popular meeting place and a fun bar.
Middle range - and all in town - Carambas for conch, Warugumas for a lobster burrito, Fido's for a waterfront bar and very good conch fritters.
Slumming it - but fun - is Ras Safari at the south end, a rustic tiki bar with jerk chicken, cold Belikins (from a cooler - this is past the electrical grid) and hammocks. Rasto George will cook your fish.
BC's is a local joint that does Sunday barbecues at 1:00 for around 6 bucks. Decent spot to pick up local gossip.
To avoid - Elvie's Kitchen. Long on history and marketing, but a buffet without fish? Not for me.
Off Island - some decent grilled fish around the cut in Caye Caulker. If you are divers, Ambergris Caye, Lighthouse reef, and Turneffe Island are as good as it gets.
Mainland - Belize City creeps me out and I avoid it. One can get to San Pedro by small plane from Corozal, or by boat from Chetumal. (San Pedro now has a customs station at the dock).