OUR FAVORITE TRADITIONAL BELIZE FOOD
It’s time to tantalize not only your mind, body and soul, but your taste buds too and indulge in an exploration of what is fast becoming known as a foodie’s paradise – Belize.
From sipping fresh organic coffee with a Fry Jack breakfast to dining on creative Belizean specialties and the finest of seafood overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea … eating out in Belize is a mouth-watering adventure.
Travelers flock to Belize for world-class diving, yet Belize is a food destination waiting to be discovered, with restaurants available for all budget levels.
Here’s our guide to the best traditional food to try while in Belize:
Eat Like a Local in Belize
Looking for an authentic Belizean dining experience?
Belize is a melting pot of cultures bringing their culinary influences and fragrant spices from near and far. The traditional cuisine and the well-preserved traditions of the local Creole, Maya and Garifuna cultures, combined with the tastes of Africa, China, Lebanon, India and the rest of Central America … promises an epicurious adventure for all food lovers!
You won’t find any fast food franchises here, that’s not our vibe! Yet a stroll through San Pedro Town opens up endless delectable opportunities. It’s a journey of the senses. The smell of fresh seafood, colorful street signs inviting you in, the sounds of the Garifuna drumming, the pangs of hunger followed by the taste of the best Belizean traditional fare.
That’s our vibe! The streets of San Pedro are alive with street food vendors, sidewalk pop-ups, oceanfront cafés on the sand and family residences turned eclectic take-outs.
Here comes the tricky part … understanding the menu!
While most restaurants serve seafood and you can always err on the side of caution…we encourage you to bib up, delve in and immerse yourself in an authentic and incredibly tasty Caribbean food experience. We’ll help you on your way with a look into the freshest, finest and most bizarre Belizean foods.
The Best & Most Bizarre Belizean Food
Belize Rice and Beans
You’ll find this everywhere, it’s somewhat of a national dish and Caribbean classic. A hearty meal of kidney beans with your choice of added meat (chicken, pork, lobster or game meat), spiced with recado and served on a bed of coconut milk rice with habanero peppers, onions and lime juice. A simple yet mouth-watering Belizean staple.
This is in fact the meat of the River Turtle. A strong yet savory taste and a Belizean delicacy. The river turtle is locally known as Hicatee, not Bokotora.
A refreshing meal of seafood soaked in lime juice, garnished with a fresh salsa of tomatoes, onions, cucumber, cilantro and local Habanero peppers. Best with conch or shrimp, locals also use lionfish, octopus and bizarrely chicken feet (we’ll leave that up to you!)
Also known as Relleno Negro or Black Dinner, Chimole Soup is a soul-warming combination of chicken, vegetables and spices resulting in a spicy, smoky and strong flavor.
Cochinita Pibil (Pibil Pork)
A traditional Yucatec-Maya classic, slow roasted in an underground clay oven. The pork is marinated in a strong citrus juice, spiced with annatto seed then wrapped in plantain leaf with garlic and onion. After hours of slow roasting, it’s accompanied by hot home-made tortillas, avo and Habanero Pepper Sauce. It’s a must!
As it reads, this is an ancient traditional delicacy of cowfeet slowly simmered with okra, coconut and potatoes to create a hearty stew, similar to a beef broth. Oxtail is generally stewed, not made in soup. An alternate soup option is “Conch soup” it is prepared similar to the cowfoot soup.
This is essentially an exotic onion soup with lots of crispy onions, black pepper and jalapenos. Traditional to Yucatec-Maya, this delicious soup is served with hot tortillas and you can always add chicken for the extra protein.
You’ll find these on every breakfast menu. These small bread cakes are deep fried, best served hot and served with cheese and refried beans. Ask for them stuffed, you won’t regret it.
Gibnut (Royal Rat)
This is the game meat you can add to your Rice & Beans and yes, it is rat! Served to Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Belize in 1985, hence the name Royal Rat, Gibnut is served stewed or grilled and resembles ham or rabbit. But just how epi-curious are you?
A traditional Garifuna food, Hudut is a stew of green, ripened and mashed plantains, fresh fish, coconut milk and hot sauce.
Don’t be fooled if you see Bamboo Chicken on the menu. It looks like chicken, tastes like chicken but is in fact roasted green Iguana, a popular delicacy used for many local recipes.
You may see Journey Cakes on your menu, it’s the same thing. These are small bread cakes made of coconut milk and flour then cooked in a traditional fire hearth. Another breakfast favorite – simply add butter, cheese, beans and even meat.
A Belizean version of the empanada and a Belizean delicacy, Panades are crispy pockets of deep-fried corn tortillas stuffed with meat or fish and beans and mostly served with a spicy onion-cilantro salsa.
It’s used in most dishes so a good thing to know! A local spice of Mayan origin, recado is made with the deep red annatto seed, ancho chilies and garlic resulting in a smoky, spicy flavor.
Salbutes & Garnaches
These tasty corn tortilla appetizers are very similar, Salbutes are deep fried where Garnache is lightly fried. Smothered in beans, cheese, shredded onion, cabbage and pickled jalapenos, it’s common street food and simply delicious.
Sere is a fish soup that is very similar to Hudut. A blend of fried fish, plantain, coconut milk and cassava, a nutty flavored root vegetable.
Unlike Mexican tamales, our Belizean tamales are creamy, smooth and wrapped in smoked plantain leaves steamed over an open fire. Rooted in early Mayan cuisine, we’ve been eating tamales here for years, our best version of fast food!
Dating back to the days of African slaves, Dukunu (also called Duckanoo) is a popular dish combined of cornmeal, coconut and traditional African spices wrapped in plantain leaf. – In Belize Dukunu is mostly cooked as a savory version of the traditional sweet dessert. Oftentimes, since it is considered a meal, it is also stuffed and cooked with chicken. Usually served as a side along with strewed meal -chicken, beef, pork or game meat.
Best Belize Desserts & TREATS
You’ve ventured into the unknown and discovered the best of traditional Belizean food and now it’s time for something sweet. From traditional cakes and local puddings to alluring wines and award-winning beers, it’s another journey of palatable pleasures.
Belikin is best served ice cold, preferably overlooking the ocean with a tasty appetizer! This German style pilsner is indigenous, and the only beer made here in Belize. Choose from a Belikin Lager, Belikin Stout or Belikin Premium.
Black Fruit Cake
This is not your average fruit cake! Infused with rum and caramel coloring, this traditional cake is loaded with prunes, raisins, pecans, cherries and dates and aged for a week. It’s a Christmas essential in Belize.
It’s hard to pass on a Belizean coconut tart. A bite size decadent treat of condensed milk, grated coconut, nutmeg and vanilla.
Made from locally grown fermented cashew fruit, Cashew wine is a sweet traditional wine that is not for every palate. Not to worry, there are other fruitier options available such as blackberry, pineapple and mango.
Soursop Ice Cream
Soursop is a tropical fruit with an unusual taste, some say a cross between a papaya, pineapple and citrus. Perfectly blended with coconut milk and cream it’s a refreshingly sweet and healthy treat.
Think of it as Belizean Eggnog! A rum crème specialty of Caribbean rum, condensed milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s a local Christmas tradition in Belize and a great accompaniment to the traditional fruit cake.