When people travel, they often depend on the concierge for suggestions on what to do, where to eat, and places to hang out. I know I do. But, I always take it a step further and do my own investigation. I check out Instagram and message locals I find and know. Then, I check on-line and travel lover groups on Facebook, TripAdvisor, and other trusted sources. But, on a recent trip to San Pedro Belize, I did no research. Yes, I admit it…no research at all.
This trip was the second leg of our winter Belize trip where we’ve visited many times. I guess we could be considered insiders by now. The first leg was spent at Copal Tree Lodge (re-named from Belcampo Belize) where we eat at the lodge except on excursions. So, thinking about where to eat in San Pedro was not on the brain. Instead, we turned to the concierge at our hotel once we arrived with mixed results. After a miss at the hotel restaurant which was both highly rated and suggested and another miss at a local favorite, we turned back to our trusted research methods with great success.
San Pedro Belize Insider’s Favorite Places to Eat
Located right on the beach, Estel’s serves breakfast all day long and has a lunch menu as well. You can choose a table inside, on the deck, or on the beach. Before you sit down, head to the blackboard to see what is being served the day you are there. Then, place your order with one of the very friendly staff members and pick where to sit. There is also a cooler full of fresh coconuts for coconut water to mend that hangover or just enjoy, plus a full bar to kick off or continue your day.
We were at Estel’s early for breakfast and had a hard time deciding what to eat. We ended up with two omelets; a lobster and ham and cheese. We had one with fresh fruit and one with potatoes and both with whole wheat toast with local papaya jelly. Both were delicious, but the huge chucks of lobster made for a nice way to kick off the day. We loved sitting and enjoying our meal and watching the locals and travelers filter through. The only thing we wish is that we ventured there earlier in our stay.
We discovered Ruby’s with our Fly Fishing guide, but ended up stopping back for treats. Ruby’s is a local favorite of guides to stop by in the morning for their breakfast and to pick up lunch for their clients for full days fly fishing and other excursions. Our guide, Jason from Reel Women Fly Fishing, brought us chicken sandwiches, rum cake, and watermelon. OMG – was it all wonderful!
The chicken sandwiches are served in a pita with perfectly seasoned pulled chicken and topped with grated cheese. Served with refried beans, they’re absolutely delicious. I will admit eating it in the middle of the flats on the Belize Barrier Reef with crystal clear water, blue skies, and permit and bone fish watching you makes it taste even better. But the rum cake- OH THE RUM CAKE. Moist and not too strong, we ate it all. We stopped in Ruby’s for bites of other specialties and were impressed with each bite. A not to be missed spot in San Pedro.
We stumbled upon Caramba’s simply because of the sweet gentleman who helps you pick your dinner from the fresh catch of the day. He stopped us from heading to a tourist trap restaurant – we later learned – and boy are we glad. We even went back our last night. Located on Middle Street, Caramba’s has a front porch where you can enjoy the view at lunch, but at night, it’s where the fresh catch is displayed.
Honestly, we have not looked at the menu and we have eaten there twice. Once we arrived at our table, we ordered our drinks and toasted to another wonderful day in Belize. Then, we told the waiter, which is not really your waiter which we love. If I might use a basketball analogy, it is more like a zone defense with all the staff working together than a man to man defense with one waiter. The staff is so friendly and kind, it’s like a family.
We then headed outside where the wonderful “fish man” as we called him, helped us pick out the fish we wanted each night. They had everything from conch and red snapper to lion fish and spiny lobster to seasonal crabs (the time of year we were there there was a stone crab and another) and hog fish and octopus.
Once he weighed it and marked the prices, a waiter brought it to the table to asked how you want each pick cooked. We are purest and love the fresh taste of the food, so we keep it simple and grill our fish, steam our crab, and keep the butter on the side. If we are unsure the waiters are happy to make a suggestion.
We know we are different in this was and many people love the whole fish fried which they are happy to do. The waiter then comes back to get each person’s starch and vegetable choice. All I will say is that if we had more nights, we would spend them at Caramba’s. As for cocktails, on our final night they had a wine sangria that was the best I have ever had.
We stayed in a unit with a full kitchen and if you know anything about me, you know I love to cook. When traveling, I love to visit the local farmer’ markets and grocers to pick up local specialties and cook up a meal or two, if possible. This trip, I had a full kitchen overlooking the beautiful water.
When we checked in, we asked where to head to get items from the grocer. We went where they told us and came back empty handed. I then asked where to go for local produce and some organics. The concierge immediately pointed me in a whole different direction a few blocks the other way to the Greenhouse Grocer. I arrived with by backpack and 2 bags and filled them both up. It felt like I was home.
I picked up the basics and wonderful local bread, organic local eggs, the freshest produce including pineapple, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, ginger, grapefruit, limes, and so much more. Then, I was able to get local yogurt, cheese, orange juice, honey, and tortilla chips. We were set for breakfast and afternoon homemade salsa and chips and snacks. The Greenhouse is a perfect stop for groceries or picking up local favorites to take home.
We wandered upon Wild Mango on a walk. We stopped for a cocktail and stayed for ceviche. Wild Mango is a hot spot for locals and you will find many travelers there waiting for their ferry or boat. We thought we would just stop by for a cocktail since we were early for our dinner reservations at a different restaurant and ordered our favorite mojitos and a blanco with lime citrus.
We sat and enjoyed the view as day turned to night and saw a few menu items pass us to be delivered to other tables. They looked too good to pass up so we ordered a trio of ceviche; their classic, the fire and ice, and the tai ceviche. They came with a basket of three types of chips, yum. Each ceviche was better than the bite before. We each had our favorite; I loved the fire and ice with the coconut milk. We then saw a basketfull of goodness pass us and said just bring us those. Ended up they were disco fries, YUM! Let’s just say we went back to Wild Mango multiple times for snacks and cocktails.
Belize Chocolate Company
We stopped in to buy a couple gifts to bring home then ordered tea and cookies. We spend the majority of our time when visiting Belize in the Toledo district in the town of Punta Gorda. The Toledo District is know for its cacao and chocolate. When we passed the Belize Chocolate Company we knew we would stop in for gifts to take home, but little did we know we would stay for chocolate tea and chocolate chip cookies. Both were delicious and the space was so comfortable. We ended up with treats to eat and take home for friends, the dog sitter, and ourselves!
D and E’s Custard
This was the saddest find ever! While trolling Instagram, we discovered we must stop in at D and E’s. We did and it was all everyone was talking about and more. It was literally the best frozen custard I have ever had and I take my custard super seriously. I had the chocolate in a cone and hubby had mint chocolate chip and caramel in a cup. We enjoyed both on a walk home in a light drizzle and so enjoyed each bite. Our biggest regret of the whole week is that we did not stop in until the last night.
If you must stop at the tourists’ favorites, try these two.
Everyone and everything we read said it was a “not to be missed spot”, so, of course, we stopped in. The food was okay, space inviting, and staff super sweet, but I would skip it.
Blue Water Grill
Another place to skip unless for some reason you must go. The decor and view are great and the band was wonderful the night we were there. The band literally played “our song” when our drinks were delivered. Getting the drinks, however, was an issue. Service was bad, drinks were ok, and the food was fair at best, except the ravioli.
We ordered the poke and the egg noodles to start. Both had little taste and we sent the noodles back to the kitchen. Instead of making a fresh batch, they took our noodles and added more sauce and warmed them up, causing them to become overcooked and gummy.
The other issue is they were out of many menu items that were our first picks. The ravioli was delicious. It was a what looked like homemade pasta stuffed with local seafood with a nice fresh sauce. If you must have that shot with the “I Love Belize” sign, stop in for a drink and appetizer or share a meal and eat somewhere else.