Belize, the youngest of the Central American countries, has handled the Covid-19 pandemic remarkably well. Its wide-open spaces and low population density allowed re-opening to travelers in October 2020.
Ambergris Caye, an island made famous by celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio is the most popular tourist destination. It’s a 13-minute plane ride from Belize City.
With diving the Blue Hole the primary reason most scuba divers would visit Ambergris Caye, good food and fun around dive time is key.
And there are plenty of good places to eat.
Visiting other destinations in Belize? Check out our other delicious guides:
While in San Pedro Belize, don’t miss out on activities that will help immerse yourself with the city (hurry while they’re hot!):
- Caye Caulker: 7-Stop Snorkeling in the Belize Barrier Reef
- Caye Caulker: Hol Chan Marine Reserve Small-Group Tour
8 Best San Pedro Belize Restaurants
Beachfront, Barrier Reef Dr // +5012263347
This fun, friendly and airy restaurant boasts seating on both the upper and lower patios.
The menu shown on the framed board changes regularly, but staples remain the fish tacos, Broccoli Chicken, shrimp & calamari as well as quinoa bowls, ceviche, conch fritters, and coconut shrimp sticks.
Never the adventurous eater, I opted for the fish tacos (other proteins include chicken, beef, and pork). The three tacos, double wrapped in corn tortillas, make for a satisfying lunch.
Simply and perfectly dressed with a tangy, spicy sauce, light onions, and cabbage, the accompanying salsa is wholly unnecessary.
They offer a key lime pie (known as their Caye Lime Pie) and chocolate molten lava cake for dessert.
Bottled water, sodas, juices, and a well-stocked bar provide great options to quench your thirst.
Pescador Dr // +5012262176
While this restaurant is officially Elvi’s (note the apostrophe) the way I’ve heard everyone say it is “Elvis.”
It’s a family business, established in 1977 before Belize became its own country. Elvi loved to feed people creating her own expansive community. A photo of her prominently positioned in the restaurant on the back wall welcomes all.
Also prominently placed is a tree trunk. Right in the middle of the dining room. This tree originally stood outside the initial building. As the restaurant expanded, they built around the tree, including it.
Sadly, when Hurricane Dean struck Belize in 2007, the tree was nearly destroyed.
As Elvi’s rebuilt, an arborist did their thing and created a non-degradable piece of art that they’ve strung with white Christmas lights – watching those lights turn on … quite the reveal.
The food is varied and easily accessed if you have a cell phone plan by QR code. When that doesn’t work, the staff happily provides a menu.
Their seafood selection stems from the fresh catch of the day. They’re well respected for their burgers.
When my server heard I was ready for my main meal of the day, he recommended the Mexican steak. Yes, beef. He touted its tenderness and accompanied by baked potato (butter, sour cream, and chives) would make a complete meal.
It arrived, accompanied by a freshly made coleslaw and fried plantain. The coleslaw was surprisingly refreshing, a little heavier on the mayo than the vinegar I’ve come to expect. The plantain created the sweet note so many people crave at the end of the meal.
The steak was grilled to my specifications. The potato was red and tastier than American potatoes. It’s interesting to explore vegetables in different countries.
San Pedro, Belize // +5012262071
Pineapples on the Beach is open for all three meals.
Their daily specials are legendary. The day I attended, several of the other restaurants in town (including the Mexican one) knew that Pineapples had their chicken flautas as a special that day. It takes the chef until 11:10 to have the prep work done (so don’t go at breakfast time for this wonderful special).
Pineapples feed the Dive Village so it’s no surprise their menu is varied and the portions are large.
But when the server presents your meal with an “Oh, my goodness!” just a second ahead of you saying “Oh, my goodness!”… you know you’re in for (a) a treat and (b) leftovers!
The portions are enormous. But for breakfast, they offer breakfast quesadillas, cinnamon French toast, blueberry bagels, tropical waffles, Pineapples Omelette.
Their Hol Chan Breakfast, they tell me, is the favorite choice – two eggs cooked any style, with bacon ham or link sausage and breakfast potatoes or toast.
The Island Feast is their “healthy choice.” A platter of fresh tropical watermelon, banana, cantaloupe, pineapple, and papaya. The fruit is fresh, in season, and delicious.
Their general menu shows their typical appetizers include a Mexican black bean & corn soup or a BBQ shrimp salad.
For snacks, they offer ceviche, nachos (vegetarian / shrimp/conch/chicken), cheesy fries, wings, or chips & salsa.
Their burgers and sandwiches include a crispy buffalo sub, bacon black and blue burger, chicken and waffle sandwich, siracha popcorn shrimp tacos (my daughter’s fave).
Entrees blackened fish tacos are my other daily choice when this flauta special isn’t offered, Belizean rice & beans (including fried plantain garnish)
These portions can serve more than one and my leftovers supplied two additional meals!
And the location on the beach where you can watch the sand and surf or the divers going in and out of the dive village remains one of the best places to people watch.
Belize // +5012062441
With so many of the resorts and condos (AirBnB or VRBO) south of town, there are two restaurants right by the 2.5-mile mark.
The Black Orchid represents the “fine” dining experience on the island. Greeted by Brimley, the wooden child-size menu holder, you’ll be happily seated in the multi-fanned dining room.
For starters, we got to choose from Creamy Spinach Dip, Marinara Meatballs (homemade Italian), Calamari, Ginger Pork Egg Rolls, or shrimp cocktail.
They had both Crispy Green Salad and Mini BLT Cobb salad on the menu.
Teriyaki chicken and Butter Braised pork (mushroom cream sauce) were the two white meat choices – I liked that the chicken was a boneless option. After marinating in teriyaki sauce, they grill over a lava rock flame and serve with vegetables and Sweet Coconut Rice.
Their Seafood – Steak – Pasta options were the most extensive.
Sunshine Snapper (locally caught) sauteed in chef’s butter, garlic, and herbs accompanied by seasonal vegetables and coconut rice was an obvious choice.
They also offered Blackened Snapper, Crusted Orange Rum Grouper, Spicy Shrimp, Seafood Alfredo, and Shrimp Scampi.
For the beef lovers in the group, they offered a boneless rib eye, locally raised steer from Mainland Belize.
Finally, their Lasagna Boat was 5 layers of rich marinara sauce, mozzarella cheeses, deliciously fresh hand-made pasta, ground beef, red peppers & herbs topped with parmesan and served with garlic bread. Yum!
Too full to check the desserts, we realized the next day, if they were open for lunch, we’d have gone back to ask.
Coconut Drive // +5012264666
The Lone Star Grill & Cantina, rustic and just a block in from the beach, offers books to read for sale at the front door. One of the ex-pats we met our first day, Dawn from Illinois (a realtor whose name and WhatsApp number are on many red and black signs around town), read 6 books a week and needed the handy nearby service.
A lot of the local fun can be found here as it hosts trivia nights and daily specials based on the catch of the day. Our night it was Caribbean Fish (funny because locals tell me this part of Belize is on the Atlantic Ocean) and fresh Grouper.
Their covered open-air seating on the front porch allowed for social distancing even during trivia.
Appetizers included conch fritters, deluxe nachos, conch or shrimp ceviche, stuffed jalapenos (chicken and cream cheese, battered and deep-fried), guacamole when avocados are in season, chips and salsa.
They’re open for both lunch and dinner so I was pleased to see several appetizing selections – Texas Fried Steak, Quesadillas (beef/chicken/shrimp/steak), their El Jefe Burrito that could be deep-fried to become a chimichanga and fajitas (chicken/beef/shrimp).
My favorite was the crispy taco dinner (chicken). The plate was large – plenty for leftovers at the condo. My daughter loves curry so the Chicken curry was more up her alley, with choices of white rice and coleslaw or potato salad as a choice.
Their Stew Chicken was reported as “tender chicken marinated and cooked in our special sauce served with white rice & beans and coleslaw or potato salad” is such a local favorite, they had sold out before our arrival.
For kids or the kids at heart, they also offer a hamburger, chicken sandwich, chicken fingers, and fish and chips.
One especially nice offer: the “Fisherman’s Catch.” If you bring in your own catch of the day (cleaned) they will cook it for you – breaded, blackened, or pan-seared.
Their famous dessert offering? Coconut Pie. And also the Belize version of Key Lime Pie, “Caye Lime Pie.”
Another fun fact: they have take-out AND delivery available.
Your Dive Boat
The Atlantic Ocean // Open Water // Phone # (your local dive shop)
Divers get hungry. On a 3-tank dive to the Blue Hole, we get very hungry.
Ramon’s Dive Village offered the Blue Hole dive during our visit. Seeing the happy faces of people leaving the water as they finished their dive made it a no-brainer to join them (and all the dive shops we interviewed recommend each other, which helps).
Their restaurant, Pineapples, already made this list, so it’s no surprise that the food was excellent.
The trip out to the Blue Hole is no joke. 2.5 hours of open water, difficult and bumpy, but declared “this is only choppy, not rough” as one poor girl sobbed inconsolably from the 15 min mark after we started to the hour.
They fed us breakfast – coffee, water, OJ, cinnamon rolls, watermelon, red and green apples, pineapple, raisin combination of cookie and muffin (can we call it a Mookie since coffin would be bad?), and monkey bread.
Fortunately, with an 0530-start time, we enjoyed it a little before we started so didn’t have very full stomachs when we hit the “choppy” water. The hour seemed interminable, but then there’s about a 30-minute break where the red mangroves live. That’s the best time to eat a little more and get some water down.
Then another hour of “choppy” before we hit the atolls and reef that surrounds the Blue Hole. After the dive, more snacks and fruit were offered.
After the second dive, they took us to Half Moon Caye where we ate lunch on the boat. Rice & Beans, Coleslaw and a chicken (on the bone) and potato dish in a rich orange Belizean sauce.
They gave us 40 minutes to explore the island before returning for our final dive of the day. Restaurant quality food makes diving that much more enjoyable.
Wherever you choose // San Pedro, Belize // Ambergris Caye
There are several groceries around town – one supermarket that’s a block wide.
If you’re staying at an Airbnb instead of a hotel, as so many do, you may be lucky enough to have some cooking supplies the owner has left behind.
If not, make a thorough shopping list and go to any of the local markets, realizing that the best produce is likely found from the vendors located along Back Street or the tiny store across from the supermarket in town.
The very best protein you can choose is going to be fish that you caught. With snapper, swordfish, conch, Grouper, some of the best advice we heard was “Go fishing early during your stay. You’ll fill your freezer.”
Pick up some cabbage, onion, cilantro, and a little oil and the homemade tortillas from a street vendor and you’re all set.
Street vendors and stands
When you’re fortunate enough to have a good job in the US and the ability to travel, it’s nice to be able to spread the wealth among the street vendors, especially those on foot or bike, that sell their goods.
The first lady and little boy that approached sold jicama and peeled oranges.
The second young man, on a bike with a very large basket attached, sold pigs in a blanket, tiny quiche, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, and a flat cookie filled with fruit.
My favorite stand amongst them resides at Middle Street and Pescador Drive. But you’ll have to go very early to get their breakfast special, usually some form of taco or tortilla treat.
If you’re too late for that, enjoy their made-to-order fruit smoothies – they’re patient enough to walk you through any dietary challenges. Mine was a raspberry banana orange with a special ingredient not disclosed to me (even with backstage access, you can’t get everything!) and it was delicious – I’m definitely going back next time I’m in town.
When you visit Ambergris Caye, you’ll want to dive, snorkel, lounge at the beach, tour the Mayan site and enjoy the fun of center city San Pedro.
You’ll be glad to know you have plenty of great places to eat to fuel your adventures.
Gail Clifford, MD, a physician for more than 25 years, has traveled to five continents and all 50 United States. An avid traveler, she happily goes on new adventures, especially on birthdays. Multi-generational travel remains a treasured pastime. She divides her time between Ireland and the U.S. You can find her on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.