Meals and Mealtimes
You can eat well in Belize thanks to a gastronomic gumbo of Mexican, Caribbean, Mayan, Garífuna, English, and American dishes (on the American side, think fried chicken, pork chops, burgers, and T-bone steaks). On the coast and cayes, seafood—especially lobster, conch, snapper, and grouper—is fresh, relatively inexpensive, and delicious.
Try Creole specialties such as cow-foot soup (yes, made with real cows' feet), "boil up" (a stew of fish, potatoes, plantains, cassava and other vegetables, and eggs), and the ubiquitous "stew chicken" with rice and beans. Many Creole dishes are seasoned with red or black recado, a paste made from annatto seeds and other spices.
In border areas, enjoy Mestizo favorites such as escabeche (onion soup), salbutes (fried corn tortillas with chicken and a topping of tomatoes, onions, and peppers), or garnaches (fried tortillas with refried beans, cabbage, and cheese).
In Dangriga, Hopkins, and Punta Gorda or other Garífuna areas, try dishes such as sere lasus (fish soup with plantain balls) or cassava dumplings.
Breakfast is usually served from 7 to 9, lunch from 11 to 2, and dinner from 6 to 9. Few restaurants are open late. Remember, though, that small restaurants may open or close at the whim of the owner. Off-season, restaurants may close early if it looks as if there are no more guests coming, and some restaurants close completely for a month or two, usually in September and October. Unless otherwise noted, the restaurants listed in this guide are open daily for lunch and dinner.
Other than at hotels, Belize restaurants are often closed on Sunday.
Reservations and Dress
Reservations for meals are rarely needed in Belize or the Tikal area. The exceptions are for dinner at jungle lodges and at small restaurants where the owner or chef needs to know in advance how many people are dining that night. We mention reservations only when they're essential.
A couple of restaurants in Belize City have a dress code, which basically means that you can't wear shorts at dinner. We mention dress only when men are required to wear a jacket or a jacket and tie, which is nearly unheard of in Belize.