Wondering what kind of food and drinks to expect in Belize? Given the amalgamation of Belize’s cultures, it should come as no surprise that the cuisines and foods of Belize are also very mixed and diverse. The food choices will also vary according to which region of Belize you are visiting. Below, we will tell you what kind of food you’ll find throughout Belize, as well as talk about some popular food and drink items you won’t want to miss.
Regional Cuisines of Belize
Inland Towns Close to Mexico
As mentioned earlier, certain regions of Belize have dishes that depend on the cultural influences of the area. Inland towns such as San Ignacio are located close to Mexico. As a result, Belizean food in these towns is influenced by a Mestizo or Mayan culinary background. This means more traditional Mexican dishes such as fried tortillas, tamales, garnaches, and panades are more common inland than on the coast. Mountainous towns also have more access to fertile farming lands, so these areas usually have more corn, beans, plantains, and other cultivated crops in their diets.
Coastal Towns Near the Sea
The closer you get to the coast, the more fresh seafood is on the menu. Mainland Belize towns on the coast are inhabited by the Kriol and Garifuna people, and their cuisine is more Caribbean in influence and flavor. There is more fresh seafood such as lobster, fish, and conch in addition to cassava, a root vegetable that is popular among West Indian cultures. Among the most popular ways to eat cassava is in the form of a cassava pone, a cake made of cassava flour sweetened with coconut and raisins, or a bammy, a friend cassava cake dipped in coconut milk.
Typical Belize Food
Among the staples of Belizean diets include local fruits (breadfruit, mango, banana, etc) and carbohydrates (tortillas, rice, cassava, etc). Protein-wise, Belizeans each more chicken and fish than beef and pork. In terms of “unusual” Belizean dishes, adventurous eaters should try cow foot soup, iguana (also called bamboo chicken), gibnut (a large rodent) or conch.
Belizean Meals of the Day
A typical Belize diet will vary depending on the cultural influences of the exact region you are staying in. Similar to many other Latin American countries, mealtimes are treated as communion for families and schools and certain businesses may even close midday for lunch, reopening in the evenings or afternoons. Typical meals in Belize might include the following:
- Breakfast is usually toasted bread, a flour tortilla, or fry jacks (deep fried pieces of dough), eaten with refried beans, cheese, and eggs.
- Lunch is generally a lighter meal that could include rice and beans, tamales, panades (fried corn tortillas topped with cheese and meat), meat pies, garnaches (fried tortillas with beans, cheese, and sauce), escabeche (onion soup), stew chicken, or cow foot soup.
- Dinner is a heavier meal that is usually the favorite dish of Belizeans: rice and beans with meat and salad.
Famous Belize Hot Sauce
One of the most notable food commodities is Belize hot sauce. There are two brands competing for the title of best hot sauce in Belize, and you can typically find one or both of them at the table of every meal. Hot Mama’s Belize produces award-winning gourmet habanero hot sauce. Marie Sharp’s Belizean Heat Habanero Sauce is also notable for its unique carrot and tomato based blend. These sauces make great gift ideas as they are sold in mini bottles and pack into suitcases easily.
Most dishes in Belize are made with fresh, naturally organic foods. If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, most restaurants can accommodate your needs upon request.
Price of Food in Belize
Like many tourist countries, food in Belize can be fancy and gourmet, or it can be plain and simple. Many resorts and hotels will have restaurants with pricey food, but many towns and villages will also have food priced for locals. A typical cost of a lunchtime meal with a drink included averages about BZ$10 ($5 USD).
Since English is the official language of Belize, it is easy for visitors to read menus and order food in most restaurants. Many towns also have supermarkets and farmer’s markets such as the San Ignacio Saturday Market where freshly cooked street food can be bought or raw ingredients if you prefer to cook food for yourself.
Can you drink the water in Belize?
Most of the drinking water in Belize is rainwater and tap water is generally not safe for tourists. As a result, it is recommended that visitors drinking bottled or spring water, available at most stores in Belize. We also highly recommend traveling with the portable, effective Life Straw personal water filter.
Alcoholic beverages in Belize
The legal alcoholic drinking age in Belize is 18 years old. Beer, wine, and liquor can be found in most supermarkets and convenience stores. Belikin is the national beer of Belize. It comes in three varieties of Lager, Premium, and Stout. The Belikin Brewery also bottles a locally produced Guinness Stout.
In terms of hard alcohol, Caribbean rum is the liquor of choice. The most expensive rum in Belize is 5-year aged Prestige. On the lower range of prices is 1 Barrel, a popular, more affordable brand of rum. The popularity of local rum has produced one of the most popular Belize cocktails: the Panty Ripper drink, which consists of coconut rum and pineapple juice. While Belize does not produce any notable wines, there are wines produced with native Belizean fruits and nuts including pineapple wine, banana wine, and cashew wine.
The food and drinks in Belize depends on what region of the country you are visiting. During your trip, never hesitate to ask the locals for recommendations and always try to indulge in local flavor! What are some of your favorite Belizean dishes? Let us know in the comments below!