Belize, a small yet lively Central American country bordering the Caribbean Sea, is a destination for travelers worldwide. In fact, many Caribbean cruises drop you off right on its sunny shores! However, this nation isn’t just home to centuries of Mayan history; it also has some of the best food south of the border. Ingredients like coconut, plantains and hot peppers give the cuisine a uniquely Caribbean flavor that shouldn’t be missed! If you’re wondering what to eat in Belize, why not try one of these 10 delicious and traditional Belize dishes?
Light and refreshing, ceviche is a staple of Belize cuisine that’s chock full of seafood goodness. Its unique use of shrimp or conch chunks gives it a distinct flair – and lucky for visitors, Belizean ceviche is prevalent all throughout the nation. Served raw, the fish is steeped in lime juice and tossed with crisp, fresh vegetables for a delicious and nutritious dish.
2. Rice and Beans
If you cruise anywhere in Central America, you will surely sample some rice and beans! This staple of Belizean cooking can be found anywhere, usually served with potato salad. While the dish is cooked in coconut milk with native annatto seed, it can be made with shrimp, beef, chicken, lobster or even game meat. Whether you eat it on its own or on the side with main dishes such as chicken, rice and beans is a perfectly traditional and memorable choice.
3. Tamales (Bollos)
Tamales, or bollos, as they’re called in Belize, are another tasty option when visiting the port of call. Seasoned chicken or beef is mixed with spices, vegetables and cornmeal. Unlike traditional tamales, which are steamed in corn husks, Belizean bollos are cooked in plantain or banana leaves, a much more local option. The result? A pocket of delicious Belizean food you can eat on the go!
4. Conch Fritters
Due to the prevalence of conch in Belize, conch fritters are an appetizer found up and down the coastline. In fact, they may just be the most popular appetizer in the country. These tasty mollusks are chopped, mixed with batter and deep fried into a crispy ball, and then served with a spicy dipping sauce. If you land in Belize on your next cruise, be sure to give these appetizers a try for a truly authentic experience – they won’t be difficult to find!
Whether you call them empanadas or panades (the Belizean version), this dish gives visitors a taste of local flavor. Served with sides such as onions, pepper salsa and cabbage, panades are a unique spin on this classic dish. Filled with fish and red or black beans, and fried until deliciously crispy, panades are so delicious you probably won’t be able to stop at just one!
6. Johnny Cakes
Called “journey cakes” in some cultures, Johnny cakes (think: a thicker, breadier pancake) have a rich and vibrant history across the western world. A small cake made from flour and coconut milk, Johnny cakes are delightful when served warm and smothered in butter, cheese and refried beans. Whether you want to try them hot out of the oven or alongside a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon, you’ll love how these little cakes hit the spot.
7. Cochinita Pibil
A delicious pulled pork dish, cochinita pibil (also called pibil pork) is a slow-roasted, barbecued meal that will delight your taste buds. It includes the traditional flavors of the annatto seed, as well as the technique of roasting the marinated meat in a banana leaf, similar to a bollo. Try scooping the meat into warm tortillas for a meal on the go.
8. Relleno Negro
Also called chimole, or black dinner, relleno negro is a vegetable soup with spicy chicken or turkey from the Mayan and Mestizo cultures. The use of black recado paste, which is roasted at length with ancho peppers, gives it a dark-as-night appearance. Garlic, cumin and oregano round out the dish. Served with hard-boiled eggs on the side, relleno negro makes for a filling and delicious local meal.
9. Rum Cake
Celebrate a fruitful day of shopping in Belize with some spicy and delicious rum cake. Although this dessert is more popular around the holidays, another version of it often appears on many local menus. Chock full of preserved fruits and doused with a healthy dose of dark local rum, this pastry will leave you with that warm, happy feeling.
10. Boil Up
A national dish, the Belizean boil up is a unique approach to a one-pot meal. Consisting of various meats, fish, eggs, vegetables and even bread dumplings, boil ups can look quite different from restaurant to restaurant. Topped with coconut oil, sauteed onion and tomato sauce, this dish is a great option for a filling meal after a long day.
One of the top things to do when you cruise to Belize is to experience their unique food culture. From fresh ceviche to decadent rum cake, Belize traditional foods are an adventure in and of themselves. Bon voyage!