San Pedro, Belize is a town of amazing food. From the fruit stands to the street vendors to the more upscale restaurants, it’s not easy to find a bad local meal here on Ambergris Caye. You may not know EXACTLY what San Pedrano cuisine is right now…but after you take the Belize Food Tours…with a walk around town, interesting historical tidbits, stories of growing up in San Pedro and a TON of food and drink….you’ll feel like you know this town.
PARK THAT GOLFCART. WALKING, TALKING, EATING AND MEETING IS THE WAY TO GO!
I LOVE a great idea. And when it’s marketed cleverly (like surprise packages loaded with goodies for invites) and executed super smartly and is SO FUN…well…as Martha Stewart says “It’s a good thing”.
Here is what you want to do at the beginning of your vacation to get the lay of the land…
But first, the secret is out of the bag, the creators of this new business are Felipe Paz and Dora Paz Guerra, a brother-sister team who grew up on the island. Guess who are the siblings here.
All invitees met at 11:30am in Central Park. They will be doing both lunch and dinner tours and will keep the groups more manageable in this busy town. 8 people maximum. But for the press tour, we were a bit more.
Meet Felipe, the guide…
And equally lovely but a bit more behind-the-scenes, Dora. The umbrellas are a great idea under the mid-day sun.
I met Don, a Belize City native and very enthusiastic eater and drinker, who won the chance to join the tour on Facebook. Super cool guy.
And we are off! Our first stop, one of the oldest restaurants in San Pedro, Elvi’s Kitchen. Started by Miss Elvi as a burger shack under a flamboyant tree that she planted for the birth of her first grandson, it has grown into a wildy popular restaurant.
Felipe was taking us back to Mayan times…when maize was a primary food source and we tried the delicious Maya themed taco with chicken, adobo and cilantro sauce. Elvi’s tacos are a must.
We also sampled the cane juice. In the 50s, cane was KING in Belize…the richest families on the mainland had cane plantations. This drink was surprisingly NOT TOO sweet and had a slight woody taste.
We continued on the cane kick and just a few shops down, we entered Travellers’ Rum. For a brief history, description of the difference between the 1, 3 and 5 barrel rums…and tastings. Of the rums and some traditional products like cashew wine, blackberry wine and craboo cream.
Here’s the really good stuff…named after the founder of Travellers.
We continued our parade…
And spotted Miss Elvi watching us!
Down toward the sea and a spot started by the Paz kids’ grandmother years ago, Lily’s Treasure Chest. A quick stop to enjoy THE VIEW.
A long table had been reserved and a stunning platter of ceviche arrived. Almost too pretty to eat.
Lily’s is just the best for ceviche – though if conch is in season, may I suggest that? And just for good luck, get some of the fried fish…
Felipe talked about how the island was purchased by the Blake family back in the mid-1800s and turned into a series of coconut plantations. The work was back breaking and paid…poorly. Later, people turned to fishing and it wasn’t too long ago that fish was eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What was the Blake house and store is now Heritage Bank…just across from Central Park.
So good. We were off to get…REGINA’S PALETAS! Hurray! She was the subject of my very last blog and just happens to be Dora and Felipe’s cousin. I didn’t wait for people to hem and haw about what flavor they wanted. I dove in for the mango.
We took a quick stop across the street at a local fruit stand and I had to take this gorgeous desserts picture over the mangoes that are finally in season.
It’s the most wonderful time…of the year…
We headed to the Back Street and my favorite deli, Briana’s. (Man, these guys are good!)
We were trying a Mestizo favorite, chilmole or “black soup”. A delicious chicken soup made with black recado – a spice paste blackened with burnt tortillas. It’s classically served with a big pile of fresh corn tortillas and a hard boiled egg.
If you get your chilmole with no egg? Ask for it. It’s my favorite part.
As we left, Dora picked up some frozen wash cloths and…ahhh…a super nice touch.
We’re walking…we’re walking…
…to “Back a Back Street” where the fruit and veggie boats pull up from the mainland on Tuesdays and sell produce.
It’s also the most gorgeous area for the sunset…
Back up along the Back Street (how many times can I say “Back” in one post?), we passed the House of Culture and the pretty May Pole with ribbons fluttering.
Back Street really is a great place to walk and enjoy street food. (Here are some tips I wrote about a while back: Cheap Eats in San Pedro).
We made our way to another beloved spot for local cuisine, El Fogon – named after the faya haat or fire hearth where many say only the best rice and beans can be cooked.
Rum punch was served…
Gibnut…GIBNUT! The Royal Rat! The large rodent that was (and still is, though it is much more rare) the popular “bush meat” and was served to the Queen on her visit to Belize years ago.
The gravy is SOOO good and the meat tender and rich. It makes me return to my idea of gibnut farming…but that is for another time.
And we tried the yummy fish balls with honey mustard sauce…an old school “Sunday favorite” in San Pedro.
And we had the perfect end. Food of the gods, the Maya…Belizean chocolate. At the very best chocolatier in the country…
From a list of four, including my beloved sea salt Caramel, I chose the dark chocolate coconut ball. Mmmmmmm….
What a perfect way to end the tour. And GOOD GRIEF…I needed a siesta.
I absolutely love this idea and I loved the tour. Felipe is filled with infectious energy and fun facts about growing up in San Pedro as well as his families and the island’s history.
Like…the very first tourists came to the island on a boat called the Elsa P. – named after his grandmother.
And the night time tour starts with Chaya dip and more at Finn & Martini…yum.
I totally suggest going out on this tour when you first arrive – what a fantastic overview of local eats. And if you can’t take the heat, try the evening tour, where they stop at some of these and some other spots.
HURRAY! EAT BELIZE! And you never know who you might run into.
The crew from Pampered Paws and the pack.
Let me make it easy for you 🙂 – you can save the idea on Pinterest below.