Celi’s Deli Johnny Cakes: My Best Bite March 2024

If I’m heading to San Pedro town early, I’m heading to Celi’s Deli on Front Street for a toasted Johnny Cake with ham and cheese. Always…every single time.

Celi's johnny cake size
Waiting for the water taxi, Celi’s Johnny Cake in hand

Celi’s Deli is a breakfast-only-takeaway spot that is VERY popular with locals – tour guides, local government workers, school kids…everyone looking to grab something quick and delicious to start the day.

First…What is a Johnny Cake? Many Caribbean countries and parts of the US have Johnny Cakes or Journey Cakes—quick bread meant “to-go”—to grab and take on your journey. A journey to school or out on a dive trip or you are sailing off on weeklong fishing trip to the outer atolls.

My Johnny Cake last week
My toasty johnny cake last week in front of some Carnaval handprints

In Belize, they are traditionally made with flour, salt, baking powder, shortening, and coconut milk on a faya haat (or fire hearth). They are not as flake-y and buttery as a biscuit, but not as dry as a roll. Served with chicken, beans, ham, or cheese, they are delicious.

If I’m in town at or before 9am, I always get a johnny cake at Celi’s. They are big, you can taste the bakin soda and salt (which I think is KEY) and they toast them. So they are crisp and the outside and fluffy on the island.

Celi's Deli on Front Street

Here are some pictures I’ve taken recently and over the years. I’m NEVER on a early morning water taxi to Belize City without a johnny cake from Celi’s in hand.

Johnny Cake at Celi's Deli

Celi’s is a mainstay in San Pedro – part of the Holiday Hotel family (and Ms Celi the founder). The Holiday Hotel, opened 58 years ago, is the oldest hotel in San Pedro. And the deli is a part of it. The Holiday Hotel is right across the street on the beach.

You can read some of the amazing history of this institution here.

NOW to Celi’s Deli. Open for 5:30am to noon…they serve classic Belizean breakfast food.

View of Celi's Deli and Front Street
Celi’s Deli

Here’s the menu. The classics.

Menu at Celis
Peanut Butter and Jelly
And not so classic!

I bet Celi’s was the first to introduce MANY to the American classic PB&J. Peanut butter was SO expensive when I first moved to the island in 2007. Now it is more widely available and you no longer have to pay $40bzd for a big tub of it.

The full menu.

Full menu at Celi's

On certain days, you can try three different meat pies – both San Pedro made and from the famous OG, Dario’s Meatpies in Belize City. Clearly I need to come back when they are all in stock and do a taste test.

Description of Dario's Meatpies.
Meatpies at Celi's Deli

Meatpies are a way of life in Belize. But I am here for my favorite! Johnny cake toasted with ham and cheese, no beans. 2 please. Jeff likes his opened with a few splashes of hot sauce, I like mine au naturale.

I love to eat it in the golf cart…or on a water taxi…it just tastes better

Just delicious. And filling…has me ready for my journey. Stop by Celi’s Deli early for their stuffed tortillas (so so good) or meat pies AND the johnny cake.

During the busier season, they can sell out of Johnny cakes by 9 or 10am so no dawdling! And let me know what you think.

Not only is it my favorite bite of March 2024 but it’s one of my top 5 in San Pedro.

For more best bites from months gone by…check out these posts. Yum.

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  1. Vince Smart on April 10th, 2024 at 10:40 am

    Location! I could never seem to find johnny cakes when I’m in San Pedro.

  2. Char Marie on April 10th, 2024 at 11:12 am

    Love your articles!! I’m curious, as I’ve seen this business in another photo you’ve shared: “Smelly people wanted” that looks like it’s across from Celi’s Deli…..What kind of business is this? Thanks!

    • Mimi Wells on April 10th, 2024 at 11:34 am

      Fragrances and perfumes as I recall for smelly people. I have not been to Ambergris Caye for a couple of years now.

      • Char Marie on April 10th, 2024 at 2:50 pm

        Ahhhhh, THAT makes sense!!! Thanks for the reply! (Catchy name for a business!)

    • Smelly Guy on April 11th, 2024 at 10:26 am

      Soaps made locally.

  3. Thom Yaras on April 10th, 2024 at 1:07 pm

    You are making me want to jump on a jet!

  4. Gary John MacBride on April 10th, 2024 at 3:58 pm

    All this stuff wants me to move to Belize tomorrow!

  5. SPmQQseBZ on April 11th, 2024 at 3:11 pm

    everything to eat at celi’s…is d-licious…
    [if you ask, real nice, they might make you a peanut butter and jam/jelly …sammich…!