Traditional Belizean food is as diverse as the population. To eat some authentic Kriol food, head to the vicinity of Belize City, the heart of the Kriol or Caribbean culture. There’s no way you could starve here, between the coconut-based dishes, the meats, the multitude of baked treats, and the very affordable meals. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss.
Boil-up isn’t served frequently, but when available, you should jump at the chance to taste this uniquely Caribbean stew mix of pig tail, fish, hard-boiled eggs, yams, plantains, sweet potato, and cassava—all biled up in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, and peppers.
Meat pies are serious business—so much so that there’s a constant debate on who makes the best: Dario’s (33 Hyde’s Ln., 5am-2pm Mon.-Sat.) or Pou’s Meat Pies (New Rd., 5am-2pm Mon.-Sat.) Join the club and be the judge.
Pastries and sweets are a part of Kriol life. You’ll find children selling their mothers’ Creole bread, buns, and johnnycakes, often baked with coconut oil. Stop by Dit’s (50 King St., tel. 501/227-3330, 8am-6pm Mon.-Sat., 8am-3pm Sun.) to sample traditional jam rolls, hot off the oven by noon, bread pudding, coconut pie, or some “plastic” pudding, made with cassava. Another option is Sugar Fix Bakery (8 Heusner Cres., tel. 501/223-7640, 6:45am-7pm Mon.- Fri., 6:45am-3pm Sat.).
Of the more than a dozen Kriol soups you could sample, the best-known is beef soup (head to Bird’s Isle on Tuesday for the best) and cow-foot soup.
Stew chicken is the unofficial national dish of Belize. Often served family-style on Sunday, it’s also sold throughout the week at various eateries. Along those same lines, you’ll find stew beef on the menu and some sort of fry fish or fry chicken. These dishes are almost always served with a heap of coconut rice and beans (not to be confused with beans and rice, which is white rice and stewed beans served separately) or plantains and coleslaw. For some of the best, head to Deep Sea Marlin’s Restaurant & Bar (Regent St. W., tel. 501/227-6995, 7am-9pm Mon.-Sat.), by the Swing Bridge.
Fermenting fruits, plants, and herbs is a tradition in the Belize River Valley. Locally made and potent (6-12 percent alcohol) but delicious wines are worth sampling, particularly the blackberry, cashew, or rice wines. These can be found in villages across the district.