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The Best Food Tour in Belize Is a Journey Through Ambergris Caye 

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Ambergris Caye isn't just a great beach town, it's a dynamic food destination.

Tio Pil was born here when it was just a fishing village, went to work on the Panama Canal, and came back on his cargo boat. Pil, whose real name was Felipe Paz, helped to bring some of the first travelers to the island of Ambergris Caye in Belize; he was the island’s unofficial father of tourism, helping to turn this thin, 25-square-mile island into one of the beloved pilgrimage-stops of Caribbean travel. 

Belize’s lovable offshore isle runs one mile at its widest, a place where golf carts far outnumber cars and the whole town feels like somewhere halfway between Casablanca and the Caribbean, a maritime crossroads that has a magnetic pull, drawing people from, well, everywhere. 

Its position as a crossroads has made Ambergris Caye into a destination not just for its world-renowned coral reef, or its overwater bars, but a layered culinary scene that draws influences from the tapestry of cultures that call this place home. 

best food tour in belize
Lily’s Treasure Chest.

That means the best way to explore the island, and its main town of San Pedro, is with a fork. 

For years, Belize Food Tours has been helping travelers navigate the island’s myriad culinary influences – and broad spectrum of local food options — with personalized walking tours of San Pedro eateries. 

It’s a journey that quickly takes you to the place where Tio Pil’s picture is on the wall: Lily’s Treasure Chest, where today his granddaughter serves up another remarkable facet of this island: its impossibly good ceviche plated right on the beach.

melva miralda
Melva Miralda of Belize Food Tours.

Our guide is the intrepid Melva Miralda, one of the company’s most popular food tour leaders; as Melva leads us through San Pedro Town’s narrow streets, we regularly run into previous guests who address her like a decades-old friend. 

Melva swears by Lily’s ceviche, and she is proven right as we try the signature spicy fish ceviche and another house specialty at the Treasure Chest: lobster. 

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Grouper at Elvi’s Kitchen.

Another essential stop is the Grande Dame of San Pedro restaurants: Elvi’s Kitchen, a fine-dining spot with elevated takes on Belizean flavors; it’s here where we pair a glass of One Barrel rum (a local expression from the country’s Travellers brand) with a superbly prepared grouper on a bed of sticky rice. 

Melva’s tours are easily customizable; the plan is simple: stops at a selection of local eateries for a standout dish (or two), with the option to pair with an appropriate cocktail. 

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Come for the rum cream. Stay for Panama Jack’s stories.

At Saul’s Cigar and Coffee House, an intimate, mahogany-walled cigar shop, the menu is potable: the house-made rum cream, with flavors like coffee, coconut and cacao, all equally delicious. There’s also coffee made on-site in a 50-year-old roaster that “works like a newborn baby,” as Panama Jack, the shop’s inimitable star tells us. 

At Brianna’s the menu is a cornucopia of San Pedro comfort food: fish empanadas; salbutes, a kind of stuffed tortilla; and fried jacks, a kind of deep-fried dough that’s the local take on a Johnny Cake. 

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Brianna’s is the spot for Belizean comfort food.

Belize is Mexico’s neighbor; that means that no matter where you go in the country, you can find outstanding Mexican food. In San Pedro, that’s definitely the case, nowhere more so than at Big Taste, a colorful shack on a side street where you sit outside on picnic tables and nosh on world-class Mayan-style tacos with succulent cochinita pibil. 

Then there’s a San Pedro essential: pupusas, the Mayan delicacy that’s a form of a fried, stuffed corn tortilla. It’s arguably the most popular street food in Belize, and after one taste it will be your most popular street food, too — at your peril, because they are as delicious as they are addictive. 

belize pupusas
Sarah Rodas has been making pupusas since she was nine.

Sara Rodas came to this island two decades ago; she’s been making pupusas since she was nine, and is the culinary anchor of San Pedro’s famous “Original #1 Pupuseria Salvadoreño.”

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Big Taste, a haven for Mayan tacos.

The last stop is dessert at the oceanfront Gill E’s Pour House, a lively bar that just so happens to make the best key lime pie on the island: that perfect harmony of tart and sweet, delectably creamy with an exactingly executed crust. 

In one evening, you get a culinary tour de force, a delicious window into the quietly outstanding food scene on this tiny island in the Caribbean Sea, something that somehow seems to remain a secret.

So why is the food here so good? 

Melva has an easy answer. 

“It’s just different,” she says. “And diverse. I’m a Mestizo but I enjoy Garifuna food. We love curry. We eat it all.”

And on one of these memorable food tours, so will you. 

For more, visit Belize Food Tours.

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