San Ignacio town, or as it’s locally known “Cayo”, is the ideal place to go in Belize if you are seeking adventure. This small quaint town acts a hub for travelers in search of jungle expeditions, tours to ancient Maya cities, caves and countless other eco activities that get you up close to nature. Visitors are also treated to a glimpse of how diverse Belizean culture is. A few ways to experience this is by strolling down Burns Avenue (the main street) and seeing how locals interact, another is by visiting the farmers’ market on Saturdays, but my favourite approach is by eating at the local restaurants and bars. Below are nine of the best restaurants in San Ignacio, Cayo.
Related: Top things to do in San Ignacio
My first recollection of this restaurant is passing nearby as a child and curiously looking at all the gringos as my stomach growled as I smelled the tantalizing food. At that time it was known as Hannah’s, it was a tourist hotspot and since my parents never ate out, I couldn’t wait to grow up and try it! I grew up, they changed names and in high school I finally went there for dinner – I fell in love. Until this day it is hands down the best restaurant in Cayo! The food is superb and the service is extraordinary. www.kooxhannah.com
Minchos is probably the closest thing Belize has to fast food! This hole-in-the-wall restaurant is able to sell you delicious food at ridiculously cheap prices. Their menu consists of common Belizean dishes like Garnaches, Panades, Salbutes and fried tacos. For $2 USD and a 5 minute wait, you can get a fresh natural juice (½ papaya ½ lime is my favourite) and food baskets filled with 3 garnaches, 3 panades and 2 salbutes. Seating is limited so try and secure a seat before ordering your food, unless you’re like most locals and don’t mind eating standing up. www.minchosbelize.com
I love that Erva’s has an open kitchen design and you can personally see Mrs. Erva cooking your meal from scratch! Since this is my home town I might be a little biased when I say that she cooks the best rice and beans (Belize’s national dish) in Belize. My favourite thing to order is the rice and beans with fried fish (red snapper) and chunky garden salad. The meal itself isn’t anything fancy but with every bite you can taste how fresh all the ingredients are and that ultimately pleases me in ways I can’t describe. www.ervasbelize.com
San Ignacio has received a lot of new restaurants lately, leading in this scene is the Guava Limb Cafe. This restaurant is located at the end of Burns Avenue in an old colonial house that has been converted into a cool space. This restaurant is known for trying innovative recipes that are made entirely of local organic products. The products are sourced from Chaa Creek’s Maya organic farm or from the Cayo farmers’ market. www.guavalimbcafe.com
Cenaida’s Belizean Food
When I worked in down town San Ignacio I ate lunch at this restaurant almost every day. The food is cheap, tasty and they offer large portions. This spot has a very “homey” vibe; Mrs. Cenaida and her daughter are very friendly and happily converse with you whenever possible. But to me what sticks out the most about this place is that it reminds me of my mom’s home cooking, and thus why I recommend this place. www.cenaidasbelizeanfood.com
D Catch Seafood
This restaurant is located at the Cayo Welcome Center and has quickly become a favourite for locals. They enjoy going there to eat ceviche and sing karaoke. And that’s exactly what I’m recommending it for. If you’re interested in a good place for drinks, bar snacks and people watching, D Catch is a must visit.
Tollaca Smoke House
Located a bit off-the-beaten path from the normal San Ignacio food-seeking adventure, finding this place is well worth the trip. Phillip, a Belizean Canadian chef is my friend and worked in Canada for a several years before being able to afford to go back to Belize and open a restaurant. While he was in Canada he perfected the art of summer barbecues and boy oh boy can he do some GOOD grilling. www.tollacasmokehouse.com
Yes this is an American style pizza joint but it’s not why it made the list. I had to mention Greedy’s because it’s somewhat become a place where everyone hangs out – tourists and locals. They do fun stuff like chicken bingo (a take-off of the popular chicken drop in San Pedro), happy hour drinks every day from 3-6PM, weekend specials and always have a satellite radio blasting good tunes. Of course if you order pizza when you’re there I won’t judge you – a good Belizean beer and pizza equals magic. www.mrgreedys.com
Think American diner meets Belize. This all-day breakfast cafe has been serving American classics such as eggs and toast, pancakes, waffles and hash browns for over a decade. However, the truly best breakfast experience comes from trying Belizean favourites such as fry jacks, refried beans and Chaya (mayan spinach) eggs. If you go on the weekends you will run into local families that have been going there for years. www.pops-restaurant.com