Local restaurant, Indian Church: Traditional Belizean food
As part of the “Maya Medicine Trail” activity we visited the local village, Indian Church. We were asked in advance if we would like to have lunch there or return to the lodge to eat, and opted for the former. The restaurant, one of a couple in the village, was very much a local place, with just a few tables covered with plastic table-cloths, but clean and airy. Before our meal we were invited into the kitchen area at the back to learn how to make some of the local dishes (see my Local Customs tip for more on this great experience). The women found our efforts rather amusing I think, and it was noticeable that when our meal was served our own tamales were nowhere to be seen and their more expert versions were instead put in front of us. We did however get to taste a few of our own tortillas, served with a tasty hot sauce made with tomatoes, ground corn and spices. These were followed by a bowl of the typical Belizean soup known as escabeche, made with chicken and onions (see recipe here). There was also a plate of more tortillas to share, with various toppings. To drink we were offered juice or sodas.
As the meal was offered as part of an included activity, and was a substitute for our meal at the lodge, we didn’t pay so I have no idea of the cost – but I am sure it would be very reasonable.
A notice on the wall described an appeal for funds to help the local library provide books for the school children, so as a librarian myself I was keen to help. We hadn’t taken much cash out with us, knowing that the meal was already paid for, so I later gave our donation to staff at the lodge, confident that it would reach the library and be well-spent.
Lamanai Outpost: Meals at the lodge
Meals here are good Belizean / international food, served in the open air with spectacular views over the lagoon, but they aren’t fancy and you won’t be offered an elaborate menu. Instead a set menu is posted on the previous evening, and unless you alert staff to any ingredients in it that you can’t eat, that is what you will be served. I was wary of this arrangement before we went – not because I’m a fussy eater but because I enjoy having a choice of dishes. But as it turned out the quality was so great that I had some of my most memorable meals of the holiday here.
And not only is the quality good, but portions are generous, and with a cooked breakfast and three courses for lunch and dinner it is easy to find yourself over-eating, despite the active lifestyle!
A bonus for us was the very friendly cat who lives at the lodge, named Tollbridge. Apparently he was found by the owner in a place of that name, looking very scrawny and ill-treated. He was literally popped in a pocket and brought to live here, where he is clearly well looked-after and is thriving on the fresh air and, no doubt, the many scraps passed to him by guests.
Favorite Dish: The breakfasts we enjoyed here were:
Day one: omelette and hash browns
Day two: Belizean-style scrambled eggs with tortillas and beans
Day three: omelette with sausage
All breakfasts started with fresh fruit and were accompanied by juice and good coffee
The lunches we enjoyed here were:
Day one: we arrived too late for lunch but were given some tasty potato soup with home-made rolls
Day two: tortilla chips with salsa cruda (a great dip), beef stew with rice and tamales, Belizean bread pudding (lovely and spicy). I had said at breakfast that I would opt out of the main course as it sounded like more than I could eat, so they made me a delicious salad instead
Day three: we had lunch in the village as part of our visit there – see my other restaurant tip
The dinners we enjoyed here were:
Day one: tortilla soup, excellent shrimp curry, cherry cheesecake (though I declared myself full and was offered a lovely fresh fruit platter instead)
Day two: lobster fritter (with a good spicy sauce), beautifully cooked pork tenderloin, Key Lime pie
Day three: tortilla chips with a dip, fish with pasta, coconut pie
As we were on the all-inclusive deal we didn’t pay separately for the meals so I have no idea of their cost. Apparently it’s possible for those doing a day trip to the Lamanai ruins to arrange to have lunch here and we saw one family who were doing just that.