Le Bistro is located on the second floor of a building with great sea views, right beside Tyll's Dive Shop. The menu features Vietnamese and Thai specialities, and the food is as authentic as you can get with the limited resources on the island. My meal started with vegetarian spring rolls, which ended up being HUGE and could have been a meal in themselves. The dipping sauces left a bit to be desired, but the rolls themselves were great. After my spring rolls I realized I had forgotten to take my malaria medication, so I paid for my entree in advance so that I could run back to my hotel and eat my medication as soon as my meal was over. The staff seemed a little confused, but they were accommodating (really, why wouldn't they want to take my money?). My main course was a vegetarian green curry, which was great. I couldn't identify all of the ingredients, but I didn't have to because it was so good. It wasn't overly spicy but the flavours were very rich and had a great depth. Overall, it was a very good vegetarian meal and I would say that if there are two restaurants you must check out in West End, Le Bistro would be the perfect second choice (after Ooloonthoo).
Bite on the Beach is somewhat famous on Roatan. The previous owner, Dian, now runs Dian's Garden of Eat'n between West Bay and West End. The new owners are doing a great job, and while the food may not be particularily unique or exotic, it is very good. For lunch, I had a dinner-sized salad that was loaded with tons of fresh vegetables and came served with homemade dressing. It was one of the better salads I ate in Honduras, and it was DEFINITELY one of the better views. Bite on the Beach lives up to its name, located on the end of West Bay beach. You don't even need to put on shoes to get there (I went barefoot!), but covering up your bathing suit with a shirt and shorts would be appropriate.
I think that Pura Vida aims to be an Italian restaurant, but tourist demographics mean that they're opting to veer all over the culinary map in order to make a quick dollar. The food isn't bad but it isn't great, and the menu lacks a unifying theme.
The first time I went to Pura Vida was for dinner on one of my first nights in town. It was a quiet night in West End and I wasn't having much luck using the old "eat where there are lots of people" trick. I opted for Pura Vida because there were two other couples there. The menu had some pizzas, pastas, salads and sandwiches, but few vegetarian choices. I selected the vegetarian panino, and because I thought it didn't come with any sides I asked for some fried plantain chips on the side. When the food arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the sandwich came with a small side salad. However, the panino itself was a disappointment. The bread was much too thick for the small amount of vegetable filling, resulting in a very dry, chewy sandwich. The plantain chips were also on the dry side, and would have benefitted from some dipping sauce or something.
My second visit to Pura Vida came on my last morning on the island. I had been hoping to go to Rudy's for banana pancakes, but I found they were closed (I think it was a Saturday). Instead, I decided to give Pura Vida a second shot and chose their chocolate pancakes. Again, the pancakes were a little bit dry, but the smoothie (papaya-melon) was AWESOME. I think it may have been more of a sugary milkshake than a smoothie, but who cares? Anyone who can make fruit taste that good deserves a gold star in my opinion.
In short, visit Pura Vida for a smoothie/milkshake and choose another place for your food. There are lots of much better choices in West End.
On the whiteboard/menu at Bertie's Creole Cuisine, it says something along the lines of, "Sit back and relax- your food is being cooked to order." I think a more accurate description might be, "Sit back and relax. We might consider cooking your food sometime this week if we feel like it."
I ate all over West End, paying anywhere from $3 to $45 for dinner, and NOWHERE did I experience service as excruciatingly slow as at Bertie's. Located right above the Coconut Tree Dive Shop at the main road into West End, Bertie's has a great view of the goings on in Half Moon Bay. This is important, as you'll likely be watching those goings on for up to ninety minutes while you wait for your sandwich. Yes, your sandwich. I went to Bertie's for lunch on a day that I was diving, and though we had more than ninety minutes before our dive we didn't have a chance to eat because the service was so slow. In the end, we grabbed our food to go and saved it until after our dive. My vegetarian sandwich came with plantain chips. The plantain chips were (as seems to be the general case in Honduras) thick-cut and quite dry. The vegetable sandwich was just plain odd- huge chunks of broccoli stems, cauliflower stems, green beans and carrots on a hamburger bun, covered with mozzarella cheese. I did notice that the salads looked really good.
At the southern end of West End is a small restaurant right on the beach. Keep walking down the main road about 5 minutes past Foster's West End.
The menu is large and they serve a conch soup with all entrees. I thought that conch was illegal to catch-I don't know where they get theirs...
They played an excellent selection of funk music at this restaurant. A very nice change from all of the Carribean Jams.
Favorite Dish: I had a conconut crusted chicken breast that was fantastic. My husband had the lobster pasta. The menu features seafood, sandwiches, salads and pastas.
We thought this was another tourist trap, but glad we were wrong. The food was reasonably priced & tasty. You have a choice of sitting out on the deck to enjoy the ocean views or to sit inside either at the bar or at a table. Don't be alarmed about the little squaking noises. There are a few resident parrots that wander around the restaurant.
Favorite Dish: The Caribbean Burger
A great place run by a husband wife team, Last time there was behind Woody's in west end but I heard they will be moving slightly toward Sandy Bay on the main road.
Favorite Dish: All have been good but beware if you do not like spicy, they can tone it down if you like
Do not miss Dian's. Her place has not been open very long but in a short time has gained a very good reputation. Seating is limited but she does take reservations. The dinner menu varies but it is always very good with something for everyone. Last time there We had a Lobster dinner, Shrimp Dinner, couple glasses wine and split a desert for around $40.00 US including tip. Check it out , tell her caveman with the blue house sent you.
Favorite Dish: Its a toss between the Lobster dishes, and the Wasabi Shrimp. Also her "Roatan Lime Pie" similar to key lime pie, is always very good to finish with. Wine and after dinner drinks are available but this is not a bar drinking party type of place.
No special place, just remember to try try new places. Some that visit Roatan think that the dining is higher priced than it should be. Most of these people stay in the high end areas and never venture out. There is very good food available at very very reasonable prices, however, if you want ti dine in an American type atmosphere with a lot of Americans expect to pay the higher prices. You can eat very well for $10 dollars US in many places, expect good food, slower service in that most is cooked to order, and no linen napkins.
Favorite Dish: I have had 3 Lobster rolls for $10 dollars, Shrimp the size of small lobster, and all the fish one can handle. Steak is available but do not expext the best available. Veggies and froit are what is in season.
The small places not affiliated with resorts only have their reputation to go on. Remember this when the resort owner steers you to their own place
If you eat only one meal on Roatan, make it at Ooloonthoo in West End. The newspaper in Vail, Colorado calls it "the best Indian in the Western Hemisphere" and it's also been mentioned in the New York Times. Run by a truly friendly couple (she's from India, he's from Canada but studied cooking in India), Ooloonthoo dishes up Indian cuisine using fresh local ingredients and secret blends of imported spices. The night I was there, every single person in the restaurant was eating the vegetable thali. That must say something!
The waitress/hostess/owner came out at the beginning of our meal and talked to us a bit about the vegetables that they had selected for our meal. According to my notes, my thali contained the following vegetables: curried cauliflower and peas, grilled eggplant in a tomato sauce, curried potatoes, cabbage cooked almost to caramelization, a carrot slaw with mustard seeds, homemade yogurt, sweet tomato chutney, spicy pineapple chutney and curried ooloonthoo (black) lentils. The yogurt was out-of-this-world, and every single one of the vegetables was cooked and seasoned to perfection, with a unique spice blend (no two curries were the same). I had mine with a glass of delicious vanilla lemonade, and on my second visit I treated myself to the chocolate bread pudding as well (good, but it would have been even better served warm). The total cost for a non-alcoholic drink, dinner and dessert was about $45.
My two dinners at Ooloonthoo rate as two of my Top Ten most memorable meals ever. I can't recommend the restaurant and it's friendly staff enough. Really- you'd be missing out if you chose not to check it out. Currently, Ooloonthoo is open Monday to Friday from 6 to 9. They suggest making reservations, but if you're there right at opening you should be fine. Oh, and watch out for geckos on the ceiling!
Something about Monce's kept me coming back. It might have been the owner's eye-rolling at my request for a mango smoothie ("mangoes aren't in season, dear") or her frustration with my paying with 100-lempira notes for 55-lempira smoothies... or it might just have been the kick-ass fruit smoothies she dishes up on demand. You have your choice of SEASONAL fruits (and some vegetables, like carrots) made into juice or a smoothie. Take the smoothie route and choose whether you want milk or water, and sugar or none. Ask for a dash of vanilla if you like things a little sweeter. Get your smoothie to go and drink it on your beach chair (if you're staying at Posada Arco Iris) or on your beach towel (if you're staying elsewhere). Monce's also has light breakfasts and lunches.
Rudy's opens at some insanely early hour like 6:30 am, just to start dishing up their famous pancakes to divers heading out on the morning boats. There is a reason people flock to this restaurant long before the sun even rises: BANANA PANCAKES. Simultaneously light, fluffy and as filling as a brick, these pancakes are the whole reason God invented breakfasts. As you'll see in my photo, I opted for an accompanying mango-papaya smoothie (served without so much as a rolled eye, despite mangoes being out of season [see my tip re: Monce's]) that came in a cup about ten sizes too small.
This is Honduras we're talking about, and Rudy's is pretty much an open-air restaurant (GREAT hummingbird watching), so be prepared for a few little bugs crawling around on your table and chairs. They are definitely not enough to detract from the pancakes, though!
Casa Calico is a hotel on the outskirts of West End (midway between Posada Las Orquideas and Posada Arco Iris), with a little restaurant that is only open for breakfast. Honduras Tips suggested that it was a must-visit breakfast locale, so I checked it out on one of my last days on the island. I chose the island breakfast, which came with eggs, cheese, beans and plantains. While the beans were good, everything else was decidely mediocre. My eggs were partly overcooked and partly undercooked, the plantain was a bit soggy, and the cheese was borderline inedible. It looks like the hotel has wireless internet for guests, and I think you might be able to log on to if you sneak your laptop in for breakfast. Casa Calico's kitchen is open from 8 to 11 daily.
I don't remember how I found Pinocchio's, but I do remember my delicious meal! Pinocchio's is a tiny restaurant (it only has about eight tables) open from Thursday to Tuesday from 6 to 9. Service is very slow (choose a different restaurant if you're absolutely starving) but the food is worth waiting for. I had one of their few vegetarian dishes, which was pasta with pesto sauce, and it was quite good. I had been invited by a British couple to share their table because the restaurant was full; they both had fish dishes and said they were excellent (they ordered before I arrived but their food came after I had finished my dinner... hopefully this is evidence that the fish is truly cooked to order). The restaurant was packed the entire time we were there, and people were queueing for their chance to get a table... always a good sign. I also had a delicious fruity cocktail that leaned slightly towards the strong side. Dinner came to about $10 and it was worth every penny. For seafood lovers, or Italian food fans, Pinocchio's is a solid choice in West End.
No matter how badly you crave fish and chips in West End, don't eat at the fish and chips van that parks in front of Woody's grocery. I will admit that I was drawn by the promise of mushy peas and ended up purchasing an entire order of fish and chips, most of which I did not eat. However, later, on TWO separate occasions I heard locals discussing the fact that the van turns off its generator at night and the food sits there all night without proper refrigeration. Don't risk it.