Where to eat in Hopkins

Hopkins Village Restaurants*:

Restaurant Tips:

*Most restaurants close at 9pm and even if the restaurant stays open later, the kitchen closes by 9pm if not sooner. The exception to this, is the Chinese Restaurants.

*Plan ahead. Go out to eat before you are starving. Few restaurants have appetizers and almost all the food is prepared to order—that means it takes a while to go out to eat in Hopkins.

*Restaurant prices (and everything) is in Belizean dollars (because you are in Belize.) If it’s in U.S. they will put “U.S.” beside it. Don’t ask if it’s in Belize or U.S. prices because you are suggesting that you are willing to pay twice as much, and they may just be tempted to let you.

*Some resorts tend to price things in U.S. dollars, but it says “U.S.” For example: stew chicken-$12U.S. (which is $24BZ and very expensive for stew chicken.) Expect higher prices at hotel restaurants.

South of Hopkins Inn:

Castillo Restaurant (the green building across from Fi Wi Market and beside Hopkins Pharmacy) Open seven days a week for all meals. Sometimes has live music on Wednesdays. This is where locals have daily domino tournaments and discuss politics and other lively debates.

Great Belizean food, such as stew chicken, beef, fry fish and ranges from $4US/$8BZ to $8BZ/$15BZ.  They also have great “fast food” such as panades, ganaches, sambutes, and burritos that make for nice “to go” snacks. These items are usually three for $1BZ and you order them by how many dollars’ worth you would like.

Meet-U– At the Fi Wi Mart. The only Chinese Restaurant one should visit if getting Chinese food in Hopkins. Open daily for lunch and late-night supper.

Virge Kitchen-Open for lunch and supper daily. Virge is Tina’s sister (of Tina’s Kitchen.) All the women in the family have restaurants in Belize, with two in Hopkins. Some of the best fry fish and conch soup in the village for $12-$15BZ. Also, there stew chicken, beef, and pork are good too. Occasionally have hudut for $12BZ and other cultural dishes.

Tugusini Garifuna (or Raquel’s place). Open Monday to Saturday for breakfast and lunch only. Serves no alcohol. Johnny cakes with cheese and beans for breakfast. Serves one lunch item daily (such as hudut, darassa, pigtail, and other traditional Garifuna foods) and ranges from $10BZ-$15BZ.  Has fresh baked breads in late afternoon/early evening like creole bread, bun, Johnny cakes. Breads are $1BZ each.

Maxim’s Grill– On the beach. Still new and do not know hours. Serving all meals. Food has been good, although a little pricey. Some of our friend’s favorites are the pineapple chicken and shrimp. $15BZ-$35BZ.

Innie’s-Closed on Sundays and Tuesdays. Open for all meals.  Drumming on Monday’s. One of the original three restaurants in Hopkins that started shortly after electricity arrived in Hopkins. Only restaurant that serves all the Garifuna culture dishes daily priced around $25BZ. Favorite dish is their “fish tea” a fish with veggie broth. Other dishes are stew chicken and shrimp scampi $25-$30BZ. Nice breakfast burrito at $8BZ.

 

North of Hopkins Inn:

Sher’s Diner-Closed Thursday and Sunday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Usually drumming on Wednesday’s. Closed August 20th to October 25th.

Best fish burger in the village and priced at $7BZ but instead of fries order the rice and beans. (Their fries are frozen and not home-made like most other restaurants in Hopkins.) Breakfast burrito is delicious and is $8BZ and comes with a side of fruit.

Windschief-On the beach, three doors down from Hopkins Inn. Closed Thursday and Sunday. Opens at 1pm until late (for Hopkins.) Closed July to mid-September.

Best fish and chips in the village (“Chips” are the English version of French fries.), a large portion at $18BZ. Can ask for half-orders as well. They also have a filet fish they call margarita fish because it is finished with a tequila and lime, served with veggie rice and a salad. They have hamburgers for $10BZ. Home-made nacho for $13BZ. Most reasonably priced drinks in village too. Their rum punch is popular.

Peer’s Place-Closed Thursday & Friday. Supper only. Opens at 4pm. On Saturday and Sunday open for breakfast from 7:30am to 11am. “Most romantic” restaurant in village. Fish specials. Shrimp and pasta. Nice chicken and shrimp Caribbean curry. Appetizers and desserts, such as rum balls and chocolate chili cake. Vegetarian options. When lobster is in season have big tails, beautiful presentation, and well-priced. Prices range from $15BZ-$30BZ.

Melting Pot Café-Closed on Sundays. Open for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Does not serve alcohol. Refreshing fresh juices. Closes from 2pm to 4pm and opens back up for evening. Chicken burrito for $3BZ. One of the few places that serves breakfast burritos all day at $6BZ. Nice fry fish, stew chicken.

Siomara’s Restaurant-Closed Sunday. Open daily for breakfast and lunch. Sporadic supper hours. Does not serve alcohol. Best breakfast in Hopkins—fry jacks, eggs, and beans or a huge $10BZ breakfast burrito with lots of veggies and enough for two meals. Best fresh juices too. They have a variety of menu items and surprisingly all are delicious—quesadillas, Caribbean curry chicken, stew chicken, fajitas, and more. More expensive but worth it if you want some veggies in your meals and large portions. $10BZ-$20BZ.

Jalapeno’s- Closed Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Opens at noon on Sunday. Breakfast, lunch, and supper.  Only restaurant that serves crepes but must get before 3pm. Surprisingly filling and well -priced.  “Taco Tuesday’s” they feature $2BZ tacos. Also have ribs and brisket. We like the Five Acacia Salad.

Thong’s Café. Open daily for breakfast and lunch consistently from 7am to 3pm. Best coffee and “fancy coffees” in the village in fun and relaxing environment. Mexican breakfast is amazing. Eggplant parmesan is a favorite. Great salads and wraps. Pricier than many of the village restaurants with omelets being $17BZ and other entrees up to $25BZ. Cappuccinos and such $6BZ—but well worth the price tag.  

Coconut Husk – At Coconut Row resort, on the beach. Open daily for all meals. Friendly staff. Many items, all delicious, but resort prices. Tourist tip—ask for the snack menu as it is better value and great food items. We think it’s some of the best fish tacos in the village and their cilantro sauce is outstanding.

Smokey Grill-Open daily for all meals. Wide menu and price ranges. Serves fish and shrimp with many different sauces including a pineapple and an alfredo.

Edd’s Food Truck-Typically located at Maude Park, the intersection when coming into the village by the stop signs. Opens 6:30am (so you can grab something before the 7am bus) to early evening. Breakfast and lunch. Sausage starts at $3BZ and is well worth it. Chicken sandwich is really good ($8BZ) and breakfast panins ($5BZ) served all day. Other items are hotdogs and hamburgers. You may ask them about their home-made breads, goulash, and other items as they do catering. (So, if you are staying at a private home, they can deliver or come in and prepare breakfast or other meals for you and your family.)

Gecko’s-Closed Tuesday, Sunday, and Saturday. In high season only closed Tuesday and Sunday. Best seafood burger and fries in the village. Also have jerk chicken, a huge pork chop, flat breads, and unique sides. Two of our favorites are the green banana salad and sauteed veggies. (Green banana salad is the national dish of St. Lucia and is made with green bananas but has a similar taste to potato salad but with dill and such.) Great place for vegetarians as they offer many off-menu items, just ask.

Tina’s Kitchen– Closed Monday’s. Serves all meals, including breakfast all day. Drumming on most Friday’s.  Delicious omelet at $8BZ. Serves a “Belizean breakfast” of fry fish, fry jacks, and beans for $15BZ. Nice lobster served in a Creole sauce for $25BZ and will also do shrimp in creole sauce when lobster not in season. Serves traditional Garifuna dishes daily, stew chicken, etc.  Some say, “you haven’t been to Hopkins if you have not been to Tina’s!”

Driftwood Pizza Shack-On the beach. Closed on Wednesdays. Opens at 11am to late night.  Tuesday late-night jam session. Music on weekends during day at times. Have a Saturday bloody Mary bar. Of course, the pizza is amazing. Best tacos, conch fritters, or whatever special is on the board too. Our favorite is the “bacon and blue” pizza and the conch fritters. Prices range from $15BZ-$40BZ.

Shadel’s Magic Pastries. Sporadic hours. Typically open on Tuesdays in conjunction with Driftwood’s jam session. Cinnamon rolls, breads, and more. Our favorite? The lemon tart at $2BZ.

Queen Bean-On the beach. Closed Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesday from 4pm to 6pm drumming and music. Thursdays have late-night live music starting around 9pm. Serves breakfast all day. Best stuffed fry jacks in village at $10BZ. (They can be stuffed with omelet, lobster, pizza, veggies.) Fry chicken and pancakes is a favorite. Also has stew chicken, fish, and burritos. Most dishes priced around $10BZ.

Nice Cream-Closed Monday and Tuesday. Open at 11am to 9pm. Closed August to November. Artisan ice cream. The ice cream sandwich is our favorite. Prices range from $2BZ for a sample up to $5BZ.

La Runi Hati-(or Marv’a place) On the beach. Closed on Monday’s. Open for lunch and dinner. One of the original three restaurants of Hopkins that started just after electricity in 1994. The only restaurant that serves fried cassava (like French fries but cassava instead) and fish fajitas. Nice ceviche. Makes a whole fruit Pina colada but prepared to wait this is all made from scratch. Good news is they have the coldest beer in village that one can enjoy while everything is being prepared.

*Note this is Leslie and Will’s highly opinionated list of recommended restaurants and favorite menu items but we are prepared to defend those opinions! Some restaurants are intentionally omitted because Momma always said if you have nothing good to say…

 

Sonia’s Pizza-On the backstreets. Delivers. Only cooks a few times a week, never on Saturday and almost always every Sunday. May order by calling 635-2038 or via FB Sonia McDougal. Sonia does not take special orders, just makes “chef choice” pizza. We like it so much that we have a standing Sunday evening order! $30BZ for a large, but two slices fills you up!

Rose’s Comfort Food-Arguably one of the best chef’s in the village. Makes powder bun, bread, etc. for $1BZ each or bun for $2BZ each and will deliver. She makes unique food items such as shrimp alfredo with vegetables, spaghetti, and also typical Belizean fare of stew chicken, fry fish, and hudut. Many times sets up a stand on the same lane as Queen Bean on main road.

Want to make your own wrap or sandwich? Almost all the local restaurants make burritos, just tell them you would like a few tortillas to go. They will charge about $1BZ to make a large tortilla that one could use to make their own wrap.

Veggie Stand. People do not purchase fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, but at vegetable stands. In Hopkins, we have two. E&M that is just at the end of Hopkins Inn lane and Francisco’s, which is further north, across from Thong’s Cafe, beside Latitude 17. Bananas are 8-10 for $1BZ, pineapples are around $3.50BZ, three limes for $1BZ.

 

 

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Cooking here is different

Cooking in Belize is different than cooking in the U.S. For starters, one cannot just go somewhere and find whatever ingredients they imagine and cook on a whim. Red meat is not as plentiful. Turkey is rare. Instead, one buys fresh, local, ingredients and then decides what to cook. That’s how I came about creating new dishes that are different than the meals we eat in the states.

When my husband Will and I moved to Hopkins, we rarely had pasta as one of our meals together. I was surprised when he announced, after doing a little research, we needed to add more carbohydrates to our diets. I didn’t have a “go to” dish to whip up so I began searching for something other than the standard spaghetti and meatball type of dishes. I was also looking for dish that could multi-task as an entree or side dish and taste good warm or cold. (So, if I took it to a pot luck, I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping it warm.)  We have many more pot-luck get togethers than we did in the states, so I am always on the look-out for a dish that works well to share with neighbors.

I add chicken because there is always chicken available in Belize, so I usually have some shredded in the fridge. But the chicken can be omitted for vegetarians or as an alternative to the usual pasta salads side dishes.

Ginger noodles with chicken in peanut butter sauce (Makes 8 meals)

Sauce:

1 cup natural peanut butter

6 TBSP rice vinegar

6TBSP soy sauce

4 tsp fresh ginger, grated

Blend the above sauce ingredients in blender

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded chicken

1 16ou box of spaghetti

1 cucumber-sliced very thinly

2-3 green, red, and yellow peppers-chop in thin slices

1 carrot-chopped into match-stick size pieces or sliced thinly

1 zucchini-chopped into match-stick size pieces

4 TBSP chopped peanuts

 

Directions: Cook spaghetti according to directions. While it is cooking, combine first four ingredients and mix in blender until smooth and creamy. Chop all the veggies.  When pasta is done, strain, and return to pot. Add all ingredients (chicken-veggie mixture) to the spaghetti, including the peanut butter sauce from the blender. Stir until all ingredients are combined. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts before serving.

*This recipe was originally posted in Shoots Alive blog.

Grocery Shopping

What’s the deal with the grocery stores in Belize?

In the book “Belize, not for me,” the author describes the poor condition of our country’s Chinese owned grocery stores and complains of the expensive food. I laughed and read it out loud to my husband, Will, and he was as amused as me. This is funny to us because we do not get most of our food at the grocery stores, like we did when we lived in the U.S. If you have an extended vacation here, we suggest you shop like a local too, instead of going to the Chinese stores.

So, where do we get our food?

Hopkins is a fishing village, so here, we eat a lot of fish. When we see the frigatebirds circling, we know the fisherman have landed with their catches. We go over to the fisherman’s shack and purchase a fish of our choice for $2.50US/$5BZ a pound or $5US/$10BZ for filet. For produce, we go to the fruit and vegetable stands or the markets in the larger towns. They also carry locally made coconut oil, honey, plantain and cassava chips. (Doritos, Cheetos, and potato chips are all imported from the U.S. and are expensive, but plantain and cassava chips are locally made and sell for $1BZ/.50US.)

We choose not to buy our meats from the grocery stores either as we do not find them to be reliable in storing food. Instead, people purchase directly from the trucks. (You do not have to be a business to purchase directly for the trucks of places like Caribbean Chicken or Western Dairies.) In addition, there are many local producers that come weekly to sell their products.

In Hopkins, Thursday is the “delivery” day and they delivery to the Inn. Joan and Walter sell us our chicken and eggs for the week. Another fella comes and sells pork and beef. And another one delivers specialty products, like beet relish, pickled peppers, and chocolate. We purchase bread and pastries from local women and they run about $1BZ/.50US per loaf/pastry.

Sometimes, tourist think they are saving money by picking up things like luncheon meat, bread, and chips at the grocery store, but, these are some of the more expensive food items because they are not made here in Belize. Imported foods are more expensive. The bread is made in Belize, but many times it sits on the shelf and quickly molds. Purchasing bread locally or asking a restaurant to make them a few tortillas to use as wraps are better options. Picking up “fast food” is also cheaper than grocery store shopping. Burritos run $2US/$4BZ burrito and panades, tacos, or sambutes that sell for a$1-$2BZ and three makes a good amount for a meal.

In Belize, many times simply eating out at a local restaurant is cheaper than trying to get all the ingredients at the grocery and spending long hours in the kitchen. Stew chicken, rice and beans sells for $8BZ/$4US and there are no dishes to wash!

 

 

 

The Story of Our Little Library

After experiencing success in the corporate world, Bertie Lee Murphy, affectionately called “Miss Bertie” joined the Peace Corp at age 70, where she was tasked as a literacy volunteer assigned to Hopkins, Belize.

When Bertie arrived in Hopkins, she noticed there was not a school library or a community one. Since there was no physical building, Miss Bertie set up a “mobile” library system of some donated books and passed out library cards. Books were loaned on a weekly system. Fortunately, the old pre-school classroom was converted to the library and books becan filling the shelves and many other benefits of a “store front.” In her blog “Bertie in Belize” she shares of her surprise at being able to establish a library in Hopkins, with over 1500 books, in just 11 months.

Miss Bertie died the following year, in 2008. Lacking lacking volunteers to run the newly-created library, it closed. Thankfully, it re-opened in 2011 and has flourished since. Books continue to be donated. Shelves continue to be added, and there has even been an expansion of the building. The library received electricity in recent years, and now has fans and some donated computers.

Miss Bertie’s Hopkins Community Library became part of the Belize National Library Service, in 2011 as well, ensuring its continuation for the Hopkins community even if the availability of local volunteers disappears. There is no government funding, except to provide for one part-time librarian. All funds for book maintenance, building repairs, building book shelves, and bills are raised by the community.

After school programs are daily, where children read and do their homework. There are science days, art activities, and Friday “game days.” However, puzzles and learning games are hard to find in Belize and typically expensive. Children’s library cards are free. Adults are $2.50US/$5BZ, and anyone is welcome to be a member of Miss Bertie’s Library. Tourists included.

Miss Bertie’s has a bi-annual yard sale to raise funds, as well as a few smaller events throughout the year. Donations of books, pencils, games, and money are welcomed!

 

Hopkins Pirate Scramble

Hopkins Inn was excited in joining our friends in sponsoring the first Hopkins Pirate Scramble!

From the Belize Amateur Golf Association–(Will is the BAGA secretary):

This past Saturday was hot and that heat resulted in firm fairways and tight lies. Fortunately, the golf format was a scramble. We increased the degree of difficulty by adding pirate rules that allowed a team to take certain liberties with the ball of the other team in keeping with the saying “Pirates – We steal it, burn it, or violate it!” The pirate rules also had the effect of increasing the amount of conversation and sometimes the amount of exercise. Back at the clubhouse there were great tales of pirate mischief, a pleasant lunch, cold libations, and over $2,200 in award values donated by Hopkins Village businesses. Thank you sponsors for your generosity!

Congratulations to the winning team of Peter Allen, Peter Hughes, and Paul Martin! The full list of teams, scores, and awards are attached.

The next BAGA event will be the April monthly tournament on April 22.

Weather

Most of the time, when vacationers travel to Belize they are counting on their vacation to be filled with hot and sunny days. With an average yearly temperature of 84F, (29C) Hopkins is almost always warm, yet comfortable with the ever-present sea breezes to keep you cool in the hottest of months.

In winter, November through March, the temperature in Belize rarely falls below 60F (16C).  Humidity is usually high, regardless of the season. Rainy season is June 1 to November 1. However, I think that is changing as we are seeing more rain in mid to late November. This past rainy season, it rained almost every day, but only at night, when we slept. Each morning, with the rise of the sun, the rain subsided and the sun came out. Rainbows were plentiful.

Many years ago, before Will and I moved to Hopkins, we were here on vacation. We planned to stay the month of January to “see if we could call Hopkins home.” We decided we would not participate in any tourist activities to mimic what life would be like for us in the village. It ended up pouring rain every day that month. We were living in Dallas at the time and hadn’t seen much rain. Will and I rotated between hammock, chairs, to a different chair. We read and slept. We ate great food. We relaxed. I mean, really relaxed. To this very day, it is the most decadent vacation we’ve experienced.

Weather Underground:

https://www.wunderground.com/bz/hopkins/zmw:00000.9.78584

 

 

 

 

Shopping for Food

How much do things cost in Hopkins? It depends. Do you want to live exactly the way you did or do you want to incorporate local-living into your lifestyle? If you’re set in your ways, in reality, things could cost more than you anticipated.

Will and I live in many ways like locals, meaning we purchase local foods and drinks, rather than imported ones. We eat plantain and cassava chips instead of Doritos and Cheetos. If you go to the fruit and vegetable stand and buy tropical fruits grown in Belize, like mangos, pineapples, and bananas its much less expensive than if you purchase imported strawberries, blueberries, and carrots in a bag. (Berries are not grown in Belize.) While we have an abundance of carrots, peeled and packaged carrots are not processed in Belize, so those are imported from the states making them expensive.

Will and I also supplement our foods with our garden and trees. We have three different kinds of guava trees and a mango tree that we get our fruit from, saving us from purchasing those items. We also grow many herbs like basil, mint, and thyme.

Here’s the difference in going to the vegetable stand and buying local verses imported items.

Our bill (in Belize dollars):                                             Another person in lines:

10 bananas-$1                                                                   imported strawberries-$12

Pineapple-$3                                                                     imported baby carrots in a bag-8

Starfruit-$1                                                                         pineapple-$3

4 limes-$1                                                                           imported cranberries-$14

1lb of green peppers-$2                                                bunch of mint-$5

2lbs of tomatoes-$6                                                        bunch of basil-$4

Large Avocado-$3                                                            imported mushrooms-$6

2 bunches of cilantro-$1                                                bag of Doritos-$9

Cassava chips-$1

Total-$19BZ                                                                        Total-$61BZ

We buy our fish direct from the fishermen when they come in and they charge $5BZ per pound, and you pick your fish. Meaning there is no price difference for a hog fish, grouper, snapper, or barracuda. We have fresh eggs and chicken delivered to us weekly. While chicken would not be my protein of choice, I prefer eating what is easy-to-source, fresh, and tastes good. Therefore, I have eaten more chicken in the past few years than in my entire life. I am a red meat girl, so when see lamb or good beef, we purchase it. Turkey appears impossible to find, but it is a favorite of mine too.

When we go out, we tend to frequent local restaurants in the village that have better priced menu than the resort-style spots, or restaurants located in the resort-area.

In a village restaurant:                                                                   Resort/North American-style:

Fish with sides-$12-$15BZ                                                            Fish with sides-$24-$44

Stew Chicken with sides-$8BZ                                                     Chicken-$15-$25

Burrito-$3-$4                                                                                     Burrito-$10-$20

Burger-$4-$10                                                                                   Burger-$15-$25

The same price gaps exist with drinks, including alcohol. Drink the local rum and drinks are significantly cheaper than imported spirits like bourbon or scotch. Buying the locally-made Marie Sharp’s fruit punch is a better value than Gatorade. If you’re interested in drinking and eating Belizean products, cost is relatively inexpensive. But things can be surprisingly expensive if you want to live in Belize, but eat and drink the products from somewhere else.