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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Hopkins Mangu (mango in Garifuna) Fest June 2nd & 3rd, 2018

Hopkins Village, located on the southern coast, is the mango capital of Belize, boasting over twenty varieties. The mangos have names such as blue, Julie, Harry, #11, thunder shock, white, ballet, black, common, belly full, apple, and well, one can go on and on recalling the many names and describing their favorites.

On June 2nd and 3rd, the friendliest village in Belize celebrates the beginning of mango season with a free two-day family-friendly festival that showcases unique culinary delights and Hopkins’ culture, music, and community spirit.

This year, the morning begins at 6am with Floyd Arana’s dory fishing contest. There are many prizes, such as most fish, most weight, biggest barracuda, and more. The unique twist? A 20% qualifier is added to each category for those that include fisherfolk under 15 years old.

While the fishermen are out, vendors make their final touches on their booth space as they are competing for “best decorated booth.” Jungle Jeanie’s by the Sea leads a yoga session for all ages and skill levels to Caribbean vibes. Jeanie has hosted yoga for decades at her place, but for this special day, she takes yoga to the masses.

The official kick off is 11am, but the live-music is already in full swing. Attendees will discover over 40 booths filled with hand-made jewelry, arts, and crafts.  Pink conch shell necklaces and matching rings, lionfish earrings, and cohune palm pendants abound. Wooden bowls and serving pieces made from local hardwoods, such as the prized rosewood, fill tables. Other woods to lookout for are the m’lady, poison, and purple heart. Hopkins has talented woodcarvers that can make custom pieces too. Brightly colored hammocks and paintings fill other stalls. Healing concoctions such as hand-made salves, lotions, and even bug bite creams can also be found. The challenge will be how to take it all back home.

Of course, mangos rule the day and there are boundless ways to showcase them in all the many food offerings. There is everything from sliced mangos sprinkled with a spicy rub, to mango chutney, mango chimole, mango smoothies, mango ice cream, mango cake, and just about anything mango! While mangos are the featured food, there is plenty of non-mango items like home-made sausages in mustard, chicken fingers, pizza, shrimp, and fish burgers. There are many vegetarian options as well, such as veggie paninis and bean and cheese Johnny cakes.  Entering Hopkins, along the road, many people will set up make shift stands to sell street tacos and panades, while the restaurants make certain to have a mango-featured menu item.

When attendees need a break from all the shopping and eating, they can shift into total relaxation mode by visiting the “spa booths” that offer massages or pedicures. While other attendees can be found on the putt-putt golf course beside the festival that features the “wonders” of Belize including the blue hole, Bocawina’s ziplines, and Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.

From a distance, attendees listen to see if they have won some of the many raffle prizes given away regularly. Who doesn’t want to win a free dinner, hotel stay, or tour? There are many activities for children, whether it’s face painting or participating in the children’s story hour. Playground equipment is in the center of the festival luring children to slide and swing, while parents watch in the shade, enjoying the talented artists of Hopkins.

It’s no secret that Hopkins is home to some of the most talented artists in Belize and the world. They make it a point to return home for the Mangu Fest as they want to showcase their hometown pride at an event that pays tribute to cultural live music and those that keep it alive. Parranda, the blues music of Hopkins, is front and center and features Drumming, an important part of the Garifuna heritage.

The Saturday festival ends at 8pm, but the fun doesn’t stop. Attendees continue to go out in the community and enjoy more of the food they just got a sample of earlier. Many of the local restaurants host live music that continues into the early morning hours as people go from place to place following their favorite artists.  On Sunday, the festival starts back up with more music, food, and fun and includes awards ceremonies to announce the winners of the many activities including the Travellers cocktail contest.

The goal of the Hopkins Mangu Fest is to promote Hopkins as a tourist destination in a fashion that builds on Hopkins uniqueness and promotes cultural preservation by featuring authentic Garifuna food and music through a clean, wholesome, culinary and culturally fun festival. It also provides economic opportunities during a time that has traditionally been referred to as “maga season” or thin season.by

 

*This article, by Leslie Sorrell, was first published with RideBZE and is re-printed with their permission.

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Budget Bites

We hear quite often that guests want to save money and stay somewhere they can cook some of their meals.

While I appreciate wanting to save money and cook, I would recommend doing that somewhere else, but not in Hopkins. Some say Hopkins is a food mecca! Enjoying the food really is part of the experience! So, not only do I suggest going out, the good news is that it is affordable to do so. Below is a list of places that may not be on your radar or in any travel books either as they are off the beaten path. Some tourists simply don’t manage to venture out to try them, but I can assure you, your taste buds will be glad that you did.

At Hopkins Inn, continental breakfast is included in the room rate. We serve breads made by local women—things like Johnny cakes, powder bun, bun, and creole bread with fresh local fruits like papaya, pineapple, molly apples, and mangos.  However, if you were not staying at the Inn, you could purchase the breads from local women, particularly at the Belfuna Women’s’ Coop for about $1-$2BZ each. You could also go to the fruit and vegetable stands as opposed to the grocery stores for fresher foods and more variety. (Hopkins has two vegetable stands.) Molly apples and star fruit are typically $1BZ each, while $1BZ gets you ten bananas!

To go out for breakfast, Tina’s has an amazing veggie omelette for $3US/$6BZ or her Belizean breakfast with fish and fried jacks is $6US/$12BZ. Tina serves breakfast all day, now!  Felicia, at Queen Bean, is known for her stuffed fry jacks (they are stuffed with eggs, bacon, and veggies) as well as her fried chicken and pancakes. Both are $5US/$10BZ each. Fry jacks are like beignets.

For lunch or just some snacks around town, Virge’s serves panandes, empanadas and such for $1-$2BZ each. La Runi Hati has small burritos for $3BZ, Cassava fries for a few dollars, and my favorite—fish fajitas for $5US/$10BZ.  Belfuna’s Women’s’ Coop usually serves just one item for lunch, a regularly featured item is stew chicken $4US/$7BZ or Hudut or fry fish for $6US/$12BZ. Melting Pot does some of the best fry fish in town, but be prepared to wait as she (as do other restaurants) prepare all food to order. There fry fish runs about $6US/$12BZ or she has a $1.50US/$3BZ chicken burrito or a burrito with cheese for $2US/$4BZ that most people are content to share.

Dinner in the village is same type of fair—stew chicken, fry fish, or cultural foods like Hudut, Bundigo, or Darassa. The best fish and chips in the village is at Windschief for $7US/$15BZ. The fish tacos there are delicious too. They have avocados on them when they are in season. An order of four tacos runs about $6US/$12BZ.

No one goes hungry in Hopkins!

Street Food

Along the highways of Belize, it is common to see people selling food. In Silk Grass, a village just 6 miles from Hopkins, they typically sell boiled corn on the cob and dunkunu, a roasted corn and spice mixture steamed in corn husks. Other places, coconut oil and coconut water are sold. Many times, if there is a large speed bump going through a village, people will stand beside it to advertise their various food products.

Tamales are a popular item to be sold on the street. In Belize have chicken bones in them. Bones are considered the most flavorful part of the meal. The chicken foot is thought by many to be a special treat. If you want a tamale without any bones, just ask if they have one “gringo-style.”

In Hopkins, Mrs. Castillo, may sit outside the Happy Grocery store and sells cassava pudding and Johnny cakes. While Jim takes to the streets selling conch fritters, when in season or his special sauce “Hopkins Heat.” It’s his home-made version of Marie Sharp’s pepper sauce.

After school, many children are tasked with going out in the village to sell whatever their family baked that day. Treats like banana cake, pumpkin cake, and creole bread are common. One can also find meat paddies, a favorite of mine, like an empanada. Sometime snacks like fish panandes or tamales are sold. If someone on their bike asks you “do you want to buy?” say “yes!” These treats, sold out of a 5-gallon bucket they carry, usually sell for about $1-$2Belze dollars each, so it’s a great way to economically sample different foods.