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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Founder’s Message

Hopkins Inn was founded in the mid-nineties, just after Hopkins got electricity, by Rita and Greg Duke. It was the first western-style accommodations in Hopkins. Here is a note from them about experiencing Hopkins.

Welcome Message from the Dukes:

You have come to a village that is unique, proud of its culture, friendly, and safe. Hopkins is perfect for relaxing, enjoying the Caribbean Sea and the beach, and for experiencing a different way of life.

Hopkins has one paved main street (well, not paved all the way anymore—that’s what happens when traffic increases). It is the center of community interaction. In the evenings villagers stroll, cycle, and drive up and down the street, to visit with friends and neighbors. Others sit on the beach enjoying a cool breeze.  (The first 66 feet of beach is public property and can be enjoyed by everyone.)

Hopkins has slowly emerged into the 21st century.  Water, electricity, phone services, and cable T.V. all came to the village in the mid to late 1990’s.  The same can be said for tourism. Visitors to the village were few and far between until relatively recently. Belize is a developing country. It means that some of the roads are still not paved and the water supply is neither reliable nor potable. Also until recently, villagers had to dispose of their trash the best way they knew how–for many that means making burn piles on the beach or in their yards.  For a few, it means throwing everything into the sea, since that was the way of their parents and their grandparents, but their garbage of organic vegetable peels and kitchen waste is of times gone by.  With the introduction and now prevalence of plastics, disposable diapers, cans and glass, it now means the beach may be littered in places with unsightly garbage.  Things are changing as a local entrepreneur started a garbage service, where garbage is hauled away weekly.  Hopefully, most of Hopkins will participate.

The people of Hopkins are friendly and always offer a greeting.  In the morning, the greeting is “good morning”, afternoon it is “good evening” and after dark it is “good night.” Belizeans are fun loving people.  They like to joke and laugh.  All Belizeans love music—usually loud music.  It is something one has to accept. Most of the time the music is turned down or off at night with the exception being holidays and special celebrations or ceremonies.

Many of the women bake or cook goodies.  After school, their children sell house-to-house. So, if a child who carries a basket or bucket asks “Do you want to buy?” he or she is usually selling fresh bread, pastries, tamales, fish ganaches, sesame bars, or other freshly made food.  They usually sell for $1-$2 Belize dollars.  It is definitely worth a try!

The people of Hopkins are called Garifuna (Garinagu in the plural). They are of Caribbean Indian and black African heritage. Their home was the island of St. Vincent in the West Indies until they were resettled to the Bay Islands off Honduras. From there, they settled along the Caribbean coast of Central America, including Belize.  They established small coastal communities where they fish and farm for their livelihood. Even today, most villagers have a small plot of land (called a “farm”) along the Hopkins Road. They usually grow food for their table and also organic oranges and grapefruits for sale to the juice factories.

The locals are proud of their heritage and their language. Hopkins is the only Garifuna settlement left in Belize where Garifuna is the main language spoken. Drumming, singing, and dancing Punta is still part of life here. Especially during holidays and special occasions, such as Settlement Day, November 19, marking the landing of the first Garinagu on the shores of southern Belize, where it is reenacted. Often drumming never ceases all night during the week leading up to the holiday. Garinagu from all over the country and from abroad converge on the settlements in the south to celebrate.  It is an interesting time to visit.

Greg’s Vistors’ Guide:

*Travel in the spirit of humility and with a genuine desire to meet and talk with the local people.

*Be aware of the feelings of other people, thus preventing what might be offensive behavior-like walking into the village in your bathing suit. Remember this especially with photography.

*Cultivate the habit of listening and observing, rather than merely hearing and seeing.

*Realize that people in the country you are visiting often have time concepts and thought patterns different from your own—not inferior, just different.

*Discover the enrichment that comes from seeing another way of life, rather than heading for the “beach paradise” of the tourist posters.

*Cultivate the habit of asking questions instead of knowing all the answers.

*Remember you are one of hundreds of visiting tourists. Do not expect special privileges.

*If you really want everything to feel like back home, why travel?

*Spend wisely. Remember when shopping that bargains obtained are only possible because of the low wages paid to the worker.

*Make no promises to the local people unless you are certain you can fulfill them.

*Reflect daily on your experiences. Seek to deepen your understanding of “what enriches you may rob or violate others.”

 

Fun Facts You May Not Know

  • Belize’s wetlands are home to the fresh water Morelet’s Crocodile and the saltwater American Crocodile, that can be spotted in Sittee River and the freshwater lagoon in Hopkins.
  • Mangos are the world’s most popular fruit and Hopkins is the “mango capital” of Belize.
  • Approximately 1,000 Mayan ruins are scattered throughout Belize. Most are unexplored. Xunantunich and Caracol are some of the most impressive sights in Belize.
  • Belize’s Black Howler Monkeys are one of the top 10 loudest animals in the world.
  • Belize is the first and only country in the world to create a Jaguar nature preserve (officially titled The Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve) and it is located about 15 minutes from Hopkins.
  •  Belize is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world. It is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and home to some of the best scuba diving on the planet.
  • Cashew trees are all over Hopkins Village and Will and I even have one! (Cashews don’t come in shells.) Instead, they grow from a fruit called the cashew apple. The fruit is edible, but the nut must be roasted to remove the toxins as it cannot. Want to see a photo of a cashew nut? Check out the Hopkins Inn Pinterest page.
  • Over 540 species of birds have been recorded in Belize. In Hopkins, we regularly spot the Jabiru stork and roseate spoonbills, just on the Hopkins Road. A little further out and we have spotted green parrots. At the inn, we have hummingbirds, brown pelicans, frigate birds, and just today, we spotted a mockingbird with her babies in their nest in our palm tree.
  • There are no fast-food chains in Belize. (That’s right, no drive through Chick-fil-A’s, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Subways, etc.) And there are no “big box” stores like Walmart and Target. Will and I like that Belize is filled with locally owned “mom and pop” stores and restaurants that serve fresh food. Nothing fast here, as all food is prepared to order.

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!

What kind of shoes should I bring?

High heels or even wedges don’t work well for a place like Belize and will just take up unnecessary room in your luggage. If you haven’t thought of packing a pair of hiking sandals, you should. If you don’t have any, you may want to consider purchasing some as they are long-lasting and versatile, working well on the beach or mountains.

Why pack hiking sandals?

Hiking sandals offer a nice alternative to hiking boots in a tropical climate, like Belize. They work well for hiking, cave kayaking, floating the river, and more. Hiking sandals are light enough that they also work well for beach activities and walking. Of course, hiking sandals are not meant for treacherous terrain and heavy back packs.

Climbing the Maya ruins of Belize or going to Cockscomb or Mayflower National Parks require good shoes. Flip flops simply do not provide ankle support and traction, that are needed even for a stroll through the parks, much less strenuous hiking. Hiking sandals are a better alternative to tennis shoes as they have more traction and dry out faster. Unlike tennis shoes, they can be worn with or without socks.

For walking around Hopkins, flip flops and sandals just fine for some. But between the intense heat and more walking in dirt streets than you may be accustom to, you may consider something more, as it is not uncommon for delicate shoes to fall apart. Being here on vacation as a tourist, I did not enjoy the long trek back to Hopkins Inn when one of my sandals blew apart. So now, I prefer a hardier shoe–that is–when I wear them! Feel free to go barefoot!

Regardless of whether you pack hiking sandals or not, it is good to pack a pair of shoes that serves more than one purpose. You may not have had a chance to think about it, but having roller board suitcases or heavy luggage can be challenging in the sand. Many places do not have paved walk-ways and such, like in the U.S. or Mexico. Also, many of the guest houses and inns are built with smaller closets than some may be accustom to, so one less pair of shoes is a good thing. Lastly, we have found that traveling light simply is more enjoyable, especially in the heat, as lugging around big bags can take away from the fun.

 

 

 

 

ATM in Hopkins

When Will and I first started coming to Hopkins, there was no ATM machine, nor did anyone take credit cards. Now, we have one ATM in Hopkins Village and many restaurants and shops that take credit cards. However, some do charge a processing fee, typically around five percent.

The Hopkins ATM is with the Belize Bank. The maximum it allows you to take out is two transactions of $500BZ. You may (or may not) know that the Hopkins ATM is not accepting cards with chips, like it has in the past. For people with cards without a chip, it usually works. There are times that the Hopkins ATM runs out of cash, but the bank is typically good at refilling it the next day.

*Update* International travelers are no longer able to get cash out of a Belize Bank ATM. Therefore, you should get cash BEFORE coming to Hopkins. 

To save money on fees, I recommend getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Finding a credit card with no foreign transaction fees used to be a challenge, but now there are several (Chase, Capital One, Charles Schwab, Fidelity, etc.)

Scotia and Atlantic Banks have had no problems getting cash to those with or without chips and they allow you to get $1kBZ out in one transaction. These banks are located all over Belize, just not in Hopkins. You may want to get cash before arriving in the village. Where to find their locations? The ATM locations for Scotia Bank: http://www.scotiabank.com/bz/en/0,,3019,00.html and for the Atlantic Bank locations: http://www.atlanticibl.com/about-us/branches/

The closest branches—Scotia and Heritage, from Hopkins are in Dangriga. It is 20- minutes from Hopkins. Taxis are $45US/$90BZ one way. Bus fare is $2.50US/$5BZ one way. We are hearing from many Canadians that the Heritage Bank ATM is “swallowing” their cards. However, that does not happen with our card, but to be cautious, I recommend going to the Scotia bank in Dangriga.

As an alternative to making a trip to Dangriga, the Happy and Dong Lee Supermarkets in Hopkins allow you to access money but charge an 8% fee.

Now, several restaurants take credit cards, although many prefer cash and some of the more local ones only transact in cash.

 

 

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