Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
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#230185 - 02/14/07 07:27 PM BAck for first time in fifteen years!!!!!
DGrefreshed Offline
After an absence of many years for myself, first time visit for hubby, we flew from Corozal to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, yesterday morning. Our hosts, forum buddies Colly and her partner, had warned me in advance that I would be stepping into a place that was nothing like the Belize I have been living in. She was right.

Golf carts, ATV's and taxis dominate the streets here and the faster pace of life was evident upon arrival. I like it here so far but this would not be the place for me to settle into on a permanent basis. I prefer the peace and quiet of where we are back on the mainland. Besides we are only a twenty-five minute plane ride away!

Our first priority was of course scoring a case of beer (hahaha) and getting a quickie tour of where the shops are for foodstuffs. The rule here is this - if you have the money it (what u crave) can be had...stilton cheeses, excellent cheddars, lovely meat products, wines - you name it. Thank goodness the local tienda communitaria is nearby or the prices of stuff would kill us. Word of caution here, if you do not speak spanish the tienda will charge you "gringo" prices. No problem for us on that score but it is worth mentioning.

After relaxing for awhile we all started to explore along the beachfront and do some off-dock snorkelling. We do plan to go to Hol Chan later in the week but for our first day it was alright to get into the nearby sea and just enjoy it. There are some pretty swanky joints in the southern reaches so it was kinda fun to compare the different styles of architecture. (Luv Shack compared to place with infinity pool?)

Feeling peckish I enquired as to where we would be lunching and was told that a gang of us would be getting together at the Reef Club. Do not let the name fool you. This Belizean-run place is funky, busy and has service and food quality that is bang-on!! It is a favourite haunt of the local business set and I would highly recommend this establishment. (middle street San Pedro)

To give one an idea of how inexpensive and bang for the buck this place is it cost only $100 Belize for six of us to eat full meals and drink some beers. Not too shabby.

My coconut conch was excellent and the only complaint I could have had was that I wished I had more of the delicious coleslaw on my plate.

Colly's ceviche was delicious right down to the marinade which we all sampled after she was finished. Nice bite to it. Good flavours and very fresh!

It was just the right amount of food and for that I am glad because later that day we were going to be dining at the award-winning Mango's restaurant and I was really looking forward to that menu.

We got there just in time (7ish) as it was getting packed so we scored a bar table but did request to be moved outside when one of those tables became available. This became an issue later when we were seated outside with our drinks and snacks and some stroppy gringo demanded our table because they had been waiting outside for a half-hour. He tried to use the "we have kids" excuse but we saw no kids in tow, we had reserved that table before he arrived and HELLO!!! - this is not a kid-friendly menu at this place. It felt kinda good in a perverse way to tell this demanding man NO so he sarcastically told us to have a good time which one of the crew said Oh yes we will have a good time thank you very much.

There are a gazillion choices for eateries dude. Chill.

I am not a cocktail person but it was recommended to me to order the watermelon margarita. I was not disappointed. It became the drink of the night and no we did not get toasted but most certainly had the right buzz. We did have other bars to check out later right?

My husband and I decided to share two appetizers and a main while the ladies were all into a tenderloin mood, desserts would be shared later by all of us. I wanted to get as many chances to taste the offerings and I was not disappointed.

We shared snapper cakes in a mango salsa and stacked tostadas of tequila shrimp with a pineapple salsa....tasty and the presentation was marvelous.

Our main to share was the Argentinian style marinaded flank steak. Tender. I am glad to see that the arrachera style of cooking is catching on down here. It makes the beef very tender and easy to eat.

Now this dining experience was more expensive but hey, this is our treat ourselves trip so let the moths fly out of the wallet for a change and live large so to speak.

Dessert was a selection of two different flans. Now I have eaten flan in the best place in Oaxaca so I was a little sceptical but once I tasted Mango's flan that sentiment vanished immediately.

Bill for me and hubby including tip came to Belize $130. Those margaritas were quite good.

We were all sated, feeling very Homer Simpson-like, adjusting our belts....hehehehe. We walked down to a nifty bar called the Tacklebox. It is located at the end of a dock just up the beach from Mango's and it was a great place to have our nightcaps before engaging in the half-hour walk to get back to the apartment.

We slept well.

Well the first disappointment food and service-wise came this morning. I love breakfast especially if I am going to be doing a lot of walking and swimming later. Cost is not a consideration but when you go to a place that posts the costs in U.S. dollars and it is situated in a lovely hotel like Banana Beach you would at least expect a modicum of decent service.

We sat at El Devino's for twenty minutes. Our table was dirty, the dishes had not been bussed and the two servers who moved with the least amount of effort could not be bothered to at least ask us if we wanted water and coffee. The menu looked promising but as the clock ticked this was getting ridiculous. We were not the only table of potential diners to get up and walk away.

Plan B came into effect. We walked up the street a wee bit and asked a security guard at a really posh place where we could grab some local grub without the pretensions.

Antojito's it was and it was exactly what we needed. Guarnaches, coffees and stuffed tortillas fit the bill and it only cost $10 belize....a substantial savings from what we would have spent at the other joint.

Nearby were some tiendas that we could stock up on supplies with and we walked back.

No big plans yet for later but what the heck. We just got here right?

San Pedro is great for walking and cycling. The traffic may be weird but so far so good. Later on we will seek out the local non-touristy pubs and tonite it will be Lebanese fare at Ali Baba's.

More reviews later. Time for a beer?

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#230187 - 02/14/07 07:39 PM Re: BAck for first time in fifteen years!!!!! [Re: DGrefreshed]
Barbara K Offline
Thanks DG. Nice to hear a different view of a trip to SP, not from your typical tourist or devoted SP afficionado. I must say the service you experienced at El Devino is not the norm for that place. Usually very good service and great food too! I look forward to the rest of the report.
_________________________
www.barbsbelize.com

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#230188 - 02/14/07 07:42 PM Re: BAck for first time in fifteen years!!!!! [Re: Barbara K]
DGrefreshed Offline
That is what others have told me about El Devino so I was disappointed as were they. That dirty hollandaise-sauce covered plate was killing me man....I love eggs benny and the remnants looked delish. Oh well.

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#230277 - 02/15/07 06:20 PM Re: BAck for first time in fifteen years!!!!! [Re: DGrefreshed]
DGrefreshed Offline
Vindication foodwise came last night at Fido's of all places. It is so touristy there. Normally I would avoid a place like that but I wanted Valentine's Day SUSHI. The original sushi plan was to go to Victoria House on Friday but I will be cooking for friends, one of whom is allergic to even the smell of shellfish so I figured I better get my fix on now.

We ordered the Sweetheart Roll, the cucumber and crab roll and the Crazy Volcano. My only criticism is hey guys, not too much mayo okay? A little goes a long way.

Earlier in the day, walking up the beach we wandered into Rico's where they were busy prepping for the Valentine Dinner to be served. At first they told us they were closed but then the chef came out and said hey no problem I would be happy to make a light lunch for you guys. Chef's priveleges...gotta love it...quid pro quo?

We walked around the "downtown" area after the sushi and made our way to Pedro's Bar. Nice crowd. Thanks to Tacogirl for the invite!!

We weren't in a decadent party mode last night but I will try to get motivated for Friday's gathering of the "bored"....should be interesting.

Tonight will find us at Wet Willie's sending an acquaintance off on a trip. Hmmmmmm.....wonder what will happen?

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#230392 - 02/16/07 03:56 PM Re: BAck for first time in fifteen years!!!!! [Re: DGrefreshed]
DGrefreshed Offline
I must say this....Irish genes give one lots of stamina. Scottish ones as well if you were looking at hubby right now. We are moving a wee bit slow this morning and are somewhat red in certain areas. Snorkeling at midday will do that to u. Damn but am I just too macho or what?

San Pedro is like one big-assed Spring Break for the Boomer set. It just never flippin' ends! Its kinda warped and weird. I am so trippin'.

Before the tales of ribaldry and decadence however I shall first do a restaurant review.

Blue Water Grill - yes we made reservations - yes we had a seaside corner table (thought I was being punished) - yes it was packed with people - yes the service was efficient - too damned efficient if you ask me. I looked at the menu and the only thing that looked remotely interesting was the sushi. The menu was nothing like their sister restaurants in California. Bloody shame. Same old stuff for the same old crowd. Predictable. For some folks that would be cool but not for this foodie who was expecting to be surprised given the hype that this place generates. I guess the pedestrian approach generates more income. I saw a plethora of the fodor's crowd there. From here on in I will stick to the less-hyped joints and gladly take my chances.

Sushi two nites in a row. blah blah blah. TAsty but so what?

Life is so hard eh? hehehehehe

The lacklustre dining experience was soon supplanted by a fabulously decadent evening at Wet Willies Bar. We had a farewell party to attend and damnit I was determined to have a good time. Alcohol tends to bring out the clown in me so I rose to the occasion.

I took on one of those go swimming in my underwear dares. We saw some rays and just to amuse the tourists I got wet. My underwear by the way is basic black and tends to cover more of my body than the average bikini so no one was in a state of shock.

The bartender, a Corozalena, made the most fantastic rum punches.
We met several denizens last nite from Corozal. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy or was that the punch?

After leaving at a decent hour we hitched a lift back to our hood. I am obviously feeling little pain today and for that I am glad. Today we will be cooking for some mainland friends and I for one will welcome the less hectic pace. Today will be the shopping day (I will drop more bucks than eating out!) because I love to feed friends well.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH....vida pura.

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#230417 - 02/16/07 06:32 PM Re: BAck for first time in fifteen years!!!!! [Re: DGrefreshed]
Barbara K Offline
Blue Water Grill has a sister restaurant in California? Same owners? That's interesting...
_________________________
www.barbsbelize.com

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#230418 - 02/16/07 06:48 PM Re: BAck for first time in fifteen years!!!!! [Re: Barbara K]
DGrefreshed Offline
That was what I saw on the website.....i clicked on the link from the San Pedro map so either the link is wrong or they have sister restaurants. In very swanky locales may I add.

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#230430 - 02/16/07 09:39 PM Re: BAck for first time in fifteen years!!!!! [Re: DGrefreshed]
tacogirl Offline
DG welcome for the invite to valentines glad you came.

I will likely see you tonight at Pedro's. I am still looking for second wind lol. Enjoyed your report.
_________________________
tacogirl Facebook, Belize Life Linked In - Belize info & images https://www.facebook.com/tacogirl


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#230524 - 02/18/07 08:35 PM Re: BAck for first time in fifteen years!!!!! [Re: tacogirl]
DGrefreshed Offline
Okay so we did not make it to Pedro's for the Boarder's get together but hey I can only party so much and besides I was on cheffing duties for a couple of friends who decided to fly over and spend the night here in SP before going back to el norte. I have such a hard life eh?

What to cook for a couple of food snobs from California I wondered? You see this is what they wanted, DG food. And yes, we were getting "restauranted" out and I had a kitchen urge to fulfill.

As I had said earlier, if one has the coin one can get some good food booty here. Timing however is the big issue as I discovered and not money. My friends love good steak so the seeking out of a real butcher shop was important. Lino's did not disappoint. His meat shop is right across the street from the Liquor Box (forget the pun okay as the young man working there had to have it explained to him by me and a friend of his) and he is a crackerjack butcher. My problem was the unavailability of the cuts I would have normally selected so instead I got him to cut me two inch thick 8 ounce pieces of sirloin for four. He also stocks excellent ham and smoked chickens for the picknicking urges.

For veggies and such we headed over to the Green House near Fido's - across the street from Immigration. They get fresh deliveries on Wednesday's and Saturday's so my Friday pickings were sparse but did the trick. Hey they had vinagred artichoke hearts so if anything I could make a great salad with those tasty devils as a base.

On the walk back we stopped at Island Supermarket right across from the beer depot. After having lived near Corozal the overall look of the place was WOW but the prices? - DAMNED NEAR KILLED ME. I got some marinade ingredients and that was about it. Saw some eggregiously freezer-burned ribeyes in the freezer and had a good chuckle wondering who would possibly buy them? Never send drunks or teenagers out to get your ribeye there okay? First grocery store rule of "thumb"...dig around the packages.

With all the simple little eateries and snack carts that abound in SP cooking seems like a luxury. I do believe it is more cost-effective in many ways to eat at these humble establishments. We have tried several and loved them all. Oh yeah forgot about the crackers and fancy cheese...good lord. I loved the wine and cheese shop but man, it better be a special party if you get my drift?

After forking out for three days in a row for goodies that I can cook with I shall try to refrain from complaining about Corozal prices for awhile.

One other geographical sidebar here...at one of the little stores a school-aged young man asked us where we were from and we said Consejo. He did not know where it was. Island Academy are you reaching?

More later.

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#230525 - 02/18/07 08:58 PM Re: BAck for first time in fifteen years!!!!! [Re: DGrefreshed]
SP Daily Offline
Betcha don't know where everything is here either. San Telmo? San Marcos? San Pedrito? Boca Ciega? Marco Gonzales? Oh, you don't???
Aha!!!

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