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?