Cheap Eats Placencia

lunch from The Vine in Placencia

I love cheap thrills!  And nothing thrills me more than eating something flavorful and satisfying.  Let’s talk food… more specifically, let’s talk cheap eats!  Everything on this list is ten Belize dollars (US $5) or less.  Nosh all day long on a bitty budget and save your money for diving, or ziplining, or catamaran island hopping, or any number of other incredible adventures Belize has to offer (here are a few of my favorites: waterfall rappelling, black hole drop, snorkeling with sharks, private islands).

Breakfast

It’s the most important meal of the day some have said.  There are plenty of cheap and delicious breakfast options: burritos, journey cakes, dollar tacos.  My top picks for breakfast are:

Stuffed Fry Jacks

If you’ve never had a fry jack before you MUST try one- like a beignet without the powder sugar, I like mine stuffed with egg, cheese, beans, and salsa.  Available at any number of taco stands, I like mine from Carmen’s next to the bus station

Seaweed Shake

If you haven’t had a seaweed shake you might be envisioning some revolting, clean-eating, green juice type of shake but you’d be way off base.  A seaweed shake here might have some health benefits but they’ll be hidden under copious amounts of sweetened condensed milk.  I especially love the shakes from Brewed Awakenings: rich, frosty, smooth, decadent goodness in dozens of flavors for $8.50. 

Tamales

I have a confession… I don’t like tamales.  I feel guilty that I don’t!  They’re a cultural staple of Central America and have a near cult following in the food world but, I’m sorry, I don’t get it.  They don’t appeal to me but loads of people love the savory stewed meat enclosed in soft (gelatinous and bland- sorry I said it) corn dough, wrapped and steamed in a banana leaf.  Lots of roadside stands sell them or hawkers biking by with buckets full of them but I hear the best are made by the little Mayan lady that pulls the big cooler on a wagon.  She’s about 4 feet 11 inches tall and always wears a long skirt.  Her chicken tamales are $2 and sometimes she has Gibnut for $3.

Mid-day

Lunch is typically a hearty meal here but sometimes the heat tappers my appetite and I want something lighter during the heat of the day.  Either way, here are my choices for mid-day eats in Placencia:

Rice and Beans

THE dish of Belize.  Most people across the country eat a rice and beans meal for lunch every day.  There’s a reason it’s the national dish; cheap, filling, flavorful and nutritious.  “Rice and Beans” is more than just rice and beans, it is the complete meal.  The rice and beans are cooked with rich coconut milk, served with a protein- typically stewed chicken, and a “salad” on the side- traditionally coleslaw but sometimes potato salad.  If you’re lucky, the whole thing will have a beautiful, pan-fried piece of plantain on top.  Just a few mouthfuls of sweet atop the voluminous plate.  Everyone does this dish but my favorite comes from The Vine (tucked on the side street where the post office and office supply store are). A HUGE portion will set you back $10.

Meat Pies or Jamaican Beef Patties

Ok, meat pies are more of a breakfast item but I think these flaky little beauties are a strong contender for top mid-day snack.  Sometimes I don’t want a heavy meal while the sun is at its apex… enter savory pastry pockets of spiced meat.  Grab a few for a couple bucks.  Meat pies can be found all over for $1 or less a piece.  Cara at Lil Bites makes my favorite beef patties for $2 each, they are so so good and a perfectly satisfying light meal if you get two.

Fry Tacos

You knew tacos would be on the list! A champion of cheap eats south of the Mason-Dixon line. Belize has taco stands a-plenty and locals all have their favorite. I’m partial to Carmen’s; long standing in popularity among Placencians, I LOVE the fry tacos here. Tightly rolled tacos filled with cabbage and chicken, deep fried crispy then topped with sauce and cheese. A double order will still be under $10 and you might not even be able to finish them all (I could, but you might not have the appetite I do).

Evening

Evening eats can get spendy unless you know what to look for.  Here are my low-cost dinner options in Placencia.

Tipsy’s Wings

Tipsy Tuna has my favorite wings in the village.  I get mine boneless and sauced in any variety of flavors: buffalo, lemon pepper, sesame ginger, garlic parmesan, sweet and spicy- the list going on and they’re all delicious.  They’re $1 each during happy hour (5-7 everyday) and all day on Wing Wednesday.  I’ve shared this Placencia Pro tip before: 3 boneless “naked” (no sauce) wings and a small side of fries is the perfect build-your-own kid’s meal for $5

Fried Chicken

Battered and fried crispy golden brown, the locals love it with hot ketchup.  Any Chinese food place usually does a nice fried chicken but I recommend the Burger Joint.  Belize doesn’t have fast food chains and Placencia’s Burger Joint does a bang-up job of filling the void of North American guilty pleasure food: burgers, chili cheese dogs, bacon ranch loaded fries, and southern friend chicken and waffles.  Get a fried chicken plate for ten bucks.

Burritos

Another roadside stand staple; burritos in Belize are filling, flavorful, and cheap.  You can get them all times of the day and stuffed with egg and cheese, beef and bean, lobster, or my favorite- chicken.  Everyone does theirs a bit different and prices range depending on the filling but I love the chicken, cheese, and bean burrito from the stand across from Wallen’s (It’s Ruth’s but there’s no sign) for the petite price of $4.

Sweet Treats

No day is complete without a sweet treat!  Don’t neglect dessert- here are some sweet cheap eats in Placencia.

Palm-sized Pastries

We are crazy for coconuts in any of their delectable designs but we especially love hand held coconut tarts for $2.  Lots of local ladies make this treat but I get mine from the gals set up across from Taste Belize, right next to The Property Shop.  The lemon tarts are even more delectable than the coconut, with a luscious slightly creamy filling and light-as-air meringue on top; these tarts are a steal at $3.

Gelato

Authentic Italian Gelato!  Not what you would think to seek out on your Belize vacation but a Placencia institution is Tutti Frutti and it is NOT to be missed.  Italian transplant proprietors take traditional gellateria methods and ingredients and blend them beautifully with local elements to create the best ice cream in Belize- there, I said it!  A single flavor cone will cost you just $4 but be warned: You’ll be back for more.

Churros

Another unorthodox treat on the list, churros are not typical Belizean fare but the new Cruising Crepes and Churros truck is churning out crispy, sugary sticks of fried dough that are sort of irresistible… and cheap! An order of four is $4 or you can add a topping like Nutella or Dulce de Leche for an additional dollar.

There’s SO much great food to sample in Placencia! What are your favorites?! Let me know in the comments.

About the author

Megan Rodden

never met a vacation she didn't like. Megan is a self-centered, snarky, unambitious derelict... like most of her peers.

4 Comments

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  • Agree with all your recommendations. 🙌 We love Carmen’s fried tacos, stuffed fry jacks and tostada’s. Meat pies for breakfast! Never thought I would like them and now I’m totally addicted!
    Also agree with tamale assessment. Have tried to like them, to no avail 😔
    Great article

  • We are stuck in Canada this year and missing Belize Chinese fried chicken. Can you please find and share a recipe for this so we don’t have to suffer without it all year? Thank you.

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© 2014 Megan Rodden and Phil Nagengast.