Harbour View (Belize City; tel. 223-6420)
Set on the water's edge overlooking the juncture of Haulover Creek and the Caribbean Sea, this is the most creative and elegant restaurant in Belize City. Fresh seafood and local staples are cooked with fusion flare and some Asian accents. If the weather's right and you land one of the outdoor tables on the wraparound veranda, you'll enjoy the finest dining experience available in the city.
Wet Lizard (Belize City; tel. 223-5973)
Much less formal than the Harbour View, this often-rowdy little restaurant and bar still serves up excellent fresh seafood and burgers, in an open-air setting overlooking the Swing Bridge and Belize Harbor. This is a great place to savor some late-afternoon conch fritters and a refreshing drink.
Elvi's Kitchen (San Pedro, Ambergris Caye; tel. 226-2176; www.elviskitchen.com)
Elvia Staines has come a long way since she began selling hamburgers out of a takeout window over 30 years ago. Today her friendly and very popular restaurant oozes island charm. The restaurant is a thatched, screened-in building with picnic tables, with a large flamboyant tree growing up through the roof and a floor of crushed shells and sand. No visit to Ambergris Caye is complete without a meal here.
Palmilla (Ambergris Caye; tel. 226-2067)
This is easily the most elegant and finest dining to be had on Ambergris Caye, if not in all of Belize. The atmosphere is island formal, meaning relaxed yet refined at the same time, and the chefs here prepare the freshest of local ingredients with a creative blend of techniques, spices, and cuisines from around the world. When the weather's nice, you can dine under the stars by candlelight.
Casa Picasso (Ambergris Caye; tel. 226-4507)
Located on the back side of San Pedro, this hyper-hip place serves up a broad menu of creative tapas-size items. There are almost as many martini concoctions and an ample dessert menu to choose from as well.
Rojo Lounge (Ambergris Caye; tel. 226-4012)
The folks at Azul Resort, an isolated little place on Northern Ambergris Caye, serve up very creative and well-prepared fusion cuisine in a relaxed and inviting open-air ambience. The menu features some of the more creative fusion items to be had -- no mean feat, given the competition -- and there are also nightly specials.
Habaneros (Caye Caulker; tel. 226-0487)
Featuring a creative menu with influences from various Caribbean and Asian cuisines, this is a perennial must-visit restaurant on Caye Caulker. Be sure to grab one of the outdoor tables on the wraparound porch.
Rasta Pasta Rainforest Café (Caye Caulker; tel. 206-0356)
Sure there are fancier places on Caye Caulker, but this long-standing and perennially popular option offers up a wide and eclectic menu, huge portions, and excellent service. What's more, the food is delicious and there are some top-notch vegetarian selections.
The French Connection (Placencia; tel. 523-3656)
This new place has been the buzz in Placencia, and they've already outgrown their first location. At once elegant and relaxed, the food here is a creative take on contemporary bistro fare.
Marian's Bayview (Punta Gorda; tel. 722-0129)
The ambience and decor here are basic -- at best. But the mix of Indian and Belizean cuisine is some of the most spectacular in southern Belize. The small menu changes regularly, but always includes some of Marian's expertly prepared spicy East Indian fare.
Café Sol (San Ignacio; tel. 824-2166)
Not only does this place serve up some of the best food in San Ignacio, it's also my favorite place to hang out for a while after enjoying a meal.
La Luna (Flores, Guatemala; tel. 502/7926-3346)
If you find yourself in Flores, Guatemala, be sure to seek out this hip little restaurant. The eclectic decor varies from room to room, but like the food, it is consistently creative and tasteful.
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