When traveling to Belize, one of the greatest delights is the opportunity to appreciate a wide array of the Caribbean and Central American regions’ foods thanks to Belize’s melting pot culture. From the corn dishes and cacao drinks of the Maya people to the rich ground and seafood broths of the Garifuna to the punchy savoriness of Kriol cuisine, Belizean food has something to surprise and savor every day during your stay. At The Belize Collection, our very own Chef Rahim has taken elements and techniques from across Belize’s diverse foods and infused into them his own approach to make every meal a spectacle.
Chef Rahim got his start making pizzas in San Ignacio, Cayo and his cooking demonstrates the fun and experimental aspects of creating a seemingly simple dish a million times. Since his time slinging dough, he’s further fleshed out his cooking skills through constant study and exploration across Belize and its neighboring countries. With Rahim at the helm, The Belize Collection’s various restaurants have developed one of the most dramatic sets of menus using largely local ingredients, a rarity in the 501. Through collaborations with small-scale farmers, butchers, fisherfolk, and cheese mongers, Rahim has developed each of TBC’s signature restaurants into a one-of-a-kind celebration of Belize’s gastronomic history and future.
To start, there’s the multi-award-winning Grove House at The Rainforest Lodge at Sleeping Giant. Nestled near the Maya Mountains, the Grove House takes food more commonly seen on the streets of Belize City and elevates them through superior ingredients and delicate craftwork. Take for instance the BBQ pork tail where the kitchen team takes the staple pork tail, and smokes it over time to bring out a more robust flavor before pairing it with a zinger of BBQ sauce. There’s also the delectable oxtail stew, a Kriol classic, that takes free-range ox tails and slow-cooks them in a tomato sauce with vegetables that’ll help bring any day to a satisfying end.
Travel south to The Paddle House at The Lodge at Jaguar Reef in Hopkins for an entirely different set of flavors largely inspired by the food of the local Garifuna people who immigrated to Southern Belize in the 18th century following their exile from St. Vincent. Now vital members of Belize’s cultural landscape, the Garifuna have gifted Belize with flavors not seen before in the Central American region. Chef Rahim, a great appreciator of all Belizean foods, has arduously studied their dishes and recreated them at the Paddle House. Get a taste of his take on sere, fish fillets fried to gold and served in a rich yucca sauce. For maximum Belizean wonder, try the craboo beef tenderloin, a perfectly grilled beef cut glazed with craboo, a fruit that expertly balances tart and sweet notes complementary to the beef’s umami flavors.
Continue down the Southern Highway to Umaya Resort in Placencia. There you’ll be in the capable hands of the cooking staff at Restaurante Laguna, a lagoon-side restaurant where all of Belize’s seafood meet to whet your pescatarian cravings. Start with the expertly made seasonal fritters, conch, fish, or lobster, alongside a clarifying seafood ceviche. Cap off a day with the best of all reef fish, the red snapper, served up steamed in a plantain leaf with cilantro rice.
And if you’re ever looking for something a little more familiar, Rahim’s work of origin, the wood oven-cooked pizza is ready to meet your needs. Now with locations at The Rainforest Lodge and Umaya (and coming soon to Jaguar Reef), The Belize Collection’s, Don Tonito’s line of pizzerias offers a reliable classic with fresh ingredients, and signature combinations that’ll satiate anyone homesick and yearning for a slice.
The restaurants at The Belize Collection are also notable for featuring regular culinary events to give you just a little more cause to indulge. For instance, the Grove House features a regular pupusa night where the Mestizo staple fried corn meal is made-to-order for guests. You can also delight in the option of 2 for 1 pizza night at any Don Tonito’s every Tuesday so you can sample even more of what The Belize Collection is cooking up.
Whatever way you slice it, your time at any of The Belize Collection resorts will provide you with a bevy of culinary experiences you’ll be talking about long after you’ve departed the Jewel.