We dined out at well over 20 meals in more than a dozen restaurants on the small island of Caye Caulker, so we got to try a number of different places. Many people remark that Belize, and the Cayes in particular, are more expensive then elsewhere Central America. This may be partially true but in Caye Cualker there are still numerous delicious yet very inexpensive restaurants to eat at.
Where to Find Budget-Friendly Restaurants in Caye Caulker
Pass by the many seaside restaurants along Front Street and instead head to the middle of the island. We ate at a number of the Front Street restaurants and while we found the views to be quite enjoyable, we thought the food was better at the mid-island locations (and better for the budget). So if you’re looking for truly good food, head a block or two inland. Not only is the food delicious, the prices are an absolute steal!
Here are our best recommendations for the best budget-friendly restaurants in Caye Caulker:
Try: Grilled Lobster Dinner
Belizeans love to barbeque. Lunch and dinnertime brings out opportunistic locals hawking freshly grilled seafood from their simple set-ups right along Front Street. Grilled fish, shrimp, and lobster can all be had at pretty reasonable prices at these stands. Terry’s Grill and Fran’s Grill seemed to have a decent following of tourists, but we opted to get our seafood BBQ at Wish Willy’s, which did not disappoint.
There are a few dozen communal picnic tables scattered across the sand here and it seemed there were no propper servers. During our visit Willy (real name Maurice) had about 10 different seafood menu items (including a vegetarian option) written on his chalkboard, all priced at $18 BZD (US$9). We sat down at one of the several communal picnic tables and of course opted for the grilled lobster dinner. Maurice was chatting with some patrons, so a woman was tending to the grill and we just figured it would be easy enough to shout out our order directly to her. It was.
No one ever took our drink orders although someone haphazardly came by and poured us some rum punch. Yup, that’ll work. Another random person later refilled our glasses, on the house. Willy’s was definitely unorganized, but it all made sense and fit with Caye Caulker’s vibe.
Our tails came out grilled to perfection set amongst a plethora of fresh grilled vegetables and rice. These tails were definitely better than some of the nicer joints we splurged on in Caye Caulker. When asked what the secret to the juiciness was, the BBQ-tender explained that the lobster only needs about 6-7 minutes on the hot grill whereas other people tend to overcook them.
I’m used to dousing my lobster in drawn butter with squeezes of lemon, but Wish Willy’s lobsters are topped with a delicious yet simple soy-based sauce, which coated the tender meat. The saltiness of the sauce helped bring the tail’s sweetness to shine through. Willy and his lady friend may have just converted me out of my lemon-butter ways. Two impeccable full lobster dinners and four rum punches, out the door for $40 BZD ($20 US). Yes, please!
Chan’s Takeout (Pirate’s)
Try: The Fried Conch
This is supposed to be a Chinese Food take-out place. Aside from serving some fried rice with just about everything, there’s not much that is Chinese about the food here. What you will find is a lot of cheap fried seafood deliciousness served quickly.
We visited Chan’s a few times and the menu had different seafood offerings on each occasion, signifying its freshness. Most of the fresh seafood is sinfully battered and deep fried, but it comes out oh-so-good. Their deep-fried lobster was out-of-this world and a no-brainer at $13 BZD (US$6.50) for a few fried tails with sides included.
But what really had us coming back for more was their fried conch at $10 BZD (US$5 )per meal. Make no mistake; this was not the doughy fried conch fritters you may have had elsewhere. This was straight-up fried conch steak in deep fried glory. They also had fried chicken, fried fish, fried shrimp, and fried (insert name of seafood here). I asked if they had anything not fried and they said the only thing was some baked chicken. These dishes were all served with fried rice and if that weren’t enough fat & carbs for you, you get a heaping serving of mayonnaise drenched pasta salad as well. These are probably among the least healthy meals you can get on Caye Caulker but they are also among the tastiest.
On an island that’s known for taking it slow, Chan’s was remarkably quick, as we usually had our orders to us in about five minutes or so. There’s two picnic tables outside the pick-up window to chow down on the scrumptious greasiness just handed to you. Chan’s seemed to get a lot of traffic from the locals too and I tend to trust that they know where the good stuff is. In this case, they are definitely right. And it was fun to chat with them here even though I can only understand half of what they say in their Creole slang. Ask them to pass you the Marie Sharps hot sauce and make a new friend.
Try: The Conch Ceviche
Marin’s was another gem in the rough that we stumbled upon. Seemingly situated atop a house, this restaurant had a varied menu of good and cheap seafood eats, from large whole lobster tails and complete fish dinners to seafood-based burgers and snacks. The rickety although charming building seemed like a small taste yesteryear Caye Caulker. Snag a chair at one of the swinging tables and be prepare to enjoy.
Your food here comes with a side of bad jokes by the only server at this humble joint. After chatting with him, we found out he’s actually the Cake Lady’s son. Small world. (Side note: Who is the Cake Lady? If you see her somewhere along Front Street, definitely stop and get a slice or a whole pie. You won’t we disappointed.)
Marin’s was the cheapest place where we found with some type of lobster on the menu. Here it came as a lobster burger for only $6 BZD (US$3). Sure, the actual lobster meat on the buns was perhaps a tad on the small side, but at that price, why not just order two and get your fill.
We also thought the ceviche was a standout at Marin’s. $8 BZD (US$4) gets you a quite generous heaping portion of fish, shrimp, or conch ceviche to scoop up with house-made tortilla chips. Fresh vegetables seemed really hard to come by on the island, so the crisp cucumbers and ripe tomatoes were an added treat, which complimented the conch nicely. The cilantro and acidic limejuice brought everything together and made the ceviche a homerun for cheap seafood eats on Caye Caulker.
We had a few other great meals here too and can confidently say who ever is the mystery chef in the kitchen behind those rickety doors, knows what he or she is doing. We’d recommend getting the both the ceviche and the lobster sandwich at Marin’s for a decadent meal that comes in at only $7 US.
Try: The Fried Chicken
Fried chicken? Yes, Belizeans love their fried chicken as it was on the menu at nearly all the restaurants throughout the country. Word on the sandy streets of Caye Caulker had Syd’s as the best place on the island (and arguably all of Belize) for fried chicken. We had to give it a try and judge for ourselves.
We try to eat mostly local cuisine but prior to Syd’s but we indulged in a few supposed standout American-style places that claimed to be the “best in the country/world” and were let down. I can tell you that the Lazy Croc BBQ in San Pedro, Belize has some pretty decent barbeque for Belize but the glowing reviews were overstated compared to the BBQ we’re accustomed to in the US. And if Pizza Caulker is supposed to be the best pizza in Belize, we definitely don’t want to have any other pizza while in the country. With those experiences as our prelude, we were skeptical with Syd’s claim of the best fried chicken.
But, wow, did Syd’s pull through! The fried chicken was fantastic, crispy and succulent. The salty herbs and spices were just right and had us picking at the bones for more. It deserves the praises and is the best fried chicken we’d had in a long time, perhaps best ever. Syd’s fried chicken is served with a small salad and a massive plop of rice and beans for $9 BZD (US$4.50). It’s a value dinner that can’t be beat.
I’m definitely going to be gorging on seafood whenever in Caye Caulker, but if I need a break from the fruits of the sea, I’m eating fried chicken over at Syd’s place.
Budget-Friendly Restaurants in Caye Caulker Belize
So those are our top recommendations to get some cheap eats in this island paradise. Have you been to any of them? Or do you have your own favorite? We’d love to hear it, so please let us know in the comments below!
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