3 Fantastic Ceviches For Your Ambergris Caye Food Crawl

by Carolee Chanona

It’s almost impossible to find a bad bowl of ceviche on Ambergris Caye, but some places are just unforgettably great. Not to mention, ceviche is a moreish dish; the first bite of ‘mmm’ quickly turns into, “Should we just order a second one?” Hailing from the coastal regions of Central and South America—hold the coconut milk—Belize’s version of ceviche leans away from our regional neighbors’ use of fish, and more towards shrimp, conch, and even lobster. Onions, cilantro, and tomato are the ceviche’s version of mirepoix, and it absolutely demands the freshest seafood available. Lucky for us, Ambergris Caye lies ¾ of a mile west of the Belize Barrier Reef, where terms like ‘sushi grade quality’ seafood are irrelevant because it’s simply the standard for locally sourced seafood from artisan fishers. On Ambergris Caye, add these three great restaurants for a ceviche crawl that’s the best in show.

For the classic: Lily’s Treasure Chest

Just because ceviche looks simple doesn’t mean it tastes simple. A dish like a ceviche is uncomplicated, yes. But when done right, it’s simply addictive—one freshly-fried and salted corn chip after the next. Long delighting diners since 2006, Lily’s Treasure Chest is hands-down one of the best ceviche spots on the island that’s managed to zero in their formula of lime juice, freshly cubed seafood, cilantro, and seasoning to the T. Lily’s no-frills approach to their ceviche also promises consistency over—you guessed it—16+ years, which makes it a “must visit” for any local’s recommendation. Don’t be scared of the julienned habanero that’s served on the side; the flan here is another heavy hitter and makes for the perfect distraction once you’re left with a pool of limey, leftover ceviche broth. Both taste better on the beachfront at Lily’s

For a gourmet twist: Elvi’s Kitchen

All images via Elvi’s Kitchen.

Trust us when we say if there’s anyone that does a Ceviche San Pedrana spot-on, it’d be Elvi’s Kitchen. The award-winning eatery (which also nabbed BTB’s Restaurant of the Year in 2022) is a hallmark of the island for fantastic food. And at over 40 years in service, it’s one of the oldest restaurants here too. They’ve picked up a few tricks since Doña Elvia’s takeout window, and Chef Jennie—the second generation head chef in the family—has been refining their seafood-centric menu. Try the Italian Ceviche, peppered with mixed olives and basil. There’s also the Tuna Crudito: yellowfin tuna that’s been dressed in sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, and honey. Most unique, try the Coconut Ceviche; fresh coconut is marinated in a ginger lime sauce and tossed with onion, bell peppers, and cilantro for a vegan version. It’s equally as savory and satisfying as seafood.

For a view on the side: Palapa Bar & Grill

Image via Dion Vansen.

This also applies to the beachfront beauty of Lily’s Treasure Chest, but eating ceviche at an over-the-water bar on an island simply screams the Caribbean. At the end of a pier, Palapa Bar & Grill is known for their floating innertubes and live music. They’ve even got a pulley bucket service for cold beers, without ever leaving the water. But with great drinks comes great bar food too.  Ceviche here can even be enjoyed from the inner tube also. If you’re craving ceviche and an in-the-water experience without making the drive to Secret Beach, just head to the Boca Del Rio strip

Header image via Lily’s Treasure Chest.

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