In these times of COVID, al fresco dining has taken on new strengths—beyond just open-air meals. Besides the aesthetics of dining outside, experiences are now hyper focused on safety, sanitation and social distancing. Under current regulations in Belize, outdoor dining—defined as al fresco or an open air restaurant that is not enclosed, with proper air circulation—is allowed dine-in at a lower seating capacity. Belize has seen waves of necessary restrictions, including total stay-at-home orders, take-out only, and now, outdoor dining with restrictions amidst a national curfew. Nonetheless, outdoor dining has been crucial in keeping some restaurants afloat this year.
If you’re eager to support your local community with your patronage, expect a few changes; you’ll still get to enjoy fresh air, warm sunshine and perhaps even people-watching (from a safe distance). However, the cap on seating allows table spacing six feet apart; your menu may even be digital; your server will wear a mask, and you’ll be required to wear one until being seated. And as for sanitation—there’ll be plenty.
Biltmore Plaza Bistro’s Patio
This Belize City mainstay has a lovely covered patio for open-air dining in style at its Bistro, or even poolside. Plus, additional umbrella-shaded outdoor tables and solo chairs scattered amongst its lush tropical garden.
Savor a taste of the Caribbean Sea where salty ocean air and bespoke service perfectly balance with an extensive menu of international cuisine. Cook both poolside and tableside on superheated volcanic stones at the Stonegrill Restaurant, or look over the garden area, the pool deck, and the majestic Caribbean Sea at the family-friendly Baymen’s Tavern.
Dine on the outside covered patio overlooking Haulover Creek at one of city’s most popular and agreeable restaurants, the Riverside Tavern. After all, the signature hamburgers—which come in several sizes starting from 6 ounces—are arguably the best in Belize.
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An oasis of funky character in a sea of conventional restaurants, the 501 Hub is a feast for both the eyes and stomach. The entirely open-air layout is a mix of rustic and eclectic, with a Belizean-influenced International menu that’s perfect for day or night. Yet, private in all the ways it needs to be.
The Iguana Stop
Although not directly in the city, The Iguana Stop in Burrel Boom is a noteworthy mention. Known for its riverside tacos, punchy margaritas and resident iguanas, dine on tried-and-true fillings like shrimp and beef, or seasonal favorites, like deer and even gibnut.
Nicknamed the only jungle in town, feast your eyes on the exceptional views of the hillside property at San Ignacio Resort Hotel’s Running W Restaurant. Here, dining outdoors very often includes the visit of resident birds, including toucans that come to feed on nearby trees making for a unique “dining with the birds” experience. Meanwhile, The Lobby Bar opens to the outdoor dining area of the restaurant — perfect for a sundowner. Plus, who’d say no to margaritas or (and) ice cream poolside?
Found right cross Atlantic Bank, this town favorite serves up all the Belizean comfort foods. Ko-Ox Han-Nah, which translates to let’s go eat, is cozy, clean and budget-friendly. Plus, they’ve got a wide selection of fresh cuts, thanks to their butcher counterpart found next door. Their vegetarian options aren’t too bad either.
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Surf & Turf Grill
Bringing San Pedro Town’s island flavors to the capital, this family-owned business in Belmopan lives up to their name. Still hidden away on South Ring Road, the small biz serves up fresh Salpicon, fried Snapper to comforting homemade flour tortillas alongside a coastal vibe; thanks to its sandy floors, thatched roofing, and rustic bamboo walls transporting you straight into a beach hut.
Pasquale’s Pizza & Ultimate Wingz
Thanks to outdoor seating in picnic tables under a roofed veranda, patrons can enjoy not only pizza, but hot and cold submarines, pasta, salads, hand-cut fries and more too.
Island Breeze Bar & Grill
Authentically Caribbean, the roofed yet open-air offers a straight-on view of the ocean alongside colorful yet clean seating and a fun menu. Besides being a casual hang-out spot with contemporary Belizean culture, you can expect great bar-bites, including their zestful Jalapeño Poppers and Shrimp Tostones. Great place for sunset as you gaze on productive Pelicans grazing for dinner with an ice-cold brew in hand.
Pelican Beach Resort
Distanced by design, this is as close as dining on the beach that you can get in Dangriga Town. Fresh bread, a spectacular view, and 50 years of experience (as of 2021), Pelican Beach Resort is a great choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This breezy beachside restaurant offers local fare with an emphasis on fresh seafood, but it’s best known for it’s pina coladas. Visit the outdoor Drum Bar in Southern Belize for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We’re sure you’ll find something you like from shrimp ceviche and snapper nachos to chaya pesto pasta and Mayan-glazed pork chops.
Drop in to dine on the veranda or al fresco on the deck. Organic produce is used from the edible garden, which you are welcome to tour. Choose to dine in casually elegant surroundings either under the magnificent trusses inside the Great House, on the veranda or al fresco on the deck.
Using seasonal produce sourced locally from nearby farmers, dining at The Garden Table Restaurant or The Rum Bar. Surrounded by cool, shaded decks perched within the jungle canopy, this is a farm-to-table destination perfect for foodies and day-trippers alike.
At Asha’s Culture Kitchen, Asha and his brothers fish for most of their seafood product themselves, while following Belize’s fisheries regulations. Not to mention, being Fish Right Eat Right certified. Located in Punta Gorda, Asha’s Culture Kitchen is known for pulling up to the restaurant so that customers can order fresh—right off the boat. Dine outdoors over the water at this southern gem in Belize, undiluted with charm.
As for Northern Belize, I’m on the search for the best outdoor dining spots. Send me your must-try recommendations here so I can see for myself!