For the Love of Fine Dining: Splurge a Little with Dinner and Drinks at These Restaurants in Southern Belize

by Megan Rodden

Treat yourself and your loved one to a special evening of dining in Southern Belize.  Indulging in a sophisticated meal is not merely a culinary experience, it’s a celebration of life’s richness.  Exquisite flavors, impeccable service, carefully crafted cocktails, and a luxuriant atmosphere allow us to escape the ordinary and savor the extraordinary.  The Placencia Peninsula has some wonderful restaurant options to indulge in.  Make a memorable night of culinary exploration at any of these fine dining establishments. You won’t be disappointed.

Sustainable Seaside Dining

Photo by Itz’ana Resort

Keeping pace with global trends but remaining true to their cultural roots, the chefs at Itz’ana Resort & Residences have outdone themselves with the advent of Nadu.  The name, Nadu, pays homage to the Garifuna culture of the region and translates to “tree” in the local dialect.  The concept of this exquisite, open-air dining experience is elegant sustainability spotlighting traditional Belizean ingredients and flavors. The menu is decided by the availability of ingredients and the chef’s creativity each day, so no two 4-course meals are ever the same.  

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Using the traditional method of cooking, the woody scent of smoke from the fire hearth mingles in the fresh salt air with night-blooming jasmine and roasting herbs.  Soft lighting and the rhythmic lapping of the sea upon the shore complete the effect for a whimsical and romantic setting.

Photo by Itz’ana Resort

Set on the sand under a canopy of littoral forest with the Caribbean Sea just a few feet away, you probably guessed that the ever-evolving and hyper-local menu features mainly seafood.  By working directly with local fishermen to procure small batch, ethically caught seafood, Nadu is not only plating dinners but promoting social responsibility.  Nadu can be reserved exclusively for parties of 15 people or more with advanced notice. It’s the ultimate fine dining choice for special occasions such as birthday celebrations, anniversaries, engagement celebrations, or even an intimate wedding reception.

Rijsttafel’s Eruption of Flavors

Mare Restaurant at Turtle Inn. Photo courtesy of property.

Southern Belize wouldn’t necessarily come to mind when imagining the setting of a traditional Rijsttafel feast.  Translated as “rice table,” the Rijsttafel – a Dutch tradition – dates back to colonial times and showcases the plentitude and exotic spices of Indonesian cuisine in a multi-dish communal meal.  The beautiful beachfront Turtle Inn is one of Francis Ford Coppola’s Hideaways. It’s an eco-luxury property that blends seamlessly with the tropical nature surrounding it. 

Mare Restaurant. Photo courtesy of property.

The resort’s flagship restaurant, Mare, features a soaring ceiling of thatch and is decorated with Balinese art.  Twice per week, the chefs present the Rijsttafel dinner. It’s a feast for all the senses.  You can expect to sample a variety of curry, spicy sambal, fish steamed in banana leaf, grated coconut and roasted peanuts, sweet and sour pork belly, teriyaki chicken skewers, succulent shrimp, sweet plantain fritters, and more.  Luxuriate in this leisurely dinner and relish the profusion of flavors. 

Panoramic Views of Placencia Village

Muna, the on-site rooftop restaurant at The Ellysian. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

Muna, the Rooftop Restaurant and Bar at the Ellysian Boutique Hotel on the beach in the heart of Placencia affords diners fantastic views of the village, the Caribbean Sea, the Placencia Lagoon, and the distant Maya Mountain Range as a beautiful backdrop to superb cuisine and magnificently crafted cocktails.  Exceptional service and exemplary décor have made Muna a stand-out on the peninsula’s restaurant scene.  A wonderful choice for a memorable meal or even just a stellar cocktail hour to watch the sunset.

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Wonderful Wine & Charcuterie 

Photo by @BelizeMyTravels

The quaint and quirky and oh so cute Little Wine Bar is a top contender for date-night-destinations in Placencia.  With seating options inside or out under the stars on the balcony, The Little Wine Bar creates a fun and intimate atmosphere for couples or small groups of friends.  They offer an impressive variety of skillfully selected vintages to pair with delectable local meats and cheese platters.  

Featured: Rijsttafel at Mare Restaurant. Photo courtesy of Turtle Inn 

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