The Placencia Peninsula is now a go-to destination in Belize for tourists, expats and locals alike. The village of Maya Beach is north of downtown Placencia. It is here where the peninsula narrows to a point where there is water lapping both sides of the road. This is what earns it the nickname of the Florida Keys of Belize.
Maya Beach is growing as developers move in, attracted by some of the best white sand beaches in Belize. Another draw is the handful of restaurants that you can find in the village. On any given evening the main street through the village sees gridlocks of parked cars as their owners enjoy the food.
Locals and visitors in Placencia will drive or take a cab to eat and socialize in Maya Beach, for good reason. And most of them will end up in any of the three places highlighted below – the top three places to eat out in Maya Beach:
1. Maya Beach Hotel & Bistro
If you search “Best Restaurants in Placencia” on TripAdvisor, one of the top places that always comes up is the Maya Beach Hotel & Bistro. The vast majority of the time it’s in the top two or three. With well over 1,200 reviews, including a few of my own, everyone loves the menu, food, bartenders, and ocean views.
The Maya Beach Hotel & Bistro encourages you to come for happy hour, relax in the pool, and then dine in the open-air restaurant. Eating here means that you’re exposed to an exceptional wine list, fresh seafood, and a fine dining menu.
Australians Ellen and John Lee opened the Bistro in 2009 and have built reputations that will last years. My personal recommendation for breakfast is the duck sausage hash and the seafood and coconut chowder for dinner. But the reality is that you can’t go wrong with anything that you’ll find on this menu.
Popular with the expat community in Placencia is Mango’s, which offers a large parking lot, where you rarely will find any space. Ask anyone what they don’t like about Mango’s and they will tell you the fact that it’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. It’s so popular that on Wednesday nights, traffic jams are common as cars look for a nearby place to park.
Owned by an American expat, Frank DaSilva, Mango’s has a large menu of international and Belizean dishes, with an emphasis on local seafood. Another specialty – and a local favorite – is custom-made pizza. Climb the stairs, and as you enter the open restaurant doors, you immediately scan the specials board, offering dishes at a discount. You can bet when I see lasagna on there it becomes my choice.
If you’re looking for something more local, the restaurant will also offer a Belizean special of the day, too. It’s guaranteed to be the bomb.
3. Bonefish Grille
The last of the top three restaurants in Maya Beach is the Bonefish Grille, located at the Singing Sands Inn. This tropical setting, under palms and Belizean hardwoods, creates a picture-perfect dining experience. With a large multi-level restaurant, ocean breezes, soft music and fine dining, you have one of the more upscale dining experiences on the peninsula.
The menu features local seafood with an Asian influence. There’s an open bar, and one of the best wine lists I have experienced in Belize. Prepare to dazzle your taste buds.
Although there are a couple of other restaurants in Maya Beach, these are the best three by far. They are a major part of what keeps Maya Beach one of the more popular and most visited villages in Belize today.