San Ignacio has a vibrant market with lots of influence from Guatemala & El Salvador

Many Belizean dishes in San Ignacio are inspired by our neighboring countries making our cuisine quite interesting.

When deciding where to eat, remember that spending your dollars at locally-owned place means you're closer to directly supporting the local Belize economy.

Tip: Most meals in Belize can be turned into vegan dishes by asking the vendor to replace the meat with vegetables. If you're plant-based, I do suggest you clarify that you don't eat any milk, cheese or eggs, because locals aren't familiar with unique diets as yet.

San Ignacio Market

This local market is one of the best market's in the entire country. It's filled with food vendors that cook traditional dishes and serve them just like locals eat them at home. Local dishes include rice & beans, tamales, salbutes, panades, pupusas, fresh juices, coconut water, baked goods and other dishes.

local vendors smiling at farmers market
Photo of San Ignacio Market by Shane Gorski

Vegan Option: For dishes that include fillings like tamales, salbutes, or pupusas, ask for the filling to be beans or vegetables instead. And for dishes like rice & beans, ask for the meat to be replaced with veggies.

There are a number of food stalls within the compound, all serving equally delicious dishes. My personal favorite are pupusas, which you can see in the picture below.

  • Average Cost: $2.00 USD per serving
  • Opening Hours: 7:00 to 14:00 daily
  • Location: San Ignacio Market

Restaurante Típico Salvadoreños

Because of my intimate love affair with pupasas, my friends recommended me this food spot. Their specialty is pupusas, which are small tortilla looking food that is packed with one of a combo of these fillings: beans, cheese, mora, chipilin, or meat.

pupusas with restaurant name in the background
Photo of Restaurante Típico Salvadoreño by Roni Martinez

Vegan Option: I recommend getting pupusas with mora/chipilin filling which is a type of green leaf that resembles Spinach.

The restaurant serves other dishes like panades, burritos, and salbutes which are greasy but tasty. The drinks are good but may have too much sugar. If you're on a budget, I recommend taking your own water because drinks cost as much as the food.

Cenaida's Belizean Food

rice and beans dish
Photo of rice & beans served at Cenaida's Belizean Food

Cenaida's is a special little food joint found in center of town. It's always filled with local people because the food is good and cheap. They have a wide range of dishes on their menu including specials for the day.

Vegan Option: My favorite is the traditional rice & beans. I normally ask them to give me vegetables instead of the meat, and it's immediately vegan.

The rice & beans dish has a ton of flavor since it's cooked with coconut milk over a fire heart, which is the traditional way of preparing it.

  • Average Cost: $4.00 USD per serving
  • Opening Hours: 11:00 to 21:00 daily (Closes earlier on Wednesdays)
  • Location: Far West Street

Mike's Kitchen

While the local's recommend foreigners to eat at Pop's Restaurant, Mike's kitchen is where all the locals go for breakfast. It's located right in front of the San Ignacio Market beside Lydia's. For breakfast, they offer beans, eggs and fry jacks. And for lunch the offer the traditional Belizean rice & beans. Nothing fancy, but the flavors are rich.

fry jacks, beans and roasted veggies
Photo of dish served at Mike's Kitchen

Vegan Option: For breakfast, I suggest asking the staff to replace the egg with roasted veggies to enjoy with your fry jacks and beans.

  • Average Cost: $2.00 USD per ice cream
  • Opening Hours: 5:00 AM to 9:00 AM daily
  • Location: Savannah Street

Ko-ox Ha-nah

Ko-ox Ha-nah means let's go eat in Mayan language. It's one of the most popular spots in San Ignacio but for a good reason. It's centrally located, and they offer fair Costs and good service.

Vegan Option: Their menu includes vegetarian options which can quickly be changed vegan by asking them to remove the cheese or eggs.

  • Average Cost: $5.00 USD per serving
  • Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 8:30 PM Daily (Closed on Sundays)
  • Website: Koox-Hannah
  • Location: #5 Burns Avenue
  • Extra: Offers Wifi

Authentic Flavors

This restaurant is owned by a lovely Garifuna lady. Her dishes are all locally-inspired with an emphasis on Garifuna cuisine. The plates include ingredients like coconut milk, curry, plantains and cassava.

Vegan Option: Most dishes can easily veganized by removing the meat and replacing with some veggies. Just ask the owner!

Cayo Twist

This isn't a restaurant, but they sell vegan ice cream (non-dairy). Who would have thought this existed in the little town of San Ignacio? They sell all sorts of flavors and I love them all especially the ones with local ingredients like the rum and raisin & soursop. Give this place a visit and have fun trying out all the flavors. You'll love them :)

  • Average Cost: $2.00 USD per ice cream
  • Opening Hours: 6:00 to 8:30 PM (Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday)
  • Location: Savannah Street

Street food is probably the absolute best way to experience local food

There are street vendors you won't find online because locals find them through word of mouth. I stumbled on these little hole in the walls because I lived in San Ignacio and my friends told me to check it out. Who knows the place better than locals right?

No Name Fast Food

There's a small place beside Tai San Store (Chinese Supermarket) where food vendors setup their tent and sell good old fast food.

fast food joint with no name
Photo of No Name Fast Food Place

This place is crowded every night. It's hard to miss it since it's by the town center. The menu has choices like: burritos, panades, salbutes and other fried food. It's cheap and tasty. The only caveat is that it only opens at night. All you have to do is put in your order a foreign lady that speaks Spanish will start working on it right in front of you.

  • Average Cost: $1.50 USD per serving
  • Opening Hours: 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM Daily
  • Location: Savannah Street

Fun Fact: Locals call street food nice & nasty because the secret sauce comes from the vendors not washing their hands. Belizeans have an interesting sense of humor.

Creole Bread Lady

Creole bread is one of the tastiest bread in Belize. The secret sauce is in the coconut milk. From my experience, most of the vendors selling creole bread are creole moms selling to put their kids through high school or college.

If you're in San Ignacio, take a walk across the metal bridge and walk to main highway in Santa Elena Town. You'll find vendors lined up selling creole bread and other homemade treats like sweet bread, powder bun and coconut crusts. Each bread cost around $0.50 USD each.

If you don't want to walk too much, there is a vendor right in front of the San Ignacio Market. She sits at the other side of the pedestrian ramp selling creole bread and coconut crust.

  • Average Cost: $1.00 USD per bread
  • Opening Hours: 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM Daily
  • Location: Burns Avenue

Choco Banana Lady

This is a small shop that I found while walking the streets of Santa Elena one day. They sell chocolate-covered, frozen bananas with nuts on top. It sounds simple, but it's delicious, and it only costs about $0.50 USD each. As mentioned before, this store isn't on the maps so do your best to look around the area I pinned on the map.

The store is a small wooden structure in front of a school called St. Ignatius High School.

  • Average Cost: $0.75 USD per serving
  • Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Closed Sundays)
  • Location: George Price Avenue

Garnaches Lady

This is another place a friend recommended me when I moved to San Ignacio Town. Locals love partying and drinking on weekends and then have a craving for tasty cheap food.

Garnaches is a circular tortilla chip with beans, cheese, and hot pepper sauce. It's tasty, cheap and can be made vegan by leaving out the cheese. The vendor comes out at night, but you can catch her in front of the Tai San Chinese Store.

girl preparing garnaches
Photo of vendors preparing garnaches
  • Average Cost: $0.50 USD per serving
  • Opening Hours: 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM Daily
  • Location: Burns Avenue

Fun Fact: Belizeans have an internal rivalry among people that eat ganaches with ketchup and people that hate eating it with ketchup. It's similar to the pineapple with pizza debate.

Paradise Ice Cream

This is an old local store that sells homemade dairy ice cream with locally sourced ingredients. It's cost about $1.00 USD. Try the local flavors of sour sop or rum and raisin. The store is in front of Courts Belize and is open almost every day.

paradise ice cream shop
Photo of Paradise Ice Cream Shop
  • Average Cost: $1.00 USD
  • Opening Hours: 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM (Closed on Sundays)
  • Location: Bullet Tree Road

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