Placencia  has a small restaurant offering but enough variety to keep you stuffed during your visit: seafood cooked in coconut milk and local herbs, Creole stews and “fry chicken,” sandwiches, burritos, burgers, chow mein, French, and Italian (and adequate vegetarian options nearly everywhere you go).
John the Bakerman (7 a.m.–close) makes great breads, cinnamon buns, and coffee bread; look for his sign on the sidewalk and get it fresh out of the oven around 5 p.m.
Near the Shell station, Norman’s Bakery (6 a.m.–9 p.m. daily) has cheap breakfasts (including a US$2.50 Backpacker Special) and dinners for US$7.50, not to mention coffee and baked goods.
In Placencia Village Square, Tutti Frutti Gelatería (9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily) serves up some of the best homemade Italian ice cream you’ve ever had in your life (a bold statement, and I stand by it); it’s made fresh daily with local fruits and traditional flavors. The fruit sorbets are dairy-free and they serve espresso drinks and iced coffees.
Daisy’s (7 a.m.–10:30 p.m.), on the main road, makes its own ice cream and offers cakes, pies, and other goodies, like seaweed shakes and fruit smoothies (about US$4).
The Secret Garden Restaurant and Coffee House (tel. 501/523-3617, www.secretgardenplacencia.com , 7–11 a.m. and 5:30–9 p.m. Tues.–Sat.) has a pleasant shady area and a homey lounge where you can enjoy coffee drinks, free wireless Internet, and yummy burritos, burgers, and Thai curries; Sunday brunch is served during the high season. There is also an on-site day spa.
Up the road (past the town dock), look for The Shak Beach Café (7 a.m.–7 p.m.), which has 21 smoothie flavors (all with fresh fruits), a healthy vegetarian menu, a view of the water, and good breakfasts (banana pancakes, omelets, coffee, tea for US$5–6).
For early birds, Sweet Dreams is a bakery and café with free wireless Internet for customers that opens at 6 a.m. The Swiss family bakery makes a strong cup of coffee and delicious cinnamon rolls. Later in the day there is homemade ice cream and stone-oven-baked pizza; the bakery has a nice variety of specialty bread and pastries using all natural ingredients. It’s on the sidewalk in a large concrete building with a few picnic tables for seating.
Michelo’s Belgian Café (8 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri.) offers European street café ambiance, overlooking Placencia Road from a second-story balcony. Here you can find a good cup of coffee and a light menu of waffles, crepes, cream puffs, and sandwiches. Small portions but delicious food made from rich, local ingredients.
Omar’s Creole Grub (7 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 6–9 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 6–9 p.m. Sat.) will take care of you all day, with a lobster omelet, handmade tortillas, and guava jelly to start the day off (US$8), then a burrito for lunch (US$4), and creole style barracuda steak (from US$7) for dinner (or pork chops, conch steak, or lobster). Chef Omar Jr. won the 2009 Lobsterfest Cookoff with his stuffed lobster. Come for the food, and stay for the conversation with the vivacious Omar and family. (No alcohol is served.)
BJ’s (on the corner of the soccer field, 7 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat., closes at 4 p.m. on Sun.), “where good food and God’s people meet,” has an outdoor porch and cheap fare: sandwiches from US$2.50, seafood and stir-fry dinners from US$9.
Next door, Wendy’s Restaurant and Bar (tel. 501/523-3335, 7 a.m.–9:30 p.m.) offers a varied menu at reasonable prices, plus a glassed-in, air-conditioned eating area and a full bar. This is a great, cool place to come to for Creole and Mexican cooking, burgers (US$3–7.50), burritos (US$4.50–8), and fancier steaks and seafood items (US$13–23).
The Cozy Corner (7 a.m.–10 p.m. daily) has a relaxed open-air atmosphere and is one of the nicer beach bars. For breakfast in Belize you can never go wrong with eggs, beans, and fry jacks; they also have a lobster burger for US$7, fish dinners from US$9, and good bar food.
The Pickled Parrot (between the sidewalk and main road, just off from the soccer field, 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m.) is good for seafood specials (US$11 fish plate, US$15 lobster), burgers, pizza, and blender drinks (including a three-rum “Parrot Piss” cocktail, US$6).
The Purple Space Monkey Village (in town across from soccer field, 6 a.m.–midnight) has some of the best pizza, panini sandwiches, and full-belly dishes, including Belizean, bagels, etc.; there’s also an espresso bar, free wireless Internet, and laptops for your use.
Placencia Village ’s sole Italian restaurant is La Dolce Vita (5:30–10:30 p.m. daily, closes the last week of Aug. and reopens in Nov.), with decent pastas and gnocchi (US$8–16) and a wine list; it’s above Wallen’s Market.
Rumfish y Vino Wine and Gastro Bar (tel. 501/523-3293, www.rumfishyvino.com , 11 a.m.–midnight daily) opened in 2008; the Solomons bought the place while honeymooning. Pamela, a wine specialist, imports Italian and Californian wine; John works his magic in the kitchen. The menu features international comfort food to please any appetite and has a good mix of customers; a sun-beaten tourist bellies up to the bar for a plate of Rumfish tacos and draft beer while at a dinner table a few feet away the prime minister of Belize drinks a glass of wine.
Most of the resorts north of town have fine restaurants to brag about. Grab a fistful of dollars and a taxi and bon appétit. At The Turtle Inn’s Mare Restaurant, the chef prepares meals with greens from his own on-site organic herb garden, as well as those grown in their upland sister resort’s extensive organic vegetable garden. In fact, this is the best place to come for a fresh green salad in Placencia—as well as seafood, pasta, and oven-baked gourmet pizza.
Chef Frank de Silva at the Seaside Restaurant (reservations tel. 501/523-3565, entrées from US$12, surf-and-turf tenderloin US$28) at Robert’s Grove Beach Resort serves mouthwatering seafood and imported U.S. steaks. Don’t forget Habanero Mexican Café and Bar (3–9 p.m., closed Jun.–Nov., US$9–15) for excellent Mexican food, just south of Seine Bight .
A few miles farther north, Maya Beach Hotel Bistro (dinner reservations tel. 501/520-8040, open from 7 a.m., closed Mon.) has Placencians raving—and unanimously declaring that the food and experience is well worth the US$15 taxi trip from town (or US$1 on the afternoon bus).