My first night in Roatan, I made an epic mistake: I ate at a tourist restaurant. The Argentinian Grill came highly recommended… but I was highly disappointed.
For $8, I got the “eggplant parmesan” appetizer. I expected this:
Instead, I got four thin slices of raw-ish eggplant with a half-melted square of cheese and a hard slice of tomato on top.
At least the onion rings were good…?
I learned my lesson and didn’t waste another penny on over-priced food that whole trip. Instead, I ate like a queen twice a day… for less than $3 per meal. ($6, if you include the strawberry-papaya smoothies I ordered with each meal.)
How, you ask?
Not by cooking. A girl who'd shared the airport shuttle to West End with me had stopped on the way out of town to buy groceries and “save money.” But…
A) Who wants to cook while they’re on vacation? Especially when
B) The pots and pans at hotels/hostels are usually scratched, anyway, and
C) You can get AMAZING local food for so cheap?
If you’ve done any research on Honduras, you’ve probably heard of baleadas. They absolutely live up to the hype. They’re like burritos, with a thick, doughy, freshly-made-to-order tortilla (and, to my delight, no scoops upon scoops of rice as a cheap filler).
At first, I got mine from a street vendor next to Coconut Tree Divers:
The sarong is clutch -- you don't even need clothes if you have a sarong. But even more clutch is the oversized sunglasses, which keep so much sun out, for both UV protection and squint-reduction. And they're polarized! See also: Why I ONLY Wear Polarized Sunglasses -- And You Should, Too.
But I stopped going there on day three, because they ran out of avocados, and life is better when you add AN ENTIRE AVOCADO HALF FOR LESS THAN $0.25.
Instead, I started going to Calelu's Restaurant and Grocery Store — usually at least once per day. They offered a greater variety of baleadas, with steak, pork, sausage, and bacon, in addition to chicken and eggs, as well as plantains and other “extras,” for the same price as the street place.
They also had really affordable Honduran and Caribbean food. $5 would get you a whole big plate with your choice of meat, carb, and veggie.
You can sit downstairs or upstairs. Both have a sea view, though the view is better upstairs and it’s cooler, because you get more of a breeze. Just… you have to be down for a more “authentic” experience, as the stairs are super steep and there are power lines running through the restaurant.
Inside the grocery store, you can buy baby powder (important to know if you’re prone to chafing — I’m not, but many people are), coffee, and, most importantly, smoothies. They’re about $2 cheaper than anything you’ll find at the tourist shops, but just as delicious.
If you want, you can also sit across the street, on a dock over the water at Booty Bar. You just have to order a beer with your food. (For $2, it’s totally worth it.)
Another awesome place to eat is if you go all the way to the end of the road in West End, then down to the beach and walk another 25 meters. You can’t miss the bar. I don’t know what their normal menu is like, but on the Sunday when I went, there was a man grilling. For $5, you could get your choice of meat — chicken, pork, or beef — with plantains, veggies, and potato salad. (In the States, people joke that potato salad is a white people thing… but Honduras reminded me how strange that stereotype is.)
I ordered the chicken plate to share. It was SO amazing, we licked the plate clean, then ordered the pork plate.
Between diving as much as possible by day, then night diving or night snorkeling after sunset, we were basically only eating two meals per day. (As I wrote in 5 Fun, Delicious and Spectacular Ways to Prevent Weight Gain During Summer Vacation, having lots of activities scheduled is a great way to avoid weight gain while traveling — in fact, my dive buddy actually lost ten pounds on this trip!)
We’d either eat baleadas for breakfast and a late-enough lunch that, by the time we were done with our night dive/snorkel, we wanted to go straight to bed… or, we’d eat a Cliff or protein bar between our first and second morning dives, then eat baleadas for our late lunch and not get hungry again for the rest of the day.
It wasn’t quite Southeast Asia prices… but it was pretty close. And it was definitely the cheapest food I’ve had on a Caribbean island. The smoothies weren’t the cheapest in the world… but they weren’t too expensive at Calleaus.
Also, hot tip: if you want a fun, delicious, and affordable drink to take home with you, swing by the Roatan Cigars Factory. They have these amazing, $5 bags of coffee that are a delicious blend of 75% Honduran coffee, 25% ground cacao beans. Buy as many as you possibly can. Say it’s for the people you love… then get hooked and keep them for yourself.
AND, hot tip #2: If you want to enrich and inform your trip to Honduras, a few books you might be interested in are:
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