Island Dining in Roatan
The Honduran Island of Roatan
Last summer, Don and I spent a week exploring Roatan. We had 2 evenings at the West End of the the island. Our B & B host recommended, The Lighthouse for one dinner.
During the day we wandered back behind the main street in search of the hidden place. The restaurant built over the water looked fun, but the boy climbing above the sign was having the most fun!
We wandered out on the deck and took in the view. We hoped the heat would lift by sundown, so we could return later and enjoy dinner at one of those purple tables.
Arriving in the Dark
It was trickier to find at night. Luckily there was an employee near the street, ready to guide diners to the restaurant. We were lucky to get the last outside table.
My camera flash lit up our table brightly, but the tiny flame of our candle was comical. When our laid back, local server arrived wearing a ball cap, I couldn't see his face. He propped the menu board on top of a chair. I acted like a little old lady tourist and pulled a tiny flashlight from my bag.
A Humid Feast
We both look a little slimy here, but the food was delicious. I ordered Lion-fish, since I'd heard some scuba guides talking about how the cute sounding fish are actually destroying the reefs. Don ordered 3 lobster tails. We had grilled veggies, salad, beans, rice, potatoes and coconut bread! Of course, I did use my flashlight to peek at my food before I dug in.
After attempting to photograph my lion-fish, the world got very dark again. Don and I were a bit jolted when suddenly a small person was standing near our table.
Selling Key Fobs
On our second night at the West End, we started a little earlier.
Since we'd tried some of the local Honduran food, why not sample a little Argentinian?
Drinks on the Sand
There were a few empty cafe tables set up on the sand, right across the road from the restaurant. Maybe it was the heatwave or maybe the bugs that kept others away. But we were getting used to the heat and we had a bottle of bug. A server from the restaurant, graciously crossed the road to deliver our drinks.
Where in the world can you watch the sunset over the water, while being entertained by youth on a boat? We watched kids repeatedly, climb the mast, swing like a pendulum and plunge to the water... until it was too dark to see!
We headed to the patio deck after sunset. I was delighted right away by the basket of bread sticks, olive bread and dip. Then we moved onto beef and chicken empanadas. All mighty tasty!
I just wish I'd gotten a photo of the open grill area, behind us. We worked up appetites, while smelling the sizzling meats!
Our plates arrived, looking very exciting! I had Shrimp and Veggies with Pumpkin Rice. The service was surprisingly efficient as well. Roatan is pretty laid back, so this was a nice surprise.
Don had Beef Tenderloin, which came with veggies and twice baked potato. I of course needed to help him.
There's something so satisfying about having a delicious meal and then strolling back to your home for the night.
As we turned down the dirt road to our inn, the night suddenly became lively. The quiet church we had passed before was spilling over with guests. The open windows shared the music and voices and the road outside gave young children a little roaming room. What a way to end our evening!
Ruthies Garifuna Cuisine
On the Honduran Island of Roatan
Directions... with a Machete
It wasn't quite 11:00 yet and there had just been a huge downpour. Things were pretty quiet as if the whole village was still asleep. But we saw a couple people sitting under the shady palapa near the "Ruthies" sign, so we approached with crossed fingers.
No one exactly jumped up to greet us. But one of the women pointed to the back deck, so we helped ourselves to a stack of chairs and found a table with a view. That's a little silly to say, since there were no "view-less" tables.
Don and Jorge took a seat and I just had to roam for a bit. I took this photo from the end of the the deck, near an open window which opened up to the tiny kitchen. It already felt like we'd intruded a bit, so I forced myself not to stick my head in to see what was going on.
The water was calm after the morning rain. I wondered about the narrow "kayuko" tied to the side of the covered dock. Who used that boat? Where did they go once they got in the boat?
Home From School
Directly below us, I heard the voices of 2 little boys speaking Garifuna. Since children on the island either go to school in the morning or afternoon, I guessed these kids were done with school for the day. I have some fun memories of walking home from school when I was a child, but I never got to wade through waters of the Caribbean!
There were no menus, but Ruthie told us what she could serve that day. Yellowtail was the catch of the day and she could make "Machuca". I had heard about that Garifuna soup made with coconut milk and fish. I was game. As Jorge told us stories of growing up on the island, (long before developers and tourists) we could hear noises coming from the little kitchen window. It was an almost comical slapping-thunking sound that came from that small room. "She's pounding your plantains for your soup." Jorge laughed.
Served with a Smile!
We enjoyed every minute of our long wait for our meal. Ruthie had done all the work herself in that tiny kitchen. We finally got a big smile out of her when we mentioned seeing her name on the internet. "You're famous!" We announced. Not too famous, because I keep trying to find that piece of info I read weeks ago about her restaurant and I can't find it! But she seemed pleased to know we'd heard of her.
Fish with a Smile
Actually Don's smile, could be seen as an expression of panic. But his past business trips to Japan have prepared him for things much scarier looking than this fish. Maybe that fish is smiling on the plate... or he should be, because the plate decoration makes him look like he has legs... which is funny. Don did a good job with his fish and gave Ruthie lots of praise.
Machuca with Kingfish
Okay, this photo display hardly looks appetizing, but I loved every bit about this meal, starting with the retro flowered china. Don shared his rice and fried plantain, which was served in a Tupperware style container. I spooned chunks of plantain mash and squeezes of lime into my funny looking soup. Then I was treated to a smooth and flavorful slurp of sweet coconut milk broth. The kingfish was fresh and melt-in-you-mouth yummy. And I'm not a huge fish lover!
Coming to Life
After finishing and lingering, Ruthie placed a paper napkin on our table with $25. written in marker. Who knows if that's what locals are charged. But we got plenty for that price and she messed up her kitchen just for us. I asked her how to say "Thank you" in Garifuna. I can't remember what it was, but I she laughed when I tried to repeat it to her. We headed out to the street and stopped to chat with the men who had just started up a game of dominoes. "Who's winning!" I asked. Which is a really dumb question since they hadn't started. But the man in the white shirt with stripes, was more than happy to announce that he was the winner!
afternoon personality just kicking in! I would love to visit Ruthie's in the evening when locals might be filling up the tables. But no complaints. I loved our quiet little visit, with lots of time to enjoy!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.