Ambergris Caye Directory
Elvi’s Kitchen Mayan Feast Fit for a King
Elvi’s Kitchen is no doubt one of the most famous restaurants on Ambergris Caye. Just ask anyone on the island and they can direct you to the place “Where something good is always cooking.” And most tourists who are looking for a great dining experience are asking directions to Elvi’s Kitchen in downtown San Pedro.
Elvi’s Kitchen is known for its unique setting, delicious food and incorporating local music and different Belizean cultures into their service. Particularly famous is their selection of seafood dishes which Ambergris Today already had a taste of on our first review. Now it was our turn to feast much like the ancient Maya as we dined on their unique Mayan Buffet, quite inarguable the best and only of its kind on Ambergris Caye.
“Feasting” on the buffet, I was reminded why Elvi’s Kitchen is top notch when it comes to culinary excellence. The Mayan Buffet is just that – a Feast, fit for a king. So I asked myself one questions, “Why don’t I do this more often?” If you have not, then you are missing out on one of the best menu selections in San Pedro (and I will be bold to say ‘in the entire country’).
In an effort to keep the Mayan cuisine and dishes alive, the management of EIvi’s Kitchen has devised a Mayan Feast, consisting of numerous traditional Mayan dishes. Let’s begin - On the buffet table is Pork Pibil, Tamales, Shrimp Tostadas, Chaya Rice, Steamed Vegetables, Fruit Salad, Pollo Tikin Xic (marinated with sour orange & Mayan spices, grilled to perfection), Fish Fillet, Sopa de Lima (Lime Soup), Pico de Gallo and Guacamole.
The taste is simply amazing and out of this world. No other shrimp has the unique taste as Elvi’s Kitchen has managed to infuse into their shrimp tostadas. The fish fillet is drizzled in a coconut chipotle sauce and melts in your mouth while the tamales just burst with flavor. Mrs. Elvia Staines is in charge of making the tamales herself. Her experience in the kitchen and selection of spices make for great tamales. The white rice mixed with chaya (a spinach-type leaf) is moist and very rich with flavor as well.
The corn and flour tortillas are prepared at the buffet table on a comal so they are always fresh and hot. They go great with the pork pibil which is one of the most traditional of all Mayan dishes and is very popular. Pibil is a method of seasoning, burying and cooking meat underground. The meat is seasoned, wrapped in banana leaves, and placed over scorching coals and rocks in a hole dug in the ground. According to Jenny, the Mayans only Pibiled pigs, even though today people Pibil chickens and other meat.
Traditional Mayan ingredients like peppers, chipotle, chocolate, mole, banana leaves, coconut and an array of spices make for a supreme and rich menu at the Mayan Buffet. Jenny Staines, head chef at Elvi’s, participated in a week long course, Cocina Mayan II, which focused on the ancient Mayan people and their cuisine. The course allowed her to share what she already knew about Mayan cooking and to learn more about the history of the people and their food. Jenny is using the knowledge she has acquired to prepare an amazing array of dishes.
And the Mayan Buffet is never the same every week. It continues to evolve as the food is prepared in different ways, the soups vary and even the desserts change; this time around we had the sweet and ever so creamy flan and key lime pie. So you have to try it a few times before sampling all the items on the buffet table.
Margaritas with an “Attitude” is what Ambergris Today is calling bartender’s Emil Lisbey frozen margaritas. They are perfect, the way all margaritas should taste like – a perfect blend. Other excellent frozen drinks served up by Emil were the Mango Tango and the classic Strawberry Daiquiri. And the Isla Bonita and Mai Tai cocktails were great too. Bartender Emil gets two thumbs up from us.
The many awards that both Elvi’s Kitchen and Mrs. Elvia Staines have garnered since 1974 when the business was a humble Burgle Isle take-out are a true testament of the restaurant’s dedication to their product; excellence in both the culinary and service fields. Elvi’s Kitchen is a true shining star on Ambergris Caye; a must for visitors and a staple for locals.
Related Link: Seafood Restaurant Review at Elvi's Kitchen
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