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Food & Dining in Honduras

The major cities in Honduras have a wide variety of Italian, Mexican, Chinese and other international cuisines, as well as fast-food restaurants. In the smaller towns and the Bay Islands, you'll find mainly simple dishes of meat, fish, fresh local fruit and vegetables. Tortillas, seafood, beans, mondongo (a soup with tripe), tapado (meat and vegetable soup), corn tamales and enchiladas are characteristic of the cuisine.

If you visit some of the Garifuna villages, try the coconut bread and conch soup. Food in the Bay Islands gets a bit more upscale and varied each year as more vacationers and retirees join the divers. A handful of hotels in Copan Ruinas also offer more daring choices.

A good place to start when looking for food is by walking the squares or plazas of Honduras, branching out, and looking for the places where the locals are gathered. If your Spanish is limited, you are always safe in ordering plato tipico. In Honduras, this typically consists of refried beans (red or black), crema, rice, a very salty piece of otherwise bland cheese, plantains (a fried sweet member of the banana family) and corn tortillas.

Plantains come prepared in different. Ask for maduros (mature) and they are the overly ripe ones you will see in the markets of Honduras. Often, on the north coast, they are apt to serve them less ripe (verde). On the islands, you can also find boiled plantains.

When in Tela, Ceiba or Roatan, the fresh fish is a must. Don't be so interested in what kind of fish it is; merely asked for what was caught that morning. Don't forget to try conch (pronounced “konk” in English or caracol in Spanish).

Beef on the mainland is good but the range-grazed steer is a tougher cut than at home. However, the taste is superior. If you get to La Ceiba, Ricardo’s is an excellent restaurant but be prepared to pay North American prices. Save room for dessert and the coffee is magnificent. Avoid uncooked vegetables (particularly salads) and fruits that haven’t been peeled.

In Honduran restaurants, a hostess does not seat you. Walk right up to the table you would like and sit down. Honduran restaurants are beginning to establish separate smoking areas. When dining, it's a good idea to realise that Hondurans from all walks of life tend to be very traditional in their table manners. Travellers who make any initial contact with fellow diners in restaurants, especially small-town eateries off the beaten path, should wish them a good meal by saying, "Buen provecho". This is considered the right thing to do and will help you make quick friends.

Service is included in most restaurant bills. In hotels, cafes and restaurants, 10% of the bill is customary where service is not included.