PIMO’S CASITA BAR/RESTAURANT
Miami-Beach on the sea-front,
Corozal Town, Belize, Central America
By William Link – Living the dream in Belize:
“Why is beer so expensive in this place,” grumbled one customer at Primo’s Casita –Bar/Restaurant, in quaint and quiet Corozal Town, Belize Central America. The very good, local Beliken beer, especially the stout, if you like a full-bodied taste as I do, is just BZ. $3.50 or U.S. $1.75, you cheapskate! - is what the owner, Cornelio Puerto, did not say in reply.
Instead, he said with uncommon equanimity, “Because, you are on the seafront,” beautiful Corozal Bay being just a stone’s- throw away across the street. Then, with remarkable calm, facing the complainer, he ticked off on his finger-tips the rest of the story.
“We provide music,” he said, over the sound of a popular Reggaetone video showing on the big, flat-screen behind the fully-stocked, mirrored bar – the sound jumping from the speakers all around.
“And,” he added with emphatic finality, “We have a full menu, chef, kitchen staff “and,” pause for effect, “a professional wait-staff to serve our customers.”
“Harrumph!” snorted the bad-tempered customer, “who needs all that…,” he mumbled as he walked out. “Well,” I thought, “I like all that!”
Primo’s Casita delivers a delicious mix of freshly- prepared local food, good music (fear-not requesting to taste) delightful (tropically-paced) service, and a great atmospheric mix of expats, Belizeans and tourists. Primo’s Casita is open-air; Built of Belize hardwood on the grassy, not sandy, shores of Corozal bay. During occasional hard rains, curtains are drawn obstructing the otherwise fantastic view. The place is family-friendly, with swings for the kids on the covered patio out back.
Friendly mixologists are behind the bar, Panty-Rippers, a could-be-fatal mix of various rums, and a rainbow of frozen drinks are easily had. Or, try the signature Belize concoction; a Michelada, a beer-based bloody-Mary-style drink, made with fresh lime juice, strong, hot spices and, careful, a pepper- salt mixture rims the glass.
Primo’s Casita is justifiably renowned for its Ceviche, a Caribbean delicacy faintly analogous to sushi, except that the seafood, either shrimp, conch, lobster, or fish is chemically-cooked by soaking it all in freshly-squeezed lime juice. Then, mixing it with crunchy onions, sweet peppers and some “don’t-touch” Habanero peppers and cilantro, it is served with toasted tortilla-chips so as to scoop it all up.
Despite the owner’s declaration, Primo’s Casita menu is not quite “full;” the offerings lack a chance for dessert. The rice-and beans though, the Belize staple food, is the best in Corozal. Whether served with stewed chicken (good), pork chops (better), or a fresh fried- snapper-filet (best!), the meal is consistently good. Order it with steak, at your peril. In Belize, beef is all grass-fed-tough, and is best enjoyed, I think, ground into hamburger-meat. That said, the burgers at Primo’s are edible and tasty, just expect thin and well-done (to think that folks pay extra for grass-fed beef in the States).
If you love chicken in all its manifestations, then you will love dining in Belize; and Primo’s is no slouch when it comes to preparing the “yard-bird.” Served fried, stewed, roasted, or shredded, for tacos and other dishes, you won’t be disappointed at Primo’s. Psst! - A hidden gem on the menu are the Taquitos or flautas; fried Belize/Mexican-style tacos (chicken, or beef), that are rolled like slim cigars, not folded over like State-side tacos. The hot Tacquitos are piled high on your plate, and are handy for dipping in hot pepper-sauce or fresh-made salsa.
“Tropically,” the tent-like blackboard sign made to be set outside the restaurant entrance, advertising Primo’s “Special’s of the Day,” is not always deployed, so you have to ask. You may be pleasantly surprised, or not, by an exotic, cow-foot soup (exactly what it says it is), Escabeche, a delectable Belizean onion soup, or “Pibil,” a pig, slow-cooked by being buried with hot-coals, under-ground Hawaiian luau-style. The pork is then shredded and served North Carolina pulled-pork style, with hot sauce and coleslaw, but with tortillas instead of a bun – delicious!
The music, Punta, Reggae, Reggaetone and Spanish ballads, even the “Ranchero,” ones are often delivered too loud though, especially when a surprise battle of sound-systems breaks out between Primo’s Casita and the bar across the street. But, that never stops Belizeans from smiling and laughing, or expats, and tourists from talking too much.
Belizeans are ultimately a very friendly and polite people who strike up conversations easily. Many are penta-lingual, speaking , English, Spanish, Maya, Belize-Kriol, and Garifuna, the language of African refugees from slavery, who arrived in Central America Long ago, and who have maintain their culture, language, and dress since. For an authentic Belize dining and social experience, at shockingly low prices compared to costly North American ones and, for meeting interesting people, Primo’s’ Casita is tiny Corozal Town’s best bet.
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