Finding Food and Drink in Utila, Honduras

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Finding Food and Drink in Utila, Honduras

One of my goals for the coming year is to share more useful information about the places I visit. I share tips and tricks from time to time, but my advice tends to be along the lines of “Try not to crap your pants” or “Are you sure she’s not a dude?” Of limited use, I admit. So I thought I’d mention a few places worth visiting if you find yourself spending time on the island of Utila.

This is not a comprehensive listing and I’m sure there are plenty of nice places that I’m not mentioning. It was also slow season while I was here so many places were closed for the season or open with reduced hours. I spent three weeks here and these are places that I found myself returning to. None of these are paid endorsements or reviews.

Finding Food and Drink in Utila, HondurasBabalu Bar and Grill — This dockside bar is probably one of my favorite bars in the world — top five, even. Built on a sprawling rickety dock that juts out into the bay, it’s just a perfect place to watch the sunset or relax and listen to Etta James while enjoying the rum punch ($1.35 US). If you’re nice, Dado will often add a floater of rum to it. The attached kitchen serves fish and snacks but I wasn’t terribly thrilled with my king fish plate.

Bundu Cafe — Generally over-priced food and very expensive beer (50% more than their neighbors) I stopped here mostly because it had reliable wifi. Service is pretty bad and they add a 10% charge to the bill just to rub it in. (Undergoing a name-change to “Buccaneer Grill” at the moment so there’s no sign — it’s across the street from the bank.)

Charolette’s Cafe — A short hike uphill from the firehouse, Charolette has the best baked goods on the island and good-value breakfasts. It’s comfortable, clean and a good place to meet the local inhabitants. If she had wifi, I’d have never left.

Thompson Cafe
— While their baked goods aren’t nearly as good or varied as Charolette’s, they do have cheap breakfast food and –surprisingly– free wifi. It’s a bit of an sweat box inside and the service is terrible but the food is easy on the budget and filling.

Finding Food and Drink in Utila, HondurasEl Picante Mexican Restaurant — It’s hard to miss this place, as it overlooks the ferry dock where everyone arrives. Not only does it have the best view in town, the food is reasonable-priced and quite good. Drink prices are the same as everyone in town, so it’s a great place for a sunset cocktail and the owners, John and Theresa, are wonderful people. They offer homemade chips and salsa to dining customers, so split an app or plate for a cheap evening.

Munchie’s — The building is lovely and I like hanging out on the covered porch and people-watching but the prices and service are about the same as Bandu’s, if not worse. When the planets align just so, the free wifi actually works.

Genesis Cafe — Right next door to Munchies, the service is better and the food a bit cheaper. The specials are usually a good value — I had a tasty grilled red snapper lunch for less than $5. Upstairs, Blanca runs a reasonably-priced laundry service.

Indian Wok and Mango Cafe — I never got around to eating at either place, but both are consistently mentioned as being the best restaurant in town.

If you’re under 30 and looking to get drunk and/or laid, head to Tranquilo or Coco’s after sundown. Thumping music, cheap drink specials and a meat market vibe are what pull the crowds here. Tranquilo was by far the most popular spot while I was here.

Finding Food and Drink in Utila, HondurasRehab — Another dock bar, Rehab is a good place to have a beer or five. Run by a friendly bunch of expats, it still attracts a local crowd on weekends and is one of the few places where born locals, expats, and tourists intermingle while listening to old country songs. I can’t recommend their signature vodka drink (served in test tubes) — it’s fairly disgusting.

Finding Food and Drink in Utila, HondurasSkid Row — One of my all-time favorite dive bars, Skid Row is the perfect place to meet oddball characters and swap tall tales. Opening at 10am, you’ll generally find the seats full of locals drinking beer by about 10:02. With a free pool table and big flat-panel TV, it’s also the closest thing Utila has to a sports bar. Great pub food, cold beer, the strongest cocktails in town and –my personal favorite– the rum and lemonade will bring you back as soon as the hangover fades.

Finding Food and Drink in Utila, HondurasHigh Tide and Carlota’s Place — Open air bars on Chepe’s Beach, both are a good spot to stop and have a drink while watching the water lap at the shore. Carlota’s also serves food and I’ve had a couple of people recommend it. High Tide has a nice breeze and somewhat friendlier service (okay… the service at both is fine but Jennilee, the bartender at High Tide, is very cute and sweet).

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Steffan November 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm

As an expat living on the rock known as Utila, visitors come and go, and at first Wes seemed like the kind that just comes for a short while and sucks internet. But I couldn’t be more wrong. Wes and his friend,name escapes me now, were a blast and full of great stories, which, on a small island is always welcome. Wes and friend increased rum sales exponentially, had some great new ideas about music from the outside world, and literally fit right in to the wacky expat culture that could only exist in a place like Utila. Wes, I will look forward to the day when you return, and I
get to say, “I knew you would be back” Stay safe and i will see you later…………..Dave

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Stephanie - The Travel Chica November 18, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Did you happen to make it to the small cafe Che Pancho? It is run by an Argentine family, and they have great choripan and the best licuados on the island.

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Kevin November 19, 2011 at 3:22 am

What’s the name of that place out near the “airport”? I remember it had a light in the water so you could see the fish and you had a long walk back in the dark after the streetlights went off. Sadly one memory I wish like hell I could forget was walking down the street and hearing everyone’s tv blaring George Bush’s post-9/11 we’re going to war speech, quoting Robert Frost no less. Puke! One bad apple in an otherwise awesome bunch of diving and drinking memories.

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Matthew Karsten November 19, 2011 at 8:11 pm

The fish at Babalu can’t be beat! Did you get a chance to try Dado’s homemade Guifiti drink?

I swear it’s a magic potion.

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Matthew Karsten November 22, 2011 at 10:51 am

Just re-read and saw you didn’t like the King Fish. I had snapper, and it was great.

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Jeff Blum November 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm

One of my absolute best eating experiences in all of Latin America was on Utila at Dave’s Place. Well, that’s what everyone called it though there was no sign or any real indication that it existed (it was next to a popular bar, the name of which I can’t recall). I remember hearing so many raves about the place and I couldn’t find it. Turns out Dave’s wife was away and had come back so he just closed up for a while to spend time with her. The rumor mill got going that it was closing for good and boy were folks upset. Finally he opened again and it was heavenly, especially the vegetarian enchiladas (as I recall there are a few dishes that are always on the menu and then the rest changes nightly). Since you didn’t mention it I wonder if it has closed or been moved/renamed. Any ideas about this?

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wes November 20, 2011 at 1:32 am

I looked all over for his place and was told that he moved back to Alameda, CA. Not sure how long ago…

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Denise November 20, 2011 at 10:50 pm

as a first time visitor of this blog, I’m find it extremely hard to navigate as there doesn’t seem to be a ‘destinations’ button, or a way for me to access older posts categorised by country. Am I not seeing it?

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Kathy November 21, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Thanks for sharing. A drink at Babalu Bar sounds great right about now!

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Roy Marvelous November 22, 2011 at 7:15 am

What a great idea to share inside information like this. And thanks for the tip on Tranquilo/Coco’s :D

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Rebekah August 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I was just on Utila (July 2012) and I thought it was lovely. Three places I visited were:

Driftwood: lovely friendly bar and restaurant, great food – burgers, kebabs, BBQ chicken etc. Reasonable priced.
Munchies: I disagree about prices we had a yummy meal with quite a lot of drinks seen as it was happy hour and it came to a reasonable price.
Rehab: great atmosphere Jooles the barmaid was so nice and enthusiastic, I highly recommend it, but, I will warn you their Fuck-Me-Blue shots are quite strong.

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yessenia rose September 7, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Charolette’s Cafe my mom has the best breakfast ever i miss her cooking

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wes September 8, 2013 at 10:43 am

And she’s *hilarious*! Great place.

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