Unlike mainland Honduras, we do not have any of the multi-national fast food outlets/restaurants here on the island of Roatan! This caused the destruction of a personal myth; that you could not travel anywhere on this planet without running into a freakish clown named Ronald. Inroads into the cuisine culture of Roatan have been attempted recently about a block apart in the French Harbor area by Applebee’s, and Wendy’s with dismal outcomes. Both were seemingly put out of business by a locally owned restaurant situated between them called Big House Burger, which serves Honduran cuisine fast, fresh, and affordable (they also have burgers but I haven’t met anyone who has tried one). The former Wendy’s building, and previously the only drive up window on Roatan has been resurrected with the old playground now being a fresh fish and meat market, and the dining area as a fresh seafood restaurant. I believe the former Applebee’s property is still available.
Fast food is still available on Roatan as it always has been, served up fresh and handmade from street vendors and markets throughout the island. Offered to go wrapped in aluminum foil or eaten “in” on a chair or three that may be near, pastelitos (fried Honduran empanadas), simple plates of eggs, rice and beans, tortillas, and fried plantains for breakfast, simple plates of meat, rice and beans, tortillas, and fried plantains for lunch, tacos al pastor (like gyros in a corn tortilla), and the number one Honduran fast food to go; the baleada.
A baleada (balley-AH-da) is a wonderful traditional breakfast, lunch, or on the go snack that originated in Honduras. It consists of a flour tortilla patted out paper thin right in front of you, a mesmerizing thing to watch, and grilled to delicate pastry like texture. The tortilla is laid down open-faced and half of it is covered in traditional Honduran refried red beans (only Mom’s secret recipe, and there are a lot of moms here) and sprinkled generously with non-imported Honduran style Parmesan granulated cheese substance. At today’s exchange rate about 91¢ US, and two of these “simple” baleadas will take you through two dives to lunch!
Kicking your baleada up a notch with the added cost of 10 Lempira (45 ¢ US) you can have chicken, ground beef, steak, chorizo, or pork added. For another 5 Lemps, a half of a local avocado is added. Condiments like Pico de Gallo, pickled onions, sour crème, hot sauce, and probably ketchup are gratis and allow for infinite personal variety.
Many a breakfast for me is a two minute walk to Calelu’s Grocery, where Sylvia makes me a fresh steak and avocado baleada (hold the cheese) to go in about five minutes for $1.60.
And no Ronald.