The island of Ambergris Caye has seen a surge in new “expat” residents, and with them, many new foreign-owned businesses. While many of these businesses are welcome additions to the island, I get very excited when a local Belizean takes the reigns and brings something innovative to the island’s dining scene. And, local San Pedro resident Findley Halliday did just that. Welcome to Finn and Martini, one of the best new nightlife spots in San Pedro.
About Finn and Martini
Located just north of the round-about near Caye Mart, Finn and Martini is hard to miss. The vibrant colors and chic decor catch everyone’s eye passing by. And, if you’re questioning the ambiance since it’s not a beachfront location — stop!
Finn and Martini is located in the heart of town and definitely has a chic, yet cozy, vibe. The outdoor tables are great for people watching and seeing friends and family pass by. And, when it’s ridiculously windy on the beachfront with sand blowing everywhere (like it has been lately), it’s calm and quiet at Finn and Martini. Inside, you’ll find Finn has made great use of the space with a couple of tables, bar seats, and a cool, pillow-backed bench, which is great for groups.
I’ve known Finn for years, from back when he was managing a luxury resort’s bar and restaurant up north here on Ambergris Caye. With his outgoing personality, love of great food and cocktails, and a strong creative streak, it’s no surprise that he finally opened his own restaurant in town.
Every detail and decor element was carefully planned out, right down to the artwork on the walls — which Finn painted himself. Finn and Martini is certainly a labor of love, and a family affair, with Finn running the front of the house while his sister Jamie and her husband Marvin run the kitchen. Marvin was previously a chef at the same restaurant and resort Finn worked at, and Marvin also runs the El Jefe Food Truck that is often parked next to Finn and Martini (which I have not yet tried, but I hear amazing things about all the food, especially the burritos!)
Shoot to arrive just after the 6pm opening time if you can. We took these photos at opening time on a Wednesday night, and by the time our first appetizer arrived, all tables but one were full.
Finn and Martini Cocktails
Mixologists Danny and Ivan, who also previously worked with Finn (notice a cool trend here?), shake things up with a cool take on the traditional martini menu. Working around the globe and tasting cocktails from some of the world’s most noted mixologists, I’ve longed for something like this in San Pedro. If anyone has the potential to rival some of the creative mixology I am seeing out of destinations like Hong Kong, it’s these guys. It’s very exciting to see the reception has already been so positive in Finn and Martini’s opening weeks.
Some of the martinis to try include:
Basil Jones – Special of the Day
If you’re a frequent visitor or resident in Belize, the name Basil Jones is probably a familiar one. There is an area at the far north of the island, along with an airstrip, named Basil Jones. Jones was one of the Baymen, or a pirate, who ultimately became a wood cutter in the region. Believed to be of Welsh decent, Jones leased a portion of the northern end of Ambergris Caye in the late 1700’s. His plantation grew food and coconuts, most likely with a work crew comprised of slaves. Basil Jones was instrumental in helping defeat the invading Spaniards in what became known as the Battle of St. George’s Caye in 1798, ending Spain’s dominance over the area.
The Basil Jones Martini (18 BZ) pays homage to the man and plantation with fresh pieces of toasted coconut right in the martini. There is also fresh basil, vodka, and lime. One of my favorite martinis! It’s light, refreshing, and goes well with the small plates..
Thai Martini and Finnomenal
Two of my “must try” recommendations include the Thai Martini (14BZ) and the Finnomenal (22BZ). The Thai Martini is made with a house mix of fresh juices with ginger and chili pepper infused vodka. It definitely packs a kick, so if you like spice, this is the martini for you. The Finnomenal is one of my all-time favorites, made with fresh cucumber juice, Rangpur Gin, and vodka, with a hint of rosemary. Never heard of Rangpur Gin? Well, it’s a special Tanqueray Gin infused with the Rangpur Lime, noted for its bold flavor that smooths out the Tanqueray.
Looking for something a bit sweeter to finish off the night? Try a White Chocolate Martini (18 BZ), made with White Godiva Liqueur, Creme de Cacao, and vodka. For an even sweeter option, order the Chocolate Martini (18BZ), made with Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Creme de Cacao, and vodka. Pair with a dessert course and these drinks will satiate anyone’s sweet tooth.
Other Martinis to Try
Other martinis of note on the menu include:
- Horchataini: Rice cream, cinnamon, and vanilla infused vodka (14 BZ)
- Key Lime Pie Martini: Lime juice, pineapple juice, Butterscotch, and vodka (16BZ)
- Sohotini: Lychee, lime, and vodka (16 BZ)
Cocktails to Try
Not a fan of martinis? Finn and Martini offers a fully stocked bar with beer, wine, and some other interesting cocktails. A couple that peaked my interest include:
- Banana Caramel Colada: Made with banana, caramel, coconut cream, and white and dark rums (14 BZ)
- Mono Loco: Banana, mocha, chocolate, and dark rum (14 BZ)
- El Chapo: Jalapeño tequila, lime juice, and triple sec (14 BZ)
Finn and Martini Food Menu
As Finn is committed to using the freshest seasonal ingredients, expect the menu to change regularly. During our visit, we sampled a variety from the new March menu items.
Crudo is basically the Italian word for raw, and you’ll find that Finn and Martini’s Crudo (28BZ) is similar to ceviche, but elevated a notch. Finn’s crudo is a definite nod towards Japanese cuisine — ours was made with local conch, pickled daikon, green onion, jalapeño, tomato, onion, cilantro, soy sauce, wasabi, and sesame oil. It’s served with fresh tortilla chips on the side. This crudo has a little front end bite with the peppers, and residual heat with the wasabi. It’s not overpowering if you’re worried that it’s too spicy. Refreshing and definitely a great palate cleanser to start.
Anyone who knows me knows what a tough critic I am when it comes to Asian dumplings. Living in Taiwan for four years, and traveling to Japan and Hong Kong 3-4 times a year, has admittedly made me a bit of a dumpling snob.
Knowing Finn, and his recent stint backpacking around Southeast Asia, I definitely had high expectations. Filled with a mixture of shrimp and mushroom, these wontons (34 BZ) were a serious burst of flavor, right from the first bite. Pleasant consistency on the wrapper, with a crispy, pan-fried bottom and a nice bold mix of Asian spices inside. I could’ve taken about three orders of these to go for later.
Pizza is something I have a serious love/hate relationship with and most of the time it’s on the hate end of the spectrum. I could devour traditional Margherita pizza in Naples all day long (which I actually have — all in the name of research! lol) or chow down on a Chicago deep dish pizza, no questions asked. Past that, pizza is not something I crave or even like most days of the year. BUT, I will say there are some great pizzas being made in San Pedro. Completely unexpected!
Finn had us try his signature Pizza Blanco (54 BZ) made with garlic chevre white sauce, onions, garlic, grated parmesan, and shrimp. When I lived in Asia, just seeing seafood on a pizza menu made me gag — it wasn’t until a few years ago here in San Pedro that I tried a friend’s white pizza with shrimp and I finally saw the light. Since then, I’ve had some pretty incredible seafood pizzas, and Finn’s Pizza Blanco is right up there on top.
I love the idea of using chevre, or goat cheese, here as its somewhat tart and earthy flavor profile is rather distinct. The pizza is definitely a meal in itself (about 8 slices) so plan accordingly if you want to order a number of small plates as well.
Other pizzas on the current menu include Aloha Pizza (pineapple, red sauce, and ham), Pizza Margherita (red sauce, tomato, basil, and parmesan), Pizza Pizza (pepperoni, mozzarella, and red sauce), and Pizza Americano (“Meat Lovers” with red sauce, pepperoni, bacon, and sausage).
Another “not-to-miss” item on the menu, when available, is the Carpaccio (30 BZ). Grass-fed beef tenderloin sourced from the mainland is thinly sliced and topped with arugula, purple onion, capers, parmesan, olive oil, and lime juice. It’s served with toasted French baguette slices. Undoubtedly, some of the best beef carpaccio I’ve had!
Chaya Dip (Seasonal)
If the Cheesy Chaya Dip is on the menu — definitely order it. It’s a classic spinach-style dip with lots of cheese. The twist is it’s made with local Chaya — when available. Chaya is a common ingredient in many Mexican, Maya, and some Belizean dishes. It’s believed by many to be a miracle plant, offering even more benefits than spinach.
Other Menu Items to Try
Both times I’ve been to Finn and Martini, I’ve seen a number of friends ordering the salads. There is a Raw Kale Salad (24 BZ) that is made with fresh kale, chopped vegetables, bacon, and grated parmesan cheese, tossed in a homemade Caesar dressing. The other one is the Chicken Island Salad (22 BZ) made with jerk chicken breast and served on a bed of romaine lettuce with chopped vegetables, and mango sesame vinaigrette dressing.
Desserts – Creme Brulee and Chocolate Cheesecake
Be sure to save room for dessert if you can! All the desserts, with the exception of the cheesecake, are made in house.
Lightly flambeed with local cane sugar, the Creme Brulee (22 BZ) is topped with bananas that have been caramelized with bourbon. Nice touch!
The Chocolate Cheesecake (18 BZ) is decadent and everything a good cheesecake should be. For an extra bit of richness, it’s topped with a house made dark rum chocolate ganache. In case you’re wondering, I scooped up every bit of chocolate with the strawberries — it was that good!
Next on the dessert menu to try when I visit again — the Chocolate Lava Cake with homemade vanilla ice cream. This one you need to order ahead of time as it takes 15 minutes to prepare.
Living here and visiting for over 11 years now, I’ve watched Belize’s culinary scene evolve and slowly start to get the international recognition it deserves. With the recent expansion of San Pellegrino’s “Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants” awards, I hold out hope that one day, a restaurant in Belize might catch the eye of an anonymous judge, who will at least pay the country a visit and talk about what exciting culinary discoveries there are to be made here. Every little step counts, and creative minds like Finn will only help get Belize more squarely noted on the list of culinary travel destinations.
And, hey, if my photos don’t convince you to visit Finn and Martini this week, maybe hearing that the Prime Minister of Belize and his family dined at Finn’s this past holiday weekend when they were on the island will convince you! Pretty big honor for the new kid on the dining block, don’t you think?
Finn and Martini’s Location
Finn and Martini is located north of the roundabout, across the street from Annie’s Pastries. If you’re driving north towards the bridge, it’s on the right side of the street.
- Facebook Page: Finn and Martini
- Hours/Days: Closed Tuesdays, Open the rest of the week from 6pm to “Late”
- All prices are in BZ dollars, which is essentially 2 BZ to 1 USD
- NOTE: CASH ONLY right now
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Disclosure: We were guests of Finn and Martini for one of our two visits, but as always, all opinions and calories gained were our own.