Belize, well the Caribbean as a whole, is not the first region that typically pops in your head when you think St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. However, I will say we do a pretty darn good job at celebrating it on Ambergris Caye — especially for a small island in Central America! And, while I readily admit to partaking in some of the iconic Americanized traditions like green beer and corned beef with cabbage in years past, I was thrilled to see a new spot, Youcan Toucan, offering up their spin on more traditional Irish fare this St. Patrick’s Day.
Youcan Toucan has only been open since December 24, 2016, and is the on-site restaurant and bar for the adorable Casitas Tres Cocos resort on Northern Ambergris Caye. All the food I’ve sampled there thus far has been outstanding, but they set the bar even higher with this St. Patrick’s Day menu.
While many people often associate corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes with St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland, it’s ironically not something you’re likely to find wandering the streets of Dublin on March 17. Growing up in California, I assumed it was a traditional Irish meal. It wasn’t until I was old enough to start traveling and made my first trip to Ireland and found it nowhere on any menu that I realized this was not the case. Having one of the most traditional Irish names, Erin (name for Ireland) Colleen (Irish maiden), you think I would’ve known earlier on…
And for fellow food anthropology geeks like myself, The Smithsonian has a great article entitled “Is Corned Beef Really Irish,” which is about the rise and fall of cattle culture in Ireland and the history of corned beef for those interested to learn more.
For their inaugural St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Youcan Toucan offered their regular menu along with these specials…and if you spent more than 75 BZ, you got a free St. Patrick’s Day shirt, which you’ll find me wearing next year!
Corned Beef Hash Fritters
Crispy with just the right density, these corned beef hash fritters were amazing. The Guinness dipping sauce was thick, and retained the best roasted and “wheaty” elements of the beer. Typically, my biggest complaint with Guinness dipping sauces is the Guinness is almost an afterthought, and the flavor profile of the beer never comes through. This sauce kicked you right in the face with the taste of stout and I loved it. My only regret – not getting a second order of these to go for later that night!
Colcannon with Braised Corned Beef, Caramelized Onions, and a Guinness Reduction
Colcannon is a very simple dish in Ireland, and one probably not well-known, especially in Belize. It’s basically mashed potatoes mixed with either cabbage or kale. Youcan Toucan served theirs with a hearty portion of braised corned beef and caramelized onions and carrots, topped with a Guinness reduction sauce. It was a huge meal and worth every decadent bite.
St. Patrick’s Day Drink Specials
I started off with a Lucky Charms shot which included OJ, Vodka, and Cointreau, and then moved on to a Shamrock-a-Rita made with Melon liqueur, and finally the Patties Crush, a gin-based drink you could get on the rocks or frozen.
Youcan Toucan at St. Patrick’s Day
And, to get in the spirit, a good friend of mine was doing airbrush make up on the staff and a few patrons as well. Jack did some beautiful airbrush work on me for our island Carnaval celebration in February, and I’m excited to see that he’s going to be doing more of this coming up!
Even though St. Patrick’s Day is over and you can’t enjoy these delicious eats like I did, I still recommend stopping in and trying their regular menu. Next up on my list to try: traditional fish and chips and ginger beer battered chicken fingers. I’ve also heard great things about the seafood soup and the steak! Keep an eye on Youcan Toucan as I know they are getting ready for some fun additions to both the food and bar menus!
Youcan Toucan Hours and Information
Youcan Toucan Bar and Grille is open 7 days as week, and starts serving breakfast at 7am and closes at 9pm on weekdays and 9:30pm on weekends. Add Youcan Toucan Bar & Grille on Facebook and contact them at:
- 1 866-664-3158
NOTE: Youcan Toucan is cash only, unless you are a hotel guest at one of the casitas and then you can charge your food/bar purchases to your room.
And, if you’re looking to make some traditional Irish dishes for next St. Patrick’s Day, the Ireland Tourism Board has shared a selection of Irish recipes from some of the island’s most iconic establishments.
Erin Go Bragh!
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