On Roatan, there are a lot of non-tourist restaurants where you can get a ‘typico’ plate – a (usually) cheap meal of local fare. Here, this usually consists of something fried, plenty of starch, and some type of vegetable side that almost always features cabbage. The islanders looooooooooooooooove their cabbage.
Okay – confession – I. LOVE. THESE. I ate from the staff kitchen at a resort for lunch every day for almost a year. And while I grew two clothing sizes (no jokes), I always looked forward to my lunch.
Common items you’ll see on typico plates on Roatan are:
Meat: stewed chicken, beef or pork; fried chicken, beef, pork or fish… I’ve really never seen anything other than these two styles of meat. It’s pretty much always chicken (pollo), beef (res), pork (cerdo) or fish (pescado).
Starch: spaghetti, fried plantains, boiled banana, beans, rice & beans, yellow rice,potato salad (sometimes you’ll get almost all of these on the same plate – hello after-lunch carb coma!)
Vegetables: cabbage salad, cabbage coleslaw, or none at all
Typico plates are the way to go if you’re visiting Roatan on a budget, and you normally won’t find them at the places that also have chicken caesar salad and cheeseburgers on the menu. If the restaurant has a handwritten sign, or no sign at all, there’s a good chance you can get one of these plates for lunch. Almost all resorts have a staff/employee kitchen that makes these plates for lunch for the staff every day. All the plates in the photos above cost me only 60 lempira, or about $3 US.
I can’t recommend eating typico plates for long-term regular consumption, as I’ve had to buy an all-new fleet of shorts twice due to my ever-expanding waistline, but for a short holiday it’s a way to connect with Roatan and eat more authentically. (Contrary to what many local restaurants would have you believe, the traditional food eaten by islanders is not burritos, spicy chicken wings and chips & guacamole.)
A piece of parting advice – don’t bother asking what kind of meat is on your plate. With the way they prepare it, sometimes it’s hard to tell one type from another. Just know that it’s chicken, beef or pork (it’s not cat or snake or anything like that) so relax and chow down!