03 November, 2009

Is It Worth the Ambience?

Yesterday, I went with Doug to Belize City. He needed to order a replacement battery for his solar setup, and I wanted to take a gander at Marab's housewares store. We both wanted to try lunch at the Riverside Tavern, which had been touted to us as having the best burger in Belize, beyond doubt.

After taking care of the battery business, we hunted up the Riverside.

So, Is it worth the ambience? Some would say yes, others would say no. Some couldn't decide to breathe if it wasn't set on automatic.

What I'm talking about is the vaunted burger at the Riverside Tavern in Belize City. We've been told by some folks that it's "the best burger in Belize - bar none!"

On the Riverside Tavern Deck
The place is immaculate. From the fenced, guarded and paved parking area, to the covered deck with a great view of the Belize River.

Looking Up- and Down- Stream At the Riverside
To the very nice looking and well-equipped bar area inside.

The Riverside's Bar
And their menu... What can you say? It's complete. Well, it has everything except for rice and beans.

Doug, Taking A Shot of the Riverside's Menu

The place is quite nice - exceptional by Belizean standards, in fact,it's the fanciest in my experience in Belize.

We got there a little after 11:00 AM. Their stated hours said they opened at 11:00, but they didn't till a smidge past 11:30. They were still in the throes of cleaning up from a party (halloween?) the night before that had over 300 guests. Must have been some bash.

The Riverside is the second place (Hailey's in Corozal being the other) in Belize that serves ice-cold draft Belikin. That was very refreshing.

Ahhhh - That Tastes Good!

Now to lunch. The Riverside burgers come in six, ten and sixteen oz sizes with all the trimming and fries too (we both opted for the habanero swiss cheese model with 6 oz. of prime beef). That made quite the meal. The burger and fries were $18.00 and beer was $5.00 a mug, GST goes on top of that. So, it's not a cheap lunch. But it was tasty and satisfying.

Would I eat at the Riverside again? Probably. Only for special occasions or if I was shopping at Marab's nearby. I certainly wouldn't drive all the way down to Belize City just for their burger. In fact, when I really analysed things, if you take away the ambience of the Riverside, what do you have? Hailey's.

Sure, the Riverside uses their own beef from their ranch down south, but when it's all said and done, a burger is a burger. Side by side, I'd have to say Hailey's and Riverside's burgers can pretty much go head to head.

The Riverside does have more options available for their burgers (cheeses, peppers, etc.), and the size options, whereas Hailey's has one size. Both come with fries, lettuce, and tomato. The Riverside includes dill pickle slices on the side. Size-wise, I'd say Hailey's is about par with the 6-oz bomber of the Riverside.

Both offer ice-cold draft Belikin.

Both offer off-street parking. The Riverside has it's lot guarded, Hailey's doesn't need that level of security.

Ease of access. For us, Hailey's wins hands-down. It's a two-hour drive to Belize City and then getting through all that congestion really bizarre and aggressive taxi drivers to the Riverside, makes you appreciate when you pull into their parking lot.

Hailey's loses on ambience. The Riverside has it in spades. It reminds me of an up-scale pub in the States. That's cool, but I'd rather have up-scale Caribbean/Belizean flavor than Red Robin/Outback/Kelsey's touches. On the other hand, Hailey's is right up there as far as Corozal ambience is concerned. It's clean, friendly, and natural feeling. I like that.

So, when you get right down to it, which one wins. I think the scales still have to tilt over to the Riverside for ambiance, selection, etc. But not much. On the other hand, I'm very glad that Hailey's is here in Corozal and within an easy walk's distance too, and, that their burger is as good as the six-oz. Riverside burger. I'm happy with that.

Just don't put too much head on that mug of Belikin, ok?

1 comment:

Julian in SC said...

Ah, what a life... glad you are able to experience it. I think I'll go get a burger from our "Hailey's" here in Spartanburg -- except it is called "Ike's" and I'll go up against anywhere with their cheeseburger and fries combo. They have a hand machine that takes the whole potato and "whap" - out comes the fries, skin and all, and into the hot oil they go.

I have to take double my anti-clog medicine whenever I go!!