Saturday is market day and Saturday is rib day.

It was market day in Punta Gorda – Saturday and everyone was bustling.

“I vote we go and get something to eat.” I said.  I had slept in after a hike the day before at Yok Balam cave.  I had missed breakfast and was ravenous for lunch.

I, myself and three of the guests at Sun Creek Lodge has accompanied our host, Bruno Kuppinger toPunta Gorda, or what the locals call “PG” for short.  A morning spent doing errands was a peek into the everyday life of Belizeans – a unique break from the tourist hustle and bustle.

Roaring around town in Kuppinger’s Landrover provided the vantage point: locals were out in droves, buying fresh fruit, (watermelon had hit its season), shopping, socializing, and loading up on drinks and water at the bottling company.

We all were game for lunch and decided to head to The Olympic Grill.  The restaurant, owned by husband and wife, Alvin and Evette Vernon, sits just east of the airport, south of the market and the central park.

I had been to the “O-G” in PG once before, upon my arrival from Belize City.  The food was fast and fresh – perfect after a day of travel. On this day, the grill outside was smoking, and piles of ribs were sizzling.  I made my way over to see the progress before I took my seat.

“Is that a secret sauce?” I said to the cook. He smiled at me – a bright white toothsome grin. “Yeah, the kind of secret that if I told you…” I jumped in, “I’d have to kill you! Right?” He smiled even wider at the joke.

The ribs had been marinating and a bucket of dark bbq sauce sat next to the coals.  Once the ribs were close to being finished, the cook dipped them into the sauce and back to the heat to make a crispy, sticky crust.

I knew what I was having.

Evette Alvin had grown up loving to cook. I wandered over the the bar to order “mixed juice” – a blend of that day’s fresh squeezed fruits.  I asked her, “How did the Grill start?”

“About two years ago, we opened. I love cooking and my family encouraged me to open a business.  I have always wanted to learn more.”

Her repertoire includes fresh fish, fried chicken of every kind (fingers, wings, whole broilers), pasta, burritos, shrimp, steak and her smashed garlic potatoes.  “Every day we also have specials.  Depends on the season and what is fresh, but also we have certain food on certain days.  As you can smell, its rib day.”  said Evette with a laugh.

Tourists and locals packed the outdoor dining room, housed under a palapa-style building.  The palapa is adjacent to a large bar. Customers can take their food inside or outside – or even to go. The food is made fresh, everyday; a trait that Belizeans have down pat.  “We know what tastes good and we want to serve up the best to our customers.” said Evette.

The ribs, served up with her coleslaw,a homemade flour tortilla and beans, were exactly what I was hungering for: sweet and meaty, and delicious when the pork was pulled and wrapped in the tender, hot tortilla

“My hope is to keep cooking and learning more.  I would love to take classes and grow the business.” Evette said smiling.

Her husband Alvin came over.  “We are so happy to have you here.” he said. Their happiness was the perfect compliment to my meal.

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The Olympic Grill is open daily for lunch and dinner.  The Alvin’s take a small break in the afternoon around 4 to 6pm, and then are back to make dinner.

The Olympic Grill Punta Gorda, Toledo District, Belize CA

Telephone 501-702-0078 or 501-663-8929

Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons

5 thoughts on “Heart of Toledo:The Olympic Grill

  1. Did Bruno get “the big rib?” Yet again, I want to lick the screen, and with out even thinking, I tried to smell the picture!!!

  2. Stayed with Sun Creek twice in 2011. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! Great tours, eco living, wonderful hosts. Would love to buy (It is for sell!). The Olympic,we were there practically every evening (husband, tv, sports, beer, need I say more). Alvan & family were great, food is delicious. Would also recommend Coleman’s in Big Falls. Cheaper to visit Toledo Belize, flight & all than Toledo Ohio! Go see how it’s suppose to be done!

    • Chris, I couldn’t agree with you more! I loved Toledo and it is a gem of a place on all side: the people, the places to stay and eat, and the eco-tours. Where did you go on tour? I am hoping to get back to Blue Creek Cave.
      Coleman’s is coming up. They let me work in their kitchen and were lovely fun – an on the verge of seeing their new grandbaby. Their daughter-in-law was in labor while I interviewed them.

      Thanks for reading and for throwing your support in for such a special place.

      • We toured w/ Bruno to the temples & caves, with Tide Tours (in Toledo) for baracuda trolling, Avadon in Placencia for scuba, snorkel, medicinal, howler monkey tours. All were amazing, guides were great. Still keep in contact w/ Bruno & Shirley, like family. When we left they were putting zip lines up in Big Falls, can’t wait to get back to try! Definitely take a tour of Tigers Cave. Pottery, natural mineral mesa’s, fresh paw prints, untouched! Kept that way by locals & guides which I truly appreciate. Bruno knows alot & can do alot, talk w/ him even the chocolate tours are amazing. So much to do & see, never enough time. Gotta love the Caribean. Have an amazing adventure, we did.

        • You did some great things! I loved the chocolate tours as well as the caves! It was all so wonderful. Tiger Cave felt like a breeze after the Yok Balam cave – it rocked my world!

          Thanks for the tips too. I have heard about Tide Tours and the good job they do. Avadon treated us very well and I was so pleased with the care they offered to our girls.

          It sounds like you had a passion ignite for the amazingness of the Caribbean. I appreciate hearing your thoughts and experiences. It makes the magic all more real.

          Cheers and gratitude – and more stores to come 🙂

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