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A real cheeseburger in paradise: Miss Debs charms Belize with American-style fast food

Cheeseburger in paradise: Miss Debs food truck charms Belize

Houston, Hoffman, Miss Debs Food Truck, September 2017, cheeseburger
The Drive-Thru Gourmet reaches out for a classic cheeseburger at Miss Debs food truck in Belize. Courtesy photo
Houston, Hoffman, Miss Debs Food Truck, September 2017
Miss Debs food truck is tricked out the truck with a grill, fridge, fryers, and prep table.  Courtesy photo
Houston, Hoffman, Miss Debs Food Truck, September 2017
Miss Deb and her son Levi.  Courtesy photo
Houston, Hoffman, Miss Debs Food Truck, September 2017, fries
Miss Debs serves seven kinds of fries. Courtesy photo
Houston, Hoffman, Miss Debs Food Truck, September 2017
Miss Debs also has a catering business, with everything from tartlets to tri-tip. Courtesy photo
Houston, Hoffman, Miss Debs Food Truck, September 2017, cheeseburger
Houston, Hoffman, Miss Debs Food Truck, September 2017
Houston, Hoffman, Miss Debs Food Truck, September 2017
Houston, Hoffman, Miss Debs Food Truck, September 2017, fries
Houston, Hoffman, Miss Debs Food Truck, September 2017

This week I reached out for a classic cheeseburger at Miss Debs — the first food truck in the beautiful country of Belize in Central America.

With a tip of the hat to Jimmy Buffett ... this is a cheeseburger in paradise.

Last week, I was in downtown San Ignacio in the Cayo District of western Belize on a jumping Friday night. I saw a crowd of locals lined up at a food truck. As I drew closer to see what the fuss was about, the unmistakable aroma of drive-through cooking hit me.

Yeah, I get around, I'm a regular Anthony Bourdain without the phony, and when I visit a foreign land, nothing hits home like a big juicy burger hot off the grill.

Miss Debs is Debbie Baldwin, originally from Arizona, who married a car customizer from Belize in 1985 and moved south.

"I have always loved to cook and I've always wanted to have a diner. So my husband and I compromised and we bought the shell of a 1996 Chevy P30 truck," she said.

Husband Nat and son Levi tricked out the truck with a grill, fridge, fryers, and prep table and Miss Debs started rolling in 2014.

Here's the classic cheeseburger breakdown

A 1/4-pound beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion on a toasted bun. So simple, so elegant. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $3.50 U.S.

"We sell American-style fast food. Our slogan is 'Real Food - Good Food.' Many of our menu items were unknown or not well known in Belize when we opened," she said.

You won't find a McDonald's or Burger King in the whole country — not even in the Belize City airport. Subway tried a few years ago, but quickly flopped and got out of town.

"All of our food is locally sourced. It took a while to introduce some things, like corn dogs and chili cheese fries, but now we have 16 different burgers and seven kinds of fries. We have a lot of chicken items and vegetarian burgers.

"We have a regular route up and down Belize (it's a small country, two hours driving time wide and five hours long), and we do festivals and parties. We've had the truck at a party at the U.S. and Mexican embassies," Miss Debs said.

Miss Debs also has a catering business, with "everything from tartlets to tri-tip."

Proving that you can take Miss Debs out of America, but you can't take the American entrepreneurial spirit out of Miss Debs ...

"My goal is to get a few more food trucks and eventually (get ready) franchise."