"Bolo preto" (traditional fruitcake) at a wedding, baptism or holy communion. "Suls" (seared pickled pork cuts with Madame Jeanette peppers and onion slices) for a Christmas snack. "Pan cu carco stoba" (stew conch sandwich) while playing dominoes and drinking ice cold beer at the beach. "Conserbe di pinda" (home-made peanut candy) for the sweet tooths. Arubans love the good life and food plays an important role on this island, as visitors may have noticed. There are restaurants, cafes, bistros, snack and sushi bars, fast food chains and local food trucks everywhere. But for the best fine dining experiences in Aruba, there's no need to get disappointed by trying your luck. Avoid the tourist traps and consult the continuously updated list of top ten restaurants reviewed by a 10Best Local Expert. Aruba is growing and becoming a food lover's paradise, offering a wide selection of excellent dining options ranging from high-end gourmet to local fare. Looking for an exquisite dinner on the beach? Visit Flying Fishbone and capture the sunset. A casual hotspot with foodie appeal? Amuse Bistro won't disappoint. Gastronomic delicacies, local pinnacles or a combination of both? Try White Modern Cuisine and be amazed. Indulge your culinary passion by exploring the island's culture and diversity through food. Live the good life and Bon Apetit. (Enjoy your dinner)
La Trattoria El Faro Blanco
This picturesque restaurant was built in 1914 as the home for the California Lighthouse-keeper and apart from the panoramic views of the island, La Trattoria El Faro Blanco's menu features many Italian favorites with a special emphasis on Neapolitan cuisine and seafood. The Linguine Allo Scogliera is served mounded with shrimp, octopus, scallops, clams and tomatoes, and the Zuppa Di Pesce Del Faro is one of the best seafood soups on the island. There's dinner, lunch, but also breakfast and a special mini-pizza menu for early birds diners. If you can't make up your mind yet, take a cocktail and enjoy the sun and the scenery, the full bar service starts at 9:00 am. ((297) 586-0786, (297) 586-0787)
Aruba has several excellent steakhouses, but El Gaucho stands out for many reasons. Not only are they celebrating 35 years of great food, great friends and memorable moments. This recently renovated townhouse in downtown Oranjestad is loved by locals, visitors from all over the world, couples, families, business groups, everyone who enjoys perfectly charcoal-grilled Argentine steaks (or amazing seafood dishes), like the famous Gaucho steak or the Pincho Torro Caliente - the biggest shish kebab ever served. Apart from being the only restaurant in Aruba with a well-stocked Kids Play Room, El Gaucho also features two new private dining rooms for intimate parties and a wine cellar with an expanded collection of hearty reds to accompany your steak. For cigar aficionados there are some hard-to-find smoking treasures and an extensive variety of premium single malt scotches, cognacs, brandies and the finest port wines at El Gaucho's sophisticated Cocktail Lounge Garufa. (297-582 3677)
While watching the sun set, a sailboat silhouette slides silently along the horizon, a couple of children play on the beach with no care in the world and a Barefoot Delight is the perfect cocktail to toast to an amazing evening (you immediately realize after taking the first sip). Elegant dining in flip flops? What about baring those feet to feel the cool, soft sands of Aruba before starting off with an exquisite Lobster Cappuccino topped with a vanilla froth. And if love is in the air, who could resist chef Gerco's creative and mouthwatering combination of three different, fresh catches, alias the Romance Of The Sea. Tenderloin & Truffle for meat-lovers, Goat Cheese Tempura for vegetarians, Grand Dessert for the indecisive sweet tooth in all of us... Barefoot's menu and monthly specials will always delight, no matter who you are, what you choose, how or when you drop in. (+297-588 9824)
A perfect little place for foodies in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Aruba's Palm Beach. Casual yet romantic, Amuse Bistro offers great food at a reasonable price in a setting that is fun and lively. There are always new and exciting flavors to savor here. With an ever-changing menu, skilled chef Patrick van der Donk is continuously incorporating seasonal dishes and innovative specials to delight guests and to fuel his own culinary passion. Pan fried scallops with orange cardamom sauce, hanger steak marinated in red wine... The variety of the different menus is really unique. Come for appetizers to take in the ambiance, come for some wine off an impressive (and surprisingly affordable) wine list, come for a creative twist on French cuisine, or come just for one (or more) of the incredible desserts. Whatever you choose, know that it's all homemade and fresh at Amuse Bistro. (+297-586 9949)
Papiamento is the native language of Aruba, and an authentic, Aruban villa built in 1886. Transformed into one of the island's most cherished restaurants and run by the dedicated, local family Ellis, this historical cunucu house, filled with Dutch antiques and hand-carved furniture, is ideal for romantic dinners. For extra sparkle, ask to sit outside by the pool, surrounded by a vibrant tropical garden, fairy lights, candles and the stars above. Caribbean seafood dishes are without compare, especially the fabulous clay pot seafood medley. Try something "on the stone"; steak, lobster or fish served on a super-heated stone for guests to finish cooking at the table. For a typical local delicacy, taste the Keeshi Yena, a "family recipe" consisting of minced tenderloin and chunks of chicken stewed with fresh herbs and spices in a baked Gouda cheese crust. There are plenty of additional and traditional options to say: Bon Apetit! ((297) 594-5504, (297) 586-4544)
Want to dine on the beach surrounded by rustling palm leaves, lapping waves and a gorgeous sunset? Then make reservations at Flying Fishbone and be prepared to get sand in your shoes (or your toes in the sand)! More than half of this little restaurant's tables are literally on the beach, though there are seats indoors and upstairs as well. The menu changes each day to keep pace with the freshest catches. Shrimp and lobster combos, Wahoo in pesto cream sauce, and lobster chowder are local favorites. For dessert save room for the chocolate ice cream served with spiced pineapple or the mango ice cream doused in fresh mango compote. Right in the heart of Fisherman's village Savaneta, Flying Fishbone is absolutely worth the cab ride. The freshest seafood, the finest steaks, a large wine selection and a picture perfect place is all you need. And lots of love, naturally. (297-584 2506)
If you're looking for the ultimate eating experience, making reservations at Carte Blanche promises excitement and a multitude of surprise tastes. Seated at an elegant booth table surrounded by colorful art exhibitions and in the heat of an open kitchen, 14 lucky guests can watch all the action from a comfortable distance while savoring Chef Dennis van Daatselaar's 5-course Chef Surprise. Alongside the chef is Maitre D' Glen Bonset who knows all about fine wines and premium drinks to pair with every perfect dish. Finding Carte Blanche is easy, because it's located underneath the left wing of the Old Dutch Mill on the high-rise hotel strip. But getting a seat at this cozy table, that's the real challenge here. So, good luck, keep those fingers crossed or just make that reservation as soon as possible. (297-586 3339, 297-732 3339)
2 Fools and a Bull
The 2 (as they call themselves) Fools, Fred Wanders and Paul Faas, have created a unique atmosphere in a restored Old Cunucu House to give guests the feel of fine dining at home with friends. Taking center stage is a restored, authentic French firewall – the only one of its kind in the Caribbean! A comfortable dining bar, seating a maximum of 12 guests, faces the open kitchen where food becomes art to delight all the senses. The menu of this cozy Gourmet Studio is called a "Fools Fantasy" which consists of an array of surprises that will leave food-lovers Fooly satisfied! Included in this fabulous 5 course experience is a welcome cocktail, coffee and after dinner drinks, all of which are enjoyed on the backyard patio, where the 2 Fools mingle with guests before and after the dazzling dishes, paired with the finest of wines and other complimenting beverages. (+297-586 7177)
Screaming Eagle Restaurant-Lounge
The Screaming Eagle is an excellent mix between restaurant, lounge and bar, which allows people who want to mingle as well as couples who only have eyes for each other to have it all - an exquisite meal, a good time and an impressive decor. The diverse menu includes a wide selection of exciting signature meals, a creative take on the classics and the finest wines to pair. Unable to make up your mind? Let accomplished Chef Erwin Hüsken tempt your taste buds with a tour of his kitchen artistry - from the first sip of Lobster Bisque to perfect Beef Wellington with black bean sauce until the last scrumptious bite of French Lemon Pie. Whether it's indoor cocktails at the bar, alfresco dining on the terrace with stunning views of Eagle Beach or a romantic aperitif behind the chiffon curtains, at Screaming Eagle anyone can sit back and unwind. ((297) 587-8021)
White Modern Cuisine
Aruba is ready for new culinary experiences and White Modern Cuisine knows exactly how to bring the finest, locally grown produce from the island's best farmers together with an eclectic, artistic craftsmanship. Aruban chef and owner Urvin Croes demonstrates his ability and passion by introducing a new dining concept filled with unexpected combinations in a relaxed, urban setting. By presenting the Unique Chef Tastings with wine (or cocktail) pairing, the essence of each seasonal dish, like the rich Summer Vegetable Salad (containing indigenous flowers and herbs among 30 different ingredients), is enhanced to its full sensory potential. Because the menus change every three months, returning local customers are inevitable. But for tourists eager to (literally) taste the island, - or Roasted Scallops with Parmigiano-Reggiano sauce, amazing Red Beets Parfait with white chocolate powder and the Deep Blue cocktail made with fresh, local fruits - one single visit may not suffice. (+11 297 5861190)
About Liliana Erasmus
Born and raised in Aruba, Liliana moved to the Netherlands to continue her college education in Marketing. Since 1998 she’s been back on her beloved island, where she is working as a full-time writer in her native language Papiamento and in Dutch, official language of the Dutch Caribbean.
Liliana has enjoyed a varied career, which includes television work, voice acting, copy writing, reading promotion, illustrating, creative writing classes, column writing and sharing Aruba’s beauty secrets as a local expert.
Currently, Liliana’s finishing her first speculative fiction novel set in Aruba; one of the most extraordinary places on earth, according to her.
Read more about Liliana Erasmus here.
Connect with Liliana via: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+