This cozy cafe on the corner is a true hot spot in the already buzzing Noord district of Aruba. The secret of Cafe 080 may have to do with the Dutch owners' idea of combining authentic Dutch specialties like kroket (deep fried beef croquettes), fricandel (sausage specialty) and patat (fresh cut fries) with ice cold Heineken (or any local beer), a totally laid-back atmosphere and - best of all - as-good-as-it-gets local prices! With only three main courses a day, which include three variations on the traditional homemade hotchpotch with meat and gravy, Cafe 080 aims to keep it simple and satisfyingly good.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Cafe 080 is just a fun-filled, no-fuss, favorite hangout with a small selection of delicious Dutch bites and of course, beer.
Liliana's expert tip: Try a real Dutch stamppot (hotchpotch) for only US$10.
Zeerover means Sea Pirate, but for locals it's synonymous with ice cold beer and seafood at reasonable prices. With fresh off-the-boat fare, a laid-back atmosphere where you order from a window and eat outside, this cozy seafood shack in the heart of fishing village Savaneta is a haven for fresh catches of the day. The baskets of fried fish and jumbo shrimps are paired with local side dishes such as "pan bati" (Aruban pancakes), "funchi" (hearty cornmeal cake or fritters) and "banana hasa" (fried plantain). Grab a table on the wooden deck, play a game of domino with new friends while waiting for your order or just purchase fresh fish to go, if you want your catch grilled or steamed at home. These pirates only dig into the deep-fried.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Zeerover is not just for lunch or dinner, it's a whole island experience.
Liliana's expert tip: Shrimp is cooked head on to peel and eat, but there's a sink, soap and towels right on the deck to wash your hands afterwards. Don't miss out on the fun!
This cozy little restaurant is in an old Aruban house with the works of local artists decorating the walls. Sit outside for a light snack and enjoy the live music, or stay inside for a full meal. Caribbean specialties rule the day here. Try conch stew or keshi yena - Dutch cheese stuffed with beef, chicken or seafood. The signature dish of the house is the Gasparito Chicken; seven ingredients including wine, brandy and pineapple juice marinate the chicken and keep it tender and juicy. All meals are served with the restaurant's famous pan bati (Aruban-style cornbread). Smart-casual attire. Reservations suggested.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Gasparito has been serving authentic Aruban specialties for more than 20 years and is still on top of its game.
Liliana's expert tip: Unable to decide? Go for the Aruban Combo with fresh catch of the day, Keshi Yena (stuffed Gouda cheese) and Kerry Kerry (fish specialty).
The Peruvian kitchen is known for its large variety and taste, blending distinct traditions and cultures like Spanish, Incan, African and Asian cuisines. For beginners, the curious, the hungry, or the more seasoned foodies: the only authentic Peruvian restaurant in Aruba serving traditional dishes like spicy Ceviche and Aji specials (seafood delicacy prepared with yellow chile pepper), is located in one of the most monumental streets in Oranjestad, the Wilhelminastraat. Although the draw is not its fancy looks, Delimar is a favorite place for many locals and tourists who appreciate big flavor, fresh seafood, and friendliness at a reasonable price.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Delimar doesn't disappoint: the food is excellent, the service is always friendly, the prices are reasonable and they're open all day.
Liliana's expert tip: Don't be in a hurry and don't expect fluent English explanations, just visit Delimar for its passionately created Peruvian dishes and savor each bite with ease.
A visit to downtown Oranjestad just isn't complete without a rendezvous with The Old Fisherman, which focuses on local seafood and Aruban dishes, but also includes international options like US Black Angus Tenderloin and Seafood Linguini with Marinara or Alfredo sauce. Locals love this spot, especially for lunch and breakfast. So, prepare to feel a bit crammed and jammed. The tiny dining room is decorated with nautical items, fishing gear and many memorable photos of Aruban fishermen. The seafood courses are named after some of these local sea heroes and list interesting plates of sauteed conch called Jan Semeleer or a Claudio Wolf - a whole red snapper grilled, fried or any way you like. The beverage list features local beers, classic cocktails and the regular soft drinks. For a special non-alcoholic beverage, ask for a refreshing glass of 'awa di lamoenchi' (home-made lemonade).
Recommended for Homestyle because: The Old Fisherman is a perfect seafood eatery for families with children, they have kid's meals and are fully equipped with coloring pages and crayons.
Liliana's expert tip: The Old Fisherman is now open for breakfast and lunch, serving a couple of mouthwatering local (and international) combo's.
In a small, yet smart space in the busy Oranjestad neighborhood, chef and owner Jose Do Nascimento returns to his Portuguese roots and serves up a fresh and flavorful menu. Gostoso, which translates to "palatable" in Portuguese, gives meaning to its name by offering a variety of local seafood, and Aruban, Portuguese and International dishes, passionately crafted to indulge the most discriminating foodies. House specialties such as the Criollo Sushi Roll for two with plantain, crab and a spicy home-made sauce; the most tender Lenga Stoba (Beef Tongue) ever; and Portuguese style Bacalhau (salted codfish) keeps this establishment on the radar of those with adventurous palates. Venture into dessert territory and meet the Quesillo di Coco (coconut flan) or stick to the ever-satisfying chocolate cake.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Gostoso restaurant is freshness, flavor, family - a feast for foodies.
Liliana's expert tip: The three course Delight Lunch Special is only US$23 per person and worth a taxi drive, or a walk through Oranjestad.
The doors are always open at Casa Vieja, welcoming and spoiling locals and tourists with the most authentic Colombian cuisine at the lowest prices. This little old house on the outskirts of Oranjestad not only provides friendly service (in Spanish) and a homey feel. The reason why visitors become repeat customers, is because of the big plates filled with juicy steaks, steaming rice, crispy salads, sweet plantain, avocado, beans, all prepared with lots of latin love. The outdoor seating in the patio with large tv screen adds to the rustic atmosphere. Don't be surprised if you're suddenly caught between a meal and a soccer match.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Casa Vieja represents the ultimate homestyle eatery; the meals, service and atmosphere, all match the concept.
Liliana's expert tip: Whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner, be starving before going to Casa Vieja or share a Bandeja. These platters are plentiful.
This casual Cuban eatery is a favorite among island visitors and locals. Munch on fried plantain chips and salsa as you peruse the menu. The Confusion de Empanadas is a treat; a sampler platter of meat pies are filled with seasoned beef, chicken or seafood. Or be adventurous and try the Cuban sashimi. Seafood is "cooked" ceviche-style using lime juice. The fried calamari and Cuban sandwiches also win raves. Part of this restaurant's charm is the decor, even if they've recently moved out of the old colonial home built in 1877 to settle in the midst of Oranjestad's vibrant hubbub. Bright artwork still decorates the walls and there is often live music that adds to the warm, comfortable vibe.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Cuba's Cookin' brings all the authentic Cuban deliciousness to the table plus the lively entertainment to spoil its guests.
Liliana's expert tip: Happy hours every single day from 4pm to 7pm.
The colorful building on the corner, right on your way to or from the beaches in Sero Colorado, has been sold. But the soul of Costa Riba Restaurant is still alive and cooking. Legendary couple Kamini and her husband Pete have temporarily moved to another location (their home) and are waiting to welcome famished guests with local specialties like their famous Curry Goat or Fried Red Snapper with Creole Sauce, among other mouthwatering Caribbean and vegetarian dishes. While preparing to open Kamini's Place, locals and visitors can order daily specials for carryout or make advanced reservations for the Big Opening Event" the waiting list is growing by word of mouth alone.
Recommended for Homestyle because: The Queen's is a perfect introduction to Aruba's authentic home style cuisine and a great choice for a close-to-the-resort late lunch or dinner.
Liliana's expert tip: Contact Kamini's Kitchen via Facebook to find out more.
Cunucu means "countryside" or "small plantation" in Papiamento, and although that's not where this traditional Aruban house is situated nowadays (due to the island's progressive urbanization), the original thick plaster walls and tile floors remind us of Aruba's good old times. Have a pre-dinner cocktail on the patio out front then move indoors to savor traditional seafood soup or a wide range of local delicacies like fish cake, pastechi (pastry filled with Dutch cheese) and fried plantain served on a big plate. The fresh catch of the day with Creole sauce is an excellent choice, but to indulge your preference for meat, try the goat stew Aruban Style. Funchi (cornmeal side dish) or pan bati (hearty Aruban pancakes) accompany most meals and are both island favorites.
Recommended for Homestyle because: The Old Cunucu House not only has the looks, but also the flavors, warmth and laid-backness of a real Aruban home.
Liliana's expert tip: The Sinatra Dinner Special & Show at The Old Cunucu House is every Thursday from 7:30pm till 10pm and includes an appetizer, entrée, dessert and a bottle of wine per couple, for only $55 per person.