I was fascinated to discover that the Caribbean island of Aruba is as much a paradise for beach-lovers as it is one for food-lovers. With a melting pot of cultures from Spanish to Chinese to European, Aruba has a culinary landscape that is diverse and delicious. Here are some of Aruba’s best restaurants I checked out during a recent weekend getaway from my hometown of New York.
Linda’s Dutch Pancakes
As the name suggests, family-run Linda’s Dutch Pancakes specializes in traditional Dutch pancakes. These pancakes are different from their American cousins; the batter is denser and the pancake is thinner. When you order a pancake, you are served one giant plate-size specimen topped with a mix of savory and sweet ingredients such bananas, strawberries or nuts. I ordered one of Linda’s classics: a pancake with brie cheese, walnut and honey. It was delicious but extremely filling; definitely enough to share with a partner or friend (like I did).
Pronounced, “zay-rovah,” this seafood joint captured my heart as soon as I stepped foot inside. The place is nothing more than a large covered dock with rustic tables and one of the most breathtaking views in Aruba. Fishing boats unload their fresh catches of the day on the far edge of the restaurant. On the opposite end is a small open kitchen with two frialators. Yes, most of the fish is deep fried, and after trying it, you wouldn’t want it any other way! The fresh catch can vary from day to day, but when I visited, it was barracuda! The fish was seasoned to perfection. Also, if prawns are available, try them, too, as they are giant and so tender! Your basket of fried fish is best accompanied by a cold beer such as the local Caribbean brew, called Chill (so fitting!).
Viewfinder Tip: At Zeerover, try to grab the table at the end of the long dock, from which you can watch the local kids fish.
Keshi Yena at Simply Fish
One of the most traditional dishes in Aruba and Curacao is something called Keshi Yena and you can find it at the Aruba Marriott’s beachfront restaurant, Simply Fish. The best way I can describe this dish is to say it’s like a pie: the crust is made of melty gouda cheese, and the filling is an unexpected hodgepodge of flavors including prunes, ketchup, soy sauce, pepper, cashews and about 10 other ingredients! The result is an explosion of flavor and texture in every bite. It tastes complex but it’s actually an easy recipe to try at home!
Book a bed, not a table at one of Aruba’s most unique restaurants: Screaming Eagle. Here, instead of sitting in a traditional setting, you’ll enjoy dinner in plush white beds with canopies and mood lighting. While this restaurant scores major points for ambiance, the food stands out, too. Order the chef’s tasting menu and be treated to course after course of gourmet goodness, from Aruban lobster to skirt steak. Be sure to leave room for dessert; the “Trilogy” of chocolate mousse is a decadent blend of dark, milk, and white chocolate, and is the cherry on top of any unforgettable evening.
What types of food do you like to eat when you visit tropical islands?