You might decide to visit the tiny Caribbean island of Aruba to bask on its beautiful beaches or witness hundreds of flamingos take flight over crystalline waters. However, there’s one thing about Aruba that will make you want to stay– the cuisine. Aruba has a rich history, and over 90 nationalities call the island home. Each one has influenced native cooking, especially Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese cultures. Think you’ve already tasted Caribbean cuisine? Then you haven’t been to Aruba!
Aruban cuisine is an eclectic mix of fresh seafood, hearty stews, and delicious hot, fried treats. Here are some of our must-try favorites:
Best Food in Aruba
The “catch-of-the-day” listed on your Aruban menu just might have been truly plucked from the ocean that day! Aruba is well-known for serving fresh fish, including grouper, red snapper, mahi-mahi, shark, and even lion-fish. Seafood is often prepared in hearty stews such as keri-keri, a delicious steaming mix of local spices, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Be sure to try delicious deep-fried shrimp prepared with coconut or a mixture of fish, shrimp, and octopus in spicy ceviche.
2. Keshi yena
This dish may look like a huge, scrumptious ball of cheese, but it’s actually a ball of pure joy! This popular Aruban food consists of shredded chicken, beef, or pork, tossed with peppers, spices, and cashews and wrapped in Dutch Gouda cheese. It’s oven-baked to perfection and enjoyed with tomato-basil sauce.
3. Scrumptious Snacks
Aruban food is a mix many cultures, and snacks are no exception. You’ve got to try bitterballen, a Dutch-inspired meat snack served with mustard dipping sauce, or deep-fried bean fritters called cala. Kids love “bolita di keshi“, a fried ball of egg and cheese. In addition, get your hands on a pastechi, a classic Aruban street food. It’s a buttery pastry filled with gouda cheese.
4. Aruban Goat Stew
Perhaps “goat” isn’t the first thing you’d think of when you imagine yourself sitting at a Caribbean restaurant with an ocean view. Nevertheless, this Aruban delicacy can’t be missed! The islanders seem to love toasty stews, soups, and comfort foods, despite the fact that Aruba’s climate is on the warmer side. However, you’ll find that this concoction of goat, potatoes, and Aruban curry is more than worth a try.
5. Desserts and Delights
Mmmm…there’s nothing tastier than dessert to end a great meal. Luckily, there’s no shortage of creative dessert offerings in Aruba. We’re not talking about boring old brownies here. Pan Bollo, a popular choice island-wide, combines rum with bread pudding and ice cream. Or, you can order traditional boli de banana, a traditional Aruban dessert that sounds like its name. It’s essentially a delectable ball of plantain pudding.
Best Restaurants in Aruba
Planning a vacation, and wondering where to get the best food in Aruba? Head to these excellent eateries and tempt your taste-buds!
1. Gostoso (Oranjestad)
Its name means “tasty” in Brazilian Portuguese, and its menu could make even the pickiest eater smile! They’ve got everything from sushi to pumpkin soup to Portuguese cod-fish stew. However, they love to put their own twist on old favorites. For example, instead of a traditional seaweed sushi , they substitute thinly sliced plantain.
2. Yemanja Woodfired Grill (Oranjestad)
If you’re ever in Aruba, don’t miss this distinctive diner! They specialize in healthy, delicious food at fair prices. Located in downtown Oranjestad, this restaurant takes pride in service and presentation. You’ll need a reservation to enjoy their cozy dining experience. Popular dishes include Blackened Three-tail Fish, the Yemanja Power Bowl with Grilled Portobello, and Coconut Mousse with Mango Gelato for dessert.
3. Bavaria German Restaurant (Palm Beach)
If you’re in the Palm Beach resort area, don’t miss this underrated, unassuming joint that serves great German food, beer, and wine. German food in Aruba? Yes, they’ve got all the sauerbraten, potato pancakes, and Wiener Schnitzel you can eat, plus a huge selection of bottled German beer. It’s run by a local German family who pride themselves in quick, friendly service. In addition, it’s one of the coziest non-seafood joints on the island.
4. Wacky Wahoo’s (Noord)
Now here’s an eclectic eatery with great food and a rustic atmosphere. Call and make your reservation ahead of time, because this place can fill up fast. Be sure to try their mahi-mahi, barracuda, and lobster tail entrées. It’s not fine dining, but it’s family friendly and portions are large.
5. The Dutch Pancake House (Oranjestad)
This place just might be the best breakfast bistro on the island. They serve Dutch pancakes, which are similar to crepes, but perhaps even more delectable! Try the poffertjes (Dutch-style silver dollar pancakes) with a side of hash browns, fresh fruit, and sausage.
Planning a vacation sometime soon? Consider Aruba. As you can see, this tiny island packs a lot of culinary punch. Get your foodie on and come taste a bit of Caribbean heaven! Looking for somewhere to stay? Check out vacation destinations in Oranjestad, Noord, and Tierra del Sol.
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