Eat Your Way Through Aruba One Delicious Bite at a Time

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Who would have known that Aruba was one of the top Caribbean picks for FOOD? I certainly didn’t before my most recent trip in late March.

Well, luxury foodies, be prepared to be amazed by the diverse choices on this luxe and beautiful island. Here’s our Foodie Guide for the best picks of where to dine, drink and lounge on Aruba.

Atardi on the Beach @ the Marriott

I stayed at the Marriott so dined here more often than anywhere else. Call me a l’il biased but Atardi is one of my favorite picks. There are plenty of places to eat on the beach but the quality of food, presentation, service and ambiance are not always equal. At Atardi, you have it all!

Above, I chose to pair the lobster tail with Red Snapper although the traditional mash up is with steak, served with tomatoes, asparagus and potatoes. Be sure to make your reservation at sunset. You’ve got to admit – this view is hard to beat.

They also have a lobster salad which consists of an apple-celery salad, apple cream and a lobster claw and a Tropical Bouillabaisse, which is a seafood mix served in a coconut cream, saffron based soup. It was to die-for! I’d order it again in a heart beat.

 I was dying to try the Lamb Tenderloin with its side of roasted pumpkin, asparagus, pear and lamb juice but c’mon, I had to stick with seafood given the location and fresh fish offerings. I chose to pair my seafood options with a crispy Sauvignon Blanc to start and Chardonnay for my main.

Other appetizers included Crab Salad with avocado, potatoes, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and micro greens, and Tomato Caprese for salad fans. They did have Prosciutto which was hard to pass up, but only until I saw the Sashimi Snapper and Tuna Carpaccio on the menu. I fell in love immediately.

The Snapper was served sashimi style, with a yellow sweet chili sauce, cilantro and caramelized sweet potato and the Carpaccio was served with pecans, cilantro, ginger, lemon juice, olive and sesame oil.

For mains in the seafood category, they offered Salmon with green beans, orange and fennel salad in a orange-mango sauce, Blackened Mahi Mahi with tomatoes, olive salt and a roasted pepper sauce, a Shrimp stew with green peas, cilantro and white rice, Scallops with leek fondant, crispy polenta, arugula salad, roasted tomatoes and corn (they were incredibly tasty) and Soy Tuna with shitake mushroom broth, bok choy, carrots and sweet coriander.

There’s also a Red Snapper with creamy coconut basmati rice, plantains and pineapple salsa and the Sea Bass (melts in your mouth), which they serve with cauliflower puree and green beans in a champagne sauce.

 Shrimp lovers should order the shrimp dish that they serve in a yellow corn puree with corn salsa and lemon garlic butter sauce.

A sweet lover? Atardi has you covered with plenty of options to choose from. Their chocolate tart is served with caramel, fruit compote and vanilla ice cream and their Coconut Cake (which my neighbors said I must order and so I did), has a white chocolate coconut mousse filling and is topped with pineapple sauce and toasted shredded coconut.

Needless to say, I shared it with the staff. If I didn’t, I feared I would devour the whole thing. They also have an Apple crumble which is topped with vanilla ice cream, butterscotch and cinnamon apples, Creme Brulee with a black forest compote and a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Layer Napoleon which is paired with peanut butter cream and Himalaya salt, a must order if you are traveling with kids.

A must visit if you love food, views and cocktails. For more information on Atardi and the other Marriott restaurants on the premises, visit them here at: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/auaar-aruba-marriott-resort-and-stellaris-casino/.

Screaming Eagle

Everyone seems to know about the Screaming Eagle and the well renowned passionate Dutch Chef Erwin Hüsken who not only cooked for us, but served us as well. Just look at this oh so exquisite inside dining room – can you say romantic, elegant and chic all at the same time? They do all three in spades.

It gets its name because the restaurant is located immediately across the street from Eagle Beach, an incredibly lovely beach you definitely want to visit when you go to Aruba.

While you may not be able to sink your feet into the sand like you can at the beach side restaurants, there is an outdoor patio you can dine on (we opted for that), there’s an incredibly modern and chic bar and the food is really (and I mean really) out of this world.

Appetizers include a spicy Peruvian ceviche in fresh lime juice, red onions and cilantro, deep fried Falafel balls and peppadews stuffed with cream cheese, tzatziki and mayo (OUCH!) and salad. I went for the Buffalo Mozzarella, which is served with grilled zucchini, a balsamic reduction and a truffle mayo, the Peruvian Shrimp causa topped with tomatoes, croutons, avocado, shrimp, boiled egg and sweet and sour red onion (a must order) and the Asian glazed pork belly.

Erwin also insisted we try the Ahi Tuna Tartare, which he serves with a wakame salad, tomatoes, sweet and sour onions, spicy papaya mayo and a sesame cracker. Exquisite right?

We also sampled the Atlantic wolffish with asparagus, mashed potatoes, glazed jumbo carrots, and steamed broccoli, a Pan fried duck breast with truffle risotto that I’m still dreaming of weeks later and the pan fried veal liver with mashed potatoes, a coarse mustard, bacon and beet chips, brussel sprouts and a red wine and vanilla sauce. All three had me at hello.

Other fish options include pan seared grouper fillet, swordfish with a green asparagus-vanilla risotto, yellowfin tuna with wakame risotto, mushrooms and braised spring onions, a  Norweigan halibut with truffle risotto, spinach, broccoli and champagne sauce, Aruban rock lobster and whatever their catch of the day is when you are there.

He also makes a mean Lobster bisque and a potato truffle soup that is hard to pass up. The cuisine is considered French-fusion boutique cuisine and the blend and attention to perfection is so good that Caribbean Journal voted Screaming Eagle the #1 restaurant in the Caribbean on their Top 50 list. Sweet right?

There’s not many places on the island you can get bowled over by the wine and here, they offer over 300 wine labels and an equally impressive bar list of liquor and cocktails from around the globe. Did I mention the fabulous bar?

Below, the red bream fillet will knock your socks off. It is served with a caper risotto, sun dried tomato tapenade, grilled zucchini and a black squid ink sauce. And, it’s one helluva presentation, right?

Remember that pork belly I mentioned above? Well, here she is in all her glory, served with a salad of white cabbage, red onion and bacon bits and a Nam prik mayo.  It melted in my mouth – simply divine!

For red meat lovers, he prepares a delicious Braised pork shank, Skirt Steak, ribeye, tenderloin and a New Zealand rack of lamb in a honey thyme sauce. And, the red wine pairings are top notch.

For dessert, coffees and after drinks, even if you sit outside like we did, I’d recommend reserving a BED, especially if you’re there with your sweetie. Yes, you heard me correctly.

In classy-chic style, you’ll get pampered with a ‘Dinner-in-Bed’ experience in a comfy lounge bed, something Screaming Eagle is known for on Aruba. In other words, its truly a unique experience and worth trying.

They have a decent dessert wine selection as well and for sweets, check out the Creme Brulee with raspberry sherbet and praline, their Chocolate ganache pie with banana ice cream (OMG) and the New York Vanilla cheesecake, which they serve with a forest fruit ice cream. (all below)

 

If you still have room or are there with a larger group, then also order the Triology of chocolate mousse and the Tarte Tatin, which is a classic French caramelized upside-down apple tart served with vanilla ice cream. They are all insanely delicious.

For more information visit their site at http://www.screaming-eagle.net.

Passions on the Beach

Passions is known for their feet in the sand dining as well. Think white table cloths and color tinted lights that string around the thatched huts in all directions. Plus, the tables go on for what feels like miles.

You can hear the sounds of the ocean caressing the shore amidst soft light from the tiki torches while you take in that glass of wine, Mai Tai or Margarita. To put it mildly, it is tres tres romantic.

They offer a variety of dishes, from meat, chicken and seafood, to fresh shell fish as well. They’re also known for weddings, hosting large groups and special occasions.

While I had a hard time passing up the Beef Carpaccio with truffle mayo on the menu (it’s one of my favorites), it was easy to move on once the Ceviche Mojito arrived, which is cured in lime juice and served with a dash of spiced rum. I also tried the Seafood Symphony, which is a cold appetizer that includes half broiled lobster, shrimp, black mussels and scallops in a zesty Creole remoulade sauce. Oh so delish! (all pictured below)

   I would have loved to try the ever so light watermelon and feta salad on mixed greens and drizzled with a chili sauce — perhaps my next visit. They have a few great soup options and a handful of salads, as well as dishes for the vegetarians among you: leek and cheese tart, portobello mushroom, and a penne pasta in a truffle cream sauce. In the latter, green asparagus is served on the side topped with parmesan cheese.

There are tons of seafood choices as well, from grouper served a couple of different ways, shrimp with onion, garlic and black olives, Mahi Mahi with broiled scallops and a tarragon cream sauce, a delicious seafood soup, Pan Fried sesame crusted black sea bass (yum!), and the Seven Seas Parade, which I tried. It includes a broiled lobster tail, grouper, shrimp and mahi-mahi a la plancha (shown below).

Don’t want seafood? Try the Pork Calypso (also below), which is stuffed with Captain Morgan marinated prunes and served over steamed white rice and a melon gravy finished with toasted cashew nuts.

 We didn’t have dessert (a mistake I know) but it wasn’t due to lack of options. They offered a Pineapple sensation with Myers rum syrup over banana cake and ice cream pistachios, Brownie Bites, a Tiramisu, which I love as noted above, Tarte Tatin, a French upside down apple pie with caramel and ice cream, a Creme Brulee with caramelized sugar flavored with Passion (of course) and a Key Lime Pie, sweetened with a l’il strawberry sauce.

More information can be found at https://www.passions-restaurant-aruba.com/.

Windows

This restaurant is inside only but touts an incredible view of a golf course and rolling hills off in the distance. The venue is all windows (hence the name) so makes a great choice for a Sunday brunch, which we did, right before heading to the airport in fact. A must try for brunch lovers.

A simple fruit plate which you can start with (or end with) or simply accompany with one of their many other choices.

I had to try the Oyster soup because you so rarely see it on a menu, at least in the states. They make it with Cognac, red wine, cilantro and basil (I asked the chef — I had to know).

Traditional brunchy things were on the menu, such as scrambled eggs with bacon, Frittata mushroom and spinach in a mornay sauce, and Eggs Benedict served with Tobiko caviar and hollandaise sauce, which the folks I dined with ordered.

And, how about Smoked Salmon served with dill-avocado cream, a bagel and a raspberry aspic?

They insisted we try the Seafood Cazuela Stew since it’s an authentic choice for the island. Think marinara cream, thyme, bay leaves and oregano with mussels, scallops, calamari, fish and shrimp.

And of course, it’s hard to pass up Pan Seared Scallops with saffron anise cream sauce, and a mixed green apple salad. This was one of my favorites all morning, largely because it was so light. The sauce was just perfect: white wine, vermouth and pernaud.

Other appetizers worth noting include the Escargots with herb-garlic butter and herb brioche, the Lobster macaroni and cheese muffin with melted cheese and the Marinated duck sliced with couscous, wild fruit coulis and a peach chutney. I didn’t try the Pork Loin with pumpkin pure, red wine sauce and guava chutney, but it’s definitely on the list for a future visit.

    

A fan of classic brunch items? They have waffles, but with all the other choices, I’d suggest go with seafood, soups and salads if you can resist. The chef wanted us to try it nevertheless. You can also get assorted cereals and pancakes, which is useful to know if you have kids in tow.

 Oh so divine mains included a classic Turkey breast and a Shrimp linguini which we did not try, and three dishes which we did taste, such as the grilled chicken with fennel-cucumber salad in a coconut peanut sauce, grilled tenderloin with pea mashed potatoes, truffle sauce and caramelized onions and the Almond grouper, which they serve in a cream spinach, fruit relish and a creamy white wine sauce.

Ready for desserts yet? Sure, they have brownies with coconut ice cream and a fruit tart with anglaise sauce (great options for kids), but we went for the Crepe a la mode with a chocolate-orange sauce and vanilla ice cream (OUCH!), a Mango cheesecake with raspberry coulis and a Passion mousse-vanilla pannacotta shooter (my favorite – yes please!) Oh yeah, and they did offer a Carrot Cake as well, which I haven’t had in years.

Their a la carte brunch is served every Sunday from 10:30 am to 2 pm and includes choices from their a la carte Brunch menu, Mimosas, cava, juices, sodas, coffee and tea. They also have a kids only menu and live music. I’d also note that its a great choice for groups as they can cater to them easily.

I also loved the beautiful majestic glass art throughout the venue. For more information, check out http://www.windowsonaruba.com.

Elements 

What a glorious place to have lunch. Meet Elements, an outside eatery right on the beach, with a fun bar attached. You can either sit on the oceanfront deck or in an enclosed air-conditioned room with a full view of the beach.

Health gurus will love the fact that they offer Gluten-Free, Vegan or Vegetarian dining, in addition to the International menu, which includes European portions for healthier living.
I chose to have my vegan greens with mangoes, avocado and papaya (I skipped the orange segments) and get this — the dressing was made from WHITE CHOCOLATE! Yes, really – it was simply divine! I’d suggest lunch here just to taste that dressing alone. Note that I opted to have a healthy green smoothie with my lunch rather than wine.

While I tend to avoid fruit because of the excess sugar, I simply could NOT say no to their Chilled Roasted Melon Soup, which is both vegan and Gluten Free. Imagine cantaloupe carefully roasted, blended and then chilled. What really makes this incredible cold soup pop is that its topped with a ginger sherbet and pomegranate swirl – WOW!

Romantic dining in a private, beachfront palapa with special 6-course meal is a unique experience that they offer at Sunset or Moonlight. What else is cool is that it’s an adults only restaurant, so it’s relaxing and slow.
Appetizers include vegan greens, seafood chowder, and below, the Ceviche, which they serve with white fish, marinated with lime, passion fruit and mango juice (YUM), pickled red onions and cilantro. They garnish it with plantain chips.

Other fabulous lunch fare here included quesadillas (both garlic roasted and Fajita-style), burgers, veggie wraps, Ranchero wraps and sandwiches. How’s this sauce side made with from a passion fruit vegan tartar combo?

Over the top sides include black and tan onion rings, sweet potato fries (what’s not to love — they serve them with orange and vanilla cream) and sea salt fries.

While I didn’t dine here at night, their evening menu looks amazing and I’d love to return to do a dog-and-pony in their inside dining room.

There was no time (or space) for desserts, so I went for a margarita to finish off my afternoon instead.

If you do go for dinner, I’d recommend ordering their mini crab cakes, the pepper seared beef, the carrot-ginger soup or the pumpkin cream soup and one of their fish dishes, like the Ginger Mahi-Mahi in a ginger cream sauce and Chardonnay or the pan-fried Red Snapper in virgin coconut oil. They are also known for their extensive salad bar in the evenings.

For those with sweet tooth however, they have plenty of options, including a five high chocolate cake, homemade ice cream, cheese cake and two local specialties: Aruban Quesillo, which is made with vanilla custard baked in caramel sugar and a Pan Bolo a la Mode, which is bread pudding-cake with raisins (can you say to-die-for?), chopped prunes and nuts. OMG – sign me up!!

More information on the restaurant can be found at http://www.elementsaruba.com/.

Pure Ocean

We love this casual but oh so lovely restaurant pick right on the ocean. You can sit at a casual table (no tablecloths) outside on the beach or under the terrace, facing the beach at more traditional tables — both are fabulous.

Their Executive Chef Anthony De Palm has more than 20 years of experience in the hotel culinary world and even helps train new chefs at the EPI School in Aruba.

I was fortunate enough to be able to dine with the chef during my stay, so learned about every dish along the way. And, he encouraged me to order some of his favorites, starting with the Lobster Seafood Martini (below), which they marinate in citrus and serve with lobster, shrimp and scallops with a martini avocado tomato and mango salsa – YUM!

A few of their specialties below – pure bliss, right?

Other appetizers include Caribbean Shrimp fritters, steamed mussels, Lobster Bisque or a variety of fresh salads. Since I always feel happier when I accompany a meal with a salad, I went for the Pure Shrimp salad which they serve on a bed of mesclun lettuce and fresh fruit in a rosemary vinaigrette. The bonus POP was when I optionally added the caramelized goat cheese (WHOAH Nellie — Anthony and his team make it with a balsamic reduction and pair it with chili sauce)!

For mains, it gets even better, and there’s plenty of red meat and fish options to choose from. Meat lovers will love their Tomahawk Pork Chop on a bed of caramelized onions, chipotle chutney and chimichurri, the Filet Mignon, or the Steak Frites.  

  

They also have a divine Caribbean Lobster tail served on mashed potatoes and veggies, as well as a Crispy Coconut Curry Grouper, Grilled Mahi-Mahi with hearts of artichokes and Seared Scallops with creamy risotto and garlic sauteed cherry tomatoes. Wow, right? The fabulous creamy risotto can also be ordered as a side, so you can pair it with any of their main course dishes.

Dessert lovers, say hello to their Mango cheesecake, creme brulee and an Aruban chocolate bread pudding. All three had me at hello and I’m not just saying that because the chef may read this. I rarely eat desserts (except to taste when I’m doing reviews) and we polished off all of them.

One other thing to note. While we were dining, a couple who had dined there several times and been to Aruba more than once, stopped by to complement the chef and his team on an exquisite meal – two thumbs up!

More information can be found at http://www.pureoceanrestaurant.com.

The Chophouse & Omakase Sushi Bar

While I’m a huge fan of seafood only when in the Caribbean or any destination on the sea, it’s always good to know that there’s a good steakhouse if you have a craving. The Chophouse is the main luxe restaurant at the Manchebo Resort, which is focused on yoga and wellness and where I stayed at for the second portion of my stay.

Appetizers include fried calamari with marinara sauce and baked stuffed cheese with chicken, capers, celery, carrots and green olives, as well a traditional shrimp cocktail, Portobello Ravioli (yes please) and Escargots. Had I not wanted a light meal that evening, I would have definitely ordered it — note: they finish it off with a touch of Pernod – oh so yum!

What I didn’t mention yet and this will likely bowl you over…is that the Chophouse includes a sushi bar, and you can even sit at the bar and order cocktails while your sushi is being made. How can you go wrong?

And so, we started with sushi. It was divine (see below if you don’t believe me). The sushi chef is apparently fairly known on the island and respected, even by other chefs. Mylene whipped up a storm just to be sure I didn’t leave hungry.

Those who want something a little more traditional, they have Beef Tataki, which they serve in charcoal oil with truffle aioli, mixed greens, red onions and spicy toasted peanuts.

Spicy rolls with a side salad below, both of which we paired with a nice buttery Chardonnay. They offer either mixed greens, an Aklaline salad with a sweet cilantro vinaigrette or a Caesar salad. Soups include a traditional French onion soup topped with Gouda and garlic croutons and a Butternut Squash Bisque, served with basil oil and creme fraiche.

Below, the fried Calamari.

 Below, the ever so delicious Caprese salad, which includes basil from their own greenhouse — I love that they have one on the premises. Way to go Manchebo.

I tried the Cajun Tuna, which they serve over carrot ginger rice, green beans and a sesame soy sauce. I stayed with the Chardonnay although a German Riesling would have been a better pairing for this dish. If I return, I would definitely try their Almond Crusted Grouper (grouper seems to be very popular in Aruba) or their homemade Ravioli with corn and tomato concasse. I am 30% Italian after all.

While I didn’t want anything heavy that night, they did offer an incredible selection of steaks (filet mignon, sirloin, beef kebabs, Aruban stew, Churrasco steak) and Chops (rib eye, porterhouse, t-bone, lamb rack, pork and veal chops). All of their steaks and chops come with potatoes, rice and a choice of sauce. There’s tons of sides to choose from as well. My favorites? The sauteed mushroom and onions, sweet potato puree and cashews and their roasted brussels sprouts.

Before you leave the Chophouse, you MUST order dessert.  From Italian ice cream, passion fruit mousse, creme brulee, orange and rum cheesecake, and a combo of chocolate cake and mousse, they’ve got you covered.

As for me, I had to go for the Tiramisu since it had been awhile since I last tried one. Here, they make it with mascarpone, Aruban ponche crema, rum, coffee and coffee liquor and top it with strawberries and a mint garnish. It had me at hello and goodnight – two thumbs up!

Alas, here’s a list of eateries and restaurants that were highly recommended by concierges, locals, long time residents and tourists who have been to Aruba more than once. Note that these came as high recommendations and referrals, but I didn’t dine at all the restaurants below, whereas I can speak honestly and truly about the above list since I tasted each and every dish shown above. Yes, really! It was all so scrumptious.

Zeerovers 

Casual, casual, casual, this spot is a favorite with locals and return visitors alike. You sit at picnic tables right on the ocean and it’s all about the fresh catch of the day, FRIED.

An idyllic spot in Savaneta, a seaside town once the capital of Aruba, this is the spot when you want to keep things casual, local and fresh, but remember that if you go, be prepared for a fried meal to keep things authentic.

The eatery can be a bit hard to find as its located one road behind the main road from Oranjestad to San Nic, towards the sea.  As an aside, you can also get fresh shrimp of course.

Photo credit: TripAdvisor, Traveler Lisa D.

And, how’s this for a view?

More information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/zeerovers/.

Barefoot

As the name suggests, you dine barefoot on the beach with the sounds of the ocean in the background.

Started by Gerco and Luc, the restaurant has been open since 2010 and is located across the street from Talk of the Town, under the large palapa, near the airport. They have tables overlooking the Caribbean Sea uas well as seating on the beach under the stars.

Appetizers include goat cheese medallions, tuna tartar and tuna carpaccio, shrimp croquettes served in a mustard sauce, seafood ragout in a garlic sauce, vanilla skewered scallops, escargots and mushroom caps with garlic and fresh herbs, and Crab Cakes with a sweet chili sauce. They have soups (order the Lobster Cappuccino, which is a Lobster bisque finished with a vanilla froth) and some fresh salad options as well.

Since you’re on the beach, I’d recommend one of their fish dishes, such as their Snapper filet topped with old Amsterdam cheese and bread crumbs, a Tuna Pepper steak paired with sesame teriyaki sauce, Shellfish Trio (lobster, shrimp and scallops), Garlic Shrimp, Blackened Mahi Mahi with a pineapple salsa or the Caribbean Grouper topped with mango cream cheese and mango sauce. Oh so yum!

More information can be found at http://www.barefootaruba.com/.

Yemanja Woodfired Grill

This spot was recommended by a few local women by age who I connected with right away, so I knew I’d love the joint.

Yemanja, located behind the Renaissance Hotel in Oranjestad, is a blend of European and Caribbean style food.  Food is cooked on a wood-fired grill and they offer weekly specials.

Things you might not expect found their way to the menu like Fattoush and Grilled Flatbread with Tahini dressing and Feta Tzatziki sauce. These Mediterranean influences come from Dutch-born chef Joyce de Cuba – Hüsken.

There’s tons of healthy options on the menu from Quinoa Salad, Arugula with avocado, pomegranate, pumpkin seeds, and a roasted bell pepper coulis and dried beets to bean sprouts, edamame and wood-fired grilled veggies.

Appetizers include delicious bites like  beef tenderloin, grilled scallops and shrimp, Ahi tuna poke, marinated sushi grade tuna tartar, puff pastry, calamari salad, or calamari stew and a variety of soups including a fresh roasted tomato soup and a potato truffle soup.

There are some nice options for vegetarians here such as a Truffle Risotto or a Grilled Stuff Zucchini but they also have burgers topped with mushrooms and a feta Tzatziki sauce. Tons of wine options as well. Oh so delish!

All photos Yemanya Aruba. More information can be found at http://www.yemanja-aruba.com/main/.

Flying Fishbone

You can’t get far in Aruba without hearing the name Flying Fishbone – everyone knows it and everyone seems to love it.

Like Atardi at the Marriott and Passions, you can dine with your toes in the sand, but under swaying palm fronds along a perfect little crescent bay in Savaneta, Aruba’s charming fisherman’s town where many of the local favorites are located.

 I vote again for seafood, especially at a place with fish in the name and where you dine right on the beach. For example, you can get a Lobster tail, a Shrimp Shi-take cheese casserole (crikey – so so decadent), Salmon in a creamy lemongrass sauce, Halibut with with sun-dried tomato risotto, spinach and champagne sauce, Scallops Florentine in a spinach cheese sauce, or a Seafood pasta to name a few.

Chicken lovers will appreciate the portobello chicken dish in a mushroom truffle sauce (heavy but gorgeous), and those who want both seafood and meat, can go for the Surf and Turf which includes a tenderloin and a half lobster tail in a lobster and red wine sauce.

They also have a Skirt Steak, Beef Tenderloin with potato gratin, Cowboy Rib Eye and a Grilled Maple Leaf Duck breast on linguine pasta. You can even get a full blown roasted lamb rack with couscous and grilled tomatoes.

Desserts include chocolate ravioli with chocolate heart, poached pear, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream, Crème Brûlée, Baked Alaska (you don’t find that on every menu, so why not splurge especially since it is flambéed at your table with sambucca?), Apple pie or a Chocolate Brownie and Mousse. The latter is served with pistachio ice cream – how can you say no to that?

All photos: FlyingFishbone.

More information can be found at http://www.flyingfishbone.com.

Carte Blanche

While I did not have time to visit this luxury foodie pick, Carte Blanche seems to be right up my alley. All of the luxury foodie peeps I ran into recommended it. It’s cozy, relaxed and small — in other words,  there’s only 14 guests at a time who can sample many different culinary combinations while chatting with other guests or their hosts Dennis (the chef) and Glen.

Dennis created and originated this unique concept on Aruba in which he prepares a 5 course surprise menu right in front of his guests. In addition, Maitre d’ Glen complements the menu with amazing wine pairings with wines from all over the world. Carte Blanche also has an extensive wine list to choose from, and offers a fine selection of martinis and other spirits from the bar as well.

This place is clearly for serious foodies so not a family fare venue.   They do accommodate certain allergies upon early notice however they do not serve vegetarian, vegan or meat-only menus. Upscale and decadent – need I say more?

More information can be found at http://carteblanchearuba.com/.

El Gaucho

El Gaucho is a well-known restaurant located in a colonial townhouse on the very Dutch sounding Wilhelminastraat, and is the first Argentine restaurant to open its doors in Aruba.

El Gaucho serves a variety of tempting dishes, including Argentine steaks, sirloins, and Pincho Torro Caliente, the biggest shish kebab ever served, veal chops and more.

Other delicious dish choices include Camarones al Ajillo aka Garlic Shrimp, stewed squid with peppers, herbs, onions and sherry wine, Conch Harbor-style, Pork Loin Ribs, Tenderloin chunks, Grilled pork sausage, beef pastry, and Grilled Calf sweetbreads.

They also make homemade soups daily, including vegetable soup, cream of pumpkin and cream of broccoli.

There’s also Aruban flavored, fresh seafood platters to choose from and their strolling guitarist duo, Carlos and Jonathan Sanchez, entertains diners on weekdays with romantic tangos and boleros, while guitarist Placido Garcia enchants guests on Sundays.

The rustic traditional décor, in the private dining rooms honors the legends of the Argentine cowboy.

Photo credits: El Gaucho Aruba.

More information can be found at http://www.elgaucho-aruba.com/.

Aqua Grill

The Aqua Grill referral came from tourists who had been to Aruba more than twice. The decor is contemporary, where a New England fish house meets the Caribbean. And, of course, given the name, there’s no shortage of fresh seafood options on the list.

And yup, even lobster. They have an award-winning chef behind the menu, who loves to prepare classic seafood dishes but with a chic contemporary flare. My hotel concierge recommended it as well and noted that its likely on the list for other concierges on the island as well.

They feature a wide selection of daily fresh catches, which are a combination of local fish and seafood flown in daily from around the world.

More information can be found at http://www.aqua-grill.com.

Hostaria Da Vittorio

These guys tout themselves as the only certified authentic Italian restaurant in Aruba.Owned and operated by Master Chef Vittorio Muscariello. Their focus is on imported Italian ingredients.

He’s also behind Valentino’s & La Trattoria El Faro Blanco, as well as Forno al Legna in Aruba which is all about pizza.

Photo credit: 10Best.com

Hostaria Da’ Vittorio has the exterior architecture of an old typical Arubian house, but once you enter our doors, you feel like you’re in Italy with its innovative open kitchen. There’s also a glass enclosed porch, which overlooks a lovely terrace, and is great for cocktail parties, large groups, and families with kids.

Photo credit: Aruba Restaurants

The food is classically Italian in every way from authentic pastas to cold meat and cheese platters and everything in between.

Photo credit: Menu International

2 Fools and a Bull

I only learned about this spot the day before I was slated to leave Aruba. Three locals swore by the place and have been going since it opened. Casual but chic, they tout gourmet cuisine but in a comfortable, casual environment.

Photo credit: Aruba Restaurants

It has a bit of a western flavor to it and although casual, their master chef Bas, prepares a 5 course dinner in front of you. They tout themselves the smallest bar of Aruba yet they have a sommelier who offers a wine pairing by the glass, designed to match your dinner.

In between the 5 course dinner, they have small breaks, to mingle and to give you the opportunity to meet your fellow diners. How cool is that?

To give you an idea of their sense of humor, their website says this to patrons:

No Vegans… No Vegetarians… No Children… No Drunks… and… No Phones…

Photo credit: Aruba.com

Although here you may feel like you’re in a diner, the food is far beyond diner food.

They’ve won an award for the best restaurant in the Caribbean and they recommend making reservations to avoid long lines/waits or not being able to get in by simply showing up.

Photo credit: 10best.com

For information at http://2foolsandabull.com.

Eataly

Eataly is a food truck that locals love that is located at the Texaco Traffic Circle” in the parking lot of the Eagle Bowling. Known for casual but delicious fare, if you’re a food truck lover, then Eataly is a great choice when on the island.

Photo credits: Eataly.

More information at https://www.facebook.com/pg/LoscoVillaNV.

And alas, here are 3 more quick call outs for the record.

Driftwood 

Known for its authentic seafood by locals and long time visitors alike, Driftwood is a great spot for casual down-to-earth fare. It is also a viable choice if you have a family in tow.  You can also go deep sea fishing and catch your own fish – we love this! More information can be found at https://www.driftwoodaruba.com.

Photo credit: Driftwood.

Wilhelmina

They tout “World Cuisine” à la carte menu using high-quality ingredients from around the world and are based in downtown Oranjestad.

The restaurant is named after Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands who reigned for nearly 58 years, longer than any other Dutch monarch. (More of that Dutch influence again). It is located inside a redesigned and renovated Art-Deco building next to El Gaucho (also on our list). Wilhelmina is an adult only restaurant (12 years and up).  More information can be found at http://wilhelminaaruba.com/.

Photo credit: Wilhelmina.

Madame Janette’s

The kitchen here apparently prides itself on preparing most of the dishes a la minute and it features a special menu. From steaks, grilled meats from the rotisserie, salmon and Chilean sea bass to local fish dishes like Mahi Mahi and fresh grouper, it’s elegant, beautifully presented and French infused.

Photo credit: Menu International

More information can be found at http://www.madamejanette.info/.

 

 

Note: I was hosted by some of the restaurants on this list but all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Renee Blodgett
Founder
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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