Aruba Restaurant Tips by SabrinaSummerville Top 5 Page for this destination

Aruba Restaurants: 122 reviews and 141 photos

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Marina Pirata - Aruba

Marina Pirata

Marina Pirata: Pirate's Seafood Den

Marina Pirata floats like an island on a deck that stretches out into the ocean.

It's hard to find so we were lucky to have the company of locals Pushi Rubiano and hubby Herry. It's another magical Aruban hideaway and you walk down a series of steps, across a bubbling stream (which runs through a little mangrove of crisscrossed branches) and into a virtual pirates den on this man made permanent raft.

It's dark, lots of tiny fairy lights, plenty of candles, and the atmosphere is magic.

We were seated at the edge of the deck and the waters, lit by hurricane lamps, were teeming with hungry fish who swarmed in shoals waiting for morsels of bread which we happily threw to them.

The service was quick and pleasant and the prices were very reasonable indeed. I was stunned that a meal for four, with several rounds of drink, cost less than $140. At home we'd pay that for dinner for two!!!!!

Favorite Dish: I started with calamari rings in garlic sauce. The serving was huge, I feared I wouldn't finish (but I did), and instead of the usual garlic butter this was a proper garlic sauce that was also redolent with the salty taste of the sea.

I followed this with a seafood dish called Shore Platter - squid, mixed cubed fish, lobster, and shrimp served in a seafood sauce. All main courses come with mixed vegetables and your choice of rice, fried funchi (crispy corn bread), pan bati (aruban pancake), or french fries. I tried the pan bati, but it was too sweet for me. I tasted someone elses fried funchi and loved it - that will be my choice another time.

I didn't have dessert - I didn't have room; but cappuccino was served promptly and was delicious.

A great meal in a gorgeous setting.

Very romantic!

Address: Spaans Lagoen

Comparison: less expensive than average

Phone: (297)585-7150

Price: US$31-40

Rating: 4

Theme: Seafood

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 20, 2009
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Iguana Joe's - Aruba

Iguana Joe's

Iguana Joe's: Fun Food and Pink Iguanas

I asked the concierge at our hotel to make a reservation for me at Iguana Joe's - I had heard so much about it that I simply had to go. I was surprised when she replied that they don't take reservations here.

A couple of days later I took a taxi into Oranjestad, and we stopped right outside the Royal Plaza Mall, whereupon I looked up and found myself staring right at Iguana Joe's. "We're having lunch here today", I announced, and so we did.

It's a very unpretentious and fun place, situated on the first floor of the mall, overlooking the cruise harbour. It's part open air and part covered, and I'd recommend getting one of the high stools by the rails so you can oversee the street outside plus everything going on inside.

The place is thronged, packed to capacity, but the crowd moves fast and service is fast and pleasant.

There's also a cute merchandise shop, great to pick up local souvenirs such as the spices used in the cooking (makes a change from t-shirts, though they sell those too).

Favorite Dish: The menu is casual, Mexican style fun food - lots of burgers, tortillas, and nachos.

I ordered the Igua-na-chos and a big plate of red and black nachos quickly appeared, with lashings of guacamole, spicy beef, and nacho cheese...and did I mention the sour cream? They were yummy and really inexpensive.

The drinks are a lot of the fun here, and it's where the infamous Pink Iguana was invented - a coctail made with rum and fresh strawberries; delicious.

This restaurant also serves half litre carafes of very strong cocktails - I saw some guys drinking what they called a Hurricaine, and they explained that it was four shots of different kinds of whiskey. Indulge at your peril;-)

Address: L G Smith Boulevard, Oranjestad.

Comparison: less expensive than average

Directions: On the first floor of the Royal Plaza Mall looking across at the cruise harbour.

Price: US$11-20

Rating: 3

Theme: Local

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 29, 2007
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Pirate's Nest - Aruba

Pirate's Nest

Pirate's Nest: Barefoot Sunset Eatery

The Pirate's Nest is the name of the restaurant at the Bucuti Beach Hotel.

If you read any reviews on Bucuti they are generally excellent, except when it comes to the restaurant where reviews are poor. I disagree with the poor reviews as I found the food here to be really good.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a different menu for each.

Service is generally outside on the beach front deck overlooking the sea. In the day this attracts a lot of flies, but at night it's more than pleasant with the fairy lights on the trees and the waves crashing in the background. On one occasion it was a rainy night so tables were set inside, which was lovely and did have the atmosphere of eating inside an old pirate ship. Watch out for the iguanas who nest in the rafters at night - they love the warmth of the electrical cables!

Service is always pleasant, but efficiency is hit and miss between being spot on and being very slow. I'd have to make special mention of Nakarid who is the most pleasant, helpful, and genuinely kind waitress I have ever met. My Mum had injuries from broken bones and Nakarid was so kind in helping her, bringing her to the bathroom etc - way beyond the call of duty.

Favorite Dish: My favourite starter would have to be the carpaccio of beef - a huge serving plated with salad and parmesan shavings. I also had a great penchant for the garlic mushrooms, which were large fresh mushrooms sauteed in garlic butter. Far peferential to the deep fried variety.

For the main course, on three occasions I ordered the surf and turf - it was that good! There was a nice piece of fillet steak cooked to perfection, four large skewered grilled prawns, and a fillet of the catch of the day. Each portion was coooked to your taste - I always ordered grilled but you could have your food fried or whatever you wished. The meal also came with two sauces of your choice - I recommend the bearnaise and the white wine, one for the meat and one for the fish.

Dessert? I never had room. The portions here are really large.

Address: Bucuti Beach Hotel.

Comparison: more expensive than average

Directions: Eagle Beach, Aruba.

Price: US$41 and up

Rating: 4

Theme: Eclectic/International

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 29, 2007
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L G Smiths - Aruba

L G Smiths

L G Smiths Steak and Chophouse: Pre Theatre Delights

L G Smiths Steak and Chophouse is one of a number of restaurants in the plush Renaissance Hotel.

We ate here as park of a dinner/theatre package when we went to the Let's Go Latin night, but we were so happy with the meal, ambiance, and service that we would definitely return.

You will be visually struck by the decor as soon as you enter the room. The overall theme is white, with very light wood. It really works and gives a cool and serene upmarket feel to the place.

We had a wonderful table overlooking the harbour and I watched the sun set as one of the huge cruise ships left on its travels.

Our waiter was very helpful in every way, advising on choices from the menu and also on the tickets for the show.

Favorite Dish: There was a special pre theatre menu, though guests were free to swap items with other choices from the a la carte menu if they wished, paying the appropriate supplement. Unusually for me, I found the set menu had such a good choice of dishes that I was happy not to go near the a la carte.

I started with ceviche of seafood, which was a type of seafood cocktail dressed Thai style with lime and coriander. The serving was huge and tasty.

Next came a prime American steak. A small serving of beef in American measures, but more than enough for me. Excellent steak and very properly cooked. This was served with vegetables and excellent chunky (and non greasy) fries.

Dessert was simple, Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream - but after such a simple and tasty dinner I wanted nothing more.

Yes, I'd definitely go back here. If you're making a reservation, ask for a window seat.

Oh, the waiters will also give you a free cupon worth $5 for the casino. I ended up winning about $13 which wasn't half bad for a night out:-)

Address: Renaissance Marina Hotel, L G Smith Blvd. 82

Comparison: more expensive than average

Directions: Downtown Oranjestad, right opposite the cruise harbour.

Phone: (297)523-6115

Price: US$41 and up

Rating: 4

Theme: American

Website: http://www.lgsmiths.com

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 24, 2007
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Ostrich Platter - Aruba

Ostrich Platter

Savannah: Ostrich With Everything!!

Savannah is the name of the very African looking restaurant situated on the grounds of Aruba's Ostrich Farm. We stopped in here on a drive around the island and we were delighted that we did.

The building is straw roofed and open to the air at the sides, so you can look out and admire the vegetation and perhaps even glimpse an ortrich at a distance.

The decor is casual African style and huge wooden gisaffes and other animals adorn the room.

Service is table service from a large bar in the centre of the room. It's really spacious so you are well away from everyone else.

We chose a table at the side looking out onto big green fronds and children playing together in the heat. It was cool inside, however, and refreshing. It's a very different way to spend a couple of hours and enjoy really good food. There's also a gift shop selling genuine African artifacts.

The prices of the food are most reasonable - lunch for four for less than $50 including drinks!

Favorite Dish: I ordered the ostrich platter which consisted of ostrich sausage, rollups, and skewers served with small garnish of fruit and pickles and a very tasty dip. It was my first time eating ostrich and I found the flavour rich and very tasty. I would certainly try it again.

One of the group had ostrich omelette and I tasted it with some trepidation. However, I need not have worried - it was wonderful and tasted just like any hen's egg omelette.

The food here is well presented and all freshly prepared.

Go on, treat yourself to a day with the ostriches.

Comparison: less expensive than average

Price: US$11-20

Rating: 4

Theme: African

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 22, 2007
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Pizza Bob's - Aruba

Pizza Bob's

Pizza Bob's: Great Pizza

Pizza Bob's was less than one minute's walk across the street from our hotel, so we found ourselves eating there a couple of times.

The menu is "easy" food consisting of pizzas, a couple of pasta dishes, chicken wings and ribs. There's a full bar, too, and live music on Saturday nights.

The first night I ate here the service was painfully slow, and I thought it was that typical Caribbean thing; but any time I visited after that the service was very efficient.

This would be a very good place to come with kids, or when you just want something really light.

Favorite Dish: I found the ribs really disappointing - not much meat on them at all, and very much overdone.

The pizzas, however, are enormous and delicious. They cut the pizza into easy to handle squares instead of the usual triangles that seem to drop topping all over you.

Comparison: less expensive than average

Directions: Directly across the road from the entrances to such hotels as Bucuti Beach, Divi Resort, and Manchebo, in the low rise area.

Price: US$11-20

Rating: 3

Theme: Pizza

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 21, 2007
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The Wine Cellar, Chalet Suisse - Aruba

The Wine Cellar, Chalet Suisse

Chalet Suisse: Welcome Home

"Welcome Home." These are the words that greet every guest as they arrive at reception in Chalet Suisse, and from that moment the staff strive to make you feel entirely comfortable, to ensure that service to your table is quick and efficient and friendly, and to see that you enjoy every morsel of the delicious food served here.

From the roadfront Chalet Suisse looks just like a very small and quaint Swiss Chalet on three levels, but this is pleasantly deceptive. The building is in fact huge, the longer side angled away from the streetfront. The size, however, does nothing to detract from the cosiness of the place. The decor is warm and friendly and the ceiling is beamed and open to view, thus lending a rustic feel to the whole place.

There were a lot of locals dining here, which is always a good sign.

I found the drinks waitress a little curt, which was a stark contrast to all the other staff.

Our table was in a cosy and comfortable corner. I happen to loke corners as they give a warm sense of security and additional comfort.

Favorite Dish: I started with a warm dish called Seafood Chalet Suisse, which was an exquisite and rich combination of different seafoods with a topping of potatoe and cheese. very creamy, with a mushroom sauce - somewhat akin to a mini seafood pie. There was so much in this that I really didn't need a main course, so I would advise you to have a cold starter which might be less filling.

My main course was another very rich dish - lobster thermidor. It was perfectly done, but way too much for me after the heavy starter.

Dessert was impossible to resist, in spite of already feeling completely full. We shared the Swiss Toblerone Chocolate Fondue. You just have to try this. As we ate I noticed that some guests came to eat only the fondue and nothing else. The hot chocolate toblerone fondue was served with a platter of the freshest and tastiest fruit chunks for dunking. Truly delightful.

Address: Juan E Irausquin Blvd. 246, Eagle Beach

Comparison: more expensive than average

Phone: (297)587-5054

Price: US$41 and up

Rating: 4

Theme: Eclectic/International

Website: http://www.chaletsuisse-aruba.com

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 21, 2007
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Blur Crab Lobster Lollipops - Aruba

Blur Crab Lobster Lollipops

Madame Janette: For People Who Love Great Food

Everywhere you go in Aruba, people (especially locals) will ask you if you have been to Madame Janette's. So....we just had to try it. It has, after all, been consistedly voted the best restaurant in the Caribbean and has been awarded a bevy of gold medals by both Les Amis d'escoffier and rising culinary star of the year.

When our taxi pulled up outside (having travelled a myriad of backroads in the pitch dark) it looked just like a straw roofed shack with locals sitting outside on benches (these turned out to be waiting taxi drivers). You walk through the door and find yourself in a modern, hopping, happy bar and restaurant full of both locals and tourists but overall a pretty upmarket crowd.

At the very front there's a garden waiting area with tables and chairs made from old trees. You check in at the front desk and they give you a little space age disc. When your table is ready this buzzes and glows red. When they give it to you they don't explain what it is or why you have it, so you pick it up from watching everyone else.

I thought the guy at the reception was quite rude, but I think perhaps he was just too busy. That saying, in a service industry there's just no room for rudeness. That, however, was the limit of our disappointment.

We were quickly seated at our comfortable table and soon found ourselves comfortably surrounded by a bevy of waiting staff. Again, as in many Aruban restaurants, the menu choice was vast and I found myself puzzling over my order. The food came quickly and with big smiles and pleasant chat from our lovely waitress.

There was live music from one singer on guitar and as the night wore on I saw that he was taking requests. People sat very happily over their coffees and cocktails listening to him sing and there was no sense of urgency to leave.

The place is huge, but you don't feel it to be so as it's divided off into lots of sections. I believe that it's packed to the roof every single night, so be sure to make a reservation well in advance.

Favorite Dish: I started with blue crab lobster lollipops, which consisted of three large "lollipops" of seafood, deep fried in batter and served on giant lollipop sticks with mixed salad leaves, soy sauce,and oriental style crackers. The serving was more than generous but I found the lollipops just a little gluey for my taste. I think others would adore them, however.

I followed this with a surf and turf dish called "Gianni Versace" consisting of superb fillet steak topped with medallions of lobster served with a delectable sauce and slices of portobello mushroom. This came with the house style roast potatoes - diced potato with bacon and onion.

You'd think after all that that I wouldn't have room for dessert, but I had to indulge. I had fresh diced pineapple marinated in rum and served with ice cream, cream, flaked almonds and toasted coconut flakes. Very tasty indeed.

Address: Cunucu Abao 37, Aruba

Comparison: more expensive than average

Directions: In a residential area off the beaten path - I'd recommend taking a taxi.

Phone: (297)587-4784

Price: US$41 and up

Rating: 5

Theme: Eclectic/International

Website: http://www.madamejanette.com

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 18, 2007
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Papiamento - Aruba

Papiamento

Papiamento: Carribbean Cuisine at its Best

Papiamento is the name of the native language of Aruba, and is also the name of what I have termed the prettiest retaurant in Aruba.

One of the main reasons that I booked this restaurant is because it is owned and run by the Ellis family, and Ellis is the family name of my Mother. The reasons that I would return again and again are that the food is incredible and the setting is a fairytale paradise.

We were seated in the garden area of this beautiful property, surrounded by lush vegetation strung with white fairy lights. Everywhere you looked there were shady gazebos, trellises intertwined with flowers, and bird houses hidden behind leaves. The sound of a tiny stream trickled somewhere in the background and flaming torches reflected in the swimming pool.

The tables were set with white linen covered with heavy damask cloths. Large hurricane lamps sat atop the lot and the tables were set with full silver service.

The pretty (actually pretty stunning) house that occupies this garden paradise is whitewashed with a red tiled roof and green painted woodwork. The combination of colours is at once both fresh and striking.

Favorite Dish: The menu is incredible, with both Caribbean and international dishes....and very many choices.

My starter was an amazing hot dish of scallops in a mushroom sauce. This was topped with a sweet potato mash and creamy crispy cheese topping. The whole combination tasted of more, although there was more than plenty in the dish.

I followed this with a hot platter called Neptune - fish, king shrimp, and lobster all served on a sizzling hot stone with lemon butter. Everything was so very fresh and comes only partially cooked as it continues to cook on the hot stone. This was accompanied by a caesar salad and mediterranean vegetables such as mixed peppers and red onion. I relished every morsel.

I could barely fit dessert, but managed to squeeze in an ice cream dish with flaked almonds. Simple but perfect.

It's not cheap, but it's perfect.

Another on my list of places to propose marriage:-)

Address: Washington 61, Noord

Comparison: more expensive than average

Directions: In the middle of nowhere - take a taxi!

Phone: (297)586-4544

Price: US$41 and up

Rating: 5

Theme: Eclectic/International

Website: http://www.papiamentorestaurant.com

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 17, 2007
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Foie Gras & Apricot Torte - Aruba

Foie Gras & Apricot Torte

Mathilde: Divine and Delectable

Chez Mathilde was one of the most respected and desirable restaurants on Aruba for very many years. Very upmarket and very luxurious, it was a habitat of the rich and famous.

Recently the establishment decided to go for a more modern image and renovated the whole place, dividing it in two.

The part known as "M" is situated at the front of the building, is designed to be a little more casual (the decor struck me as bistro style), and is aimed at a younger or more casual crowd.

The back part of the restaurant, "Mathilde", is decorated in light coloured wood - wooden walls, wooden floors, with huge gold pillar-type structures that are in fact enormous planters. Paintings on the walls are mainly caribbean style and of young Caribbean faces. There's a baby grand piano here with live music and flowers appear to adorn every available flat surface. The flowers are glorious - the shelf beside my table was graced with a gorgeous display of sunflowers.

Service is prompt and very efficient, although one waiter brought Pinot Grigio instead of Pinot Gris as a second glass of wine (the first being correct).

The atmosphere is literally humming and the place buzzes with happy diners, both locals and tourists.

We had listened to so many people report that they were disappointed in the new style of "M" and "Mathilde" that we were almost disinclined to eat here, but looking back on it now we are both so glad that we did. It was one of the most enjoyable meals we had in our two week vacation.

Favorite Dish: The menu is vast and varied, so much so that it was hard to decide what I wanted.

I started with the foie gras and apricot torte, which was served with a raspberry sorbet. At $32 it was by far the most expensive starter on the menu, but I am a real foie gras addict. It was delectable, caramelised on the outside and melt in the mouth inside, as foie gras should be. I thought the sorbet a bit unnecessary and it caused the flavours to compete a bit too much, but overall it deserves an A.

That was followed with Chateaubriand, a house special. I thought it was good, but nothing spectacular. That saying, the accompanying vegetables were al dente and delicious.

My dessert was an incredible crepe suzette, cooked at our table. I watched as fresh oranges and lemons were squeezed into the pan, then as cognac and grand marnier were added, and finally the whole thing was set to flame a glorious blue. The resultant crepes tasted divine and melted in the mouth. They were served with ice cream and cream and looked so amazing that guests at adjoining tables ordered them having seen ours.

Address: Havenstraat 23, Downtown Oranjestad

Comparison: most expensive

Phone: (297)583-9200

Price: US$41 and up

Rating: 5

Theme: Eclectic/International

Website: http://www.chezmathilde.com

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 17, 2007
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SabrinaSummerville

“"I am of Ireland....Come dance with me in Ireland", W.B. Yeats”

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