Eating out in Aruba is the second best thing about Aruba - first is being on the beach and by the pool of course!! There are so many varied choices of cuisine and price points and new restaurants are popping up all the time while some others may slowly disappear. So be sure you check before going to any of these suggestions. Also, when you return if you find a restaurant you really love or one that did not meet your expectations please let me know so we can make adjustments to our recommendations.
Your concierge at either the Surf or the Ocean Club can give you the scoop on the most popular places on the island. Books of menus with prime info including specials, prices and location are right there and they are always happy to make your reservations.
These are just a few of my favorites but I haven't even made a dent in the multitude that surround Palm Beach and Oranjestad.
Texas DeBrazil - Brazilian Steakhouse with delectable cuts of meat served on swords and carried about the dining room. You have little cards that you turn either on the green side when you want more food or the red side when you are resting for a while. They have so many different types and flavors it is just amazing. They have have a huge salad bar with over 40 items and it is great. My daughter is a vegetarian and they let her just have the salad bar for half price. It is expensive there so that was helpful.
Scala - at the Paseo Hemenica Mall. Has a fun upstairs with a view of the tourists milling around while you have a free glass of wine if you grab the coupon out of the magazines. Excellent selection of Mediterranean flavors and Caribbean cuisine. It is fine dining in a casual and reasonably priced setting. They also have breakfast with free coffee and a large variety of lunch dishes: appetizers, burgers, paninis, pasta and thin crust pizza. It's a very short walk located at the beginning of the mall and well worth it!
Iguana Joe - Bbq chicken, ribs and beef at outdoor tables on the sidewalk. Lots of fun and don't miss those delicious ribs (my favorite). Red checked tablecloths with paper towels on the tables to wipe your hands as they are generous with several different types of sauces to choose. I like the smoked but my family all tries different ones. Don't miss this place for pure casual fun.
J H Yee is a further walk and is in a cool area on the main drag of Palm Beach. There is an outdoor escalator to take you up to two upscale restaurants. It is an asian food melange of Japanese, Chinese and not sure what else but gourmet for sure!!!
Next door is Tandoori which is a popular Indian restaurant and both are in South Beach Center. I recommend reservations for both and worth going to for a change of cuisine. Also BeniHana is nearby and that is fun for everyone with the grilling of Japanese food at the tables for 8. Join in with other families and watch the artistry of the chef. Kids love this place!!
At the Marriott Resort Complex
Simply Fish is the hotel's upscale fish restaurant where they set up tables on the sand with white tablecloths and candlelight. Fish is always fresh and unusually prepared. Very romantic - we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary there with our entire family and it was wonderful. We took off our shoes and socks and sunk our toes into the sand while eating!! Now that is paradise. I would suggest making a reservation for 7:00pm to watch the sunset with a glass of wine. Great food and more than fish.
Ruths Chris is a steakhouse also in the hotel and has award winning cuts of beef. Fancy and expensive, it is well worth the price if you are a meat lover.
There are several more restaurants at the hotel and of course each resort has their own outdoor restaurants while at the pool which are perfect for swimsuits and offer a large menu.
Another very popular choice in the Ocean Club is Champions Sports Bar and Restaurant. They have different specials every evening and fun things like Karaoke.
Downtown Palm Beach
Aruba's west side is lined with restaurants, shopping, high rise hotels and timeshares along with several casinos - the best on the island. There are at least 100 restaurants walking distance from the Marriott, along with lots of fun shopping and the serious kind too. This is Palm Beach and the place to be in my book!! A second upscale shopping mall opened a year ago along with more movie theaters and a bowling alley. Your more touristy shops are on the main drag right there and have some cool Arubian arts available in kiosks on the street. There is also another movie theater in the heart of the Paseo Hemenica Mall and be sure to see the water lights show in the evening with seating in the atrium. Many restaurants circle the area right there and across the street. I mention quite a few in the walking distance section.
Out and About
There are so many great restaurants in Aruba that it is impossible to review them all. Just a mention of the ones I have been to and really enjoyed. Most of these are a close cab ride or if you have a car it will be no more than 10 min. Some are walking distance.
Quinta Del Carmen - brand new and fabulous atmosphere! Felt special being there. Fabric draped over the open air ceiling with just enough stars sprinkling through.
Papiamento - lovely atmosphere around a swimming pool
Buccaneer - food so so but the huge aquariums will fascinate the kids
La Trattoria El Faro Blanco - in the Lighthouse and wonderful, wonderful views as well as delicious Italian fare. Elegant. Go for happy hour just to watch the sunset and bring the kids.
Aqua Grill (walking distance) - lovely sea food and atmosphere
Amazonia Churrascaria (walking distance and similar to Texas De Brazil)
Bingo - short drive or taxi ride and is casual indoor eating.
Wacky Wahoo - small and one of my favorites. Across of Bingo, it is a fresh catch of the day specialty restaurant. Love it! Need a reservation. Very noisy - that'a a warning.
Madame Ginette - a most popular restaurant a short taxi ride away. Set in a backyard, they provide bug spray to keep the bugs away. Delicious entrees and great desserts!
Moomba Beach - this is a MUST. Two doors down from the Surf Club - it is so much fun. Lots of sand to wiggle toes in while you have reasonable meals and their happy hour is fantastic!! Great inexpensive mixed drinks and beer is almost free!! We go there several times (of course we stay 2 weeks to get it all in.)
Amuse - (walking distance in front of the Playa linda) french and adorable
La Petite Cafe next to Amuse - cooking on a hot stone. You do it yourself and it always turns out great. We have done lobster and steak and this is one place we go back to every year.
A newer restaurant (very short ride) I have not been to yet is called Two Fools One Bull. One of my guests had this to say about it. "Two Fools One Bull is 18 and over only. You don't know what the menu is... At 7 to 7:15 you enter and have champagne with the other people who you will be dining with. One seating per night and no more than 8 couples or 16 people. 5 course menu. Our menu was tuna tartare and tuna seared, then shrimp ravioli with lobster soup shot, then halibut, then steak, then dessert. Each tasting was a really nice portion but also extremely delicious. Then at the end of the night everyone has a drink with the two "fools". One of the fools is the chef, the other the server. Dinner started at 7:30 and we left the restaurant at 11. When everyone starts in the evening not many people talk, but in between the ravioli and halibut they have an "inter course" where you can walk around or just sit outside then everyone started talking because we all had our drink on." As you may expect, this restaurant is quite expensive but it is an experience!
She also recommended:
Chefs Table...." go up the road, then make left at second traffic light where the Mcdonalds is and it is straight up. You must go here. This is one of my favorite restaurants on the island." We tried it this last trip and it was very good and atmospheric.
Thanks Mary Scott for the reviews!!
Linda's Dutch Pancake House is right across from Wacky Wahoo and next door to Bingo and yummy. Only open for breakfast and lunch.
Another Dutch Pancake called Diana's opened last year and it is by the old Mill on Eagle Beach. Delicious and again, just breakfast and lunch. Need a car!
Lots of places to eat so I would suggest just trying any of them in the large mall across of the Renaissance. We have eaten at every one and usually the food is great. Once in a while it disappoints, but the next time it is great again. Dutch Pancake House is casual and wonderful.. Many more so be adventurous. Casa Tua has great pizza and we go back every year. They have entrees also but we are stuck in a habit. They also have a restaurant in Palm Beach. Chinese and Japanese food restaurants are both very good here too.
Barefoot and Pincho's - both are on the pier just past the downtown and views alone are worth it. Fish is great and it is just fun!!
Shopping for Everything! This picturesque downtown area welcomes luxury cruise ships, private yachts and charter vessels for sports fishing on the high seas. It is fun to walk on the dock and peek into the boats or watch them come to port. Downtown Oranjestad has a very old world feel with Dutch architecture all around. There is a large open mall by the marina which has nightly free entertainment, many restaurants, casinos, and a movie theater.
Colorful pastel painted buildings house restaurants of every cuisine, glittering jewelry stores, perfumeries, designer watch stores and high end boutiques for men, women, and children.
A string of cabanas along the Blvd. host numerous local vendors selling island souvenirs such as T-shirts, hats, beach bags, purses, toys, paintings and jewelry. See if you can strike a bargain - it's fun and the vendors expect it. On the weekends, on the way to downtown you will find a flea market of similar but more and better goods like "famous name" purses and wallets, cover ups, screened art work and wall hangings, hats, silver, baskets - you never know what will turn up. It closes early.
In the evenings, visit trendy, chic and informal bars and restaurants or take a stroll around the harbor and grab a cappuccino. There are movie theaters and free live musical entertainment in a square right by the harbor also.
Downtown is an easy straight 15 minute drive from the Marriott or a taxi is only around $10 during the day - a bit more at night.
So much to discover you will have to save some for your next visit.