The food in Aruba is a great reflection of their culture. During my time there it didn’t seem as if Aruba had any signature dishes, fish however, is very popular in many restaurants.
1. Pelican Pier: this restaurant is on the pier of Moomba Beach, if you’re there for dinner you get a seat with a great view of the sunset. My friends and I went for a quick bite and sat on the other side with a wall as a divider. The fried calamari was good but the sandwiches were average at best. The drinks had interesting combinations but didn’t taste like they had much alcohol in them. Given the location of this restaurant I considered it a place for tourists.
I like going to as many local restaurants as possible when visiting a foreign country so it was the first thing I asked my taxi driver about when I left the airport. He asked my definition of local and described it perfectly – when I think of local I mean a place where people from Aruba frequent and where you’ll find more Aruban people than you will tourist. He went on to state that many people say “local” and go to restaurants where no one from Aruba would be found.
2. Silla Bar: The same taxi driver recommended a restaurant Haitian owned and Dominican catered that he goes to almost every day for lunch. He didn’t know the name of it but said it was so well known that if you ask anyone in the area they’ll know exactly where it is which was exactly right. At first my friends and I were a bit hesitant like we didn’t know it’s exact location just a church it was nearby but we were so glad we took the chance! They give large portions and the food is delicious – we got an array of different meals and shared most things as a table.
3. Zeerovers: An outdoor seafood place that only serves the catch of the day and shrimp with different sides like fries and sweet (yellow) plantains. Everything in the restaurant is fried so prepare to forget about your diet if you want to check it out. I’m not big on seafood but I did enjoy the red snapper fish. I had never peeled shrimp before and given that they don’t remove the legs, tail or anything I probably chose the worst to learn with. As my friends were finishing their meals they began to grow frustrated with how much time peeling the shrimps were taking. The pricing is based on the weight of what you’re eating so be conscious of how much you ask for. The kitchen is open so you can see your meal being cooked in the middle of the restaurant – if you start taking pictures the chef might ask you to go inside and take a picture with him. There are different seating areas: some on boats, benches by the water or tables close to the kitchen area. It is a casual spot with a great ambience and lively colors and happy employees.
4. El Mexicano Aruba Snack Truck: This is a late night truck open from 9PM-6AM, perfect for satisfying the 3AM craving after a night out. This happened to be right next to the hotel we were staying in but there are various through the island that can be stopped at. I had a delicious torta and my friend had a tostada. The food tastes authentic and just like in Mexico the food wasn’t spicy but there were different spicy sauces available.
5. Pika’s Corner: This place was another recommendation by a taxi driver – he specifically said to go here and avoid the place next door. We went for lunch and shared fried Aruban pancakes and fried polenta with cheese as appetizers. For lunch I had their rice with chicken which was very well seasoned, my friends all had the fish of the day (red snapper) also with rice and sweet plantains.
6. Sweet Peppers: This was a restaurant located inside the resort we stayed in (Caribbean Palm Village). The owners moved from Venezuela 10+ years ago. My friends and I had lunch here before heading to the airport. It was a good place for a quick bite and they had free mimosas for Mother’s Day. They also have a daily happy hour from 4-6pm and 9-10pm, the cocktails are tasty and buy one get one free.