Tristan Ralston

Dining out in Aruba is filled with irresistible surprises!

Published on Friday, April 8th, 2016 by Tristan Ralston

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La Vista Carnival Show Aruba

La Vista Carnival Show

An eclectic tapestry of tastes

Great food and local color await your discovery, a short walk or car ride away. In addition, Aruba’s resorts offer both elegant and casual choices as well as entertaining theme nights and lavish buffets.

There are over one hundred dining venues in the high-rise Palm Beach area alone. Restaurants also pepper downtown Oranjestad and the low-rise hotel area, and are found off the beaten path and on the other side of the island.

Modest or with flourishes, restaurants have ambiances as eclectic as their menus, some with open kitchens and unusual themes. The specialties of every ethnic cuisine imaginable make up abundantly portioned and beautifully presented plates – from Italian, Belgian, French, Caribbean, Aruban, Cuban, Chinese and Japanese to Thai, Spanish, Mediterranean and Mexican. Dining venues range from Brazilian steakhouses, Italian trattorias, rustic and city-chic seafood houses, and sushi bars, to trendy bistros, charming continental restaurants, casual Dutch cafés, and historic country houses. For those who enjoy al fresco dining, restaurants are found poolside, in tropical gardens, on panoramic terraces and built-up piers and, of course, right on the alabaster sand under the stars!

Restaurateurs and chefs from all over the world have made Aruba their home and enriched the culinary landscape. Their creative and unique signatures are found on every plate. In addition, traditional favorites and ethnic specialties are subtly infused with local goodness. Fiery Madame Janette scotch bonnet pepper, fresh cilantro and minty Aruban basil enliven the palate. Caribbean fruits such as mango, papaya, guava and coconut partner well with international selections.

Aruba’s purveyors, and many restaurants and hotels themselves, import the finest quality ingredients on the market from all over the world. These include New Zealand lamb, US Black Angus beef, mozzarella di bufala and Italian plum tomatoes, Hungarian duck liver, and seasonal Belgian asparagus as well as the more unusual ostrich and cobia.

Enjoy some traditional Aruban cooking with Amerindian, African, Latin and European influences. Don’t leave the island without trying a pastechi, the deep-fried turnover with savory fillings; or a hearty stew of beef, chicken, local cucumber, or goat. Pumpkin, fish, chicken and okra soups are healthy and delicious. Funchi (cornmeal mash) and pan bati (Aruban cornbread) are popular accompaniments. Locally caught lionfish is on the menu as well.

Fine wines from the far corners of the world in all price categories have found their way to Aruba, enhancing every meal. Ask for the wine list and recommendations from your waiter to pair your dinner with the perfect vintage.

Check for early bird dinners, special price-fixed meals, chef’s recommendations, seasonal menus, all-you-can-eat nights, and other options. In addition to dine around coupons, the Aruba Gastronomic Association has introduced fascinating and fun culinary tours. Check online, in newspapers, or with your concierge for any restaurant specials and culinary events offered during your stay.

For special dietary needs, it is best to contact the restaurant in advance. Tasty organic, vegan, vegetarian, low-fat and other options can be found. Reservations are necessary at restaurants offering limited seating, and a good idea even at larger establishments.

Some restaurants add a service charge to the bill, distributed among restaurant staff. An additional token amount for excellent service is always appreciated. If no service charge is added, the customary 15%-20% tip is appropriate.

Make dining out a special part of your Aruba vacation and enjoy the diversity, abundance and full flavors of Aruba’s restaurants.

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