Located just 18 miles off of the Venezuelan coast, Aruba (also known as “One Happy Island”) is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and makes up 1/3 of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, & Curaçao). When you combine the island's unique desert landscape with its close proximity to numerous other countries (Venezuela, Curacao, Bonaire, and Colombia) and its deep ties to the Netherlands, you get a very unique culture that can’t help but spill over into its food. We had the pleasure of spending a week exploring this beautiful island and if you know us, we LOVE to experience a destination through its food, and we did just that! From fresh seafood to local beers to authentic dutch cuisine and even gelato, we did our best to sample the best that the island has to offer and put together what we think are 12 of the must-eat restaurants on the island (in no particular order).
Be sure to check out our “Aruba Food Tour” vlog for a closer look at our self-guided food tour where we visit 7 out of the 12 stops on this list!
1. Eduardo’s Beach Shack (J.E. Irausquin Blvd 87, Noord)
Eduardo’s Beach Shack is just that… A beach shack! It’s located right along the beach pathway near Playa Linda Resort and serves up delicious and wholesome smoothies, açai and pitaya bowls, raw treats, salads, and more that change seasonally. On our visit, we decided to go with what Eduardo’s is really known for… açai and pitaya bowls! I especially enjoyed the Pipeline Bowl (pink dragon fruit & chia pudding topped with cacao nibs, goji berry, & peanut butter drizzle) and the Eduardo Special Bowl (açai bowl served with banana, strawberry, peanut butter & Nutella drizzle) and Natalie loved the Pitaya Bowl (pink dragon fruit & banana) and the Kokomo Bowl (pink dragon fruit layer, tropical mango, & turmeric layer). I will say… Even though the menu lists the ingredients found in each bowl, we found that each bowl differed slightly from the menu description. I assume some of the ingredients change due to availability during the particular season, but regardless of the reason, just know that when you visit, you might not get exactly what is described on the menu.
2. Linda’s Dutch Pancakes (Route 3 Palm Beach 6-D, Rte 3 6, Noord)
Family-owned for over 20 years, Linda's serves up delicious Dutch pancakes with a wide variety of toppings. We got the Ham & Cheese pancake (per the recommendation of our server) and really enjoyed it. It was nothing flashy or even visually appealing, to be honest, but it was delicious! The ham (or bacon as they sometimes call it) is cooked into the pancake and is then topped with slices of gouda cheese. Again… Not very visually appealing, but quite tasty!
3. Zeerover (Savaneta 270, Savaneta)
If fine dining is what you’re looking for, then Zeerover might not be the place for you, but if incredible seafood is your thing, then go ahead and plug the address into your GPS! Located right on the ocean in the town of Savaneta (which, fun fact, was Aruba’s first capital), Zeerover - a Dutch word meaning “pirate” - is one establishment that seemingly everyone agrees is a “must-eat” while in Aruba. The seafood here doesn’t get much fresher and the views are about as good as it gets. As you place your order at Zeerover (which is done by weight by the way), the cashier pulls the fresh filets and shrimp from ice chests right in front of you before weighing them and sending them off to the kitchen to be fried up for your enjoyment. And yes, fried is the only way they prepare the seafood at Zeerover. Once your order is ready, a server will bring it to you in a brightly colored plastic basket lined with paper where you’ll then spend the next half-hour or so digging in finger-food style to some of the best seafood you’ll ever have put in your mouth. And when you’re finished, feel free to toss the scraps from your basket off the end of the pier for some built-in entertainment as the seagulls have no problem eating leftovers!
4. The Pastechi House (Caya G. F. Betico Croes #42, Oranjestad)
Named after the popular Aruban snack, The Pastechi House is a casual takeaway shop located in the heart of Oranjestad. And if you’re unfamiliar with what a pastechi is (like we were), it’s a deep-fried half-moon pastry that is filled with your choice of cheese, beef, chicken, lobster, and much more. In addition to pastechi, The Pastechi House also serves some of the best Croquette on the Island! We really enjoyed the pastechi. The pastry was crisp and flaky and the filling was rich and hearty. We jokingly described it as an Aruban Hot Pocket, but that’s honestly a fairly accurate description!
5. Island Grind Coffee (Palm Beach 13a, Noord)
The coffee culture in Aruba is… well… pretty much non-existent, but thankfully, Island Grind Coffee is here to change that! Housed in a small shipping container, this trendy, no-frills joint is serving up quite possibly the best quality coffee on the island. Whether you’re in a hurry and need a quick pick-me-up or you want to stop in and enjoy the beautiful island weather on their small and cozy “front porch”, Island Grind is the perfect stop! While they do offer fresh-made pastries, we opted for drinks only and got their Chai Latte and an Iced Coffee, and both of them were quite delicious!
6. Café 080 (Noord 90 Noord)
Café 080 (pronounced “zero eighty”) was definitely a culinary highlight for our time in Aruba! This Dutch bar/Cozy cafe is a true gem that can be found off the beaten path in the buzzing Noord district. If you ask anyone what the secret of Café 080 is, they’re likely to tell you it’s the Dutch owners (who are magnificent people by the way). They have found the perfect blend of authentic Dutch culture and Caribbean vibes. The second you walk into Café 080, you know you’re in a special place. The incredibly delicious and authentic Dutch specialties like kroket (deep-fried beef croquettes), fricandel (sausage specialty) biterballen (Dutch meatballs), and patat (fresh cut fries) pair so perfectly with the ice-cold locally brewed Balashi beers. Combine that with the friendly, laid-back atmosphere and it’s enough to make anyone feel like a local!
7. Gelatissimo (J.E. Irausquin Blvd 348, Noord)
Located in the heart of the very popular (and touristy) Palm Beach area, Gelatissimo is an upscale, trendy Gelateria serving all-natural, artisanal, and homemade gelato out of a converted double-decker bus! The gelato was creamy and delicious and the fact that their seating area is located on the top level of the bus is pretty cool. Just know that since Gelatissimo is in such a popular area that the line can get pretty long, but we didn’t mind the wait as there was plenty of people watching to do to occupy the time!
8. Charlie’s Bar (Bernard van de Veen Zeppenfeldstraat 56, San Nicolas)
Known for its terrible service, outstanding seafood and steaks, and cold drinks, Charlie’s Bar has been an island tradition since 1941! The interior is clad with a collection of miscellaneous artifacts collected over the years and/or provided by its clientele making for quite the eclectic decor. Unfortunately, we only got to experience the “terrible service” part of this Aruban staple since we got turned away by the bartender claiming that they were closed even though we arrived 45 minutes before they were supposed to have closed. Regardless, we hope to make it back someday to experience this unique establishment!
9. Local Store (Palm Beach 13A)
We didn’t get to feature Local Store on our “Aruba Food Tour” vlog, but this was actually the first place we visited after landing on the island. They offer a straightforward and delicious selection of Burgers, Chicken Wings, Salads, Sandwiches/Wraps, and French Fries, so if you’re looking for a wide selection of offerings, this might not be the place for you… That is unless you’re looking for a wide selection of beers! In that case, you couldn’t have picked a better spot since Local Store offers 90+ Craft Beers! We truly enjoyed our food here and the service was excellent. Definitely a great spot to kick back and wind down for the evening!
10. Pureocean Beachside Dining (HW7W+7XQ, J.E. Irausquin Blvd, Noord)
Up to this point, we’ve only featured casual/budget-friendly restaurants, but in case you want to have a little more of an upscale dining experience while in Aruba, Pure Ocean Beachside Dining is an excellent option! We ate here for our 5 Year Wedding Anniversary dinner and had an excellent experience. For our meal, we ordered the Special Appetizer which was a delicious Ceviche which had Lobster and Jumbo Shrimp and was served over a Mango Salsa. For our mains, we ordered the Seared Scallops (pan-seared scallops atop creamy risotto served with asparagus and cherry tomatoes) and the Caribbean Mac & Cheese (penne pasta tossed with lobster, shrimp, and crab topped with cheese au gratin). The food was amazing, the service was impeccable, and dining right on the beach with the sand under our feet while watching the sunset over the Caribbean Sea is a memory that we won’t soon be forgetting. We definitely recommend Pureocean Beachside Dining!
11. Pelican Nest Restaurant (On Pelican Pier, J.E. Irausquin Blvd 237, Noord)
Located on the popular Pelican Pier on Palm Beach, Pelican Nest Restaurant (also known as The Pelican Nest Seafood Grill) has been a crowd favorite since 1994. Known for delicious seafood, tasty cocktails, and incredible views at any time of the day, Pelican Nest Restaurant is a must when visiting Aruba!
12. Scott’s Brats (HXF3+4JQ, 3, Noord)
Located on Palm Beach near Playa Linda Beach Resort (same area as Eduardo's Beach Shack), Scott’s Brats - quite a humorous name for all of The Office (US) fans out there - is a no-frills, thatched-roof kiosk offering a simple yet delicious breakfast menu, hotdogs, wraps, and you guessed it… Brats! Owned and operated by Midwestern transplants (and Green Bay fans at that) it makes sense why the hotdogs are so dang good. If you’re looking for an affordable and quick bite, you can’t go wrong with Scott’s Brats.
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