Aruba is well-known for being "One Happy Island," a place where, in the local parlance, everything is dushi. (Dushi means sweet and near-perfect in Papiamento, a creole, and Portuguese-influenced language spoken throughout the Dutch Caribbean). The culinary heritage of the ABC islands is reflected in dishes inspired by recipes that originate from the Netherlands, Portugal, and nearby islands in the West Indies. But where to dine when visiting Aruba? Given the island's popularity, there's no shortage of appealing institutions to choose from when dining out. Read on for the top 12 places to eat in Aruba, and get ready to find out the true culinary meaning of "dushi bites."
Pinchos is a must-visit when traveling to Aruba, as it is one of the newer offerings for outdoor dining. The hip institution has outdoor setting with a distinctly tropical atmosphere overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Be sure to order the conch fritters, as they are the best on-island. Pinchos is perfect for a date night, as the setting is beyond romantic (particularly at sunset). It's also a wonderful spot for groups of friends/families to enjoy a celebratory meal on their first (or last) night on the island.
Make a reservation at Carte Blanche for a specialized five-course meal—the restaurant can only seat 14 guests at a single sitting. There is an optional wine pairing, and guests will get the chance to interact with Chef Dennis and Maitre d’ Glen during the meal. The experience is entirely unique to this particular establishment on the island (and is not replicated elsewhere), with the sommelier and the chef specializing in delectable pairings of wine and Aruban cuisine.
Senses Fine Dining
Senses Fine Dining is worthy of such extravagant praise. Don’t believe us? Then believe the wait-list you’ll find when booking a table any day of the week during peak season. Our advice? Make a reservation well in advance once you know your travel dates, and prepare for a night of fine dining and elegance, Caribbean-style.
Widely considered one of the best restaurants in all of Aruba, the international cuisine offered by this island institution beckons to foodies and ambiance-seeking diners alike. Order one of the hot stone dishes, or the tenderloin with gorgonzola (always a popular choice for both locals and visitors). If it’s good enough for Her Highness Beatrix (the former queen of the Netherlands), rest assured it’s good enough for your discerning palate, too.
This local institution has a tropical, driftwood ambiance (hence the name). The freshness of the seafood and also the authentic Aruban dishes are the main reasons to dine here, but if you're already committed to enjoying your dinner elsewhere, then saddle up to the gorgeous driftwood bar here anyway for a pre-meal aperitif. Cheers!
Head to L.G. Smith’s for a trendy night out in the hotel restaurant of the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino (and maybe try your lucky gambling later in the evening). The steak is spectacular, and the views even more so—get a table by the window for lovely views of the ocean and the sailboats and assorted yachts idling in the harbor. Sunset is recommended, but any time of day is an excellent time to visit this chic eatery.
Coco Plum Restaurant
Coco Plum Restaurant, centrally located in the Aruban capital of Oranjestad, is a must-visit while you’re on-island—if only to sample the local specialty, pan bati. Pan bati (translation: smashed bread) is an authentic Aruban dish that is similar to a pancake. Though you can find this delicacy many places throughout the Dutch Caribbean island, Coco Plum is the best place to try it for the first time—and the seafood is worth the visit, as well.
Mi Dudu Bar and Restaurant
Head over to Mi Dudu Bar and Restaurant (also located in Oranjestad) to sample another island specialty: Sopi Mondongo. Aruba is famous for this soup, and you'll find it at lots of local eateries, but this is the best places to try it. Mi Dudu is located in the Aruban capital of Oranjestad, and is the perfect place to eat before heading out for a night on the town.
The Red Parrot Restaurant is located in Divi Aruba, a popular all-inclusive resort in the capital of Oranjestad. Head here for dinner and don’t be alarmed to find dolphin on the menu: Dolphin is island slang for Mahi Mahi, and it’s best served at this local eatery on the island. If you're staying at Divi Aruba, we recommend heading here for at least one of your meals on the island.
If you’re looking for an interactive dining experience, then head to Fred Restaurant, where the chef (Fred, of course) offers a live cooking experience—guests can ask questions and watch while their meal is being prepared. The jovial atmosphere of the institution is also highly recommended for drinks (and cocktails, of course, to be enjoyed while you watch your dinner come to fruition.)
Head to the Flying Fishbone restaurant in Savaneta to sample the very best seafood on the island of Aruba. This waterfront institution is very laid-back, despite its fancy offerings such as tenderloin and lobster tails. Just watch for the incoming tide, which is known to come up to your feet while dining. The chances of getting your feet wet is well worth it, however, to appreciate the romantic ambiance and picturesque setting of this Aruban favorite.
The Dutch Pancakehouse
Thanks to Aruba’s status as a member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dutch pancakes are a specialty on the island. And there’s no better place to sample the local cuisine than the Dutch Pancake House outpost in Oranjestad. You needn't visit the Dutch Pancakehouse for the first meal of the day only. We recommend you visit anytime during your trip to Aruba.