Aruba Dining: Expect the Unexpected

For such a tiny island, Aruba’s culinary landscape is hugely diverse, exciting, and surprisingly future-forward in many regards. You’ll find much more than palate-pleasing surprises and creative presentations await and you’ll also find unique hospitality experiences you might not find anywhere else in the world. When dining in Aruba you should expect the unexpected!


Location, location, location…

As they say in real estate, location is everything. And the same can ring true for dining establishments. Did you know you can dine in Aruba’s famous California Lighthouse now? Catered breakfasts or dinners for two on the top of the tower promise incredible vistas and it is one of only two lighthouse dining experiences in the world!

Dining in hidden tropical gardens in nature is now also an island thing. Beyond serving up incredible French/Caribbean fusion fare in their prime Village Mall location, Papillon Restaurant now offers an intimate chef’s table experience in a secret garden location off-property weekly.

“Monumental” dining is also big here. Restored buildings over a century-old are considered “monuments” and they often house dining spots. New and uber-trendy Patio 15, is one of them. Built as a family home around 1860, you’ll find a mini-museum within, and an intimate space for private parties in the attic as well as entertainment and great eats. And historic Papiamento serves up their family recipes from their century-old Aruban country house, too. They also have the surprise of a mini museum of European antiques within, and a new snazzy PAPPA’s Cigar Lounge on site as well.

Also in a monumental location is Quinta del Carmen. They serve up amazing meals from a gorgeously restored 100-year-old mansion with arguably the most massive, landscaped grounds on the island. They also have a surprising array of antiques within their interior bar.


Farm-to-fork and sea-to-plate pleasures

Historically, it’s been difficult for this island to grow to produce due to the arid climate. But now there’s an explosion of collectives like Farmers United Aruba devoted to finding innovative ways to coax more out of the land. Their efforts have been very successful in meeting the growing demand from restaurants to source locally. Establishments like Taste My Aruba now make it their mission to plan their menus around what’s seasonally available, and they also have their own fleet of local fishermen to ensure their seafood specials come straight from the pier that morning.

Legendary Driftwood Restaurant has always been, and continues to be, a sea-to-table spot. As owners of Driftwood Fishing Charters, they can take you to catch your own dinner and cook it up at their restaurant five different ways that night, too!


Fusions of culinary arts and cultures

With over 90 nationalities making this tiny rock their home, it will come as no surprise that the fusions of culinary styles and the regions of origin are legion here.

But what might be unexpected is that you’ll find such a diverse range all under one roof. For example, The Lazy Turtle billed as “Caribbean” also serves up exotic dishes from Africa, Greece, Asia, and other locales as well. While Brutto Beach House (surprisingly not on a beach,) combines a cornucopia of possibilities with an open kitchen concept sushi bar, and shareable, and tapas from the world over in an uber-modern setting with DJ-driven music. Also, under the same roof, they go all-out Italian rustic too with Lucca Trattoria for homemade pasta and artisan brick oven pizzas. Also unexpected is a selection of East Coast oysters and stellar seafood platters at a New York-style steakhouse. The Ritz Carlton’s BLT Steak installation raises the bar on that front.

Also reaching around the world for inspiration and ingredients is Chef Urvin Croes of Infini. He’s always been a maverick in the experimentation of new modern culinary techniques and his current chef’s table experience is always a surprise for foodies seeking cutting-edge culinary adventures. He also invites celebrated guest chefs from other Caribbean islands to showcase their talents there, too.

Popular trends like offering vegan equivalents to time-honoured dishes without compromising quality are also an Aruba offers. In fact, this island might just be the most plant-based friendly outpost in the Caribbean. Take Cuba’s Cookin’ vegan version of Ropa Vieja as just one example of how chefs are catering to those seeking gourmet vegan alternatives.

Aruba is also on top of blazing new trails with offerings like fusing art with food. Studio Murano Art is a prime example. This a one-of-a-kind concept– glass blowing exhibitions at an alfresco eatery in a rural neighborhood where visitors can also learn to make their own gorgeous glass art souvenirs? Incredible.

So, plan to expand your culinary horizons while on holiday here, there, there’s so much to discover!


“A new surprise awaits.”


Article written by Susan Campbell



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