No matter where we go, there is one question we are always asked: How was the food? Aruba restaurants are not cheap! Aruba is a desert island, and other than fresh seafood, most of the food has to be imported. There are also some real word class restaurants here, but that is not The Common Traveler’s way. We want to balance the fabulous with the great and affordable! Here are some of our experiences in Aruba restaurants and suggestions on where to eat in Aruba. All prices in this blog are in U.S. dollars unless indicated otherwise.
THE MARKET GRILL
The Market Grill isn’t really a restaurant – it is a small grill inside a store in the little mall next to the Alhambra Casino on Eagle Beach. Hands down our favorite place to eat – Jeff, the cook, even came to know our order! You can catch a glimpse of him at the beginning of this YouTube video by hellthyjunkfood.com. The chicken quesadilla was healthy, only $6, and out of this world delicious! The fries were crispy. Allan said his hamburger was perfectly cooked. And we were able to try a local treat, a pastechi ($2). This is close to an empanada and ours was filled with chicken and potatoes (at Jeff’s suggestion!). We ate lunch here almost every day, which helped with our food budget!
Less than a block away from the Manchebo Beach Resort was a popular pizza place. We went there one night to enjoy a lighter dinner than usual. We ordered some rather large beers and split a large pepperoni pizza. The pizza crust was thin and hard – like a flatbread – but the toppings were really good – something I didn’t expect at a little place like this. Considering that all around were fancy restaurants with fine dining, this was a welcome way to bring it back to normal. The seating is outdoor, so it must get hot during the day. They offer a happy hour from 5-7pm which features 2 for 1 drinks and they’ll upsize a medium pizza to a large.
Located at the Manchebo Beach Resort, this was the open air restaurant featuring the hotel’s nightly specials. We ate twice here, once on Aruba night and once on lobster night. At first thought this place was expensive, but once we saw what the meals cost at other restaurants, this was actually affordable. It is all about perspective! Our favorite item here was a roasted poblano soup ($8) that had just a bit of spice to it. This place is worth trying on Aruba night. Expect to pay about $35 for the special of the day meal. A four course chef’s meal is available for $60. For comparison purposes, an 8 oz filet mignon with chimichurri sauce was $30.
We only went once to this traditional steakhouse restaurant at our hotel. Unfortunately for us, we had terrible service – I think our waiter forgot about our table. While we were sat incredibly fast for a couple with no reservations, it all went downhill after that. No one took our drink orders for the longest time. We know this was not typical because we saw several tables both in other areas and even in our own waiter’s area, that were served before us and turned over. While the steak with chimichurri was delicious – the overall terrible experience just made us not appreciate this place too much. I tried a delicious Authentic Aruban Keshi Yena (baked stuff cheese with chicken and fried polenta) as an appetizer ($10). For comparison purposes, the 8 oz filet mignon was $30 and the 12 oz churrasco steak with chimichurri was $36.
This restaurant at our hotel served breakfast and lunch. A quesadilla here cost $13. So while more affordable than other places, it was still pricier than the Market Grill across the street with its $6 chicken quesadilla. One day I ate a fairly large Cobb Salad with Shrimp for $17. While the food was okay, and convenient, it wasn’t anything to write home about.
TOF (Twist of Flavors) was located in a little mall across the street from our hotel, across the way from the Market Grill. Their menu offered lots of different items. When we visited, a nightly special for $27 featured a three course menu, each course having three choices. Although we only went on our first night, this place was a good deal and the food was decent. For comparison purposes, the TOF Burger was $12, a 9 oz tenderloin was $26, and a 12 oz rib eye sold for $32. Those who had hamburgers said that the burgers were rather large, which explained the table of young men next to us! Consider adding this to your list of Aruba restaurants.
Because I like Belgian beers, I had seen this restaurant on the internet. Located on the bottom floor of the mall on Palm Beach – the high rise area, we saw it driving back from the California Lighthouse. This restaurant offers both wine and beer tastings, pairing food and wine and beer. You have to make advance reservations, so if this is of interest to you, book ahead. I tried the avocado bruschetta ($12.75), the Pasta Kluisbos with truffles ($19), while Allan had the vol-au-vent ($19.50). The menu features a large variety of choices. The servings were incredibly large and if you go here, be ready to have leftovers!
This Aruba restaurant is located in the Renaissance Aruba Marina Hotel. This is the lobby bar which offered a rather large menu. We enjoyed typical bar fare – wings, fries and fried shrimp. The food was served quickly and everything was made perfectly. There’s always a danger that fried shrimp will be dry but they were perfect! And we got a free dessert since it was Allan’s birthday! Priced at $15 for a dozen wings, a grilled chicken quesadilla for $12, the prices were more than accommodating. We sprang for a bottle of the house sparkling wine – Freixnet Blanc des Blancs – for $28, which I found very affordable.
In the town of St. Nicholas, this restaurant is located at the top of a hill on the way to Baby Beach. I had seen several reviews of this place on TripAdvisor and it came highly recommended. We were served quickly and with a smile – but you better like curries! What I really enjoyed was this was the only place where we didn’t have to kid around about the heat of the dishes – hot means hot! Enjoy! Both Allan and I had curried Roti – mine shrimp and his goat for AWG $26.
SEA SALT GRILL, Renaissance Marketplace
This restaurant was just a quick walk from the Renaissance Marina Hotel. We weren’t sure what to expect since we were eating at off hours so it was hard to gauge based on how many diners were present. The food tasted fresh and we were served with a smile. For an appetizer, we tried the local funchi, toasted polenta bread covered with some cheese. For lunch I ordered a grilled shrimp plate which came with rice. The food was good and items were between $10 and $20.
If you like fancy food, there is plenty of that available in Aruba. Of course, there are also the usual places like Wendy’s, KFC and Pizza Hut. I’m just not a fan of going to chain restaurants I can find around the corner from my house. Budget accordingly and enjoy a break from the ordinary.
Interested in more information about Aruba? Check out our other blogs on traveling to Aruba, the beautiful beaches, staying at the Manchebo Beach Resort and the Renaissance Aruba Hotel and what to do.
Annick, The Common Traveler