When we first decided to choose Aruba as our next mother-daughter trip destination, we knew to expect gorgeous beaches, rugged desert landscapes, and a colorful capital city frequented by cruise ships. We didn’t realize, however, that Aruba’s best restaurants were waiting for us, and that we’d have great eats every single day!
Thanks to its location in the southern Caribbean, its status as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and its thriving population of immigrants and ex-patriates from all over the world, it’s no surprise that Aruban cuisine is a true melting pot. Whether you’re looking for fresh seafood, tacos, burgers, fried plantains, pasta, fast food, traditional stews, upscale French cuisine, a Brazilian steakhouse, beans and rice, pad thai, or an Indian curry, Aruba has you covered.
With so many great places to eat in Aruba, it can be hard to decide which to choose for each of your precious few meals on the island! We were there for a week, and even though we ate somewhere different for each dinner and most lunches, we still left feeling like we’d missed out on some awesome Aruba restaurants.
To help you plan your culinary adventure, I’ve compiled a list of twenty-five of Aruba’s best restaurants. Every establishment listed below was either visited and enjoyed by us or highly recommended by multiple cab drivers and other locals during our time on the island. I hope the list helps you (and your stomach) to plan a delicious trip to this “One Happy Island”!
25 of Aruba's Best Restaurants
With a nautical theme and eponymous flotsam covering the walls, Driftwood is everything you would want from a cozy seafood spot. Their website promises “the best fresh fish restaurant in Aruba,” and they deliver: their catch of the day comes in off their own fishing boats that morning. We had the catch of the day – a mahi mahi, though tuna was also available – pan-fried with a creole sauce, rice, and vegetables. It was so delicious that I was halfway through the fish before I remembered to take a photo for this post.
Klipstraat 12, Oranjestad. Open Monday through Saturday from 5:00 – 9:30 PM.
The Old Cunucu House
When we asked taxi drivers where we should go to get an authentic Aruban meal, almost everyone pointed us to The Old Cunucu House. Located in a 150-year-old country house (or cunucu), this neighborhood mainstay specializes in local dishes that include goat stew, iguana soup (delicious, but lots of little bones!), fresh seafood, and more. They also specialize in keshi yena, Aruba’s national dish that features shredded chicken mixed with onions, peppers, celery, green olives, raisins, and cashews and topped with Gouda cheese.
The setting was charming, the service was great, and we loved feeling like we were tasting the real Aruba.
HX96+G5H, Palm Beach 150, Noord (east of Palm Beach). Open daily from 11:30 AM – 10:30 PM.
If the thought of fresh-off-the-boat, simple, unpretentious seafood fried up and served dockside excites you, then you absolutely have to make it to Zeerovers. Located fifteen minutes south of Oranjestad in the coastal town (and former Aruban capital) of Savaneta, the outside of this iconic establishment isn’t much to look at. In fact, at first you might second guess that you’re at a restaurant at all. But step inside and you’ll find an ever-present line at the ordering window, an open kitchen where caught-that-morning fish and shrimp are bubbling away, and beautiful sea views from the open-air dining area.
You start your Zeerovers experience by ordering at the window from a simple menu consisting of the catch (fish) of the day, shrimp, and a few sides. You can order by piece or by weight; for example, I had a red snapper and three big shrimp, whereas my mom simply ordered a half pound of shrimp for herself. Your specific seafood order is then taken right from a cooler and put into a basket, shuttled to the kitchen, and served freshly flash-fried (not breaded) and seasoned at your table along with your chosen sides. In the meantime, you can grab drinks at a second service window.
And it’s all just as delicious as you can imagine. My snapper was outstanding and perfectly paired with some fried plantains, fresh tartar sauce, pickled red onions, and a cold, refreshing Balashi beer.
If the thought of peeling whole shrimp or picking the meat off a fish carcass makes you squeamish, you can always order peeled shrimp and fish pieces.
Savaneta 207A, Savaneta. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM. Closed Mondays. It’s highly recommended to go at lunchtime on a weekday, as dinnertime and weekend crowds can be formidable.
Passions on the Beach
There are few things more romantic in the tropics than enjoying a fabulous dinner under the stars with the sound of ocean waves serenading you throughout the meal. Passions on the Beach offers just that: toes-in-the-sand dining illuminated by a stunning Aruban sunset or flickering torchlight. The fish soup is excellent, and if they have unicorn fish in a white garlic sauce on the menu you’d better snatch it before it’s gone.
Evening reservations are highly recommended, especially for the sunset hours.
While it’s most well-known for toes-in-the-sand dining at night, Passions also has a beach bar and deck that is open for breakfast and lunch. Because it was immediately between our hotel and the beach, we ended up eating lunch there three times. (Come to think of it, it was the only restaurant in Aruba where we were return customers.) The fish tacos were particularly delicious, and there are definitely worse places to enjoy a rum punch.
J.E. Irausquin Blvd 252, Noord (across from Amsterdam Manor Hotel Resort on Eagle Beach). Open daily from 7:30 AM – 11:00 PM, with dinner in the sand starting at 5:30 PM.
After a few days of (excellent) fish dishes, we were ready for something different. I’m so glad my mom had a hankering for Italian, because it led us to the fantastic Lucca Trattoria. This rustic Italian eatery has excellent homemade pastas, Neapolitan pizzas, fresh salads, and hand-crafted cocktails… and that’s only part of the menu. I’m still dreaming about the spaghetti alfredo e prosciutto, and the panna cotta with berries was sublime.
J.E. Irausquin Blvd 374, Noord (near Palm Beach). Open Monday to Saturday from 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM and Sunday from 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM.
The word “lounge” may conjure up images of a dark indoor space, but at Horizons Lounge that couldn’t be farther from the truth! Located on a rooftop at Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort with views out over Eagle Beach and the famous fofoti tree, Horizons is the perfect spot for a sunset cocktail and/or a tasty bite to eat. There’s live steel drum music on Wednesdays and Sundays.
J.E. Irausquin Blvd 252, Noord (on the grounds of Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort in Eagle Beach). Open daily from 4:00 – 11:00 PM, with happy hours from 5:30 – 6:30 and 9:00 – 10:00.
The Dutch Pancake House
Aruba’s Dutch influence is on full display at this famous eatery that specializes – unsurprisingly – in the crepe-like pancakes that are so popular in the Netherlands. There are both sweet and savory options, with hearty dinner pancakes on offer as well. Plus, all pancakes can be prepared vegan or gluten-free, so there’s something for everyone! Don’t forget to order a side of poffertjes: tiny pancakes dusted with powdered sugar.
Not a pancake fan? Try one of their tasty schnitzels!
LG Smith Boulevard 9 (Renaissance Marketplace), Oranjestad. Open daily from 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM.
Located on a side street near the oil refinery in downtown San Nicolas, Charlie’s Bar is a neighborhood institution. It’s over eighty years old, a fact you won’t have trouble believing as you peer inside at the decades’ worth of bric-a-brac covering almost every square inch of the ceiling and walls. Sip a cold Balashi draft as you examine the endless supply of antiques, left-behind possessions, and junk all around you, or indulge in some of their tasty food while sitting under street signs and pennants from all around the world. Don’t forget to sign a dollar bill (or a piece of your own currency) and adhere it to the bee’s nest-looking mess above a corner of the bar to prove you’ve been there.
Bernard van de Veen Zeppenfeldstraat 56, San Nicolas. Open daily from 11:30 AM – 6:00 PM, with private dining and events available from 6:00 – 9:00 PM.
You simply can’t leave Aruba without trying a pastechi, and the unassuming Pastechi House in downtown Oranjestad is one of the best places to do so. Similar to an empanada, a pastechi is a crescent-shaped pastry stuffed with fillings that range all the way from cheese and meats to spanakopita and chop suey. They’re tasty and addictive and make an excellent and inexpensive breakfast, lunch, or quick snack.
Pastechi House uses a family recipe, and once you’ve tried one of their addictive snacks, I’m sure it won’t be your last.
Caya G. F. Betico Croes #42, Oranjestad. Open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Closed on Sundays.
Monforte Dinner Cruise
Ok, so hear me out. I know this isn’t a restaurant per se, but our experience taking a sunset dinner cruise on the Monforte III was simply outstanding and deserving of a place on a list of Aruba’s best restaurants. From the friendliness and attentiveness of the crew, to the romance of the wooden schooner, to the gorgeous sunset that set the water on fire and illuminated Aruba’s rocky coastline, the entire experience was top notch.
We booked our dinner cruise thinking it would be a fun evening, but I’ll admit that I had low expectations when it came to the food side of things. I was excited about a four-course surf-and-turf dinner (who wouldn’t be?), but how good could food cooked on a small wooden schooner actually be?
The answer was “awesome.” We started with an Aruban ceviche, followed by a fresh and delicious shrimp and greens salad with a tasty, tangy dressing. Then came a filet perfectly grilled by chef Jeremy on the back of the boat, served with potatoes, asparagus, and a lobster salad. (Stop reading if you’re drooling.) Finally, we enjoyed a coconut flan with a home-baked, crispy cookie. Along the way, we were also treated to live music and an open bar.
The Monforte dinner cruise is definitely a splurge, but when you compare the ticket price with the combined cost of a sunset cruise plus the same food and drinks in a restaurant, I doubt you’d find much of a difference. I highly recommend it for special occasions, your final night in Aruba, or just treating yourself!
Available Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, departing at 5:00 PM from Pelican Pier in Palm Beach.
Azia Restaurant & Lounge
If you’re craving something different after a few days of delicious Caribbean dishes, Azia in Palm Beach is a solid choice. Featuring pan-Asian cuisine and Aruba’s longest bar, Azia offers outdoor dining under string lights as well as a sophisticated indoor space. We weren’t wowed by the edamame or the spring rolls, but the bao buns were excellent, the beef stir fry had a ton of great flavor, and our Azia sushi roll was super fresh and light.
On the Piazza, J.E. Irausquin Blvd 348, Palm Beach. Open Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 PM – 12:00 AM and Friday and Saturday from 5:00 PM – 1:00 AM.
More of Aruba's Best Restaurants
Unfortunately, we didn’t have nearly enough mealtimes to try all the great restaurants Aruba has to offer! Here are some other establishments that were most recommended by taxi drivers and other locals, but that we sadly missed:
- O’Niel Caribbean Kitchen, San Nicolas
- Kamini’s Kitchen, San Nicolas
- Flying Fishbone, Savaneta
- Opus Ocean and Grill, Oranjestad (one cabbie raved about how much the family that owns this place did for the community during the pandemic)
- Wilhelmina Restaurant, Oranjestad
- Barefoot, Oranjestad (as well as their sister restaurant Quinta del Carmen, which is east of Eagle Beach)
- Yemanja Woodfire Grill, Oranjestad
- Red Fish, east of Eagle Beach (sister restaurant to Driftwood, above)
- Jack’s Cafe Aruba, inside SuperFood Plaza near Eagle Beach (tasty and super inexpensive, relatively speaking!)
- Papiamento, just outside of Palm Beach
- Pika’s Corner Aruban Cuisine, Palm Beach
Additionally, foodie friends of ours took part in the tasting menus at the following high-end places and had great experiences. Reservations are essential.
- 2 Fools and a Bull, Palm Beach
- Infini, between Palm Beach and Eagle Beach
A Final Note...
Especially in the resort areas, eating out can be pretty expensive in Aruba. There are lots of ways to save money on food while you’re traveling, but one of the best is to utilize local grocery stores and markets to self-cater a few meals. We made a trip to SuperFood on our first day in Aruba and grabbed enough goodies to have breakfasts, snacks, and even a light lunch or two during our stay. (And yes, you know we made sure to take advantage of all the fabulous Dutch cheeses!) Doing so probably saved the three of us at least $30-$50 per day, giving us more room in the budget for nicer dinners at some of Aruba’s best restaurants, as well as all the great activities that the island has to offer!
If you find yourself spending extended time in Aruba, I encourage you to hit up the nearest supermarket to stock up on some less expensive food items. Not only will your wallet thank you, but you’ll get to take in even more local and authentic flavors!
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I’m getting hungry reading this!
I hear you! The best and worst part of travel is eating so much great food… and then being so far away from it once you go home!