The best local restaurants in Aruba are well worth exploring for the true taste of Aruban culture. Even though visitors have an excellent choice of international restaurants with the island’s blend of Latin American, Dutch, Spanish, African, and Indonesian cultural influences, it’s well worth exploring the local food scene.

    Try local favourites like pastechi (Aruba-style empanada), pan bati (traditional flatbread) and keshi yena (cheese casserole), or freshly caught red snapper served with funchi (polenta), rice, and fried plantain. Most restaurants in Aruba are in the Palm Beach area and downtown Oranjestad, though it’s worth travelling beyond these well-trodden parts of the island if you’re on the hunt for more authentic Aruban fare at better prices.

    1

    Zeerover

    Catch of the day served right at the pier

    Zeerover is a seafood restaurant set on a fishing pier in the town of Savaneta. It’s a prime spot for enjoying some tasty fried fish and watching all the fishermen’s activity as they haul in their catch at the pier.

    There’s a casual, sea-breezy vibe here, with a handful of tables set along the pier under a wooden roof and a counter where you order fish by the pound. The menu changes daily depending on what’s been brought in by the fishing boats that day – it could be wahoo, snapper or barracuda, served with local side dishes like funchi (polenta), plantain or pan bati (flatbread).

    Emplacement : Savaneta 270, Savaneta, Aruba

    Heures d’ouverture : Wednesday–Sunday from 11 am to 9 pm

    Téléphone : +297 584 8401

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    photo de Christina Leigh Morgan (CC BY 2.0) modifiée

    2

    The Old Cunucu House

    Authentic Aruban dishes in a restored farmhouse

    The Old Cunucu House has been a go-to place to try traditional Aruban cuisine for well over 2 decades. Set in a 150-year-old farmhouse, the restaurant serves local favourites like Aruban goat stew, keeshi yena (cheese casserole) and pastechi (a cheese-stuffed pastry). There’s also plenty of seafood to try here, including Caribbean lobster tail, stewed conch, and coconut fried shrimp.

    The Old Cunucu House is found in a quiet residential area, with both indoor and outdoor dining available. There’s often live music to enjoy along with your meal, too.

    Emplacement : Palm Beach 150, Noord, Aruba

    Heures d’ouverture : Daily from noon to 11 pm

    Téléphone : +297 586-1666

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    3

    Pika’s Corner Aruban Cuisine

    Aruban local favourites in a budget-friendly price

    Pika’s Corner is a restaurant and bar found in the resort area of Palm Beach, yet despite its touristy location, the tastes are truly local. You can dine in or take away, with the likes of carni stoba (beef stew) and calco stoba (conch stew) among the favourite dishes. Pika’s chicken, beef, shrimp and pork skewers are also popular, served on spears placed vertically on a wooden platter, looking like little meat towers.

    Pika’s Corner is found next to Wacky Wahoo’s seafood restaurant, about a 10-minute walk inland from the sands of Palm Beach.

    Emplacement : Route 3 Palm Beach, Noord, Aruba

    Heures d’ouverture : Monday–Saturday from 7.30 am to 10 pm

    Téléphone : +297 586-1889

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    4

    Gasparito Restaurant

    Aruban cuisine and art in a centuries-old home

    Gasparito Restaurant celebrates all things Aruban with its traditional dishes and gallery featuring the works of local artists. Found in Noord, a few minutes from the highrise hotels in Palm Beach, Gasparito offers diners an intimate setting in a 200-year-old country house – many have said that dining here feels more like visiting a family home than a restaurant.

    Those in search of some Aruban and Caribbean flavours can try the restaurant’s Alicia’s Fish Soup with Creole flavours, keshi yena (cheese casserole) with seafood or chicken, or goat stew. Gasparito is open only for dinner with just 20 seatings per night, so reservations are recommended.

    Emplacement : Gasparito 3, Noord, Aruba

    Heures d’ouverture : Monday–Saturday from 6 pm to 9 pm

    Téléphone : +297 594-2550

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    5

    Huchada Aruba

    A go-to spot for savoury snacks and desserts

    Huchada Aruba is a bakery and café found in the town of Santa Cruz, on Aruba’s west coast. Being located away from the tourist areas, Huchada offers a more local vibe and it’s a popular place to enjoy some tasty pastechi, a classic Aruban stuffed pastry. The menu has a range of pastechi choices including cheese, ham, galiña (chicken) and carni (beef). You can also find croquettes, quiche, cakes, and pancakes prepared with local flair.

    Huchada’s a good place to pick up some hearty snacks before heading out to explore the nearby sights of Mount Hooiberg and Arikok National Wildlife Park.

    Emplacement : 4 328, Santa Cruz, Aruba

    Heures d’ouverture : Monday–Friday from 6 am to 8 pm, Saturday from 6 am to 7 pm, Sunday from 7 am to 2 pm

    Téléphone : +297 585-8302

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    6

    Coco Plum Restaurant

    A simple thatch-hut eatery in the centre of town

    Coco Plum is a tropical-style restaurant in downtown Oranjestad serving a range of Aruban dishes. The thatch-roof dining area – which they call their “coconut cabana” – might be small but the portions served within are generous. You could order a fish platter with whole red snapper or salmon, or try some local dishes like galiña stoba (chicken stew), pan bati (Aruban-style cornbread), and Aruban cashew cake.

    Coco Plum is set on the main strip of Oranjestad, making it a convenient place to stop for a meal or a fresh batido (fruit smoothie) between shopping sessions.

    Emplacement : Caya G. F. Betico Croes 100, Oranjestad, Aruba

    Heures d’ouverture : Monday–Thursday from 10 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 10 pm

    Téléphone : +297 583-1176

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    7

    Saco di Felipe

    Snack packs to go in San Nicolas

    Saco di Felipe has been a popular family-run place for tasty takeaway snacks since it first opened in 1946. Located in the small city of San Nicolas, about 20 km southeast of Oranjestad, Saco di Felipe serves up a modest range of meat-heavy offerings including chicken wings, pork chops, and ribs as well as Johnnycake (cornmeal flatbread) and plantain.

    Meals are served in brown paper bags called “snack packs”. They're just the thing to help fuel a night out on the town. There are a few small tables out front if you need to sit down and tuck into your snack pack right away.

    Emplacement : St Maarten Straat, San Nicolas, Aruba

    Heures d’ouverture : Sunday–Thursday from 5.30 am to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday from 5.30 am to midnight

    Téléphone : +297 584-5723

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    8

    The Pastechi House

    A top Aruban spot for stuffed pastry snacks

    The Pastechi House is a charming little snack shop in Oranjestad’s Main Street area. As its name suggests, the Aruban stuffed pastry called pastechi is the main offering here. There’s a long list of pastechi stuffings to choose from, including gouda cheese, tuna, lobster, keri-keri (shark), shrimp and conch. They also serve croquettes, spring rolls, crab cakes and smoothies.

    These hand-held pastechi snacks are great to enjoy while wandering the colourful streets of downtown Oranjestad. Most visitors to Pastechi House order takeaway snacks from the counter, but there are a few tables here for those who’d rather dine in.

    Emplacement : Caya G. F. Betico Croes #42, Oranjestad, Aruba

    Heures d’ouverture : Monday–Saturday from 7 am to 7 pm

    Téléphone : +297 582-4242

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    9

    Aruba Experience Café

    Breakfast and lunch served in a stylish heritage home

    Aruba Experience Café is found in a beautifully restored “cunucu” farmhouse in the Rancho neighbourhood of Oranjestad. The café’s bright yellow walls, murals and rich blue design touches give it a cheerful air, not to mention an appealing retro-chic backdrop for those Instagram photos.

    Aruba Experience Café features healthy and vegan choices and a good range of breakfast and lunch meals like panini sandwiches, smoothie bowls, croissants, and wraps. Dishes with a more local flair include cachapas (Venezuelan corn pancakes) and arepas (stuffed cornbread). The café’s house brew, Hunt Brothers Coffee, also has local roots, having been founded by 2 Arubans who now run their coffee roastery in Germany.

    Emplacement : John G. Emanstraat 37, Oranjestad, Aruba

    Heures d’ouverture : Monday–Friday from 8 am to 3 pm, Saturday from 8.30 am to 3 pm

    Téléphone : +297 588-7878

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    10

    Red Fish Aruba

    Seafood restaurant founded by a local fisherman

    Red Fish restaurant is a casual eatery serving Aruban red snapper – which inspired the restaurant’s name – and a range of seafood and local dishes. Red Fish started with only deep-fried fish and shrimp on the menu, but it’s since expanded to serve such favourites as conch in Creole sauce, pan-fried lobster, sopi di jambo (okra soup), and keshi yena (cheese-covered chicken stew).

    Red Fish was founded by a local fisherman-turned-restaurateur who also owns the popular Driftwood Restaurant. It’s found at the Orange Plaza shopping centre in Oranjestad, with seating available in its open-air interior or outdoor terrace.

    Emplacement : Italiestraat 50, Oranjestad, Aruba

    Heures d’ouverture : Tuesday–Sunday from 11.30 am to 10 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Téléphone : +297 280-6666

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    Lana Willocks | Auteur collaborateur

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