“Bolo preto” (traditional fruitcake) at a wedding, baptism or holy communion. “Suls” (seared pickled pork cuts with Madame Jeanette peppers and onion slices) for a Christmas snack. “Pan cu carco stoba” (stew conch sandwich) while playing dominoes and drinking ice cold beer at the beach. “Conserbe di pinda” (home-made peanut candy) for the sweet tooths. Arubans love the good life and food plays an important role on this island, as visitors may have noticed. There are restaurants, cafes, bistros, snack and sushi bars, fast food chains and local food trucks everywhere. But for the best fine dining experiences in Aruba, there’s no need to get disappointed by trying your luck. Avoid the tourist traps and consult the continuously updated list of top ten restaurants reviewed by a 10Best Local Expert. Aruba is growing and becoming a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide selection of excellent dining options ranging from high-end gourmet to local fare. Looking for an exquisite dinner on the beach? Visit Barefoot restaurant and capture the sunset. A local hotspot with foodie appeal? Papiamento won’t disappoint. Gastronomic delicacies, local pinnacles or a combination of both? Try The Kitchen Table by White and be amazed. Indulge your culinary passion by exploring the island’s culture and diversity through food. Live the good life and Bon Apetit. (Enjoy your dinner)

La Trattoria El Faro Blanco

Photo courtesy of Liliana Erasmus

This picturesque restaurant was built in 1914 as the home for the California Lighthouse-keeper and apart from the panoramic views of the island, La Trattoria El Faro Blanco’s menu features many Italian favorites with a special emphasis on Neapolitan cuisine and seafood. The Linguine Allo Scogliera is served mounded with shrimp, octopus, scallops, clams and tomatoes, and the Zuppa Di Pesce Del Faro is one of the best seafood soups on the island. There’s dinner, lunch, but also breakfast and a special mini-pizza menu for early birds diners. If you can’t make up your mind yet, take a cocktail and enjoy the sun and the scenery, the full bar service starts at 9:00 am.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: La Trattoria El Faro Blanco is not only part of one of the most popular local landmarks, they also have an impressive menu to share.

Liliana’s expert tip: La Trattoria El Faro Blanco conveniently offers disposable cameras, film rolls, bottled water and unique lighthouse souvenirs.

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Ike's Bistro

Photo courtesy of Albert Braamskamp

Located at the Manchebo Beach Resort, there’s the popular Ike’s Bistro. This creative culinary team guided by executive chef Sandro Herrold and senior chef Ecleciaste (Junior) Civil, draws inspiration from both, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean region. Cozy up at the poolside. Catch the evening sunset while sipping on a fresh fruit Martini. Discover skillfully prepared fusion dishes like grilled black tiger shrimps and herb-crusted scallops with Mediterranean herbs and spinach couscous; Caribbean red snapper with Arborio basil risotto, herb-mango salsa and avocado puree. Or, if you’re in an adventurous mood, go on a delectable tasting tour by ordering the Chef’s four-course dégustation 60 menu with wine pairing.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Ike’s Bistro brings an exciting new twist to the Caribbean cuisine in Aruba, which also includes many vegan and vegetarian options.

Liliana’s expert tip: Ike’s Bistro offers an extensive vegan and vegetarian menu.

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Photo courtesy of Liliana Erasmus

Papiamento is the native language of Aruba, and an authentic, Aruban villa built in 1886. Transformed into one of the island’s most cherished restaurants and run by the dedicated, local family Ellis, this historical cunucu house, filled with Dutch antiques and hand-carved furniture, is ideal for romantic dinners. For extra sparkle, ask to sit outside by the pool, surrounded by a vibrant tropical garden, fairy lights, candles and the stars above. Caribbean seafood dishes are without compare, especially the fabulous clay pot seafood medley. Try something “on the stone”; steak, lobster or fish served on a super-heated stone for guests to finish cooking at the table. For a typical local delicacy, taste the Keeshi Yena, a “family recipe” consisting of minced tenderloin and chunks of chicken stewed with fresh herbs and spices in a baked Gouda cheese crust. There are plenty of additional and traditional options to say: Bon Apetit!

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Papiamento has earned its icon status by being one of the oldest family-run restaurants in Aruba with a consistent quality of fabulous food and friendly service.

Liliana’s expert tip: Papiamento’s Cas di Biña (Wine Bodega) houses more than 140 excellent wines from around the world and is open to visitors at all times.

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Chalet Suisse Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Albert Braamskamp

This traditional Swiss restaurant has been winning raves for years thanks to the welcoming hospitality of the staff and the hearty, delicious food. Thick plaster walls with knotty-pine panels and modern air-conditioning will enhance the illusion that you are dining in an Alpine chalet. For starters try the lobster bisque or Dutch pea soup. Favorite entrees include the silky beef stroganoff, veal cordon bleu, and Chateaubriand for two. Dutch fried potatoes and grilled vegetables are common side dishes. For dessert, visitors and locals alike have tons of suggestions: the Toblerone chocolate fondue, the Chocolate Marquise, the Viennese Apple Strudel… all delicious and homemade, including the ice and whipped creams.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Chalet Suisse deserves a prize for the unwavering quality of its food and service since 1988.

Liliana’s expert tip: Meat lovers with big appetites should definitely try the U.S. Black Angus Rib Steak or the Whole Roast Rack of Lamb.

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Madame Janette

Photo courtesy of Madame Janette Restaurant

Part of the experience of Madame Janette is finding the place! Located out in the cunucu (or countryside) this award winning eatery seats guests under the stars of the beautiful Caribbean. Run by Ramon Helgers and Karsten Gesing, the restaurant is named for the hot Scotch bonnet pepper which, in this part of the world, is called the Madame Jeanette after a famous South American courtesan. Try the Madame’s homemade raviolis appetizer or one of the delicious main courses which include the Old Butcher lamb rack, the almond grouper, or the Butcher steak best cut and grilled to perfection with oxtail glace on top. Finish off the cravings with killing desserts like Madame’s Diet Crushers Stroop Waffles or the Dying Dutchmen Fried Ice Cream sandwich. Good luck!

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Madame Janette has been delighting guests with its consistent quality and culinary imagination since 1999.

Liliana’s expert tip: Check out Madame Janette’s specialized beer selection; it’s one of the largest in the Caribbean.

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Yemanja Woodfired Grill

Photo courtesy of Yemanja Woodfired Grill

Nestled between historical and modernized monuments like Aruba’s oldest church, the 100-year-old Cosecha building and the House of Parliament, Yemanja creates a warm and welcoming veranda for her downtown guests. The inviting aromas of Yemanja’s wood-fired grills attract and satiate all kinds of palates, uncovering succulent dishes like the Caribbean Grilled Swordfish Kebab and the perfectly prepared Picanha accompanied with rich homemade sauces and Chimichurri. Vegans and vegetarians will have a hard time deciding how to Power Bowl their main course salad with Yemanja’s wealth of savory additions, including gluten, nut and dairy free options. Every single dish – no matter how you decide to combine your favorite food – is made with fresh, flavorful ingredients and so much love and dedication… it shows and will satisfy even the pickiest eater.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Yemanja Woodfired Grill is a cozy little corner with true culinary appeal and a lot of heart and soul in every single plate.

Liliana’s expert tip: Even if you’re not that health food conscious, try the organic wines and cocktails, they taste (and feel!) so good, maybe even better than the commercial ones. Have a tasting!

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Photo courtesy of Elements Restaurant Aruba

Elements at Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts is one of those restaurants that resemble the quiet but surprisingly bright and delightful kid in class. F&B Director and Executive Chef Marc Giesbers knows what Aruba’s in need of and is doing an amazing job at Elements – not only winning a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence but also serving vegan, vegetarian menus and gluten free dinner options. No matter guests’ preferences, at Elements all the important “elements” are combined for an exquisite and guilt-free dinner experience. Sustainable seafood, ethically and naturally produced meats, homegrown herbs, locally sourced fresh produce, certified organic foods. If these descriptions ring a bell, pay attention. If dishes like local red snapper fillet with a stew of homegrown organic small cucumbers (concomber chiquito) or the famous Lionfish Ceviche, which is permanently listed on the menu, stir your appetite. Prepare to make reservations.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Elements Restaurant caters for a wide variety of guests offering delicious, well-balanced menu options and the most romantic beach setting.

Liliana’s expert tip: Elements is the only restaurant in Aruba where Lionfish Ceviche is permanently on the menu, as part of their sustainability program to remove this invasive species from the island’s coral reefs and support a healthy marine environment.

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Quinta Del Carmen

Photo courtesy of Ebby Schwengle

Before its current position as a fine dining restaurant, the property served as a physician’s practice, a hospital, a clubhouse and a family home. Relive the old lavish days surrounded by revamped Dutch colonial decor and antiques. Or, step down into the welcoming courtyard to enjoy a laid back evening under the stars. At Quinta Del Carmen there is a room, a corner, a special spot for every guest; indoors, outdoors or anywhere in between. Start with a Quinta Royal Champagne garnished with fresh strawberry while flipping through the appetizing menu. Don’t forget to review the Specials, which include a couple of creatively prepared (and very flavorful) dishes such as Ceviche and Dutch Herring.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Quinta Del Carmen embraces local and international flavors, old charm and modern practicality, indoor and outdoor dining, past and present.

Liliana’s expert tip: Reserve a special suite inside the villa or a cozy corner in their expansive courtyard.

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Screaming Eagle Restaurant-Lounge

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Theysen

The Screaming Eagle is an excellent mix between restaurant, lounge and bar, which allows people who want to mingle as well as couples who only have eyes for each other to have it all – an exquisite meal, a good time and an impressive decor. The diverse menu includes a wide selection of exciting signature meals, a creative take on the classics and the finest wines to pair. Unable to make up your mind? Let accomplished Chef Erwin Hüsken tempt your taste buds with a tour of his kitchen artistry – from the first sip of Lobster Bisque to perfect Beef Wellington with black bean sauce until the last scrumptious bite of French Lemon Pie. Whether it’s indoor cocktails at the bar, alfresco dining on the terrace with stunning views of Eagle Beach or a romantic aperitif behind the chiffon curtains, at Screaming Eagle anyone can sit back and unwind.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Screaming Eagle Restaurant-Lounge offers unique dinner opportunities like the ‘Dinner-in-Bed’ experience and a plethora of exquisite menu options.

Liliana’s expert tip: Screaming Eagle is open daily and offers different Seasonal Specials every week, like Taco Tuesdays and Wine Mondays. Check out their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ScreamingEagleRestaurant

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The Kitchen Table By White

Photo courtesy of Albert Braamskamp

Aruba visitors who are familiar with White Modern Cuisine and Chef Urvin’s exquisite creations, will be thrilled by the news of his latest endeavor: The Kitchen Table By White at the Blue Residences.
The menu changes every month, but there are a couple of recurring favorites like the “Tuna Marin” salt cured tuna served with Aruban Spinach, healing Moringa leaves, pickled cucumber and other fresh, locally grown greens and herbs in a reinvented Creole sauce. And also, the “Jerked Cobia” (Black Salmon) surrounded by curry popcorn, pickled squash, Mango chutney and lemongrass saffron sauce swirls.
Reserve your seats for a welcoming evening: an introduction to Aruba’s most tantalizing flavors, colors and textures, all perfectly concocted and sculptured to delight the senses.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The Kitchen Table By White is a one-of-a-kind, very authentic culinary approach in Aruba, visitors should get acquainted with.

Liliana’s expert tip: Don’t be late! There’s a specialty cocktail and meet&greet before the Pre Fixe Seven Course dinner starts.

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