All You Can Eat buffets and combo meals of wildly popular fast food chains are not the only alternatives for saving money while getting the most value out of your meals. Aruba’s budget-friendly offerings include cozy a la carte restaurants, casual oceanfront eateries, modern cafes, pancake houses… Much more than one single 10Best list is able to showcase.

Focusing on the whole package deal instead of the menu prices only, creates a more diverse selection of smart eating out options. For vacationers who would love to taste as much of the island’s culture as possible, great local eateries like Zeerover serve fresh-caught seafood with authentic Aruban side dishes, everyone can afford.

Because Aruba is part of the Kingdom Of The Netherlands, its Dutch roots are not only visible, audible and tangible throughout the island. This land of tulips and cheese offers an array of delicacies to engage all the senses. At Diana’s Pancake Place, situated right next to an old and authentic windmill, guests can enjoy a real Dutch breakfast or lunch surrounded by cows, clogs and canals (painted ones, but nevertheless).

All time favorites such as The West Deck are always worth a look. Especially at sunset, while sampling a couple of refreshing cocktails, succulent chicken wings, a surprisingly varied menu and live music by local artists.
For lunch or dinner, an old faithful that never disappoints is local Chinese restaurant Kowloon. Keep all your cravings satiated with these money-saving suggestions.

G & G Pizza Company

There is absolutely no shortage of pizza places in Aruba. From international chains to local eateries, from deep dish to thin crust, and whether the pizza gets delivered, picked up or eaten in. To figure out which one takes the cake, is nearly an impossibility. But, die-hard pizza fans who are willing to take up this challenge should add G & G Pizza Company to fuel their mission. Combine a scenic trip to San Nicolas with a lunch or dinner stop in Savaneta and sample Chef Gabriel’s delicious handcrafted pizzas. And his famous chicken wings for a mere pittance of 1 Aruban Florin ($0.55) on Chicken Wing Nights. No particular mission needed to visit G & G Pizza Company, only a good appetite.

Recommended for Best Value because: G & G Pizza Company’s mouthwatering pizzas and wings are budget friendly and definitely worth the drive to Savaneta.

Liliana’s expert tip: Visit G&G’s Facebook page for daily specials or call for more information: 5920250.

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Jack's Cafe

Photo courtesy of Jack’s Cafe Aruba

For some, this little Dutch cafe tucked into the storefront of Superfood Plaza, has become a daily coffee stop, a regular meeting point or a favorite lunch break spot. The bright orange design chairs, clean background and sleek decor are not the only draws here. Jack’s Cafe has its share of culinary advantages with the best Dutch bakery in Aruba plus all the freshest quality ingredients within arm’s reach. Flaky, buttery croissants and Espresso Gourmet Coffee to start the day, a bowl of split pea soup with smoked sausage to refuel for the afternoon, healthy salads, deep fried croquettes, sweet treats, all deliciously affordable. Just grab and go or pull up a chair at this fast and fabulous corner.

Recommended for Best Value because: Jack’s Cafe is ideal for a quick and tasty breakfast, lunch or dinner, before or after some grocery shopping at Superfood Plaza.

Liliana’s expert tip: Jack’s Cafe’s Weekly Lunch Menu offers half and full portions of daily lunch specials from 12pm till 3pm.

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Red Fish

The name Red Fish is inspired by Aruba’s world famous Pisca Cora (Red Snapper) – a favorite catch of the day on the island. Good thing is, snappers are not the only bites available at this fairly new eatery in the recently opened Orange Plaza. Red and white checkered paper with stacks of fried shrimps or fish, plantain, ‘funchi’, fries and dip sauces make simple yet delicious finger food. For lunch or dinner, Conch in Creole Sauce can be ordered, Pan-fried Lobster or Balchi Pisca (Fish Balls or Cakes) with white rice, cole slaw and pickled onion or tartar sauce.

Recommended for Best Value because: Red Fish serves fresh local fish and seafood at friendly island prices.

Liliana’s expert tip: Ask for the daily specials and just eat fresh off the boat catches without the dress up fuss.

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Diana's Pancakes Place

Photo courtesy of Diana’s Pancakes House

What could be more Dutch than an authentic windmill from Holland? The answer: a Dutch pancake house right next to it, owned by a lovely Dutch lady called Diana. Her pancakes are the real deal; thinner than American pancakes, a little thicker than the French crêpes, but as big as your dinner plate and very ‘lekker’ (tasty). Pancakes are stacked on top of each other with butter melting and a dark syrup called ‘stroop’ (pronounced stroap) dripping down the sides. For one-pancake-at-a-time, customers can opt for sweet choices like fresh fruits and powdered sugar, or soft and sinful chocolate. Hearty combinations include Dutch cheese with ham or bacon, the Norwegian pancake with seafood or a veggies-only topping. Smiling pancakes and happy bellies at Diana’s Pancakes Place.

Recommended for Best Value because: Diana’s Pancakes Place treats customers with fresh, delicious pancakes and sandwiches at a very reasonable price.

Liliana’s expert tip: Healthy sandwiches and homemade soups are also available at Diana’s Pancakes Place.

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Zeerover means Sea Pirate, but for locals it’s synonymous with ice cold beer and seafood at reasonable prices. With fresh off-the-boat fare, a laid-back atmosphere where you order from a window and take home or eat outside, this cozy seafood shack in the heart of fishing village Savaneta is a haven for fresh catches of the day. The baskets of fried fish and jumbo shrimps are paired with local side dishes such as “pan bati” (Aruban pancakes), “funchi” (hearty cornmeal cake or fritters) and “banana hasa” (fried plantain). Grab a table on the wooden deck, play a game of domino with new friends while waiting for your order or just purchase fresh fish to go, if you want your catch grilled or steamed at home. These pirates only dig into the deep-fried.

Recommended for Best Value because: Zeerover is not just for lunch, dinner or take out, it’s a whole island experience.

Liliana’s expert tip: Shrimp is cooked head on to peel and eat, but there’s a sink, soap and towels right on the deck to wash your hands afterwards. Don’t miss out on the fun!

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De Suikertuin

This lovely, authentic Aruban house is indeed The Sugar Garden (De Suikertuin) of downtown Oranjestad. Wherever you choose to take a seat, – inside, in the cozy, air-conditioned home-style cafe or outside, under a tropical tree or in the shady patio – a breakfast or lunch here will always delight the senses. De Suikertuin has something for everyone. Check out their menu while having your first Cappuccino or a freshly squeezed orange juice. The Pampering Breakfast is more than a promise, and if Dutch pancakes sound tempting, know that many toppings are possible – hearty or sweet. If you still can’t decide what you want for lunch, just ask what the daily specials are.

Recommended for Best Value because: De Suikertuin has an extensive menu that includes great choices for kids, vegetarians, picky eaters… for everyone.

Liliana’s expert tip: Hotchpotch of onion and carrot with beef stew is a typical Dutch dish, but if a Caesar Chicken Wrap is more familiar, go for it! There are plenty of choices, even High Tea.

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Bavaria Food And Beer

The traditional German ‘Biergarten’ started out with family-style outdoor seating, plenty of fresh beer from the barrel, but no food at all. Because brewers weren’t allowed to sell anything to eat, guests would bring their own picnic baskets filled with bread, homemade ‘Obatzda’ cheese, ham, sausages, potato salad and other typical Bavarian specialties. Nowadays, this tradition has evolved and spread, – not only over Germany – but all over the world. In Aruba, it’s at Bavaria Food And Beer where connoisseurs (and curious customers) can fill up their mugs with Hefeweizen (German wheat beer) or draft beer. Order a Creamy Bavarian Potato Soup, Bratwurst or a Schnitzel, there’s much, much more than a picnic basket to fill up those empty bellies.

Recommended for Best Value because: Bavaria Food and Beer is the only German Biergarten in Aruba but above all, they serve great eats and icy cold beverages without overpricing.

Liliana’s expert tip: Ask for the beer menu; a pleasant selection of dark and lighter brews, imported directly from Germany.

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Kamini's Kitchen

What used to be the soul of Costa Riba Restaurant is still alive and cooking in the revamped venue called Kamini’s Kitchen. There’s this colorful building on your way to or from the beaches in Sero Colorado. Legendary couple, Kamini and her husband Pete, have permanently moved to this prime location and are waiting to welcome famished guests with local specialties like their famous Curry Goat or Fried Red Snapper with Creole Sauce, among other mouthwatering Caribbean and vegetarian dishes. At Kamini’s new restaurant, locals and visitors can order the daily specials for carryout as usual, or pull up and chair to enjoy Kamini’s delicious homemade specialties – famous by word of mouth alone.

Recommended for Best Value because: Kamini’s Kitchen is more than just great local food and drinks, it’s what hospitality is all about.

Liliana’s expert tip: Contact Kamini’s Kitchen via phone or Facebook to find out more about their menu.

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Photo courtesy of Albert Braamskamp

This spot serves elegant Chinese cuisine at affordable prices. The two red and black decorated dining rooms feature lacquered woods and lamps with paper shades. The chef is skilled at most Chinese cooking styles including Hunan, Szechwan, Cantonese and Shanghai. The house specialty is a seafood combination of fish, scallops, lobster and shrimp served in a Szechwan black bean sauce. Fried plantain, homemade fries and pickled Madame Jeanette peppers can be ordered to add a little Aruban flavor to any of the dishes. Apart from a soothing Chinese tea or delicious lychees, diners can also opt for local quesillo or the weekend special. Kowloon offers a surprisingly varied menu and the convenience to order online:

Recommended for Best Value because: Kowloon is The Chinese Restaurant in Aruba, for more than 35 years and no matter where people come from, everyone loves Kowloon.

Liliana’s expert tip: Share a popular “rijsttafel” (rice table) with your party, all the menu choices are delicious.

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The West Deck

This family-owned beach bar and grill is situated on one of the gorgeous beaches along the L.G. Smith Boulevard, called Governor’s Bay – the Governor’s house is right across the street. Being part of Aruba’s buzzing Linear Park, The West Deck embraces the calming views of the ocean where cruise ships and yachts sail by, airplanes descend for landing and fishing boats anchor in clear blue water.Whether the sun is reaching its highest point at noon or disappearing gloriously below the horizon, it shouldn’t be celebrated without a refreshing Beer-Rita, Mojito or an ice cold Chill (locally brewed light beer) out of the bucket. Try favorite small plates like Conch Fritters and Island Coconut Shrimps. Whatever the plan is; sharing plates or choosing your own entrees, having drinks or only dessert, lunch or dinner; The West Deck is the perfect place to find what island life is about.

Recommended for Best Value because: The West Deck offers spectacular island views, vibes, flavors, friendliness and prices, on a cozy wooden deck overlooking Oranjestad’s beaches, bays and parks.

Liliana’s expert tip: Try West Deck’s fresh tropical fruit juices and local bread basket with ‘arepitas’ and ‘Johnny cakes’.

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