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Aruba Restaurant Reviews
There are a few hundred restaurants on Aruba, from elegant eateries to seafront shacks, so you're bound to find something to tantalize your taste buds. You can sample a wide range of cuisines—Italian, French, Argentine, Asian, and Cuban, to name a few—reflecting Aruba's extensive blend of cultures. Chefs have to be creative on this tiny island, because of the limited number of locally grown ingredients: maripampoen (a vegetable that's often stewed with meat and potatoes), hierba di hole (a sweet-spicy herb used in fish soup), and shimarucu (a fruit similar to the cherry) are among the few.
Although most resorts offer better-than-average dining, don't be afraid to try one of the many excellent independent places. Ask locals about their favorite spots; some of the lesser-known restaurants offer food that's reasonably priced and definitely worth sampling.
Most restaurants on the western side of the island are along Palm Beach or in downtown Oranjestad, both easily accessible by taxi or bus. If you're heading to a restaurant in Oranjestad for dinner, leave about 15 minutes earlier than you think you should; in-town traffic can get ugly once beach hours are over. Some restaurants in Savaneta (Flying Fishbone) and San Nicolas (Charlie's Restaurant & Bar) are worth the trip; a car is the best way to get there. Breakfast lovers are in luck. For quantity, check out the buffets at the Hyatt, Marriott, or Westin Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino resorts or local joints such as DeliFrance.
Aruba Dining Planner
Aruba Gastronomic Association. To give visitors an affordable way to sample the island's eclectic cuisine, the Aruba Gastronomic Association has created a Dine-Around program involving more than 20 island restaurants. Here's how it works: you can buy tickets for three dinners ($117 per person), five dinners ($190), seven dinners ($262), or five breakfasts or lunches plus four dinners ($230). Dinners include an appetizer, an entrée, dessert, coffee or tea, and a service charge (except when a restaurant is a "VIP member," in which case $38 will be deducted from your final bill instead). Other programs, such as gift certificates and coupons for dinners at the association's VIP member restaurants, are also available. You can buy Dine-Around tickets using the association's online order form, through travel agents, or at the De Palm Tours sales desk in many hotels. Participating restaurants and conditions change frequently; the AGA Web site has the latest information. Rooi Santo 21, Noord. 297/586–1266; 914/595–4788 in U.S. www.arubadining.com.
Prices and Dress
Aruba's elegant restaurants—where you might have to dress up a little (jackets for men, sundresses for women)—can be pricey. If you want to spend fewer florins, opt for the more casual spots, where being comfortable is the only dress requirement. A sweater draped over your shoulders will go a long way against the chill of air-conditioning. If you plan to eat in the open air, bring along insect repellent in case the mosquitoes get unruly.
To ensure that you get to eat at the restaurants of your choice, make some calls when you get to the island—especially during high season—to secure reservations. Note that on Sunday you may have a hard time finding a restaurant that's open for lunch, and that many eateries are closed for dinner Sunday or Monday.
Most restaurants add a service charge of 15%. It's not necessary to tip once a service charge has been added to the bill, but if the service is exceptional an additional tip of 10% is always appreciated. If no service charge is included on the final bill, then leave the customary tip of 15% to 20%.
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