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Aruba offers a startling variety of eating options thanks to the tourist trade, with choices ranging from upscale to simple roadside dining. The island is also a particularly family-friendly destination, so bringing the kids along is rarely a problem, and many restaurants offer children's menus. Arubans love their meat, as shown by the ubiquity of steak joints, so vegetarians may be left feeling that everyone on the island is a carnivore; however, most kitchens are able to create a special vegetarian meal upon request if there's no vegetarian option listed on the menu.
Aruba shares many of its traditional foods with Bonaire and Curacao. These dishes are a fusion of the various influences that have shaped the culture of the islands. Proximity to mainland South America means that many traditional snack and breakfast foods of Venezuelan origin, such as empanadas (a fried cornmeal dumpling filled with ground meat), are widely found. The Dutch influence is evident in the fondness for cheese of all sorts, but especially Gouda. Keshi yena, ground meat with seasonings and wrapped in cheese before baking, is a national obsession.
If there's one thread that unites the cuisines of the Caribbean it's cornmeal, and Arubans love nothing more than a side of funchi (like a thick polenta) or a pan bati (a fried cornmeal pancake) to make a traditional meal complete. Though Aruban cuisine isn't by nature spicy, it's almost always accompanied by a small bowl of spicy pika (a condiment of fiery hot peppers and onions in vinegar). An abundance of seafood means that seafood is the most popular protein on the island, and it's been said that if there were an Aruban national dish it would be the catch of the day.
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Reservations and Dress
We only mention reservations when they're essential (there's no other way you'll ever get a table) or when they're not accepted. We mention dress only when men are required to wear a jacket or a jacket and tie.
Wines, Beer, and Spirits
Arubans have a great love for wine, so even small supermarkets have a fairly good selection of European and South American wines at prices that are reasonable by Caribbean standards. The beer of choice in Aruba is the island-brewed Balashi, though many also favor the deliciously crisp Amstel Bright, which is brewed on nearby Curacao.
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