Anyone who’s been to the Caribbean knows the food there is big on flavor, and usually revolves around seafood. But the culinary scene in Aruba is unique thanks to the diverse ethnic influences (including African, Indian, European, and Chinese) brought in by a large expat community. In fact, Aruba has one of the highest concentrations of expats in the world, so it’s definitely a melting pot. Start to explore that melting pop by chowing down at these 5 awesome restaurants in Aruba.
BLT SteakBLT Steak, L.G. Smith Boulevard, Noord, Aruba
We know there’s a couple of these restaurants around the country (like NYC and Miami), but when was the last time you went to BLT Steak in the Caribbean? It’s easily one of the busiest spots on the island, so expect a lively, bustling atmosphere. Romance? Not really. Even still, you’ll be glad you went. BLT, a modern interpretation of an American steakhouse, is edgy for Aruba, and even edgier for the Ritz Carlton, where it’s located. The sunsets are perfect here, so you’ll want to arrive early. While we definitely recommend the steak (it’s their speciality, after all) you can also munch on lobster, dover sole, and their famous tuna tartar.
Flying FishboneFlying Fishbone, Savaneta, Aruba
On the other side of the island, Flying Fishbone is in a small fishing village. It’s quiet, peaceful, and quaint here, which kicks the romance level up a notch. You can see the coast of Venezuela, sit on the beach while flying fish snap in and out of the water and, due to the remote location, the night sky is stunning. Flying Fishbone is on the pricey side (no fishing village prices here), mostly because it’s considered one of the best beach restaurants in the world (main entrees average $35). Seafood is straight from the Caribbean Sea, and you can’t go wrong with Savaneta’s Seafood History—a sampler dish that features all the freshest seafood they’ve got from the fish market down the road—but we’re also going to nudge you toward the seafood pasta with scallops, shrimp, mussels, daily catch, calamari and pasta in marinara sauce. Reservations are a must.
Passions on the BeachPassions On The Beach, J.E. Irausquin Boulevard, Noord, Aruba
Despite the cheesy name Passions on the Beach really is one of the most romantic restaurants on the island; and it’s the only restaurant here with white-tablecloth tables directly on the beach. If you can forgive the name, you’ll love it. Right on Eagle Beach, Passions is built entirely for romance. Star-lit sky, flaming tiki torches, fancy waiters. It’s all about the fresh fish (about $35 average), and options range from blackened, Cajun-style grouper to sesame-crusted sea bass. They also dish out a mean filet mignon with lobster tail if you’re a surf and turf kind of guy. Just so you know, it’s a last-night-of-our-honeymoon type of dinner (as in “saving the best for last”). Reservations definitely required.
Pincho’s GrillPincho's Grill and Bar, Oranjestad, Aruba
Pincho’s Grill is right on the water. Outdoor dining on a pier is super romantic, and it’s pretty rare in Aruba. Facing west, the restaurant’s view of the pink-orange sunsets is unreal, but just wait until night falls as they light the place up in an enchanting way. While it’s super casual, it’s not cheap (main dishes range from $25 to $50) though the wine selection is good and affordable (the most expensive is $76). All the entrees are grilled to perfection, including salmon with a miso glaze and mahi mahi with tomato basil sauce. If fish isn’t your go-to, everyone goes wild for the 12-oz veal chop with roasted red pepper jam. There are only 12 tables, and you actually get to watch the chef grill your selections.
Gasparito RestaurantGasparito Restaurant, Noord, Aruba
Gasparito straddles the line of fine dining and casual–mostly because the award-winning, elevated Aruban cuisine is excellent–but you can stroll in wearing flip flops. Inside a 200-year-old Aruban country house, diners can sit inside a formal, Old-World Dutch-Aruban setting or under the stars in a beautiful courtyard decorated with hanging lanterns and local artwork that you can buy. Live music generally sets the tone, and the Aruban meals are crazy good. The mixed platter is popular here: the filet is cooked to perfection while the seafood is as fresh as it gets. The homemade ravioli is also a great dish. But Gasparito’s claim to fame is their chicken, made with a recipe passed down for generations.