Top o’ the list:
White Modern Cuisine (Palm Beach Mall – second floor):
This is a top end restaurant with excellent food, beautiful presentation and a real “mixologist” for a bartender. We enjoyed a wonderful meal with the most pleasant of servers. My appetizer was a kimchee salad which was excellent, not too spicy and one of the prettiest preparations I’ve had the pleasure to devour. I had the snapper for an entrée and it was delicious. My wife had two appetizers; the corn soup which she loved and a scallop appetizer that was fully as large as some other restaurants entrees. My wife asked to compliment the chef. We highly recommend it and will be back on our next trip.
Papiamento (Just past Linda’s and Bingos. Turn right at the CNB building):
We can’t believe we’ve been coming to Aruba for 5 years and just hit this for the first time. The restaurant is open-air and surrounds a pool, behind a house built in the late 1800’s. It is a very pretty setting and takes on a more romantic feel when the sun sets and all the plants and trees are lighted. The food was great and the service even better. It was packed, but the wait staff was very attentive, filling our water and checking in when needed. It was a 2+ hour meal, but felt just right. We started with the Ayaca appetizer – a mix of cornmeal, chicken, prunes and spices, cooked in a banana leaf. Our server told us it’s a Christmas favorite. It’s different and good. They serve it with a blazing hot papaya dipping sauce, so beware! Dip gingerly. My wife had a great steak with a cheese sauce that she loved. I had the wahoo and shrimp on a hot stone. It was some of the best shrimp and fish I’ve had anywhere. We will return on our next trip.
Next in line:
Amadeus (Turn left at the Texaco station from 1a [I think the sign says Paradera]) and go about 1.5 miles):
This is a return engagement for us. Both times, the food was excellent. We split a big Caesar Salad. My wife had the veal shank and loved it. I opted for the Jamaican Ribs and fries. Wow! They were great and I ate way too much. We couldn’t resist dessert. My wife had a hankering for apple pie and ice cream. The only reason it didn’t make the top this time is that our drinks at the bar before dinner were just so – so. Her Bloody Mary tasted like plain old tomato juice. I think that’s easily fixed. We’ll probably be back, as the service was terrific and the food was as well.
Barefoot (Go past the I Heart Aruba sign and turn right just after Nikky Beach – they have a handmade weathered sign that you could miss):
We loved the view, even though the container docks are in the distance. They have beachfront or under a large palapa dining. We opted for the palapa, right at the rail. We got there early and had a delightful conversation with Jose, the bartender, who made delicious cocktails (Aruba Ariba and Barefoot Delight). We shared a Caesar salad and my wife ordered the Grouper Romana and I had the Snapper. Mine was terrific. My wife was not as happy about hers. She thought it came with fresh tomatoes instead of a tomato sauce. She wasn’t crazy about the sauce. We’ll probably be back, since everything else was great including wonderful service. She’ll order a different meal, for sure.
Bingo’s (Turn off 1a at the Wendy’s, pass Wacky Wahoo and look on the left in the same plaza as Linda’s):
Other than my home cooked pasta alia oglio one night, this was our designated lighter meal. We shared a great, refreshing salad with field greens, nuts, raisins and mandarin oranges and shared a pasta and chicken dish with lots of garlic. They only charged $4.00 for a larger sharing portion of each. The food is very tasty, the wine and beer is inexpensive and both us left very satisfied for under $60. We’ll be back for a light meal.
Linda’s (see Bingo’s but stop 100 feet sooner):
We go every year, have delicious breakfast pancakes and feel slightly guilty for having such a big breakfast. However, our strategy is to eat there, then go to Ling and Son’s for food. We buy less impulse food because we’re stuffed. This year, DW got the apples and raisins and I got the gouda and bacon. Delicious and plate-sized pancakes in the thin Dutch style.
Scott’s Brats (On the beach in front of Playa Linda):
A beer and a brat (or Italian Sausage with onions and peppers) for $8.00! It’s hard to go wrong. Two great proprietors, a nice location in the middle of the high-rise hotels and friendly conversation make this a great stop for lunch. It was an easy walk from the Marriott OC. The walk back allowed DW to stop at the ice cream stand in front of Playa Linda and grab a Mocha Chocolate for the return.
Zeerover’s (in Savaneta on the water about a block in from 1a.)
Great fish or shrimp or both – (it’s located on a fisherman’s pier), cooked fresh and served in a basket with fried plantain, fries, cornbread and a cold Balashi. You leave stuffed for about $12.00. Amazing for lunch after a hard day snorkeling at Mangel Halto.
Simply Fish (On the beach in front of the Marriott Stellaris):
This is where we land after we arrive and unpack at the Ocean Club for our traditional first-night meal. My wife loves it. She loves the food, the view and the service. I must admit, all three are great. My problem is with the cost. The food and drink are certainly on par at Papiamento, White Modern Cuisine, MJ’s, etc. None of the aforementioned are as expensive as Simply Fish, though. By way of example, a bottle of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is now $54 at Simply Fish. It was $45 last year. I know a 2.5 – 3 X’s markup is typical, but this is more like 4X. The entrees are also about $5 more than comparable quality restaurants. It’s a good way to get into Aruba decompression mode, but I always feel slightly bad about getting gouged. However, if you get the 10% off voucher from Marriott, you’ll feel a little better.