Below are my reviews of most of the places we ate last week. We do not rent a car so I have included locations and transportation costs. I have bad knees, so when I say walking distance, it really is close – in relation to the Holiday Inn. I have included prices in US dollars just to help first timers who hear that Aruba can be expensive. This gives you an idea of what to actually expect. You can definitely do things cheaper than we did, but we love fresh seafood and when we are on vacation we like to eat out and splurge a little. Just to summarize – our favorite breakfast spot was Scott’s Brats and favorite dinner spot was Passions on the Beach. Two things to note – don’t be in a hurry in Aruba – you are on vacation. If you are planning to grab a bite to eat before a timed event, make sure to give yourself extra time. Also, if you eat fresh grilled fish outside, there might be flies – it happens, it’s nature, it’s not the restaurant’s fault and it was never too bad to deal with.
Iguana Cantina is located across the street from Holiday Inn. We love this place, came back for the second year in a row, nice outdoor seating. I recommend the Grouper filet, its pan fried and served with salsa. They also had a sign for all you can fajitas one night, but we didn’t go back for that, too many other places to try. They have all of the typical Mexican foods on their menu, as well as some seafood options with the Mexican flair. We had 2 mixed drinks and 2 entrees and our total with tip was $55.
Driftwood – from the high rise area the cab ride was $11 each way. This restaurant is all inside seating. The décor is all about fishing and waterman styles. We each had the catch of the day – I thought the flavor was just average. I liked how they give you options on how to have it cooked. We chose pan fried Aruban style – highly recommended. The service here was amazing. It was a very filling meal with nice bread options and cooked vegetables. We had 2 soft drinks, 2 entrees, a shared appetizer, and our total with tip was $85. We are seafood lovers and ate lots of fish on our trip. I think if you just want a good fresh fish meal you can find it elsewhere for a little less money. If you drive here, I think it looked like parking might be tricky, but I can’t say for sure since we didn’t have to deal with it.
Passions – OUR FAVORITE! Located across from Amsterdam Manor on Eagle Beach - Cab ride from high rise was $9 each way, but it would have been very easy to take the bus here. We got there early and had the pleasure of 2 for 1 drinks at the bar while we waited. You cannot beat the atmosphere here – its perfect for a special occasion. The waiters and hostesses offer to take pictures for you. Tables in the sand, white linens and chair covers, tiki torches, sunset on Eagle Beach, it was simply beautiful. For honeymooners, I would say this is a must! And the food was superb. My husband ordered one of the more expensive meals with a variety of fish, lobster, and shrimp and I had snapper served with a sesame sauce. Everything was delicious and large portions. We had two mixed drinks, two entrees, a shared appetizer and our total was $101 before tip.
Smokey Joes – Short walk from the high rise hotels. We had the meal for two with a combination of pulled pork, chicken, ribs, and shrimp. It was a lot of food, the two of us are big eaters and could not finish it. I love barbeque and Smokey Joes did not disappoint. The chicken was falling off the bone, everything was good. We the dinner for two and 2 soft drinks – total with tip was $55.
La Petite Café – in front of Playa Linda Beach Resort. We loved it! We ate lunch here, but ordered the catch of the day, which was more like a dinner portion. I ordered snapper and my husband ordered mahi mahi and we shared. Both were cooked on hot stones and were delicious! The meal also came with salads and vegetables. It was a very filling meal with excellent service. They had some sandwiches and wraps on the menu that were a lot less expensive lunch options but we were planning a party night so we wanted to make sure we had a good meal before we started drinking. For an appetizer, 2 entrees, 2 soft drinks and tip we paid $72. It was definitely worth it!
Pelican Nest – The grouper is really good. We ate here on the recommendation of another hotel guest. It’s on the pier in front of the Holiday Inn. The atmosphere is great – loved sitting on the water’s edge, in the shade of umbrellas. The service was adequate, nothing special. For an appetizer, 2 entrees, 2 soft drinks and tip we paid $68.
Scott’s Brats – on the beach side next to Playa Linda along the sidewalk path. I can’t say enough good things about this breakfast and lunch spot! We went back 3 or 4 times during our week long stay. The owners Scott and Leslie are friendly and helpful with answering our questions. The service is fast, the food is good quality. It’s basically a hot dog stand, carryout style place. They serve breakfast burritos and sandwiches for $3 – can’t beat it! For lunch they have brats and grilled cheese and soft pretzels and a few other things on the menu. We spent in the $6-$12 range total for both of us to eat here. It was perfect for lunch when we were sitting on the beach.
Taste of Belgium – great breakfast in the mall at Palm Beach – easy walking distance from Holiday Inn. We had two breakfast meals and two sodas with tip for $27. They had a great variety of breakfast items.
Tomato Charlies – good place for pancakes and French toast. In front of Brickell Bay Beach Resort, walking distance in the high rise area. Friendly waitresses, good food, reasonable prices.
Dushi Bagels – I wasn’t really impressed with the breakfast here. Even by Aruba standards, the service was very slow. They were crowded when we were there, and we weren’t in a hurry, but it just seemed to take a really long time from start to finish. For a bagel sandwich or breakfast wrap, we really weren’t looking to make an event out of it. The good thing here is they open early. The food was average, eggs might have been a little over cooked for my liking, but my husband liked his wrap.