Here is the restaurant portion of my review:
Yes, we did eat in Aruba. Not a single bad meal. I’ll break it down for you (everything is in the high rise district)
Buster’s Garage – Coldest and largest Balashi in the area. The Philly Cheese Steak sandwich is very good, served on a fresh French Baguette with cheddar cheese (I prefer that over provolone), peppers and hot, delicious fries. Many TV’s, all with sports, make this the place to watch your game. We met the owner Rusty on our second trip (I had to have that sandwich again) and he is really cool and runs a great bar/restaurant.
Balashi Beer Garden (okay, this is not in the high rist district, but out beyond the airport) - Fresh food and cold beer enjoyed after the tour. It is a small kitchen for the employees but is open to the public. Everything is made to order and is served hot with cold beers. An out of the way spot but well worth the trip.
Taste of Belgium (Paseo Herencia Shopping Mall) – One of our favorite meals of the week. While downing more Balashi, I had deep fried, beer batter dipped grouper with a luscious garlic cream sauce. It was on the specials for the day and had a Dutch name, but I forget what it was, other than really, really good. DW had porkloin Belgian style, with mozzarella and spinach. The onion soup and lobster bisque were top notch as well. We also enjoyed the Dame Blanche (ice cream with Belgium chocolate) for dessert. Other than fighting off some flies, the outdoor café had good service and great atmosphere. We wanted to come back for lunch one day to try the waffle, but never found the right day. Will eat here again on our next trip. They have a $25 3 course dinner special between 5-7.
Smokey Joes – Read a lot about this place and as we are from Chicago and like good ribs and bbq, we had to try it. Now, it wasn’t bad, or not even not good, just not quite up to Chicago standards. We ordered the ultimate combo for two, ribs, chicken, pulled port and shrimp. I would say that it was pretty good, but not the best bbq we’ve had. However, if you are very hungry, it was plentiful. What made the meal here so good was being seated around other interesting and friendly people, so the conversation was lively and interesting. Lastly, the flies here were really very pest y and numerous. When our food came, we had at least 15-20 flies all around us. They only dissipated when others got their good and darkness arrived. So, perhaps later is a better time for Smokey Joes. Oh yes, do try the Shark Bites!
Le Petite Café – This wasn’t a place we planned to try, but the couple we toured the Brewery with told us not to miss it. So, being open minded and all, we gave it a try. Now, here is a concept that would never work in the US. The Lawyers would never even let it open, much less actually serve anyone. If we as a culture allow lawsuits over a lousy cup of coffee or hot chocolate, imagine the leer in the lawyer’s eyes knowing that a 600 degree F stone was to be placed in front of a diner? Yet, that is exactly what this place does. First of all, however, their French onion soup is not to be missed. One of the best we have had anywhere, and there are a few places around here that serve a great FOS. It is served correctly in the crock with the melted cheese and bread. We gladly slurped this down. Then, the hot stone is placed in front of you. DW has salmon and I had the filet. Careful, that is HOT! The meat is sizzling and you slick off a small piece and then use the hot stone to cook it. The quality of the ingredients is top notch. You cook it yourself, so you have no one else to blame if you over cook it. We split what we had and enjoyed the experience. Thankfully, we aren’t dumb eaters and did not burn ourselves. Our food was great though. They also have a $25 dinner special between 5-7. It was not only fun, but a wonderful dinner.
Azzurro’s – Playa Linda – Italian – WOW oh WOW oh WOW. We were just walking through the Playa Linda area and walked passed this place. It is right on the beach. It had a picture of Spagheiit di formaggio parmigiano. This is pasta prepared in a hollowed out bowl within a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. And I mean the real stuff, from Parma. I saw this on the food network once and vowed to try it someday. This was the day. They wheel the wheel of cheese over to your table (that was fun to say). They then bring out a flaming ladle of whiskey and other flavors and pour this flaming liquid into the bowl in the cheese. The aromas are intoxicating. Then they bring out the already cooked pasta and toss it into the cheese bowl. The liquid has melted the cheese and the server mixes that wonderful cheese with the pasta. Heaven on earth. You have to order it for two and you will enough for lunch the next day. And it will still be delicious. The cost for this heaven is $42 for two. Well worth the price as that wheel of cheese has a retail value of $1200.
Dushi Bagels – Playa Linda – Had breakfast and lunch here in separate visits. The bagels are fresh and have the right amount of chewiness and flavor. However, the best is lunch when they bring out the burgers. A truly wonderful burger especially when matched with the Gouda cheese. It is beefy and served on a fresh bun. The burger had great flavor and when DW added bacon to hers, the bacon was crisp and a perfect accompanying item on the burger. Fires where fresh and hot too. Finally, they have Balashi on tap, so burger and beer here is the best we had.