I am choosing to include the prices we paid because I think itís important for first timers to get an idea of what they can expect and plan accordingly. We always heard Aruba was expensive, but that term means different things to different people.
Our food and drink costs came out to $130 per person per day. This figure includes all hotel purchases, restaurant, bar, and grocery store (even some not listed below). So if you are big drinkers and debating all inclusive or not, I think this will give you a pretty good idea to compare the cost of all inclusive vs doing it on your own. My vote is no AI, and you will see why in the variety of places we tried on this trip. Now if you don't want to leave your resort, you should go AI because hotel drink prices are crazy!
Cost with tip $103 for 1 Appetizer, 2 entrees, 2 drinks
Atmosphere - small restaurant in a strip mall with little parking. The inside is decorated nicely with funny signs hung around the dining room.
Garlic bread sticks were included prior to the meal.
I enjoyed the ceviche appetizer - it had octopus, fish, shrimp, and I think squid. Jon prefers the grouper ceviche at Bugaloe to this one.
I had the wahoo chef special with a crabcake, shrimp, veggies, plantains, and rice. This meal could have fed two people. The piece of fish was huge, and cooked perfectly. Living in the Chesapeake Bay area, I did not care for the Caribbean style crabcake.
Jon had the blackened grouper catch of the day with veggies and rice. Again, the piece of fish was huge and perfectly cooked.
We both enjoyed our dinner, but were not blown away. We had tried previously to get a reservation with no luck. We really expected more. For perfectly cooked large pieces of fresh fish, this is a great place, but it did not WOW us. There was nothing in the seasonings that really stood out. But it was good food, with large portions, and the service was top notch. Because we donít like being tied to a reservation more than a couple days in advance, we probably wonít go here very often. Reservation tip: download the Aruba eguide app and you can get a reservation before you leave home.
Quinta del Carmen
Cost with tip $135 for 1 Appetizer, 2 entrees, 4 drinks and dessert.
Atmosphere - beautiful garden setting, tables are not too close together.
We started with breaded calamari with a coconut curry dipping sauce. The calamari looked like onion rings, not sure we would order it again, but the dipping sauce was excellent.
I had the Shrimp Pina Colada dish with stir fried shrimp and fresh pineapple pieces. The sauce over the shrimp was delicious! The dish was served with asparagus, broccoli, and rice. I also had two of the Orange Cosmo drinks and I canít wait to have another in December!
Jon had the Grouper Caprese - a grouper filet topped with tomato and buffalo mozzarella. It looked so good, I insisted on having a bite and I will order this next time! It was served with a tomato pesto sauce over pasta with broccoli and asparagus on the side.
The meals were both filing but not heavy; I hope that makes sense.
We shared the banana desert they have - it has bananas and a scoop of ice cream and carmel sauce and it is heavenly!
I really canít say enough good things about this restaurant. The service was good. We went early and had the backyard area almost to ourselves for most of the meal. Iím sure when the sun goes down it is more romantic. I think this is good for a special occasion for a couple or a group.
Matthews Beachside Restaurant
Cost with tip and service charge approximately $95.00 2 entrees, 4 drinks (they charge a service charge here, which we didnít notice till after we tipped, but thatís on us, it was clear on the receipt)
Atmosphere - beautiful beach view. We got to watch a cruise ship leaving the island and the waves crashing on an almost empty beach area. It was the best view of any dinner we had this week.
We go there early and the pool bar at Casa del Mar was having happy hour 2 for 1 and a band playing classic rock. We liked it, but others may be looking for a quiet dinner may want to go after happy hour. You cannot get the 2 for 1 at your table from your server, but it was nice of him to let us know we could go to the bar for this deal. We chose not to take advantage of the happy hour because we were already seated and just enjoying each otherís company and the view.
Bread is served before dinner.
We were there on Italian night but chose to eat from the regular menu. Just a note, if you choose from the Italian menu, it comes with tiramisu for dessert.
Jon had surf and turf which included what he described as a ďmelt in your mouthĒ filet, and shrimp in a garlic sauce (I think).
I had the grouper filet. The piece of fish was huge and cooked to perfection and served in shrimp sauce.
The food was excellent, view was superb, and the service was exceptional. I always love when the server asks if we would like to have our picture taken. Unfortunately we forgot our camera this evening. I guess that means we have to go back!
Le Petite Cafť
Cost with tip was $105 - 2 of the most expensive entrees on the menu and 2 drinks
Atmosphere - we ate an outside table facing the Palm Beach main street side area. It was great for people watching. Food was cooked on a stone and continues to cook in front of you. I like this style but itís not for everyone.
We both ordered a combo that had lobster,shrimp, and steak with a side choice of baked potato, fries, or rice. We didnít really care about the side, it was all about the main dish for us. We enjoyed our food, but I donít think this place is for everyone. It took a little getting used to for me to get my steak cooked the way I like it on the stone and I am always afraid of eating undercooked seafood so I may have let the lobster overcook a little.
There was a large group next to us that were definitely well known repeat customers. I felt like this took away from our service a little. We were never offered a second drink and it took a while for them to bring the check.
Lunches/Happy hour appetizer meals
Looking back, we need to do better on our spending for afternoon meals. Most places have reasonably priced lunches, but when you add in alcohol you can see how quickly the prices rise.
Some of the ďdrinksĒ I listed were just sodas, not alcohol.
Marriott Beach Service:
The Aruban Wings were very good. We shared an order a few days. There were 10-15 in an order and they are fried chicken wings but the flavor almost has a teriyaki taste, or something similar that was hard to place. It came with ranch and hot sauce for dipping and celery. The downside is they are about $15 an order plus a nice tip for the beach service.
A reasonably priced lunch became more expensive with excessive drinking - total around $60. The sandwiches are only $11 each and you have to order fries separately if you want them. We always share an order and it is more than enough for two.
2 Grouper sandwiches, 3-4 beers, and 2 mixed drinks, and shared order of fries
We love the grouper sandwiches here. It is served on french bread is so soft and fresh. The bartender JC here has a great personality. I also love the view here.
Che Bar(Argentinean grill)
$20 for 2 bud lights and 2 large beef empanadas that were fresh and really good. This is a perfect stop on your way out for the night when you want a bite to eat but not a full meal. They have full dinners too, and I think we will go back to try something another time.
$50 for a couple drinks, I had the daily special, and Jon had a shrimp wrap.
My special was a piece of tuna steak and salad and some rice. This was my favorite lunch. It really good have been a dinner portion. We ate on the restaurant side which was not very busy, even though there were cruise ship passengers around. It was comfortable and well shaded. Service was quick and good. Just a side note, everyone that works here is beautiful, both the men and the women and they are always smiling. I really like the watermelon mojito they serve here.
$80 for Garyís delight pan fried grouper bites, two orders of shrimp cocktails and a bucket of Amstel Brights and a couple bud lights. We love the appetizers and happy hour here. This is another restaurant that adds a 15% service charge so be sure to check your receipt to make sure you are tipping what you are comfortable with.
$40 for two HUGE grouper sandwiches and fries and two sodas. The bread wasnít as good as Bugaloe but the grouper filets were large and good. We probably could have shared one meal, as neither of us finished our sandwich or fries.
Scottís Brats - 1 breakfast sandwich, 1 breakfast burrito, a Gatorade, and a Mt.Dew, was less than $15. This is the best quality and value for breakfast in the Palm Beach area.
Dushi Bagels - we had 2 cokes and 2 breakfast sandwiches here with a tip it was $20. I noticed iced coffee near the back of the menu that I wish I had seen before I ordered. We both had toasted breakfast sandwiches with ham and gouda and they were really good. Good service, comfortable covered seating outdoors to shield from those morning rain. Another plus here is that they open early.
Taste of Belgium
2 sodas 2 breakfasts with tip $26.
I had a waffle with a side of fresh fruit and Jon had the thin Belgium pancakes with a side of fresh fruit. This was nice change of pace for us. Great service, and nice setting with choices of inside and outside seating.
Marriott Surf poolside buffet
We arenít really big breakfast eaters so buffets are really not a good choice for us. I did like the pastechi and the fresh fruit. They had all of your typical breakfast buffett food items and an omelet station. For us, it just doesnít make sense to pay $18 per person when we really donít eat much breakfast food. It was convenient and we were hungover and just needed food, so we ate here.
I kept these notes throughout the trip but man as I put it all together, we really ate and drank A LOT this trip! We spent a lot more on food this trip compared to our 10 day trip in November where we just drank our way through the first few days/ We didnít have a bad meal or drink anywhere. We love Aruba restaurants.