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The series continues, and my next stop is Caya House, one of the hottest new restaurants on the island.
Located inside what used to be a Setar Teleshop (our local telecom company), Caya House brings an approachable elegance to this side street in Palm Beach. I had the chance to chat with co-owner Marco, who basically grew up on this street. His family owns Hostaria Da Vittorio, another local and visitor favourite located opposite Caya House. The street name is J. E. Irausquin Blvd, but they used to simply call it “caya,” meaning street in Papiamento. After covid, they would say, “caya feels abandoned”. The teleshop, which looked a bit like an old Arubian house, was simply named “Caya House.”
Along with co-owner Carlos, Marco envisioned elevating Aruba’s fine dining scene in a fun and relaxed way. Inspired by the Tulum party scene, where restaurants turn into lounges and nightclubs after dinner hours, the idea was to create a contemporary dining and lounge concept. The entrance is simply beautiful. Walking through the flowery arched tunnel felt like something out of “A Secret Garden.” As I walked into the open-air garden/terrace, I could feel every thought that went into creating the atmosphere. To make a garden terrace feel private in the middle of the bustling Palm Beach area is truly unique. It’s romantic but modern. Fun but classy. Elevated yet cozy. As Marco said, they want their guests to feel at home.
The outdoor bar gives an upscale backyard, poolside barbecue vibe. Without the pool, of course… The mixologist, one of the best in Aruba, created signature cocktails for us to try, including the Palo Santos and Bariga Geel (yellow belly), served at the table and completed with edible flowers. Funny story, when my friend read this sentence, she said, “What do you mean Bariga Geel served at the table?” Bariga Geel is a local yellow-belly bird, fyi. So, to make it clear, the Bariga Geel COCKTAIL is served at the table! Both drinks were nice to look at and nice to drink. Perfect for your first social media post of the evening.
The open kitchen inside looks modern and something straight out of a Netflix cooking show. I should also mention that it was spotless. Don’t know about you, but to me, that’s a green flag right there. Executive Chef Miguel Coronado, who came from the Marriott family, Chef John Gomez, who has worked at Pujol, a Michelin-star restaurant in Colombia, and the kitchen staff are the true stars of Caya House. Even the interns are extremely eager to learn and grow. Most end up staying on full-time even!
The first dish I tried was a burrata with a veil of tomato, balsamic caviar, local micro greens, and “mojo de perejil,” which is comparable to a chimichurri. This fusion of Latin American and European cuisine was a match made in yum heaven. What’s great to note is that this dish is one of the many vegetarian options on the menu. They even have a fully vegan menu! Yes! Welcome to 2023, my veggie friends.
The chefs, or should I say artists at Caya House, like to experiment with cooking methods such as sous vide, fermentation, and many other molecular gastronomy techniques. Remember the balsamic caviar I mentioned earlier? *chef’s kiss*. They also bake their own bread, which tastes like a mix of focaccia and sourdough. Combined with aged garlic butter, fermented for 24 days, which has, well, an “interesting” black/greyish color, OOOF. Why am I writing this on an empty stomach? Sheesh!
The next dish I tried was a vegan cauliflower steak with plantain puree and some more mojo. If you’ve had cauliflower steak before, you can expect what it tastes like. It was simple but delicious. What stood out for me was the plantain puree. I’ve only ever had fried plantains at this point, which I LOVE, but this puree was a whole other experience. It was a lovely addition to the steak.
Caya only uses high-quality products and locally sourced fish and vegetables. The ceviche blanco, which is a mixture of octopus, tuna, and fish of the day, is a crowd favorite, as well as their gyozas stuffed with pork. I will have to try these next time I’m there! I did get to try one of their other best sellers though: The asado negro short ribs! Slow-cooked for 6 hours and served with a black smokey roasted sauce on a bed of pumpkin puree. Aaaand I’m drooling… Did I mention I’m writing this on an empty stomach? Ayayay… Have you ever had a dish in front of you, and you had to really stop yourself from going in with your hands? I wanted to rub it on my face. Charcoal is good for the skin, no?
For dessert, they brought out a vegan arroz con leche (rice with milk), crème brûlée hybrid. Oh, and they make their own vegan milk substitutes, such as almond and coconut, in-house, btw. Topped with berries and fruit puree, it was both sweet and refreshing.
All in all, my experience at Caya House was great. I enjoyed my conversation with Marco and the excellent service and kindness offered by the entire staff. “Food is art,” Marco says, and they really take that to heart at Caya House. I’ll be back for those gyozas!
Want your business to be featured on Xa On The Go? Please contact Xayenne for more information. Xayenne is the Digital Content Specialist at the Aruba Tourism Authority and is eager to try, experience, and write!
Xa On The Go is a series in which I explore, taste, and experience all Aruba has to offer, one spot at a time. Join me as I try some of the most hyped restaurants on the island, experience fun activities, and explore Aruba’s wonders.
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