Aruba Restaurant Report
I just returned from a week in Aruba with my husband and 2 teneage daughters. We had some great meals and some awful ones:
1) Wacky Wahoos - This was our favorite restaurant of the week. The food was so fresh and nicely prepared. We had delicious ceviche and fish chowder. They had several fresh fish choices - kingfish, wahoo, mahi-mahi. We opted to have the fish pan-fried aruban style which was great. We loved the restaurant so much that we immediately made reservations to go back on our last night in Aruba. Delicious again!
2) Moomba Beach Bar - my husband and I had enjoyed rijstaffel when we were last on the island, 26 years ago. I had heard that the only rijstaffel available on the island now was the Wednesday night Rijstaffel buffet at the Moomba. So we tried it. While it was not awful, I would not recommend it. The food was very mediocre and didn't seem all that fresh.
3) Sawaseeda Thai - we had trouble getting reservations this night because the island was getting so crowded (it was Christmas week). So we opted for thai food. I had read reviews elsewhere on line that said this restaurant was pretty good. This was, by far, the worst Thai food I have ever had, and I've eaten a lot of Thai food. Some people actually walked over to the nearby Wendy's and brought some food back for their group. Not recommended at all!
4) Gari and Wasabi - After leaving the thai restaurant hungry (yes, it was that bad that we didn't really even eat), we went down the road to a sushi restaurant that I had read about. We were a little nervous because the place was empty. But it looked really nice so we decided to give it a try. Glad we did! The food was delicious. We had 2 kinds of ceviche, both of which were great. Then we had a couple of rolls. The plantain roll was absolutely delicious. It was a bit expensive though, with rolls averaging about $15 each. The restaurant also had a really cool outdoor bar in front, so maybe it gets a big late night crowd.
5) Yemanja Grill - this is a wood-fired grill restaurant in Oranjestad. The food was really nicely prepared and delicious. My husband had a delicious fish dish, I had chicken, and my daughters had scallops and steak. All were very good. And they serve sides family style - wood-fired garlic mashed potatoes, brazilian beans, stir-fried veggies and basmati rice. My only criticism is that the menu could be a bit simpler. The food gets such a nice flavor from the grill, that they don't need to "sauce up" every entree. We also had a dessert sampler that was delicious.
6) Nos Cunucu - This has been named repeatedly as the best Aruban cuisine on the island. We enjoyed it, but I can't say that it was great. We started with aruban fish soup and conch sausage which were both ok. My husband had goat stew which he loved, I had cucumber stew which I really did not like at all. One daughter tried the keeshi yena, which was interesting and the other had a steak dish -just ok. All came with traditional sides - we liked the pan bati the best. I am really not sure if the reason we did not love this restaurant was that we just didn't like the type of cuisine, or if it was not that well prepared.
7) Salt and Pepper - This is a tapas-type place on the strip in Palm Beach. We enjoyed this more than we thought we would. It was a great place to sit outdoors and people watch. It is definitely nothing fancy and a lot of items on the tapas menu are not really tapas, but more like small plate items. We enjoyed the carafe of sangria for about $20 as well! They also had some full entrees, burgers and salads on the menu. This is also a great place for families with young children - easy and casual.
8) Indo Restaurant - This was our favorite find of the week!!!! It is up the road from Wacky Wahoo. I had seen other posts looking for surinamese food, but no responses. So when my husband and I came upon this restaurant while looking for something different for lunch, it was a great surprise. We had roti with chicken curry, and a delicious noodle dish. Sooo good that we came back with our daughters another day. We then tried a dish that had amazing chicken sate served with yellow rice and a cabbage type side with the best peanut sauce I have ever had. We also had a fried rice dish and roti again. The owners were so nice and friendly too. This will be a definite place we return to on our next trip!
We just got back from 8 days in Aruba and wanted to provide a review of our restaurant selections from best to worst (the worst was comically bad)
- Madame Jennette: service was top-notch (thomas was our server and really was a pleasure); the restaurant is a bit off the beaten path but worth the journey; excellent, fresh grouper; do not order the tuna (it is not fresh and needs to be shipped to Aruba)
- Flying Fishbone: great romantic spot if you can get a seat on the water; food was good overall - carib lobster was perfect, seafood platter was exceptional, calamari was ok; very far away in savanetta
- Papiamento: really cool atmosphere with seating around the pool; bathroom had a live tree going through it
- Pinchos: excellent chicken satay and peanut sauce; nice location overlooking the water
- Old Man and The Sea: similar to Flying Fishbone but not nearly as good - one only needs to make the trip once to Savanetta and that should be to Flying Fishbone; same setup and atmosphere but marginally worse food and overpriced
- Casa Tua: went on New Year's day for pizza - the service was attrocious
- Screaming Eagle: one of the worst dining experiences I have ever had; our waitress did not speak nor understand english; the place advertises itself as a restaurant and lounge but we were told they did not have a cocktail menu and the only cocktail we could have is a "vodka cocktail" - we asked what was in the "vodka cocktail" and were told it has vodka and "some other good stuff"; we then inquired about the tuna and were told it is caught by the restaurant's boat offshore (which we knew wasn't the case after our dinner at Madame Jennette); at this point, we receive our apps (which weren't bad) and then received the entrees at the same time - we asked for our waitress who said we should eat it all at once and was better that way so then asked for the manager who agreed to take the entrees back and bring them out in 20 minutes once we were done our apps - however, our entrees come back 45 minutes later literally ice cold - at this point, we had enough and asked for our check which we paid and left. Do not go if you do not need to - eater beware.
Just got back from Aruba - thought I'd add my own comments on my experience there:
Madame Jennette's: I unfortunately wasn't blown away by this place. Perhaps it was overhyped, but the venue itself was much bigger and less intimate that I thought it would be. The service was great, but the clientele was awful - two really large parties with obnoxious people talking incredibly loud. Not the romantic setting we were hoping for. My fiancee's food was very good (chorizo and buffalo) but my "lobster ravioli" was really a lobster dumpling. Very strange. Anyway, overall it was good.
Flying Fishbone: I loved this place. Loved the atmosphere, and I thought the food was really delicious. This would be my top recommendation - plus, though it is a far drive, it's worth it to get to see more of the island. Loved it
Screaming Eagle: Mixed - some people in my party hated their entrees but my fiancee and I loved ours. I thought the service was great - I have no idea what the above poster was talking about regarding the cocktails because we all ordered various cocktails and they were fine.
Cuba's Cookin: Very good food, really fun atmosphere and the owner is super sweet. I'd go here for a more casual, fun evening. Good live music as well. Everyone really liked their food here and we had a party of 12!
It is interesting that you feel the way we do about Madame J's. As for Screaming - we usually like it alot and the service has been very good. Just goes to show that it can be the night you go as well. As to the cocktails - whenever we go with one friend she tries something exotic and loves them. One night I ordered Absolut Citron on the rocks and it came with an orange slice. I tasted it and it WAS Absolut Mandarin which I had never tried. Loved it and my Absolut Citron bottle is languishing in the bar lol!!!
We'll have to try Indo when we go back at the end of January. Have never tried the Thai place and sure won't now lol!!! You missed Bingo's and Linda's Pancakes in the same strip as the sushi place. Linda's has great Dutch pancakes and Bingo's has the best burger on the island. Moomba is always talked about but everyone I know agrees with you about the food - mediocre at best. Next time also try Casa Tua in the same place - Arawak Garden - as Salt and Pepper. Great thin crust pizza as well as other Italian dishes. Thanks for your report!!!
re: Linda VH
We must have similar taste in restaurants. I really wanted to get to Casa Tua (no reservations available) and Linda's pancakes (never had a chance to get there). I will have to try them on my next trip, and Bingo's too.
One other thing about Restaurant Indo - it's all about the food. Not much atmosphere - a typical hole in the wall type of place. But great food!!!