Out of all the islands that I have visited, Aruba may just have the best food and offers a variety of cuisines, Mexican, Italian, French, and Indian to name a few. I ate my heart out in Aruba, like 4 course meals including complimentary starters. The best part of my meal was dessert and coffee, so typical of me. My friend, Shanam, and I agreed to share one dessert for dinner rather ordering two separate desserts, this kept our weight in check and allowed us the opportunity to enjoy more items on the menu. As you will see below, we ate a lot for dinner, but that's also because we usually ate brunch/lunch around 12 PM, hit the pool/beach, and by the time dinner rolled around, we were starving.
You simply cannot go wrong with the food in Aruba, at the very least, the food will be average, but never horrible. I had the pleasure of dining at some fabulous restaurants, and each restaurant had something unique to offer. Some restaurants had impeccable views, while others had amazing food, and then there were those that offered both. I highly recommend making dinner reservations around 6:30 PM for places that offer sunset views since the sun typically sets around 7 PM in Aruba. Enjoy the sunset with a cocktail, it was one of my favorite moments on the trip. Additionally, I loved that every place we went to gave us a complimentary bread basket with butter, and the best part is the bread was hot. Whipped butter melting over hot bread may just be my new guilty pleasure. It’s the simple things in life that we so often take for granted and I'm learning to slow down and enjoy the ride. Enough digressing, here is my review on Simply Fish, Madame Janette, Pinchos Grill & Bar, and Windows on Aruba.
1. Atardi (formerly Simply Fish)
Experience an extraordinary sunset with amazing ambience, dining on the beach, outstanding service, and excellent seafood. Live Music! Best meal and experience on the entire trip! Here I am with our server, Oscar – he was awesome!!!
Started off with:
Complimentary Bread & Butter w/Olive Tapenade – bread was warm and soft, whipped butter melted seamlessly over the bread, olive tapenade was creamy and smooth. Unforgettable!
Complimentary Tuna – grilled tuna over tartar sauce. Tuna was well seasoned, just perfection.
297 Cocktail – the inspiration behind the name is Aruba’s country code is 297. Well made and so pretty.
Lobster Claw Salad – I personally don’t care for lobster, but my friend (Shanam) described the lobster as succulent with bits of apples in the salad.
Pesto Burrata Caprese Salad – creamy Burrata topped with balsamic and julienne basil with a side of cherry tomatoes. This combination was to die for.
Mahi Mahi – slightly disappointing due to the dish being warm, and not hot. Additionally, the Mahi Mahi was slightly chewy. The Coconut Rice accompanying this dish was tasty as were the baby carrots.
Macadamia Crusted Grouper – hot & crusty. The grouper sat on a bed of red curry dressing and was topped with quinoa with a side of sautéed bok choy. This dish was unique and well made.
Decaf Coffee – robust and very hot which was nice on a breezy night. Excellent.
Chocolate Tart – warm chocolate with ice-cream, rich, yet light, with a few blueberries and strawberries off to the side. Simple, elegant, outstanding!
LOCATION: L.G. Smith Blvd. 101, Palm Beach, Aruba @ Marriott Aruba Stellaris Resort & Casino
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Atardi
VERDICT: 4.75 / 5
Our first meal in Aruba and since we were staying at the Marriott Resort, it made sense to start off with Simply Fish. The sunset views here are spectacular, the service is outstanding, and the food is excellent. Everything I tried here was memorable, especially the Complimentary Tuna starter, Pesto Burrata Caprese Salad, Chocolate Tart, and Coffee. I’m sure one of these items will make my Top 15 things I ate in 2015! Highly Recommended – make reservations in advance. Will be back!
Food: Outstanding | Drinks: Excellent | Décor: Romantic/Sunset on the Beach with Tiki Torches | Service: Outstanding | Value: Good
2. Madame Janette
An exceptionally beautiful & romantic restaurant with live music, excellent service, and amazing food! A must do in Aruba!
Started off with:
Complimentary Foccacia with whipped garlic butter – tasty bread, but extremely buttery. The garlic butter on the side was sensational.
Kir Royale – an aperitif! A popular French cocktail prepared with Champagne and Crème de Cassis – loved this drink, unique, refreshing, not too sweet.
Janette’s Sashimi Grade Ahi Tuna – sesame crusted Ahi Tuna on a bed of Thai Greens, Spicy Siracha Vinaigrette and toasted pine nuts. Although I’m not a fan of raw fish, this dish was very good and I enjoyed the sesame crusted part of the tuna. The ginger, sesame, and soy flavors really stood out in the mixed greens.
The Original “Almond Grouper” – a Grouper filet coated with Slivered Almonds and served with a Creamed Spinach Sauce. This dish is one of Madame Janette’s famous dishes, however in my humble opinion there just wasn’t enough seasoning and it was rather bland. Having said that, the grouper filet was perfectly cooked and tender, flaky on the inside and crispy on the outside.
Madame Janette’s Asian Soy Honey Glazed Sea bass Filet – served on a bed of Wasabi Mashed Potatoes, crowned with stir fried wok veggies and finished with a light spicy Asian Soy Sauce and Creamy Ginger Flavored Butter Beurre Blanc. This dish right here was P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N! The Sea bass was perfectly cooked, the temperature of the fish was hot, and the Asian Soy Honey Glaze was out of this world. The Wasabi Mashed Potatoes were wonderful and seasoned well. Complex flavors that all came together in this impressive dish.
Janette’s famous Potato Gratin – these aren’t your ordinary mashed potatoes, these potatoes were creamy, buttery with a hint of chives. Hello, it is French-inspired! Divine! This is a must do at Madame Janette.
Coconut Cream Cake – served with coconut flakes and toasted almonds. Slightly weak, too creamy and a bit too sweet for my liking.
Decaf Coffee – well made and hit the spot. The gingerbread biscuit on the side was a nice touch.
Complimentary Shots – banana flavored, delicious, but I had to pass on shots soon after dessert.
LOCATION: Cunucu Abao 37, Palm Beach, Aruba
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Madame Janette
CUISINE: French-inspired / International
VERDICT: 4.5 / 5
Madame Janette has won many prestigious culinary awards and is a must do while visiting Aruba. Quite a few locals, including taxi drivers, suggested we dine at Madame Janette, it’s a good thing I made reservations in advance. One of the most beautiful and romantic restaurants I have ever been to, the atmosphere at Madame Janette was festive with Live Music on a Friday night. The food here is amazing and I very highly recommend Janette’s Potato Gratin and the Asian Sea bass on the Specials Menu which was the best dish on the entire trip. Regretfully, I wasn’t able to try the Salmon a la Florentine which sounds incredible. Also, keep in mind the portions here are quite large and would make good leftovers if you are staying in an apartment. Lastly, make reservations ahead of time because this place was packed when we arrived. Definitely coming back!
Food: Excellent | Drinks: Excellent | Décor: Romantic/Beautiful | Service: Outstanding | Value: Good
3. Pinchos Grill & Bar
Watch a beautiful sunset on the pier with live music in a romantic setting sipping the best tropical cocktails!
Started off with:
Boston Shamrock – with Vodka, Blue Curacao, Creme de Banana, Pineapple & Orange Juices.
Complimentary Bread & Butter – perfectly warm.
Conch Fritters – yummy, but also hard to go wrong with anything fried. Loved the Tarragon Mayonnaise on the side.
Grilled Aruban Mahi Mahi Fillet – grilled to perfection, tender and served with a side of garlic-herb butter. The Grilled Veggies and Jasmine Coconut Rice were well-made too. All items were temperature hot and just right!
Sword Fish – special of the day. Sword Fish is tough so it is almost like eating a steak fish. This was Shanam’s dish and she enjoyed it.
Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips – this dessert received rave reviews online, but I’m not sure what the hype was about. The cake itself was a bit too creamy and sweet.
Coffee – solid cup of coffee, perfect end to a good meal.
LOCATION: L.G. Smith Blvd 7 | Surfside Marina, Orjanestad, Aruba
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Pinchos Grill & Bar
VERDICT: 4 / 5
Pinchos Grill & Bar was a pleasant dining experience and if you are lodging at the Renaissance Resort in Orjanestad, definitely consider dining here. The cocktail list is extensive, I think it took me 10 minutes just to figure out what I wanted to drink. It was great sipping a tropical cocktail and snacking on bread & butter while watching a beautiful sunset. Pinchos offers all grilled entrees and is a good choice for those looking for a somewhat healthy meal. You can smell the aroma of the veggies and garlic sauté coming from the kitchen. Overall, a good option to consider if you are in and around the Marina/Downtown area.
Food: Good | Drinks: Excellent | Décor: Romantic/Sunset on the Pier | Service: Good | Value: Very Good
4. Windows On Aruba
Classy restaurant with Indoor seating. The shades go up right before sunset.
Started off with:
Complimentary Bread Basket – enjoyed the Yuca Bread with Butter, I wasn’t a fan of the Jalapeno Cheddar Bread, a bit too egg-y tasting.
Garden Salad – with Raspberry Vinaigrette was amazing. The dressing made this salad!
Mahi Mahi – had an aftertaste that I couldn’t figure out and I was turned off. On the other hand, the sides were better - Soba Noodles were excellent topped with Sesame Oil, you could really taste the sesame flavor. Additionally, the Seaweed Salad was excellent too.
Mango Cheesecake – the cheesecake was a cross between a light and dense cheesecake, and the flavor of the cheesecake was decent. The mango portion on top of the cake tasted off, it certainly did not taste fresh. Not impressed.
Coffee - Solid. Excellent.
Complimentary Truffles – nice touch.
LOCATION: J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 93 @ Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort
RESTAURANT REVIEW: WIndows On Aruba
VERDICT: 2 / 5
Windows On Aruba was very disappointing. None of the items were outstanding with the exception of the salad and coffee, both fairly simple to prepare. This place is overpriced for very, very mediocre food, and the service is just okay.
Food: Average | Drinks: Excellent | Décor: Sophisticated/Classy | Service: Average | Value: Average
Other Dining Recommendations
Papiamento – highly recommended by the locals
Gianni’s Ristorante Italiano
Passions on the Beach
Question: Have you been to Aruba? If so, where was your best dining experience?