Popular Aruba Foods
These are the typical dishes
you need to try
Aruba - Dine Like a Local
Aruba, like every island, has a distinctive cuisine,
which like Aruba’s population and language, comes
from many different cultures.
These are some of the local foods to look for in Aruba's restaurants.
cheese (keshi yena): This classic dish is
traditionally made by
hollowing out a round of cheese
it with ground beef, chicken,
olives, cashew nuts and piccalilli, a green tomato
relish with onion and peppers. Keshi yena also can
be served a cheese melt sandwich, served as a baked
shell filled with Edam cheese and meat. Not served
everywhere, Keshi yena is available daily at the Old Cunucu House restaurant located on Palm Beach.
They make it as a casserole
using all the traditional ingredients and topping it with gouda cheese.
Conch: Found in Aruba as well as much of the
Caribbean, conch is served
as fried fitters, a stew with vegetables or a ceviche pickled with onions and
in vinegar or lime juice (this often is called a conch
makes terrific chowder or fried fritters.
Traditional fish soup: As it should be, this soup is made with
is freshest, usually grouper, wahoo or mahi mahi. At the Driftwood Restaurant,
the soup is seasoned with a sprig of basil known locally as yerb i hole. The soup
is best enjoyed with bites of buttery funchi (a type of baked polenta) or a slice
of traditional cornmeal pancake known as pan bati.
Creole snapper (snapper crioyo): Another signature Aruban dish, the snapper
is pan fried and topped with a tomato-based Creole
sauce. At the Aqua Grill restaurant, the grilled fish is topped with a Creole sauce that’s more akin to a cold salsa made of roasted
vegetables and hot
peppers. This is not typical Aruban style since
most of the island’s Creole sauce
is not this hot.
Aruban grouper: This popular fish is prepared in a number of ways. One the best is a grouper fillet crusted with brie cheese and served
with a mango-papaya
vinaigrette. The high end restaurant that once
served it is no more, but many
others have their own creative
versions. The dish is often accompanied by
funchi, which is a baked polenta sometimes served in a gourmet version that’s creamy with goat cheese.
Aruban bread pudding (pan boyo): A dense cake served warm or
made by mixing bread, cinnamon and raisins. If you’re fond
of bread pudding, you should try the pumpkin bread pudding at the
Sunset Grille Restaurant at the Radisson Aruba
Resort Casino & Spa.
Not your average bread pudding.
Curried goat or chicken is served as a stew over rice or with roti (Indian flat bread). Very popular with locals but not so much with visitors. It can be quite good as long as the goat is tender.
Meatloaf is not a mound of hamburger but more like shredded beef with rice, green beans and plantain. You won’t be hungry an hour later.
Rijstaffel: Not the easiest thing to find other han an Indonesian
because of the elaborate preparation needed. Rijstaffel
("rice-TA-fel") is a
must-try lunch based on an Indonesian
smorgasbord of tasty meats, vegetables and rice dishes. An
elaborate rijstaffel may offer a dozen or more small portions
so you can sample as many dishes as possible. And then order more
of the same
that’s most appealing at that sitting or at another time.
More than most islands, Aruba is filled with fast
food eateries that make Americans feel like
they’re in their own backyard. But eating the
same old, same old is not why you came to Aruba.
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