Zeerover’s is considered the quintessential Aruba dining spot. // © 2014 Nila Do Simon
Feature image (above): Situated on a pier, Pinchos Grill & Bar exudes a casual-chic ambiance. // © 2014 Pinchos Grill & Bar
Aruban cuisine is the quintessential definition of a melting pot. With cultures and traditions from Holland, Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean, plus the fresh fish hauled in every day, the culinary scene in Aruba personifies everything that makes Caribbean dining unique.
Here are some of our top choices for dining in Aruba, a small island of just 70 square miles that packs a big culinary punch.
Linda’s Dutch Pancakes and Pizzas
You might think you know pancakes, but a Dutch pancake is an entirely different kind of concoction. In an ode to the island’s Dutch roots, Linda’s brings to the Caribbean the motherland’s classic pancakes — less fluffy than the American version and more crepe-like in texture. A Dutch pancake can be topped with a variety of ingredients, from savory to sweet items or a mixture of both. Linda’s lets customers create their own pancake toppings from a selection of more than 40 individual ingredients.
The informal restaurant, with interior and patio seating, is a family-run establishment open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Pinchos Grill & Bar
Located on a pier hovering over the Caribbean sea, Pinchos Grill & Bar is a chic yet casual restaurant that is equally known for its food and ambiance. Owners Robby Peterson and Anabela Peterson de Sousa bring decades of experience in the hospitality industry to the open-air dining spot.
Each entree, whether it is seafood, meat or vegetables, is expertly cooked over an open grill. The cocktails are well-crafted, including frozen options, and there is a large wine list. Live music is featured on the weekends. Pinchos is only open for dinner.
Affectionately referred to as the ultimate in toes-in-the-sand dining, Simply Fish is a pop-up restaurant on beach. Located on the grounds of the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, Simply Fish sets up shop nightly during dinner hours on the sand beneath the resort’s palapas. With a menu featuring fresh gourmet seafood options as well as non-seafood selections, Simply Fish is casual enough for guests to kick off their shoes and dig their toes in the sand while enjoying an elegant and upscale dining experience.
Zeerovers is the ultimate local dining experience in Aruba, an ultra-casual waterside restaurant that serves only the day’s fresh catch along with a handful of side items, such as French fries and plantains. The fish is so fresh that we saw the fishing boat come in with the day’s haul — including our meal.
The open-air restaurant permits diners to sit on the patio or on the dock that extends into the water so you feel as if you are dining on the ocean. Guests are asked to place their orders at the front of the restaurant — I ordered freshly caught shrimp and swordfish flavored with Caribbean spices — where it’s weighed to determine the exact price. Adding to its casual ambiance, Zeerovers serves its fish no-frills-style: on paper plates and with plastic utensils.