For quality and variety of dining, Aruba ranks near the top of Caribbean destinations; visitors can choose from an array of eateries that span the culinary globe. One great option: the dine-around program of the Aruba Gastronomic Association (+297-861266 or 800-793-6028) gives you four options. For $117, you get coupons good for three dinners; $190 gets you five dinners; for $262.50, you can have one dinner every day of the week; and for $230, you can have five breakfasts or lunches and four dinners. The coupons are good for appetizer, entree, dessert, coffee, or tea, and service charge at any of the AGA's 25 member restaurants, which include some of the island's best. So take a deep breath, renew your gym membership for the next century, and dig in.
Sunny informal Cuba's Cookin' (Wilhelminastraat 27; +297-880627; $14-33) serves tasty favorites from Havana. Although housed in an old Aruban homestead, the bistro is plenty hip, and the warm staff smiles constantly. In the midst of the low-rise hotels, you'll find more continental fare at Le Dome (J.E. Irausquin Blvd 224; +297-871517; $29-40). This auberge boasts a French/Belgian menu and voluminous wine, liqueur, and dessert menus.
Papiamento (Washington 61; +297-864544; $22-42), named after the local language, offers seating in lush poolside gardens or in an antique-filled 175-year-old country home. The menu combines the best of Aruba and Holland. Romantic Gasparito (Gasparito 3; +297-867044; $15-37), another art gallery/restaurant (and one of the island's few non-smoking eateries), features intimate dining rooms inside and a breezy outdoor patio and bar. Specialties include "keshi yena," an island dish of beef, chicken, or shrimp, embellished with raisins, gouda cheese, and olives. Need a reason to visit the scruffy oil refinery town of San Nicolas? Have lunch at Charlie's Bar and Restaurant (San Nicolas; +297-845086; $13-22), a local haunt since 1941. With a seafood-dominated menu (try the cazuelas, a fish soup) and attic-eclectic interior, it reels in locals and tourists alike.