There are many culinary influences on the island of Aruba, because of it’s various conquering’s, but there isn’t a feel for a specific cuisine. Many varieties of fish are locally sourced, but the majority of the food served in Aruba is brought to the island. When I asked locals to tell me about Aruba cuisine, there wasn’t much offered as a description.
Many of the hotel menus are very Americanized serving everything from pizza to poppers. Salads such as the Cobb and Caesar are on most menus. There are also a lot of chain restaurants on the island such as Hooters, the Hard Rock, TGI Fridays, Wacky Wahoo, Senior Frogs and Ruth Chris Steak House. Food-wise, I wouldn’t call Aruba’s food scene unique.
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It was a huge treat when I found Atardi, which is located at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. Atardi is a pop-up, toes-in-the-sand restaurant located feet from the Caribbean sea. During my visit to Aruba with my son Roland, we had the wonderful experience of dining at Atardi.
We arrived about 45 minutes before sunset, which is the perfect time to dine. It allows you to enjoy dinner through the gorgeous last hour of sunshine, magnificent sunset and then with the tiki torch ambiance when the sun does down.
When you check in, you also check your shoes in a cubby and head to the sand and a beautiful table with white linens decorated with a vase of sand and seashells.
Atardi, which our sever told us means long sunset in the native island language of Papiamento, is fine dining with the best view in the world.
Because all beaches are public in Aruba and cannot be built on, or obstructed, the Marriott operates the restaurant as a pop-up operation nightly. Each afternoon at 4pm, staff arrive to set up tables and chairs three feet from the water, in time for sunset and break it all down at night, restoring the beach to its pristine emptiness.
While the location of the restaurant is stellar, the food manages to compete with the view. I started the evening with a champagne cocktail and our waiter suggested the Tuna Carpaccio which was served with pecans, Madame Jeanette peppers, cilantro, ginger, lemon juice, olive, and sesame oil.
Atardi is fine dining Caribbean style and the service is impeccable. The Atardi menu offers a lot of seafood items for both starters and main entrees. After our Carpaccio, we enjoyed tomato caprese with traditional Burrata mozzarella with drizzles of balsamic reduction, basil pesto and olive oil. For our main courses, I enjoyed blackened Mahi Mahi served with ajo blanco, grilled tomatoes, olive salt and topped with roasted red pepper sauce. Roland enjoyed the macadamia crusted grouper served with bok choy, black quinoa chaufa over a creamy red curry sauce.
Dinner comes with a show at Atardi. During a visit, not only do you get to enjoy the spectacular sunset, but also sailboats making their way in the Caribbean sea as well as couples holding hands walking along the shoreline and kids playing in the gentle ripples of the calm water.
Dessert arrived as the sun was inching it’s way to the horizon. Roland enjoyed a warm chocolate tart, with a caramel drizzle, fruit compote and vanilla ice cream. Atardi has my go to gluten free desert; Creme Brulé. The vanilla brulé was rich and creamy and topped with fresh berries.
In my book, Atardi: Aruba’s Pop-Up Beach Dining wins the award for best beach dining on Aruba. And don’t forget, the spectacular Caribbean sunset is free with every meal.
Atardi is located in Palm Beach and open daily from 6:15 -10 PM www.marriott.com/restaurant
WHEN TO VISIT ARUBA
Aruba sits outside of the hurricane belt, so anytime is a great time to visit this Caribbean island. The major factors are then looking at the most economical time to visit. January to March, July to August and holidays you will find the room rates at their highest. April, May, June, September and October are the cheaper months.
If you enjoyed this article about Atardi: Aruba’s Pop-Up Beach Dining, you’ll also love 20 Things you Probably Don’t Know About Aruba.
Traveling To Aruba Soon? Here are a few tips:
How to get there: At the Queen Beatrix International Airport, you’ll find frequent nonstop, or convenient single-connection flights from most major U.S. cities, as well as daily flights from all major hubs arounds the world.
American, Canadian, Caribbean, European and most South American citizens don’t require visas to enter Aruba.
Where to stay: There are many places to stay in Aruba. There is a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxury. For a luxury hotel that won’t break the bank, I recommend the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino which is currently the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor. You can also check HotelsCombined for the best Aruba Hotel Rates.
What to pack: Aruba vacations are casual and comfortable, and your apparel should be the same. Make sure to bring bathing suits/swim trunks, flip-flops, and sandals. Water shoes will come in handy at rocky, pebbly beach areas. For sun protection, bring some sort of cover-up (pareo, rashguard, etc.), wide-brimmed hat or cap, and sunglasses. Be sure to reapply sunscreen often, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (Aruba Aloe is an excellent locally made brand sold everywhere.)
ARACHOVA TRIP ESSENTIALS
6 Indispensable Items to Pack for Aruba Vacation
- Get the Fodor’s In Focus Aruba (Full-color Travel Guide).
- Bring a good quality mirrorless camera for getting those beautiful Aruba beach landscape shots. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .
- Summers are normally hot, humid and very windy in Aruba, so make sure to bring Neutrogena Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45
- A great cross body travel bag. Cross body bags prevent theft and are much easier to access.
- Don’t forget sunglasses for the beautiful sunny days. A.J. Morgan Unisex Sunglasses are a great choice and very affordable!
- Water shoes are a great item to pack for any beach vacation. They take up little room when packing and great if you end up at a beach that is rocky or with very hot sand.
Read More About Aruba
52 Reasons to Visit Aruba
20 Things you Probably Don’t Know About Aruba
Aruba Hotel Guide: Budget to Luxury
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.