Papiamento could very well be Aruba’s most romantic restaurant—the whole place has a dreamy fairytale quality and they serve the best local fare. In the lush garden, trickling pools greet you and create a sense of serenity. The space is decidedly elegant with a clean, open space and an outdoor seating area set under a canopy of foliage created by their beautiful trees. White-clad chairs lend a very upscale look to the place—a wedding or bridal party would feel at home here.
Eduard Ellis, the chef and general manager of the restaurant, brings together fine dining with regional flavors. While seafood seems to be the focus (as with most Caribbean islands), Papiamento’s vision stems from the unflinching standards of the Ellis family, whose roots are from Holland. They’ve served Caribbean food in their farm home in the countryside (Cunucu in Papiamento) for over 200 years now, so they should know a thing or two about fine cuisine.
You can expect dishes like Keeshi Yena: a very authentic local specialty stew typically made with chicken, herbs, and melted Gouda cheese. Other favorites of mine include the Burgundy Pate (given the chef’s fondness for wines), and a fine Julius salad served with baked croutons and dressing. A delicious Pan Bollo or Aruban bread pudding with Ponce Crème for dessert finishes the meal off perfectly.