Vegan and friends – Aruba

If anyone was wondering how did I end up in Aruba, this is probably a good time for a disclaimer. I actually took a three week intensive yoga teacher training on the island (with @yoga_girl). I am now both a yoga teacher, and pretty much an expert when it comes to places with vegan option in Aruba, and especially in Noord (the northern area of the island), where I stayed.

Veganism is not really a thing in Aruba, and the awareness of the locals isn’t amazing. However, as Aruba has more tourists than residents, and most of them come from the states, the vegan scene is starting to grow. Although in some places the only vegan option is still French fries, some restaurants either have vegan options on the menu, or are willing to to make some adjustments. Here is a list of a few of my favorite places, which offer vegan options.

Palm – Eagle Beach:

The popular boardwalk near the beaches at the Noord area. As most hotels (including the fancy ones) are located in this area of the island, Palm beach has a strip with numerous restaurants and bars. Here is my short list for places with vegan options.

Lola / Craft

This multi faceted place is one of the best places to go to, no matter what time of the day it is. During the morning craft is a coffee shop, serving smoothie and oat bowls. You can also get great coffee (hot or iced) with soy, coconut or almond/oat milk (depends on the day). Craft serves some fancier beverages as well, such as match latte etc, all of which are available till the late evening, though breakfast is only available till noon. Afternoon craft turns into a bar and joins its sister, Lola – a Mexican restaurant, in order to offer lunch and dinner. Lola has some yummy vegan options, such as a guacamole dip, Chop Chop salad (ask to leave out the cheese), and 3 tortilla options. My personal favorite is the mushroom tortilla (again, ask to take out the cheese). As Craft actually stands for craft beer, they have a wide selection of alcoholic beverages. You can get a cocktail or a beer any time of the day. I would recommend their Margaritas, which are both yummy and very generous with the alcohol percentage ;).

The atmosphere in craft is super laid back, you can hangout there all day long. The staff is friendly and welcoming, and will make you feel right at home. Though at times it is crowded, during the afternoon the place is relaxed and is perfect if you wish to get some work done, using Craft’s free Wi-Fi, if needed.

As for the decor, almost all seats are outside. While craft is a big bar with sparkling star decorations hanging from the ceiling, Lola is a cute and colorful modern-Mexican looking restaurant. It has beautiful yellow-turquoise tiles, eclectic colorful chairs, and a Frida Kahlo painting on the ceiling. As you sit beneath the palm trees you will also notice the flag strings blowing in the wind.

Craft is open daily from 8pm – 1m, and on Fridays and Saturdays till 3am.

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Amore Mio

Amore Mio, as you can probably tell by its name, is an Italian restaurant. This place is right next door to Craft. It is a big space with many seating options (mostly outdoors), and is a little less casual looking than Lola. Among the vegan options you will be able to find a Focaccia, salads, pastas, and most importantly, vegan pizza! Amore Mio offers 2 totally vegan pizza options – one is labeled just that on the menu, and has vegan mozzarella cheese and vegan sausage on top, and the other option (and the better one IMO), is to ask for the vegetarian pizza with vegan cheese. The vegetarian pizza comes with a generous selection of vegetables on top, and is delicious. Go grab a pizza daily between 11am-1.

Azia

Azia is an Asian restaurant and has the same owners as Amore Mio, however the atmosphere is entirely different – this is more of a fancy dinner spot. Once you enter the big space you will see a big Buddha statue in the middle of the restaurant, long tables with white table cloth and crystal chandeliers. The place has an oriental-modern fusion flair to it, and is great for an affordable but elegant hangout.

Azia offers quite a few vegan options, most of which are either starters (like spring rolls, samosa or dumplings) or side dishes (various vegetable options), but you can also ask for the eggplant tempura roll without the cream cheese. Of course Azia offers a variety of lovely cocktails as well. Azia is open daily from 6pm-1am.

Gelatissimo

Gelatissimo, if you haven’t figured out by its name, is an ice cream shop with a few locations across Aruba, but one of them is right in between Craft and Amore Mio. Gelatissimo has a variety of vegan options, including different fruity sorbets, some sort of chocolate/cookie flavor, based on nut ice cream, and my personal favorite – Black Hawaiian, which is a coconut based ice cream that gets its color from charcoal. I am honestly in love with it, and I’m extremely sad I can’t take a bucket full of it with me back home. Open daily from 7am – 1am.

Noord:

The northern part of the island, this area is mostly residential. You will see a variety of one story houses of different class and a lot of cacti. If you look carefully, there are some restaurants as well.

Indo

Unlike my previous recommendation, Indo, which is a Surinamese and Indonesian restaurant, is a small local business, in a non touristy area. The food is very simple, as well as the design. The menu offers a lot of dishes, and even though it isn’t clear which are vegan, you can ask the chef for vegan options. You should try the yucca fries, which are the local version of potatoes. I also had rice with tofu and vegetables, which was good. My second time visiting the restaurant and requesting a vegan meal the chef actually came out of the kitchen and asked to talk to me. He told me his grandfather was Hindu and that he respects veganism very much, so he tries to offer his guests vegan options. I appreciated that a lot, and it made the entire experience even better. The bottom line is, most dishes can be adjusted to your preference. Note that this place only takes cash, so make sure to have some (prices are all in florins, though you can pay in dollars) and the place is super affordable. Open from 12pm-3pm and from 5pm-10pm from Friday to Sunday, closed on Mondays and open from 5pm-10pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Oranjestad:

Oranjesrad is the only city in Aruba. The main streets are still very touristy (mostly near the beach), with a shopping strip and a mall where you will find all the expensive brands, some fancy hotels (the Renaissance is the most luxurious one), booths that sell souvenirs and many restaurants and bars. However, if you turn into any of the streets that lead deeper into the city, you will see a totally different picture. You will find an assortment of little colorful colonial buildings alongside some falling apart abandoned buildings. The allies are tiny and have an urban decay chic to them. If you are into that (like me), a stroll is definitely recommended.

Aruba Experience Cafe

This super cute cafe is rather a new one. It is located in the city center in a renovated yellow Cunucu (typical Aruban house). The place is a modern take on Aruban ambiance and food. The decor is super cute with rural stone walls and black and white painted tiles. Their coffee is really good, and if you prefer, you can also get a matcha latte or smoothies. As for vegan food options, there are quite a few – you can get an avo toast or wraps, as well as salad options and vegan bowls, which come with rice/quinoa, beans and chickpeas, etc. For a chill and cozy (and instagramable) coffee shop, visit Aruba Experience Cafe from Monday to Saturday between 8am-6pm.

aruba experience cafe

[via @ArubaExperiencecafeandpatisserie]

Yemanja

Yemanja is definitely the cherry on top of my entire Aruban culinary experience. Yemanja is a high end restaurant located close to the Renaissance hotel. You might need to reserve a table if you would like to visit it. Keep in mind that this is still Aruba, so you can dress up, but no need to go all out, your flip flops will do. On the outside it may look like nothing special, but once you walk inside and pass the bar area, you will see a super cute tropical half outdoorsy space (there are also seats in the backyard, where smoking is allowed).

Yemanja offers numerous vegan options on the menu (note that all vegetarian meals can be vegan upon request). Both starters and main dishes have the vegetarian and healthy section first, which makes it easy to find. Most dishes are an interesting fusion of some sort, and though I only tried one main course, I wish I would have tried all the dishes. I had a cauliflower steak, which was amazing – the flavors were balanced, the textures were interesting, and though it was fulfilling, it wasn’t a heavy meal. My one reservation is that this meal had a absolutely nothing to do with a steak. Friends I was dining with had the grilled stuffed portobello (without the cheese), and said it was delicious as well. For dessert with had the raw vegan snickers bar, which was yummy (not a big portion) and a cup of coffee, which was good as well. We also had some cocktails, which were all good and strong! Staff was friendly and helpful and it felt like we could just stay there for hours. I honestly think this is a must go to restaurant if you are in Aruba!

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Till next time,

~Lir

 


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