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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Gluten Free and Aruba!

Recently, Cathy and I spent a week in Aruba.  They say that Aruba is the Hawaii for those of us on the East Coast.  Quite honestly, I’m not sure that’s true.  A former friend of mine once said to us, “Well you know it’s not a tropical paradise!”  Yeah, that’s true.  Still, it has warm weather all the time, beaches, casinos, shopping, and restaurants.  Really, what more could you ask for?

That being said, when I first went gluten free, all but the best restaurants in Aruba didn’t have much of a clue about how to treat a gluten free person.  Now, generally, it is “easyish” to be gluten free down there, because most of the restaurants have fresh fish, and because tourism is their main revenue source, if you tell them the pans must be washed before putting any food in, they will do so.

Things have changed for the better over the last five years.  Many of the restaurants now are very well versed in gluten free cooking.  So here is a quick rundown of the places we ate, and what I had.

Madame Janette – This restaurant is one of our favorites.  I will admit that there have been occasions when the food has been mediocre.  But man, when it’s good, it’s really, really good.  Luckily, that’s most of the time.  Their signature dish is Almond Grouper.  This was a dish that they couldn’t offer gluten free for a long time, but the chef figured out how to do it, and it is wonderful.  A lovely, perfectly cooked piece of grouper that is encrusted with sliced almonds, with a spinach sauce on top.

White Modern Cuisine – This is a fairly new restaurant.  It wasn’t particularly busy when we went, which is a shame, because the food was quite good and fairly inexpensive considering what you get.  I got a piece of red snapper, with a side of kimchi with soba noodles.  And as an aside…you must try their Pink Panther Cocktail.

Carambola – This meal was good.  Not “this was so good, I can’t wait to go back” good.  Just… good.  I had the Boulibase, which really wasn’t a classic boulibase, as it was much thicker than any boulibase I’ve ever had.  That being said, it did have good flavor, and was gluten free.

Carte Blanche – This place is consistently the best place we eat at.  They only serve 14 people a night, and there is only one seating, so you must make reservations early.  Essentially, you sit at the bar, and then you have a choice of either a four or five course tasting menu.  The Chef is well versed in gluten free cooking.  The ceviche is his signature dish.  In addition, the halibut was perfectly flaky on the inside with a crisp skin on the outside.  For good food and an incredibly fun place to go, I highly recommend Carte Blanche. 

Linda’s Pancakes – Okay, so there is a story to this place.  The pancakes here are Dutch pancakes.  I would describe them as something between a pancake and a crepe, baked in the oven, and taste ever so slightly sweet.  It was our tradition to go here for breakfast the day that we left.  Needless to say, when I went gluten free, I was heartbroken that I would no longer to be able to have these wonderful pancakes.  I had been gluten free for a little over a year when our best friends, Jan and Leslie called us to tell us they just got back from Aruba, and Linda’s now served gluten free pancakes.  As it turns out, Linda was diagnosed earlier that year as celiac.  Well, when we went there the next year, and sure enough, they had gluten free Dutch pancakes.  They were fantastic!  I asked the waitress if I could say hello to Linda.  She came out and I gave her a big hug and thank you for allowing Cathy and I to continue our last morning in Aruba tradition!  Unfortunately, Linda’s husband passed away the next year, and although Linda also died of cancer a couple of years later, I think she died of a broken heart.  In any case, her kids have carried on her restaurant and her recipes.  They have set types of  Dutch pancakes, but you can also build your own.  Cathy prefers the sweet kind, so she gets strawberries and bananas on hers with whipped cream and maple syrup, while I prefer sweet and salty, so I go crazy (my one time on the island after eating healthy all week) and get my pancake with bacon, ham, and gouda cheese.  THEN I add the maple syrup.  Good Dutch coffee as well, which is much stronger than its American counterpart.

There seem to be more and more places in Aruba that accommodate gluten free eaters.  These are just some of them.  Go to the island of Aruba.  Relax at the beach, play a few hands of blackjack, and eat some amazing food that is gluten free.

To see where I ate in Aruba in 2013, click here.

There is one guy though who is not thrilled with the whole Aruba experience...


  1. Top five best restaurants in Aruba are Chichigua, Le Tastevin, 2 Fools and a Bull, The Cliff, Boston Jerk Centre with my best knowledge. These are best restaurants to visit and awesome and delicious food.

  2. Its really a nice blog with all sufficient information.Hey max...I am also looking for best top dining restaurants in Aruba which are affordable for a common man.Could you tell me more about restaurants.

  3. Great blog and found this interesting. There are many top restaurants available in Aruba and all provides good facilities and services.You would be enjoy here.All you need that forget all worries about your health.