I think I can safely say that the gluten free trend is strong in Aruba!
First, at least two of the supermarkets carry gluten free items. I walked into Super Foods, and they had a small gluten free area carrying items like Schar pasta, among other things. I also saw an advertisement for Ling and Sons, which apparently carries items made by Glutino as well as others. So buying your own food has become easier.
The second thing, is three of the six restaurants we went to for dinner offered me gluten free bread with my dinner! That was very cool!
New restaurants we went to:
Matthew’s Beachside Restaurant: This is a very nice restaurant that sits on the edge of the beach, though not in the sand. Although they did not have a gluten free menu, the waiter did speak to the chef about which items I could and could not have. The entrée I had was a grouper dish. In order to make it gluten free, they substituted melted butter for their creole sauce. The grouper was very flavorful and quite moist. I particularly liked the simple side of vegetables they served as a side dish, as they were crunchy but not undercooked, as can sometimes be the case.
Gostoso Restaurante: This charming little restaurant is behind the downtown area. The outside looks…like someplace you might be worried about eating in. However, they had gotten great reviews, so Cathy and I ventured inside. Wow! Am I glad we did! The owner was there, and he talked to us for a while. He read off a list of specials that all sounded great. Again, they were able to guide me to gluten free items. My entrée was a seafood medley that was in a sauce. Unfortunately, the owner spoke fast so I missed what the sauce was. In any case, the dish contained lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, grouper and calamari. Now Cathy is not a calamari fan. This is because, if calamari is overcooked, it can become rubbery. However, this calamari was cooked perfectly. It was very tender. The sauce was good and did not overpower the seafood, instead it complemented it. I have to say, this was one of the best meals I have had on the island, and I highly recommend this restaurant.
Yemanja Woodfired Grill: For anyone who must be gluten free, this is a great place to go. They actually have a huge gluten free menu. In comparing the regular menu and the gluten free menu, it looks like many of their regular items are gluten free. That being said, you should still ask for the gluten free menu.
As for the food, I had a wonderful fish chowder. Cathy got the same thing from the regular menu. She tried mine and she could detect only a slight difference. It was thick and creamy…exactly what a New Englander likes in chowder.
As for the entrée…well…I didn’t like what I ordered, which was a smoked duck breast. Don’t get me wrong. It was cooked perfectly with most of the fat rendered off. The presentation was simple but nice. I just felt it was too smoked, so it overpowered the meat. That being said, Cathy and one of our other travel companions happened to order items that were gluten free and they were both delicious, so I would have no problem going back, and you shouldn’t think twice about going there.
Marandi: Marandi is near the airport, and they have had a couple of different owners. The current owners also own a restaurant called Que Pasa. They do not have a gluten free menu, but the wait staff have a list of all of the foods they have that are gluten free.
I received some gluten free bread. This bread was shaped like a muffin with a very crunchy top, and the bread had herbs in it, which made it very flavorful. You should ask for separate butter though so you won’t have to deal with cross contamination.
Cathy and I both got the fish soup, which was naturally gluten free. It was a tomato based soup with a slight hint of curry. It gave the soup a nice flavor, and it really woke up my pallet.
My entrée was corvina, which is a fish from Panama. Big, flaky, moist with nicely seared skin and some chopped nuts on top which added texture to the dish, which was a delight.
It is nice to see that restaurants in Aruba are catering more and more to those of us who must be gluten free. What once was somewhat difficult has become relatively easy.