Restaurants in Curacao Image: Curacao Tourist Board
Curacao restaurants offer a surprising variety given the fact that there is little local agriculture. The main reason for this is the eclectic multicultural mix and ethnic diversity of people who have immigrated to this small island over the course of its history. Since this island is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, you will find that a great deal of Curacao food is Dutch in origin. Look for traditional split pea soup, pickled fish, and Dutch cookies made from ground peanuts and Stroopwafel (crisp waffle cookies with a caramel filling).
And, since the Dutch have had (and still have) colonies in what was once called the Dutch East Indies, many people emigrated here from Indonesia. Therefore, some of the best dining in Curacao offers the cuisine of Indonesia. Look for traditional nasi goring, noodle dishes, and varieties of satay. Something not to miss is Rijsttafel, an elaborate Indonesian feast adapted by the Dutch that you will find in Amsterdam restaurants as well as Curacao. The staple is rice, usually surrounded by as many as 20 to 40 side dishes from all over Indonesia. More than 50 other nationalities are found here, including a substantial number from China. Spain ruled here for more than 130 years, and you will find many Spanish specialties. Even cooking traditions from Africa come into play, brought by the slaves who worked the plantations and salt mining enterprises.
Some of the best dining in Curacao is found in little roadside kiosks serving Curacao food that is similar to the fare found throughout the Caribbean, unpretentious barbecue spots and seaside seafood shacks. Typical Caribbean specialties include the fruits found on most of the islands: papayas and bananas, mangos and coconuts, plantains, pumpkins, and avocados. Staples found on many restaurant tables include beans, okra, potatoes, boniato, cassava, and hot peppers. Be sure to try some Kadushi soup, made from the native cactus that is one agricultural product and Curacao food not in short supply. For true local dining, try the Marsche Bieuw (Old Market) covered shopping area around the Punda District of Willemstad. Here, you can get all your shopping done and then stop at a cafeteria-style stand that seems to be run by local elderly ladies who even bring their own pots and pans. Try the java chicken and goat stew (Kabritu) followed by syrupy sweet fried plantains.
You will find elegant Willemstad restaurants serving gourmet Michelin Guide caliber French cuisine. Most of the resorts and luxury hotels have several Curacao restaurants that range from beach cafes and buffet restaurants to an elegant dining option. The Breezes Curacao fine dining option is Italian, as are the Hyatt Regency Resort, the Marriott Resort, and the Hilton Resort. For elegant French cuisine, you will find a couple superb places in Willemstad, including the world-famous Bistro Le Clochard, which is located in the historic Rif Fort (built in the 1820s) and has been run by the same family for nearly 40 years. This truly provides the best dining in Curacao if you’re not concerned about your budget.
Seafood that is plentiful includes mahi mahi, grouper, kingfish, and snapper. While seafood shacks along the beaches are excellent and cheap, food from these is primarily fried. Many of the better hotels will have Curacao restaurants that specialize in more refined seafood. Look for fresh conch steaks, fritters, and soup. There are even familiar fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s from the United States. Combine your dining with sightseeing tours at the Astrolab Observatory restaurant located in the Museum Kura Hulanda complex. It is next to the Indian Marble Garden and named for the collection of astrolabes (ancient astronomical measuring instruments) on display in this part of the museum.