Dining on Bonaire
Bonaire has a large selection of great restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines. It’s surprising that an island of 14,000 people has so many great choices, but the options are indeed staggering. The influences of many countries and cultures bring together a lovely blend of flavors and cuisines to suit all tastes. Most restaurants offer moderately priced menus making for an affordable dining experience. With seaside settings, local establishments, and gourmet menus there is something for everyone.
An Indonesian influence may be found in many menus featuring lovely noodle dishes such as Nasi Goreng. This Indonesian delight is flavoured with peanuts and spices and sauces. Sate is a local favorite appearing on most menus featuring a tangy peanut or pinda sauce.
A South American influence may be found in the sauces used to enhance Argentinean steak and local fish dishes. Two popular restaurants offering Argentinean meats are Casablanca and Patagonia. Chimichurri sauce is a lovely blend of garlic, parsley, salt and olive oil creating a flavor-enhancing sauce. A flavorful sauce found at El Fagon is guasacaca, a green sauce made from peppers, chili and avocado. It may be spread on red snapper or grilled chicken. Sides often include funchi which is very similar to polenta and is found in many Caribbean islands. Fried yucca is another starchy side found on local menus. A few places feature Dutch fast food items. Bitterballen is a Dutch savory snack made with meat and fillers to create a creamy delicious meatball snack. Frickendel is a minced meat hot dog served as a snack or lunch item. Wattaburger has perhaps the largest Dutch snack food menu served seaside. On certain occasions City Cafe serves Stamppot, a potato dish quite filling and delicious.
Tourists and locals alike flock to smaller establishments for some local flavor. Stoba is a name given to a stew type dish which can feature chicken (galina), or beef (carne/baka). Soups or sopi are made with chicken and fish (pisca). Funchi is almost always served as a side particularly with fish or yambo (okra). A lovely dish is Bonchi Cora or red beans. It is mashed and sweetened and served as a starchy side. Antriol Catering located in the barrio of Antriol has the largest menu with delicious food and friendly service. This is a popular lunch spot for locals for good reason. The food is inexpensive and good. Rose Inn in the old town of Rincon has arguably the best local menu. The kabrito (goat) stoba is one of the best on island. The charming garden setting is cooling and relaxing. Enjoy a Polar or Amstel Bright while listening to local music.
During the holidays the Dutch influence is seen with the arrival of several food items at the stores and in local menus. Around New Year’s Eve, Dutch houses smell of piping hot oil deep fryers in which Oliebollen, appelflappen and appelbeignets (battered apple rings) are prepared. These yeast dough balls, filled with dried fruits, pieces of apple and raisins are served with powdered sugar. Many grocery stores sell fresh Oliebollen during the holidays. Warehouse sells fresh hot appleflappen daily. When it’s in, despite any interests in weight watching I buy a bag and devour them on the way home in the car.
Bonaire is BBQ rib heaven. There are several places vying for the attention of the rib lover. Top spot goes to Bobbijan’s, a weekend BBQ joint owned by a friendly Dutch couple. The ribs served with rice, fries and cold slaw are simply delicious. The special sauce blend fires up your taste buds. Local fresh fish such as Wahoo or Dradu can be found on the menu. Fries and chicken are served with the house peanut sauce. Take out or eat in, this one of the most popular dining spots on weekends. Plazita Limena is a close runner up with a delicious rib recipe. They also feature wood spit roasted chickens. Their outdoor setting is both breezy and private. I love the Peruvian dish with shrimp and pumpkin. The wait can be long but worth it.
Gourmet dining can be found at a number of places. Wil’s Tropical Grill is an in-town favorite owned by 2-star Michelin chef Wil and his lovely American wife, Sue. They serve a creative menu in an enchanting garden setting. Menu favorites include a lovely green salad with calamari and savory peanut dressing. The Caesar Salad is wrapped in Proscuitto and served with shaved Parmesan and a lovely dressing. There are pasta and meat dishes but go with the fish dish whenever Wil features fish. It’s always fresh and always local. The menu personifies perfection and caters to every palate. My personal favorite is the calamari salad.
Capriccio’s, owned and operated by Andrea and Lola, a lovely Italian couple, created a tantalizing and creative menu featuring homemade pastas, sauces, and desserts. Their wine list is staggering representing one of the largest collections in the Caribbean. Each meal begins with a complimentary Mimosa and home-made crusty breads and Foccacia. Savor some traditional and newly inspired Italian dishes including a house favorite, the lobster fettuccine. The homemade gelato is creamy and decadent.
One of the best values on island may be found at Mona Lisa. This restaurant features a popular bar and a well established dining spot in sleepy Kralendijk. Mona Lisa serves a bar hap. For USD $13.00, the friendly servers present you with crusty bread and a sundried tomato tapenade as well as garlic butter. From the bar hap menu you may choose from a fresh fish entrée, a meat entrée, or a sate. Each meal is accompanied by a fresh veggie mélange and creamy au gratin potatoes. This is a casual setting with a gourmet appeal. Try one of the house made desserts to end a perfect meal. Rudy and Monique are the two of the friendliest waiters on island.
All clients of Caribbean Wind & Sun Vacations are offered complimentary Concierge Services, so email me or call to make your dinner reservations.