7 Best Eats in Curacao
Sample these delicious, unique highlights from $ to $$$.
Curacao doesn’t fit in with the rest of the Caribbean. And that’s what makes it worth visiting. South of the more popular island clusters in the Caribbean and just 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela, the island blends Dutch, Spanish, English, Portuguese, Jewish and Caribbean culture, most evident in the food. Order a meal here and you’ll see. I was recently invited to visit and see the many views of Curacao (including many Instagrammable plates) by the Curacao Tourist Board and I got a chance to taste the many flavors of the island, from cool sips to full course meals. Plan your own culinary tour with these must-stops and foods you shouldn't miss.
This delicious icy drink is a Spanish milkshake smoothie hybrid made with frozen fruit, milk and sugar. You’ll see stands for batidos everywhere, especially at the beach. After a swim in the hot sun, there is nothing more refreshing. It’s lighter than a milkshake but sweeter than a smoothie. Think of an Icee blended with cream. You can’t go wrong with tropical flavors like papaya, pineapple or, my favorite, mango.
A local and tourist favorite, Plasa Bieu, in the capital city of Willemstad, offers several traditional eats. Start with a lemonade. Trust me. It’s made with brown sugar. Next, order some stoba, a stew with beef or goat. And try the guiambo, an okra soup. There’s also plenty of fresh fish (still on the bone) and fried plantains. For dessert, save room for the pumpkin pancakes. I’m still dreaming of those.
Hole in the Wall
Seaside Terrace serves up fresh catches from snapper to conch. Sometimes you’ll find the invasive species Lionfish on the menu. While the fish are venomous, if the spines are correctly removed, the buttery meat is fine to eat. Round off your lunch plate with a basket of fries. If you ask, they’ll whip up a popular Dutch peanut dipping sauce. And wash it all down with a glass of tamarind nectar.
Curacao’s first farm-to-table restaurant, Hofi Cas Cora is like a Pinterest wonderland with a rustic-desert style and a terrace overlooking the farm. The restaurant only opens on the weekend and the highlight is brunch. Try the panini or the colorful huevos rancheros. The fresh mint fruit juice is very refreshing and the iced coffee is a must. Don’t skip the caramel syrup.
Curacao in Curacao
You can’t visit Curacao without tasting the namesake liquor. Invented by pressing the peel of laraha oranges found on the island, the vibrant blue liquid is famous in tiki bars around the world. The coloring is totally fake but is said to represent the blue waters of Curacao. On the east side of the island, Santa Barbara Beach & Resort welcomes guests with a signature blue cocktail. The poolside bar Splash also features iconic Curacao drinks like the Blue Lagoon. The bartenders are very friendly and will go off menu if you ask them to surprise you with something Instagrammable.
Meal With a View
Overlooking Willemstad, historic Fort Nassau sits high above the harbor and offers incredible views of the island.You’ll feel like you’re in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie as you walk up the old stone steps and down uneven hallways to the fine dining restaurant inside. Don’t miss an Instagram of the metal chargers on the table with the fort’s crest. The menu is as unique as the setting. Chef Thomas Groen incorporates local and Dutch ingredients in unexpected ways. Try the tiramisu with Curacao coffee liqueur and orange zest.
Downtown Willemstad has an interesting farmers' market: it floats. Boats from Venezuela come to the island and dock with fresh fish, vegetables and fruit, from mangos and pineapple to avocados as large as your head; not the Hass fruits we’re used to seeing in the States. It's worth a trip just to see this unique local spin on the farmers' market.