WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao (defeo.biz) — My wife and I were enjoying a lazy afternoon at the Motown Soul Bar along De Rouvilleweg in downtown Willemstad.
Basking in the sun and noshing on cheese fritters with sweet chili sauce, we enjoyed the water traffic on St. Anna Bay.
A few ex-pats a table away lamented the state of Insel Air, the national carrier of Curaçao. It seems a planned trip to St. Martin for one of them would not be happening on that particular day.
Any worries they had seemed to fade away in the afternoon sun, making the Motown Soul Bar the perfect place to spend an afternoon, certainly on Curaçao, but perhaps anywhere in the world. It is the kind of place where you want to be a regular.
I am not sure how people view Curaçao as a food destination. Regardless, I am determined to combat any negative perceptions that may exist, particularly at these five destinations.
Restaurant & Café Gouverneur de Rouville
Arguably the crown jewel of dining on Curaçao may be Restaurant & Café Gouverneur de Rouville. Situated on the Otrobanda side of Willemstad and housed in the former home of the governor, this restaurant has been serving up some of the best dishes on the island since 2001. Now, the dinner menu certainly has a South American and Caribbean influence, but to me, the real winner is Karni Stoba, an authentic meat stew from Curaçao. But, before ordering the main course, the Cuban banana soup is an absolute must, the perfect mix of savory flavors.
For a true Curaçao experience — meaning both food and atmosphere — head to Jaanchies Restaurant in the Westpunt side of the island. Yes, it is a bit of a drive, but considering there are not a lot of other places like it on the island, it is well worth the excursion. Plus, use the trip as an opportunity to check out Knip Beach on the way. There is no formal menu, per se, but the proprietor is happy to recite what is available, which usually includes fresh seafood and iguana. He promised us a “finger-licking good” dish, and it did not disappoint.
Blues Bar & Restaurant
I like Blues for the views, but that is not to say the food is not enjoyable. Located in Avila Beach Hotel, one of the best hotels on the island, Blues is situated on a pier in the Caribbean Sea, making it one of the best and most serene places to watch the sunset.
Fort Nassau Restaurant
Some of the best views of the island are from the top of Fort Nassau. The fort, originally named Fort Republic, dates to the end of the 18th century and offers views of Queen Juliana Bridge and the deep-water Schottegat harbor.
Food on Curaçao is often described as Creole in that it is influenced by a number of cultures, including a mix of African and European. Nowhere is that more apparent than at Plasa Bieu, which translates to Old Market. This open-air market is anything but fancy. Cooks serve up a range of incredible dishes, from freshly caught fish to okra soup and goat stew. Perfect and unpretentious yet authentic, this is the kind of place many tourists skip. But, any trip to Curaçao is less without at least one stop at Plasa Bieu.