How I Got Lost in Aruba and Found the Best Bar Ever
Aruba. The only people I’d ever heard talking about Aruba were honeymooners and baby boomers taking cruises to the Caribbean. So I labeled this island a giant tourist trap and I never had any intention of visiting. But as fate would have it in the form of a work assignment, I found myself here for a day. As En Vogue once prophetically directed, “Free your mind… and the rest will follow.” Words to live by people. So let’s do this.
After a long day’s work, I paid a hundred dollars to use my phone while roaming for 5 minutes to find a place to have dinner. My search led me to an International cuisine restaurant called Pinchos. It was only a 12-minute walk away. Perfect.
It was just after 8 p.m., the sun had set, and the cool breeze made the humidity much more subdued, creating a beautifully balanced atmosphere. My kind walking weather. Aruba’s uneven streets were lined with a hodgepodge of boutiques and shops. From a Pizza Hut across the street to a Diamond International to a high-fashion mall carrying Gucci, Prada, Carolina Herrera, and Rolex, neighbored to a flea market surrounded by bodegas and unnamed shops. Fascinating.
I made my way further and further away from the touristy areas of Aruba. The Foodie Gods stirred my stomach and told me to give Pinchos a call. A delightful woman answered and informed me that they were indeed open but had no reservations available. DOES SHE NOT KNOW WHO I AM??! Lol oh well. Plan B. Whatever I found on the way back home would be the winner.
A little bar called Café Chaos caught my eye after I crossed over a stone bridge. The French double doors were wide open and I could hear some 80’s rock songs playing. Already winning. Cafe Chaos was dark, sexy, and had everything I love about a dive bar— random vintage memorabilia, rock posters, and stocked with awesome alcohol with no mixers in sight. It even had assorted foreign currencies tacked to the ceiling. Oh and best of all? Not a tourist in sight.
I’m Starving Please Have FOOD.
I crossed my fingers and hoped there was a food menu that I could peruse, and the bartender/owner Patrick handed me a laminated menu with 10 items half of which were written in Dutch. He shoots me a smile and tells me “Everything is fried.” Well.. I’m clearly going to marry this man. He gets me. After Patrick took the time to translate the menu for me, I decided to order the Vlammetjes a.k.a flaming beef eggrolls and the Bitterballen which resemble croquettes but round. (FYI these prices are not in U.S. It was way cheaper).
Everyone knows nothing pairs better with fried food than beer. Great beer. Now I’m not a huge beer drinker, but I do love a Belgium Ale. A Belgium made in Canada? Even better. A Belgium made in my home province Quebec? I’m sold. Patrick served me a beer I’ve never had before but I’m so glad we met. A Belgium Golden Ale called La Chouffe.
BEER + FRIED FOOD+ HOT BARTENDER= FOODIE HEAVEN
There’s nothing I respect more, then a bar that pours the right beers in their correct glasses. Like wine, you must give them the respect of the perfect presentation to maximize their flavor
profiles and distinctiveness. I’m in love. This beer had the right balance of malt, not too hoppy, with a crisp refreshing brightness. And it’s 8% ABV! Talk about a win-win. Canadians don’t play around.
I noticed a stage, a piano, and a decent light rig behind me and asked Patrick if they had live music here. He tells me that they have a rock band that plays once a week. Overuse of the few bands in town and the increase of tourism further downtown decreased the traffic to Chaos and with it, the demand for entertainment but Patrick doesn’t mind. He didn’t want his bar to be a tourist attraction.
“I wanted this bar to be a good mix of both. I didn’t want to be dependent on high and low seasons. Honestly, this place is really more for the locals anyway.” Patrick tells me. I hear you brother.
The 90’s rock music playing at perfect conversation level, the high octane beer, and the delicious awesomely fried Dutch delicacies, created my holy trinity of food nirvana. Satisfied and a little tipsy I paid my tab which was $17.00 U.S. (Hooray!) and made my way back to town excited to have the job bring this night to life again through my writing.
Aruba… I apologize. I think I could fall for you.
So If you’re in Oranjestad, Aruba go and check out Café Chaos. You might even get lucky and hear some live music. Oh, and tell my future husband Patrick, I said hello.
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