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Kroket, Bitterballen and Frikandel might sound like items in an IKEA catalogue but they’re actually names of Dutch tapas, deep-fried snacks enjoyed at neighbourhood bars across Holland. A world away from their Spanish equivalent, these treats are more fast food than gastronomic marvels. But they’re fun, tasty – and a perfect introduction to Dutch culinary culture.
Where to Find Dutch Tapas on Aruba
You don’t even have to go to Rotterdam to try them. If you’re headed to the island of Aruba, you can find these treats at Café-Bar 080. Named after an area code in Holland, this leafy watering hole in Aruba’s residential Noord neighbourhood doesn’t boast an ocean or a sunset view but does offer a nightly parade of Dutch tapas on its outdoor patio. Grab an ice cold Balashi beer, skewer a cube of Edam cheese with a toothpick and you’ll be ready to toast the kukoo kunuku party bus as it zooms past.
Varieties of Dutch Tapas:
Here’s what to watch for on the Dutch tapas snack menu at Cafe Bar 080:
Bitterballen: These deep-fried breadcrumbed balls of beef stew have a toasty crunch just made to dip into creamy mayo sauce.
Tosti: Calling these tasty bites a ham and cheese sandwich doesn’t do them justice. Watch them disappear.
Kroketten: Oblong-shaped croquettes topped with a fresh spring of parsley.
Frikandel: A skinless wiener that’s been deep fried to crispy perfection. Dip them in curry ketchup. More please!
Vlammetjes: Best enjoyed with a spicy chile sauce, these crispy spring rolls are made for sharing
Kipkorn: How about deep fried chicken served corn dog style?
Andijvie Stamppot: Like potato salad but 100 times better because it’s not made with just potatoes but this Dutch creation includes endive, bacon and crème fraîche.
Cafe Bar 080 is the kind of spot you want to hit up with a crowd so you can swap, share and sample as many Dutch treats as you can. Don’t worry about cost. Prices are a bargain (for example, a kroket is just 3.75 AWG which is around $2 USD).
If it’s packed indoors, there’s plenty of room outdoors under the shade of a giant chestnut tree garlanded with sparkly white lights. Stick around until 8:00 pm on weekends and you can party to House and Latin Mix DJ music.
You can even get a takeout platter and create a Dutch tapas party to go. Beach party anyone?
Website: Cafe 080
Address: Noord 90, Aruba
Phone: 297 586 29 37
Hours: Opens at 3:00 pm daily
Official Aruba Tourism Website: www.aruba.com
Kukoo Kunuku party bus Information and online reservations for the barhopping party bus. A recent addition to Aruba’s culinary scene is Kukoo Kunuku’s new Wine on Down the Road tour, an evening outing that kicks off with a champagne toast and continues to four top restaurants for wine and tapas pairings. Perfect for wine novices or wine connoisseurs, transportation is by open-air party bus featuring a soundtrack mix of the latest music and classic hits.
Where to Stay: My hotel choice was the Aruba Marriot Resort & Stellaris Casino on beautiful Palm Beach. In addition to its prime location, cascading swimming pools and lush gardens, it offers the Adults-only Tradewinds Club with a private floor and lounge as well as its own swimming pool and bar. Palm Beach is a long white sand beach with clear, calm waters perfect for swimming — the profusion of palm trees supply shade and that authentic “I’m on a tropical vacation” feel.
Another good bet for real Dutch culture and cuisine is Café the Plaza, in the Renaissance Marketplace. If you time your visit for Happy Hour, you’ll have the opportunity to sample an assortment of Dutch tapas such as bitterballen (deep fried meatballs) served with hot mustard.
Looking for more great places to eat on Aruba? Check out our posts on
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