In 2022, Bonaire, one of our favourite islands in the Caribbean, made positive headlines. The World Food Travel Association (WFTA) awarded the island as culinary capital. The WFTA, the world’s leading authority on culinary tourism, rates destinations on culinary matters.
According to the WFTA, Bonaire offers visitors a unique gastronomy and culinary culture, ranging from food trucks to restaurants with Michelin chefs. For us, an extra good reason to explore.
Taste the culinary delights of Bonaire
At the end of January, we stayed in lovely sunny Bonaire again for a week of super relaxed diving. After all, here you decide when, where and at what pace you dive. Nevertheless, the sporting activity is somewhat demanding of the body. We notice this by the strong appetite we always have after one or two dives. Fortunately, this leeward island is also the ideal diving destination to replenish our energy reserves. Because throughout Bonaire, fantastic restaurants have opened their doors to gourmets like us over the years. In this blog, we take you on a culinary journey to three of our favourites.
It Rains Fishes
We have known It Rains Fishes for a while now. It is definitely one of our favourites, both before and after its renovation in 2017. The restaurant is located in a more than 100-year-old house right on Kralendijk’s boulevard. Thanks to the sea views, the atmospheric décor, the ever-changing, creative menu and the fine wines, we love going there. Incidentally, what remains an opaque process after several visits is table allocation. This time too, we booked well in advance (four days) requesting a table on the boulevard side. But again, we were told that the tables had been reserved by other parties. The staff then did their best to give us a table closer to the boulevard, though.
As always, the menu features mostly local fish. This is cleaned in front of the restaurant as soon as the fishing boats return. And, of course, served the same evening. We ourselves usually take the delicious, lightly grilled tuna or the “catch of the day”. Last time, we also really enjoyed the fish curry.
The service is very friendly and welcoming. They clearly do their best to make you feel comfortable. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to use the beautiful printed linen napkins. The second seat was given a paper napkin because there are probably not enough linen napkins. But it should not spoil the taste of the food and the fine ambiance. The food remains excellent and we have never been disappointed by it.
A few years ago, we were first introduced to the restaurant of La Cantina. It is located on a cosy, particularly vibrant terrace at the back of the beer pub called The Brewery. As far as we are concerned, the Brewery – where various types of beer are brewed – is an ideal combination with the restaurant. So, you can have a nice refreshing Bonaire Blond before taking a seat at your table. You can do so outside on the street, or inside the café where, fortunately, it is not stuffy and hot. Once on the terrace garden, it is just like being inside. This is because here, between the plants, there are very large parasols. Handy for the sparse moments in the year when a rain shower passes.
The reasonably extensive menu features meat and vegetarian dishes as well as fish. Although we found the Brewery Burger very good, we still prefer the fish. Especially on an island like Bonaire where the fish ends up on your plate on the same day it is caught. Go for
the catch of the day or the Fishmarket: a selection of different types of fish. Last time, we also ordered the “Fish ‘n’ chips” but found the too large, dry pieces of fish disappointing.
La Cantina is a popular restaurant. That’s why you should book a table in the garden as early as possible during your holiday in Bonaire. Without a booking, you can gamble whether there is room at one of the tables along the narrow path towards the garden or on the terrace in front of the Brewery. Just keep in mind that these are more suitable for parties of up to two to three people. We were there in January with four of us. Three had to sat close together on a semi-circular bench. The fourth sat on a chair in the middle of the path partially blocking the passage to the patio.
La Posada Para Mira
For truly authentic Bonairean cuisine, as far as we’re concerned, you must go to Posada Para Mira. You will find the restaurant in Rincon in the north-west of the island. The former capital Rincon is the oldest town on the island. Because of its ancient traditions, festivities and customs, Rincon is also considered the cultural centre of the Caribbean island. You will definitely find this reflected at Posada Para Mira: in the relatively sober décor, the extremely friendly service, the other guests, the view and especially the menu.
We have been here several times and always try something new on the menu. Sometimes it’s fish, then beef or goat. Last time, we went for an iguana meat stew. We were indeed warned by the waiter about the presence of small bones. Nevertheless, we took up the challenge and were very positively surprised by the delicious taste! Not so adventurous? Not to worry, as they also serve excellent burgers and an incredibly good cod sandwich. By the way, don’t expect large, fully garnished plates.
From Kralendijk, it takes about half an hour to get to the restaurant. That’s why it’s smart to combine your visit with other highlights in the area. Like the Washington Slagbaai National Park, Lake Goto, the ancient rock drawings of Indian tribes on the rugged coast, or the town itself. You can then head to La Posada Para Mira for an excellent lunch with fantastic views. The restaurant is open five days a week. It is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Other noteworthy restaurants in Bonaire
There are many other good restaurants on Bonaire. We certainly don’t know them all. However, we do try one or two restaurants that are new to us during each visit to the island. The restaurants where we (want to) dine more often are listed below in alphabetical order.
From our flat where we often stay on Bonaire, we often walked past Capriccio. This Italian restaurant on the promenade with tables both inside and outside on a terrace, looked promising. Hence, we dined there once on my birthday. They have an extensive menu and especially an impressive wine list. The food is definitely good and the wines great. However, we find the restaurant quite pricey and a bit too formal for our taste. If you want to eat here in style, our advice is to book a table outside.
Trocadero (the former City Café)
A place that almost everyone knows because it is so centrally located opposite the fish market is the City Café, now called Trocadero. The popular establishment has been there for quite a long time. And always when we walk by or dine there, it is busy. On weekends, Trocadero turns into a trendy nightspot where you can enjoy live music in addition to breakfast, lunch or dinner. And a cosy pub!
Are you partial to tender, lightly grilled tuna, like us? Then definitely visit Cuba Company during your stay on Bonaire. We have been here several times now. Purely because of the delicious tuna, which we believe is not inferior to that of It Rains Fishes. You will find the atmospheric Cuba Compagnie in a beautiful old building on Wilhelminaplein. There is a particularly large terrace where you are welcome for both meals and drinks. This terrace is also the place to enjoy the most beautiful sunsets. Or to watch the many people passing by.
Karel’s Beach Bar
During our very first holiday on Bonaire in 1994, there were – especially compared to now – few restaurants in Kralendijk. We would quickly end up at Karel’s Beach Bar, then called Kareltjes. You can eat well there relatively cheaply with minimum fuss. Since then, we eat there at least a couple of times during every visit to the Caribbean island. Sometimes for dinner but these days more for breakfast or lunch. We love coming to Karel’s Beach Bar, mainly because of its location literally above the beautiful turquoise sea. In fact, the restaurant is located on a pier where you can’t help but notice the many tropical fish.
A beautifully located, perfect lunch spot is Rum Runners, the terrace restaurant of the famous Captain Don’s Habitat. We used to find it fairly pricey but loved going there given the high quality of the food. Meanwhile, the rates for both lunch and dinner are more in line with the many, good restaurants on Kralendijk’s boulevard. With that, the restaurant is definitely worth the car journey. And just like at Karel’s Beach Bar, here you have first-rate views of the many fish in the dazzlingly beautiful sea. Especially in the evening, you can admire special fish, such as large tarpons attracted by the sea life in the lamplight.
Sebastian’s Restaurant on the Sea
For some years now, we also love going to the trendy, stylish and extremely vibrant Sebastian’s. They have a not too extensive but nice Mediterranean menu with local influence. Good food at a reasonable price. This is especially true during “Italian Night” on Sunday evenings. We come here mainly because of the nice ambiance and the fantastic location right by the water. As this restaurant – especially on Sundays – is very popular, you need to make reservations well in advance. And when booking, “first come, first served” applies for the tables on the sea side. As a non-smoker, avoid the bar as much as possible!
As far as we are concerned, this blog on culinary enjoyment on Bonaire is not complete without also mentioning food trucks. In many places around the world, food trucks are booming. They’ve been in Bonaire for over a century, though. And every time we are back on the island, their numbers seem to have increased again. The good news is that the quality is also on the rise. That makes the Bonaire food truck a perfect place to satisfy that hearty appetite after a swim in the sea.
It is too much to name the 40-plus food trucks in this blog. Although we think they deserve it. During our next visit to the island, we will try some of them again. We will then also come up with a separate blog on food trucks on this great island.
Are you going to Bonaire soon and want to know now which food trucks to go to? Then be sure to visit Cactus Blue Bonaire, which can be found on Donkey Beach near the airport.
Here you can get delicious burgers, wraps and Lion Fish burgers. The Lion Fish is an exotic predatory fish species that poses a threat to Caribbean marine life. For this reason, the small fish are actively hunted by permit. At Cactus Blue, they turn it into a true delicacy! Another food truck not to be missed is Pastechi’s & more. Here they sell the most delicious, so-called “pastechis”: savoury, deep-fried bites with fish, meat or cheese as filling. Addictively delicious!