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A Friday Night Feast at Equus

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Located on the eastern side of Willemstad, Equus is a Curaçao institution, popular for both its mouthwatering food and chilled-out atmosphere. But it’s not for everyone. Don’t go if you’re a vegetarian. Don’t go if you had a big lunch. And definitely don’t go if it’s not Friday. However, if you’re a hungry carnivore on Friday night, head on down. You’re going to love this place.

Equus BBQ

The first thing you do when you enter Equus is find a seat. There’s a strict “no reservation” policy, and there’s no waiting list for tables. You just grab whatever table you can, find a stool if no table is open, and in the worst case scenario, stand at the bar to wait for an opening.

The second thing you do is put your order in. There is no menu, because the only thing Equus serves is skewers: beef, chicken and vegetable. Under no circumstances order more than one skewer per person; for most groups, the “golden ratio” might be two skewers for every three people. And don’t forget to grab a bucket of beer. Get comfortable and start drinking; you’re probably going to be waiting for a long time before your food arrives.

Equus BBQ

The third thing you do is to talk to the cook. He doesn’t mind, and in fact seems happy to chat with his customers. He’s mostly just turning the skewers over the grill, and isn’t too distracted to tell you about the place. I asked him about the reason that Equus only opens on Friday, and he told me that it’s an old tradition. The restaurant was actually part of a ranch, and Friday night was when all the workers would gather to feast and party after a long week.

The fourth thing you do is eat. Your food has finally arrived and, hopefully, you’ve ordered a little of everything. The beef, you know that’s going to be good, and it is… in fact, it’s incredible. But what might surprise you is that the chicken is just as delicious; succulent and richly flavored. And the veggies are better than veggies have any right to be. I had expected that our group would be fighting over the beef pieces, but it turned out that we fought over everything.

Equus isn’t the cheapest restaurant on the island, but it might be the coolest. The outdoor seating area, decorated with colorful Christmas lights, the central grill pit, the good mood of the crowd, and the ultra-friendly service all contribute to make this Friday night meal something to remember.

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Equus BBQ
Equus BBQ
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February 27, 2016 at 4:20 pm Comments (0)

Fine Dining at Fort Nassau

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Of all Curaçao’s former Dutch fortresses, our favorite was destined to be Fort Nassau. Fort Amsterdam might have the most fascinating history and Fort Beekenburg the coolest atmosphere… but Fort Nassau has the food nailed down. And food beats history or atmosphere every time.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, when the Dutch were busy extending their tendrils across the globe, a number of forts named Nassau were established to protect their new properties. You could find a Fort Nassau in the Bahamas, New York, New Jersey, Indonesia, Senegal, Ghana and Guyana, all of them named for the House of Orange-Nassau, an influential Dutch dynasty. In 1797, Curaçao got its own Fort Nassau, on the point where the Saint Anna Bay empties into the Schottegat Harbor.

Fort Nassau was taken over for a brief period by the British, but never came under serious attack, so it’s been able to remain in marvelous condition. In 1959, a restaurant was established in the old fortress, and ever since, Fort Nassau has been Curaçao’s most celebrated place to eat. For Jürgen’s birthday dinner, it was the only real choice.

Set high on a hill, the views from Fort Nassau are incredible, especially at night with the lights (and flames) of the Isla Oil Refinery off toward the north, and Punda laid out to the south. Almost anywhere you sit inside the restaurant, you’re guaranteed an excellent panoramic view.

However, you might have trouble taking your eyes off your plates, because the food in Fort Nassau is mouth-watering. The dinner menu includes an appetizer, a main course and dessert. And while it’s not cheap, neither is it overly expensive, considering the quality of the dishes and the generous portions. We both took the steak, and were left very satisfied.

If you only have time and money for one fine dining experience in Curaçao, rest assured that Fort Nassau makes a great choice. Often, these “most famous” restaurants don’t live up to the hype, but Fort Nassau was as good as we had hoped, with top-notch views, food, and service.

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February 14, 2016 at 3:33 pm Comments (0)

Landhuis Dokterstuin and the Kas di Pal’i Maishi

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For a contrast between how the different social classes of colonial-era Curaçao lived, visit first the thatch-roofed Kas di Pal’i Maishi, and then head over to the nearby Landhuis Dokterstuin. Set high on a hill, and today home to a popular restaurant, this 18th century mansion is as grand as its neighbor is humble.

Kas di Pali Maishi

The Kas di Pal’i Maishi is a beautifully-preserved adobe house, of the type which used to be found all across Curaçao. These “kunuku houses” were typical dwellings for the island’s inhabitants, and although they’ve mostly been replaced by modern homes, they can still occasionally be seen. There’s nothing fancy to them, but their cool white walls and open windows are perfectly designed to deal with the island’s heat.

Today, the Kas di Pal’i Maisha is a museum dedicated to the bygone way-of-life of the kunuku house, containing some tools and artifacts from the olden days. The exhibits aren’t terribly engaging, but the house itself is interesting, and it’s worth the small entrance fee to get inside it.

Perhaps the family who lived in this house worked at the nearby Landhuis Dokterstuin. This plantation house dates from the 18th century and, like most of Curaçao’s landhuizen, sits proudly atop a hill, with a view over the surrounding countryside.

We visited on a Sunday around lunchtime, and almost didn’t find a place to park. But the people streaming into the plantation house weren’t there to admire its architecture or the elegance of its interior furnishings. They were hungry. Today, the Landhuis Dokterstuin is the home of Komedor Krioyo, one of the island’s best-loved restaurants.

It took a long time for us to get a table, and even longer before our meals arrived, but the wait was worth it. The food was excellent; I had goat meat with tutu, a sweetened mix of cornmeal and black-eyed peas, while Jürgen had stewed beef. But the true highlight of Komedor Krioyo was its rollicking atmosphere. Every table in the large dining hall was occupied by another huge family, and it was the best kind of friendly, fun chaos.

Locations on our Map: Kas di Pal’i Maisha | Landhuis Dokterstuin (Komedor Krioyo)

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Kas di Pali Maishi
Kas di Pali Maishi
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January 23, 2016 at 7:40 pm Comments (0)
A Friday Night Feast at Equus Located on the eastern side of Willemstad, Equus is a Curaçao institution, popular for both its mouthwatering food and chilled-out atmosphere. But it's not for everyone. Don't go if you're a vegetarian. Don't go if you had a big lunch. And definitely don't go if it's not Friday. However, if you're a hungry carnivore on Friday night, head on down. You're going to love this place.
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