Budget travelers to Curaçao will find no lack of cheap lunch joints in Willemstad. We’ve already written about some of our favorites in Punda, and there are plenty of others that we didn’t get a chance to try out. But as the sun goes down, these shops tend to close up. So what are the cash-strapped do for dinner? Cooking at home is a reasonable solution, but that’s no fun. The best option is to hunt down a food truck.
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.
From now on, when I hear the word “Curaçao,” I’ll think primarily of soft, sandy beaches, and colorful buildings. But there was a time (not that long ago!) when the only connotation brought to mind would have been “liqueur.” Blue Curaçao has long been a staple at bars around the world, and we went to the Landhuis Chobolobo to see the factory in which it was originally produced.
Every Sunday morning in the northern town of Barber, the market hall is converted into a food court where you can find every type of Curaçaoan specialty imaginable, from fish soup to stewed papaya, along with a wide variety of baked sweets and homemade drinks. Show up hungry, because you’ll likely want to sample a little of everything.
As you might expect for an island nation, fish is a popular meal on Curaçao. And as you might expect for a Caribbean island nation, fried fish is where it’s at. I’m sure there are others, but we found two local seafood joints that we can recommend.
Mambo Beach is the exactly kind of place which Jürgen and I normally avoid. Not only is it over-developed and crowded, it’s also attached to a shopping complex. But Mambo Beach isn’t necessarily just for tourists; Curaçaoans come here in droves, especially for the Sunday evening happy hour specials.
Punda was the first area in Willemstad to be colonized by the Dutch, and today has become famous for the superb condition of its colorful, 18th-century buildings. Although we lived in Otrobanda, we crossed the bay almost daily to spend time in Punda, to eat, shop, or just enjoy the neighborhood’s lively atmosphere.
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.
Plasa Bieu, or the “Old Market,” borders the Waaigat harbor near the central post office and the Round Market. It looks like a small, rundown factory… and I suppose that’s what it is. A little factory which has been manufacturing delicious, affordable Curaçaoan cuisine for decades. From the looks of things, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that nothing has changed in fifty years; not the stands, the pots, nor the people ladling out stew or frying up fish.