By Wayne Koss (Wayne-By-The-Sea)
The first impression and lure of Aruba Beach Cafe of Lauderdale By The Sea is certainly the attraction of the incredible beach views here. Yet theirs so much more within that keeps people coming back over and over.
With a building length long patio on the south side overlooking the ocean and town square is unquestionable a great area to sit when the weather is fine—which is often. Within are 3 bar seating areas with two with this window view alongside that touch of air conditioning when the temps are not so human friendly. This patio is a great place to take in beach side people watching that always seems to be interesting. Another welcome interest and attraction for some is smoking is allowed on the patio. I witnessed a couple cigar smokers who said they love it here where they are welcome to enjoy all that the restaurant and bar has to offer along with their cigars. Everyone is most welcome.
Stepping In and Up
An inner large back wall bar in the buildings center resides a step up with cocktail tables on the peripheral from the inner circle that provides an upper level view of the restaurant and its usual bustling activities. These bars are popular among the regular locals and for anyone looking to have conversation with some good people on their joy seeking.
The main dining area runs for almost the length of the building with tables closer to the east side window seating is the obvious first choice—yet not always. Various unique stylish small couch type seating are popular here too intermixed with standard table setting throughout the main dining area. These make the seating atmosphere very different in areas throughout the large main dining room that is filled with Imaginative decor of palm plants and interesting aquatic art pieces hanging from the ceiling and walls among other interesting items. The ceilings and beams are rustic wood painted in pastels that provide a funky feel that separates it from the plain rustic wood feel. The sun light changes the hues of the room dramatically with the peripheral windows and is another interesting aspect to gaze upon. The slightly worn wooden floor is another reminder your in the atmosphere of a peaceful easy feeling here.
Somewhat hidden in the back, yet with an open view space for the east side ocean is a room that accommodates about 36. Its decorated with artistic finely crafted dimensional illuminated metal fish displays on the walls. The cozy room Its great for large gatherings with its boutique eatery setting. No area in this restaurant is ordinary.
The interior restaurant can accommodate about 300 at a time and that’s reached often--especially during the latter part of the week and throughout the day on weekends. Therefore reservations are suggested. Here lunch and dinner is served daily 7 days a week with hours even lare latter in the week. A quality breakfast buffet from 9:00am on Sundays is an area favorite and a great way to start the day at the beach.
Table One is an experience worth a long drive for many patrons
Expectations are often prime aspects between bad, good and great restaurant experiences. Knowing what to expect for a first time visit to a restaurant is often paramount to enjoying the experience.
When your expectations are exceeded, the pleasure meter leans to the right and conversely when you expect too much. That being said, upon multiple visits to the Aruba Beach Café it has always has always been above and beyond.
Upon a recent visit my friend and I was pleasantly greeted and seated at a table overlooking the beach and the ocean. At this point we ponder, if the food is only mediocre then the experience will still be worthwhile.
Our waitress arrived promptly, introduced herself and took drink orders. She returned after providing us ample time to study the menu. The list of options was quite complete; a full selection of appetizers, salads, entrees (mostly seafood and fish), as well as casual items for the light appetite, and of course an abundance of desserts and tropical drinks.
When our drinks arrived, we asked for a sampling of appetizers. Our request brought crab cakes, barbecued ribs, and a plate of sesame seared Ahi Tuna and shrimp, and a delicious Florida Keys Soup. The first thing that hit us was the presentation—way above our expectations to the point we wondered where were the white linen tablecloth and polished sterling was.
The crab cakes were worth the trip and the Ahi Tuna was far better than that which I had had the night before at a well known national chain a few blocks to the west. We just wanted to sample the ribs, but they were so good we finished them off. The Florida Seafood soup was similar to a bouillabaisse, filled with mussels, calamari, scallops, shrimp with a light fennel broth. Absolutely delicious.
When the entrees arrived, they were huge! The plates are actually chargers and are completely filled. Light eaters, as we are, we looked at each other in awe. I had a daily special of pecan encrusted Chilean Sea Bass on a bed of beans and rice and cooked to perfection.I had the regular menu item of Blackened Seafood Trio which consisted of scallops, Mahi Mahi, and shrimp on a bed of beans and rice. I was pleased that the spices enhanced the flavor of the fish as opposed to overwhelming it—It was excellent!
Something worth noting is the wine list. It is extensive and with a very nice surprise, all wines can be ordered by the glass. Since we don’t always agree on the same wine selection this allows both to enjoy our wine of choice.
We finished with a sampling of desserts, again presented eloquently and worth coming back for. I had an Irish Coffee (made with Bushmills) and every bit as good as those of the world famous Buena Vista Café in San Francisco—a most pleasant experience. This is certainly not a “another beachy fried fish tourist trap”. Its easy to understand how the restaurant has so many regulars.
On subsequent visits I was pleasantly introduced to some of the seasonal chef specials that are not regular menu items. One being the Hawaiian Poke Tuna (Tar Tar), served on a Banana Leaf with Tobiko Caviar, Avocado and crispy Shrimp Chips that is absolutely vibrant of fresh taste and very healthy too.
Now being encapsulated in these find views, splendid food and drink along with pleasant conversation another element of the Aruba Beach Cafe experience is the music. Without question its not an afterthought here either. Some of the finest local artist perform on this shoreline on a regular basis with live music featured every day. Latter in the week when the dinner hours are winding down this is the place for patrons to groove on the floor next to the stage of the entertainers. If you surface here in latter evening you are sure to find that many are here for the evening dance opportunities and the best social networking you can get Face to Face. Most of the entertainers taking this stage have been performing for many years on a certain night and time. Therefore, the late night popularity that escalates until 2:00am is based on a vast amount of the clientele knowing their getting a good thing.
Notable area musician Rick Shaker took the time to step away from the spotlight and comments about his Aruba Beach Cafe experience. “I’ve been at Aruba for roughly fifteen years now on Friday Night's and I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything!
From the very beginning, I was always embraced by both the staff as well as the patrons as family. Their is also a positive energy and feeling between everyone (which includes myself and the connection I have with the audience), which is why I guess they call it “One Happy Restaurant”!
Rick is a seasoned exceptional musician that has a vast repertoire to please the audience. No show is the same with his talents.
Music artists here all echo Rick’s appreciation of working here at a venue that has and is keeping live music alive in south Florida.
Also notable and enjoyable, Aruba Beach Cafe has a well balanced speaker system throughout the restaurant with comfortable sound levels adjusted to each area that project a fine music vibe in the restaurant at all hours.
I’ve often heard so many people say without knowing the challenging variables in the restaurant business voice Aruba Beach Cafe can’t go wrong with their location of being directly on the beach.
I always give them a seemingly unexpected response and voice no matter where you are, who you are, the restaurant business is very challenging and being on the beach can be difficult—especially when it rains.
Firstly, management is more key than ever with an over abundance of restaurants on the area blocks in south Florida. This restaurant like almost all other fine establishments are measured and tested every day, some restaurateurs may say every meal.
At Aruba Beach Cafe they simply excel because they have core personnel in place that are impassioned with their work and the restaurant business that provide service beyond expectations.
Beyond the auspices of longtime Chef Chris Nealon, behind the scenes Peggy Mohler has been resolutely guiding the restaurants overall operation since its inception. This resolute tide here in motion to serve the public with masterful articulation every hour of the day truly shows.
General Manager Guy Contrada has serviced here for 26 years. He describes “When people come here they know their going to get. Good service, good food and drinks and hopefully have a really good time. We are consistent in striving and providing that over the years.”
In fact most of the key management have been here for multiple decades—that’s incredible with all the changes and various opportunities for personnel to explore elsewhere.
Any seasoned restaurant operator knows its never easy and there are no guarantee’s and today management is truly key!
The Aruba Beach Cafe Monday through Friday 5 - 7pm Happy Hour provides us with $4.95 small plate of tasty appetizers and 50% off select drinks. Friday features a complimentary tropical Pig Roast for bar patrons and sharing the billing on Fridays bill is our classic rock favorite stage performer Rick Shaker. Speaking of Shakin’, If you’re hear for tropical drinks their concoctions are highly commendable. The lovely and talented co-host of WSVN Miami TV’s Deco Drive Shireen Sandoval expresses, “Margaritas. Believe you me, they’ve mastered the blend,” she post in her Shireen’s “Favorite Things” blog. Whenever Shireen is around that’s one of our favorite things to take in too. Aruba Beach Cafe is a Happy Hour mecca that overflows into all hours.
In general patrons here are the full spectrum of the human scope. Whereupon they honor the realm with a kids menu and high chairs for the little ones and a deep discount prices on the Sunday Buffet...
Good value is all about among the numerous amenities therefore bring the family, a friend, a work mate or simple alone—you will be among many in this brimming with excitement locale.
... Hurry with the Lobster Chris--Tommy is Hungry!
Sunday Morning Buffet on the Beach
@ Aruba Beach Cafe
^ Check out the Video of the Buffet-By-The-Sea
Tel: 954 776 0001
Website: Aruba Beach Cafe.com
Hours: 11:00am 1:00am Mon -Tues 11:00am-2:00am, Wed-Sat 9:00am - 1:00am Sunday -Reservations Recommended / Smoking: Y - Patio Smoking / Clientele: Hosting the full spectrum of ages with locals and tourists.
Quality Live Music takes the Stage: Mon-Thurs 4-7pm & 9 pm-1am, Fri & Sat 10-2am, Sat & Sun: Noon-9 pm / Dance Music w/live artists featured: Fri & Sat 10pm-1am, Sun-Thurs: 9 pm-1am
Valet Parking available at a reasonable fee-by-the-sea
Its as close as you can get
Only the food here and perhaps your special someone rivals this
Enjoying the beach atmosphere through the looking glass is wonderful here too in this casual friendly locale
The UnPlugged Version Returns