Bonaire and its people are undoubtedly very passionate about their food and drinks. The mighty Caribbean Sea offers the island a wide variety of delicious, fresh fish and other delicious seafood. On land, somewhat hidden from the public eye, local agriculture makes it possible to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. The harvest quantities depend on the impact of the rainy season. In addition, boats from mainland Venezuela supply our island with many other products, such as tropical fruits and vegetables. As a visitor to our small oasis, most of your attention will be focused on large, famous coastal restaurants, trendy food trucks and large commercial supermarkets. It is a pity that most of these places do not offer a stage for authentic Caribbean food and products. But if you search thoroughly, outside the regular area, fun (small) local businesses will pop up. Most of these places will give you the feeling that they don’t work from a financial point of view, but mainly from a passionate point of view. We drove around in front of our guests and discovered beautiful local treasures along the way, which made us very excited. Curious yet? Well, below you’ll find an overview of our discoveries. Yes, you can thank us later… 🙂
1. “THE SMALLEST SHOP IN TOWN” – 29 Kaya Industria
Our first stop is probably immediately one of our favorites. This nice, humorous lady recently opened her business, about 4 months ago. She sells homemade fresh juices made with real fresh fruit. They are ice-cold and available in a variety of delicious flavors such as passion fruit, lime and tamarind for only $2 a bottle. Her company consists of a cooler, a chair, lots of passion, a friendly smile and the outdoors.
It is a real family business, the lady in the picture is working together with her mother and sister. They prepare the juices at home and sell them at different places on the island. Her mother is in the city, on the Kaya L.D. Gerharts and her sister is on the Kaya Korona.
Open: daily 8AM-1:30PM (or while stocks last)
“I love my work, every day I meet all kinds of people. Besides, I like that I don’t work for a boss!”
2. “E TERAS” – 8 Kaya Nikiboko Zuid
If you drive over the Kaya Nikiboko-South, you can hardly miss this bright blue restaurant. Delicious salsa, bachata, merengue and other warm rhythms will tickle your ears as you enter this authentic Caribbean place, which has been around for over 14 years. They serve different kinds of “Kuminda Krioyo” (local food), ranging from chicken, goat, cow and fish stews to fried fresh “Piska Korá” (Red Snapper), with creole sauce, rice, potatoes and salad, at very reasonable prices. Moreover, they also prepare international dishes such as their famous Pasta Alfredo. You can choose to sit at one of the tables in their cozy “garden”, or at the bar, accompanied by the locals who socialize with you. On Fridays and Saturdays they often organize “in-house karaoke” and live music, played by local bands.
Open: Thursdays and Sundays 10AM-11PM and Fridays and Saturdays 10AM-3AM
“We see all kinds of people coming in, both tourists and islanders. We serve local Antillean, but also international dishes. No day is the same here, which we really like”
3. “MI BANANA” – 42 Kaya Nikiboko Noord
For those who want to experience the real authentic Colombian atmosphere, there is Mi Banana. Beautiful Colombian and international dishes, prepared with fresh fish, meat, rice, vegetables, beans, salads, fried banana, homemade sauces, etcetera. Eleven years ago they opened their doors and hearts here, to all the hungry customers who needed an excellent, fairly priced meal. When we asked the bartenders to take a picture, the lady in pink took all the staff out of their cooking room and posed proudly for us!
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 11:30AM-3PM and 6PM-10PM
4. “DIVI DIVI BAR RESTAURANT” – Kaya Dr. Hernandez
A sparkling local gathering point in the colorful Antriol area. To name just a few of the dishes they serve: Kabritu (goat), piska salu (salted fish), bakiyou (stewed fish), rabu di baka (oxtail), galina (chicken), ribs and papaya stoba (stewed papaya) which are served until 20:00. The small yellow building has a typical Bonairean appearance and was taken over by the current owner about 8 years ago. They told us passionately about their food and the organized events. The happy hour on Friday is usually assisted by the local band “Trio Los Amigos” and there is also a regular karaoke night. On Sunday they have a “picnic” with various snacks and drinks until 3 in the afternoon.
Open: Monday to Saturday 10AM to late, Sundays 7AM-3PM (or later)
5. “MATI’S PLACE” – 5 Kaya Korona / Kaya Nikita (next to Flamingo TV)
At this hidden gem, they serve tasty Surinamese / Javanese food that will penetrate all your senses positively. We were served by a cheerful man who turned out to be one of the owners. He told us about their specialties like “Bami Chicken” (spiced spaghetti with marinated chicken), “Nasi Chicken” (spiced rice with chicken), Roti (wrap with a mix of egg, curry, vegetables, chicken), saoto soup and different kinds of delicious Surinamese sandwiches with chicken, fish, egg and meat. The prices are very favorable and vary from $ 4 for a sandwich to $ 7/8 for a small portion of bami or nasi and around $ 13 for a (very) large bami or nasi dish.
Mati and his wife opened their business about 3.5 years ago. Before that, they lived in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Mati had lived on Bonaire before, but moved to the Netherlands in 1989. He is originally from Suriname. He used to work as a star chef and his wife had her own beauty salon in Rotterdam, but they chose to live on this beautiful island. They prepare their food with love and passion and you can taste that! Even though the restaurant is not so conspicuously located for the outside world, they don’t really have to advertise as our clients do when they talk about Mati’s Place.
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 7:30AM-4PM
“Our restaurant runs great and we love what we do!”
6. “ZARPIN L.V.V. PARADISE” – 18 Kaminda Lac
Attention, because this fish store deserves full attention! Any lover of fresh fish will embrace everything this family business has to offer. Daily fresh catches show off in the showcases and wait for you to be consumed. Super fresh tuna, snappers, mahi-mahi, barracuda, purunchi and many other species kept in storage that morning are sold at prices our supermarkets should be ashamed of. They opened five years ago. In addition to fish, they also sell organic home-grown products. We spoke to one of the sons and his mother, who came to us with a big smile and a lot of enthusiasm.
They told us that they grew up with the fish trade and it really is a part of their lives. They know exactly what they sell and where it comes from. They bring in fish that they catch themselves but also that they get from other local fishermen. Moreover, they own a piece of land where they grow different kinds of organic fruits and vegetables, such as cucumber, okra, paprika, spinach, chili peppers, banana, lime, watermelon and many other products. Furthermore, they keep goats and chickens which they also use for meat production.
Open: Monday to Friday 08:30AM-12:30PM and 3PM-6PM
“I actually love everything about my work, it’s my passion: catching and preparing fish, working on my land and dealing with all the different kinds of customers that come into our store”.
7. “CHACHO’S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT” – 33 Kaya Papa Cornes
Recently opened and it’s getting more and more popular! This unique concept works like this: you park your car, walk into the cozy air-conditioned blue-colored restaurant, are served with a smile by their friendly staff, choose one of the fresh fish in their showcase (the price is based on the weight of your fish), add extra rice, fries, pumpkin, vegetables, sauces and/or casave, then sit down and wait for the feast. Their specialties are funchi hasa (fried corn bread), one-day marinated baracuda-in-garlic sauce and balchi di buni (tuna ball). They serve large, generous amounts of food, at very reasonable prices. We talked to the manager who proudly explained to us how everything comes together for him.
They opened in April 2017 and it’s a real family business. The father of the family is a fisherman, he catches and prepares the fish in the restaurant kitchen. The family loves the social aspect of working with different kinds of people: colleagues, customers and suppliers. They plan to stay open in the evenings from November.
8. “Tha Toko” – 1 Kaya Korona
Sometimes you have to pamper yourself and luckily there is “Tha Toko”, where a variety of ice-cold, homemade $1 “Lee Cups” (local term for ice creams and sorbets with fresh fruit) await you. They come in a variety of fruity, creamy flavors such as mango, banana, pear, pineapple, peanut butter or pistachio. Also try their local pudding “Kesio”, which is excellent as a dessert!
Open: daily Noon-4PM