Every year, I tell people I am going to Aruba for winter break, and they tell me that I am going to love it and that I must eat at Gianni's. I usually laugh to myself because, little do they know, I actually am half Aruban. My dad was born in Aruba, and so was his father. Every time I tell people this they are, understandably, shocked. My family has a house in Aruba, and we go every year — multiple times a year.  Because of that, I would say that I know the food scene pretty well.

Undoubtedly, if you go to Aruba, you will be told you have to eat at Madame Janette, El Gaucho, Screaming Eagle, Gianni's, Aqua Grill, Barefoot, and many more delicious and well-known restaurants.  Unfortunately, during the last two weeks of the year, these restaurants become packed with tourists. On top of that, there are so many awesome restaurants that are not on, what I imagine to be, a passed down list from family friend to family friend.

Don't get me wrong, the frequented restaurants are great, but if you've been to Aruba before, or if you just want to venture off the beaten bath, I suggest, as a half Aruban native, you try some of the following spots.

1. If you want to eat with your toes in the sand: Flying Fishbone

Flying Fishbone is located in Sint Nicolaas, which is the side of the island that's opposite of where all of the tourists stay. However, the entire island is around 69 square miles, so nothing is too far. Flying Fishbone is known for its ambiance, so if you do decide to go, I'd recommend getting there in time for sunset. I mean, at how many places can you select a table on the patio, in the sand, or in the water?

2. If you want traditional "Aruban" food: Que Pasa

You may have been told to go to Yemanja, which is the touristy sister restaurant of Que Pasa. Personally, I think the food is better at Que Pasa. It is definitely a more relaxed environment, which is exactly what I look for on vacation, and I'd recommend the tomato soup here, it's delicious. 

3. If you're dying for sushi: Divi Bar & Lounge (at the Ritz Carlton Hotel)

While all of your family friends are at BLT Steak, which you can go to in New York, I suggest you check out the Divi Bar & Lounge in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton. This is the perfect place to go for some fresh sushi in a very casual environment. If you don't feel like getting dressed up or don't have a dinner reservation, Divi is perfect for a chill night in Aruba.  

4. If you want to 'gram that açai bowl: Eduardo's Beach Shack

Disclaimer: this is NOT like Juice Generation, Juice Press, or any trendy juice place that you frequent. It is called Eduardo's Beach Shack for a reason. It is actually a shack on the beach run by a man named Eduardo. Unfortunately, ever since açai bowls blew up, this place can get a little crowded. My best advice is to go early in the morning to avoid the line.

5. If you want to TRULY venture off the beaten path: Gostoso

I was extremely hesitant to put Gostoso on the list because it is a VERY well kept secret. So well kept that my Aruban family has only been going for around three years now. Gostoso is a Portuguese-Aruban fusion restaurant. What the heck does that mean?

It means they offer menu items like the creole sushi roll. What is that, you ask? It is your choice of crab, salmon, or shrimp, wrapped in plantain, filled with avocado and cream cheese, and served with their delicious homemade eel sauce. Normally I don't like cream cheese in my sushi, but I can tell you this is a must-order item. 

6. If you want to eat on a pier: The Pelican Nest Seafood Grill

Open for both lunch and dinner, The Pelican Nest is located on the pier between the Holiday Inn and the Playa Linda hotels. It is convenient, delicious, and comfortable. There are many menu options, and it includes a lot of fresh seafood. If you don't want to drive all the way to Flying Fishbone, this is a great place to come for a casual meal on the water.

7. If you're seeking fried fish heaven: Zeerover

To be quite honest, I've never been here, but I did just text my dad saying we had to go this year. My cousin, who grew up and lives in Aruba, is obsessed with this place. He described it to me as "fried fish heaven." It's not a sit down place, so if you're looking for a nice meal, this isn't the spot, but if all you want is delicious seafood, look no further. 

8. If you absolutely must eat at a restaurant in the Gianni Group: Azzurro

Gianni's is delicious. Trust me, I know. Gianni was one of my grandfather's closest friends, so I understand New Yorkers' obsession with Gianni's. You saw your friend's Snapchat story of pasta being made in a giant wheel of parmesan cheese and now you must have it, but if you try to go around Christmastime, you will wait.

SO, if you want the same delicious food in a calmer environment, I suggest you check out Azzurro. Although not truly off the beaten path, it is definitely less crowded and comes with the same delicious Spaghetti al Formaggio Parmigiano (as pictured) that I look forward to seeing on your Instagram this break. 

Unfortunately, directions in Aruba usually sound like, "At the third Divi-divi tree, make a left, go half a mile, and make a right by the church." Seriously, I have been to Aruba over 25 times, and I probably couldn't think of more than three street names. Because of that, getting to these restaurants that aren't right on the main strip can be a little difficult.

However, there are plenty of taxis in Aruba that can get you to these less frequented restaurants. Trust me, you will be thankful that you don't have to wait hours at each meal because they're so overcrowded, and how cool will you feel being so in the know about all of the island's best-kept restaurant secrets? You're welcome.