Where Everybody Knows Your Name: Aruba's Oldest (and Bestest) Bar
Aruba is known for it's crystal clear beaches, perfect weather and its strip of luxury resorts on the north part of the island that bring thousands of tourists every year. However, if you venture south to San Nicholas, the second largest city on the island, you can get a grittier, but more authentic side of Aruba. Located in the heart of San Nicholas is Charlie's Bar, a local institution that has been bringing good drinks and people from all over the globe under one roof for more than 70 years.
Since 1941, Charlie's has been the go-to neighborhood haunt for locals and tourists alike. Every corner of the bar is adorned with international memorabilia, creating a look that can only be described as organized chaos. Don't let the old license plates, keychains, sports memorabilia and dollar bills fool you though. While the eclectic space looks like nothing more than a place to have a good brew or two, mouth-watering entrees are being created in the kitchen by the third generation Charlie (the restaurant's namesake was his grandfather), who creates top-notch meals (stuffed lobster anyone?) that will put the food at many of Aruba's high-end resorts to shame. Diners can also delight other options like shrimp, lamb, burgers, soups and more.
Charlie's is the ideal hangout to visit before or after heading to nearby Baby Beach. Once a thriving industrial town, San Nicholas became a bit of a ghost town after major layoffs from the city's oil refinery over the course of the 80s and 90s. Although it's home to a red light district and abandoned buildings of yesteryear, San Nicholas is slowly being revived due to an up-and-coming art scene that is gaining exposure due to Aruba Art Fair. Grab a seat at the bar and chat it up with Charlie and the friendly staff to eat, drink, laugh and learn more about the rich culture of Aruba.
Address: Bernard van de Veen Zeppenfeldstraat 56