Have Fork, Will Explore: Eataly & El Mexicano
The Have Fork, Will Explore series is a collection of articles that profile interesting eats on the island. Grab a fork and join us!
Viva Mexico, Viva Italia
Text by Taylor Escobedo
My taste buds yearn to travel. When living on a tiny island, it is easy to find yourself eating the same local dishes. My taste buds get island fever and demand I take them on a trip. However, with my late-night schedule, there are very few options available. Thankfully I don’t need a passport or a plane ticket to have some of the best foods Italy and Mexico have to offer—they came to me here on Aruba.
All the way from Juarez, Mexico, is El Mexicano, specializing in Northern Mexican cuisine. Ruben Luna and his son Ruben Jr. opened the food truck together in 2009. Over the years it has become a late-night mainstay for locals and myself as an alternative to the typical Aruban-style food trucks. This family-operated truck specializes in burritos, a staple in Northern Mexico. It also serves overstuffed tacos, quesadillas, and loaded nachos that would satisfy the biggest of appetites. Strategically lined up in a row in front of truck patrons and easily accessible to the cooks are homemade sauces displayed in authentic lava-rock mortars. These salsa recipes have been a part of the Luna family for years and are all made from scratch. Varieties include cilantro, habanero, jalapeño, and chili. The jalapeño sauce is my personal favorite and will have you yelling “ARRIBA” after just one bite!
Ruben was a chef in Mexico but soon realized there were not many opportunities for him there. When a friend suggested he take his recipes from Juarez and open his own place, Ruben looked to Aruba and introduced his Mexican soul food five years ago. El Mexicano is open seven days a week from 9 pm to 4 am in a convenient location off Palm Beach Road.
Next stop, Eataly—a food truck bringing the best of authentic Italian street food to Aruba. Eataly has been open less than a year but has earned a devout following of locals and tourists alike, serving traditional Italian dishes including lasagna and cannelloni made with homemade pasta and sauces passed down from the owner’s family, along with panini that transport your taste buds to the streets of Milan and back.
Owner Davide Bugatti moved to Aruba from Lake Como, a small town just north of Milan. Davide was working as the national director of a German multinational company developing a new system of 3D online shopping. But it is a small world after all: Davide met his girlfriend, Lara, and moved to Aruba to start a family and bring his taste of authentic Italian cuisine to Aruba.
Eataly’s signature Porkettony is made with authentic Italian porchetta, marinated peppers, and roasted onions on ciabatta, and a definite go-to for carnivores is the Meat Latin Love Panino, layered with porchetta, Italian sausage, wild boar salami, and jerky fillet pork. Eataly also offers an assortment of burgers made with an Italian flair; the Caprese Angus Beef Burger with fresh mozzarella never lets me down. Last but not least are its homemade pizzas, made fresh to order. Eataly is located in the parking lot of Eagle Bowling, near Pizza Hut, and is open nightly from 8 pm to 2 am.
From Northern Mexico and the streets of Italy, these two trucks are great additions to Aruba’s popular food truck scene. Not only do I enjoy the food these trucks have to offer, but I can also appreciate the leap of faith each of the owners took coming here to bring their native foods to Aruba, creating something new for others to enjoy.