Casa Vieja and the Bandeja Paisa

Lately I’ve been looking for a new place in Aruba to secure the massive Bandeja Paisa platter. I have my old standby joint in San Nicolaas, but I wanted to reach out for another version. After inquiring amongst my local friends they informed me that the place to go was called Casa Vieja, which is located about two minutes from the airport. My wife and I rolled in there yesterday, much to our delight.

As the name implies, the restaurant is in an old house. The covered area in front features tables. Through the double door is a small counter with a few stools, but the temperature inside will chase you out. I was happy to discover that the fellow operating this place used to have La Finca, a restaurant in the middle of Oranjestaad that has since passed to other hands. I remembered him from there but had never sampled his version of the bandeja. So I ordered and waited.

Lo and behold! The platter arrived at my table in all its glory. Here is a photo.

This is one way to fill the bottomless pit. For those of you not familiar with Colombian food, let me list what comes with this dish. A slice of flank steak, one egg fried hard, a piece of salchicha (sausage), chicharron (think a hunk of fried bacon), an arepa, a smashed and fried piece of plantain, small cole slaw-like salad, rice, beans (not shown), a slice each of avocado and tomato, and a wedge of lime. That’s a massive amount of food. I ate nearly everything aside of the avocado because I just don’t like it. The rest pretty much went down the hatch. I was full beyond breakfast the next day. Flavor was outstanding, including the hot sauce (also not shown) served on the side. Here I am with the owner.

Yes, I worked up a sweat eating that plate of food. As you have come to expect, I cooled down with an ICE-COLD Coca-Cola, the perfect thing to settle the gut after such punishment. If you get to Aruba, like Colombian food, and want to have it done right, give Casa Vieja a try.

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