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“fun place with good food” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Charlie's Bar & Restaurant

Charlie's Bar & Restaurant
Ranked #2 of 13 Restaurants in San Nicolas
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $0 - $30
Cuisines: Caribbean, Bar, Pub, International
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Dining on a budget, Bar scene
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Drinks, Full Bar, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Waitstaff
Description: Charlie’s Bar & Restaurant was founded on September 18, 1941 by a Dutch couple, Charles and Marie Brouns. They chose their location in San Nicolas as it was close to the large Lago Refinery: this provided a steady stream of clientele in the form of seamen, contractors, and oil workers.Over the years, Charlie’s Bar became a destination returned to by countless friends from the past, accompanied by new patrons anxious to visit what has become an iconic island institution…”If you haven’t been to Charlie’s you don’t know Aruba!”Today, Charlie’s Bar is recognized as one of the Top Ten Bars in the Caribbean; and is a must see destination for first time visitors who will undoubtedly encounter and enjoy the company of many repeat clientele from literally all over the world. Everyone comes for the ambiance; the real connoisseurs are here to enjoy the intercontinental cuisine offered by Charlie’s Menu. Everything from jumbo shrimp to fine tenderloin steaks and fresh local seafood are at your beck and call. The menu is varied and prepared fresh each and every day try our “Honeymoon Sauce” with your entrée (if you like things real hot) or tone it down with our Creole style of preparation. Daily specials and home made snacks round out the menu for the inquisitive diner.Presently, your host, Charlito (the third generation Charlie) says, “Everything we do is focused on one thing, creating an unforgettable memory that will leave you wanting to return.”
wisconsin
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
“fun place with good food”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 14, 2013

we stopped at san nicolas for the light parade and had read about Charlie's bar in the book "an island away" so we had a wonderful fresh fish dinner and went to the back of the restaurant and had a good view of the light parade for carnival. we had good food and was interesting to see all the collections on the wall and celing. i do not want to go to chain restaurants that i can see everyday in the states. local good food away from the tourist area.

  • Visited February 2013
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank WisconsinSunfun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montsy, Guest Relations Manager at Charlie's Bar & Restaurant, responded to this review, February 17, 2013
Dear WisconsinSunFun, Thank you for your review. We are happy to hear you had a great time. Carnival in Aruba and specially San Nicolas is a great opportunity to meet locals and experience our culture. It is always a challenge to get in or out of the Carnival route but you made it.
An "island away" gives an impression of San Nicolas so you knew what to expect and we are glad you were not disappointed. Hope to see you back.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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301 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    155
    88
    32
    11
    15
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“All time favorite.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 12, 2013

Charlie's is the answer to the disheartened Aruban tourist. Did you think you were going to see fewer Senor Frogs and more legitimate bar culture? Get in a car and go to San Nicholas and follow the signs to Charlie's. When you park your car, don't be careless and leave your DLSR on the backseat. People complain about crime in this area, but as long as you use your head, this area is no more dangerous than your hometown. The bartenders are great but won't try and fake good conversation just for a tip. They'll tell you stories, let you ask all the typical questions they must hear constantly and all do it politely while pouring you good drinks for good prices. All the nicknacks can keep you looking around for at least a few rounds and the food is actually amazing for a bar. Do yourself a big favor and make sure you go to Charlie's, at least once. And remember, this is a bar. Regardless of it's red light district location, use judgement before taking any children to a BAR.

  • Visited February 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank jacqueline d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montsy, Guest Relations Manager at Charlie's Bar & Restaurant, responded to this review, February 17, 2013
Dear jacqueline d, thank you for your review. It is as you describe if you are expecting any type of franchise operation you arrive at the wrong address in San Nicolas. The best way to get to Charlie's Bar is by renting a car as you wrote. It is an approximately 14 mile ride and a great opportunity for sightseeing. Taxi fares are high and they usually say San Nicolas is dangerous to avoid the longer rides. The crime reports show a different conclusion though.
A last note on kids: there is nothing we can't handle;).
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cleves, Ohio
Level Contributor
105 reviews
74 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
“We have to visit here every time!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 6, 2013

We have been visiting Charlie's since 2005. We made the trek to San Nicolaas on Jan 3, our last night on the island. We have been made to feel very welcome here. (I tried to review this much earlier but since I've done a review in the past it wouldn't let me in.) I am a big fan of dive bars and Charlie's doesn't disappoint with its eclectic décor and
we were greeted by Luis, who remembers us every time. There were several tables going when we arrived. We ordered the shrimp appetizer, which is always good, followed by salads for our Entrees of Catch of the Day, which was Swordfish and the Churassco which was cooked perfectly.
We have never felt uncomfortable here. Yes, the neighborhood is made up of mostly brothels and strip clubs but that is what adds to the charm that is San Nicolaas. If you go in with the attitude that it's a tourist trap and people are there to rip you off instead of just taking in the sights and enjoying the experience and learning some local history, you may be disappointed. So just go and enjoy!!!!!!!!

  • Visited January 2013
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank cammiedog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montsy, Guest Relations Manager at Charlie's Bar & Restaurant, responded to this review, February 17, 2013
Dear camiedog, thank you for your trust in us. We hope to keep welcoming you! You are so right the experience of Charlie's Bar and Restaurant or any other place depends on one's mindset or attitude.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
175 reviews
92 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
“A Cool Bar with mediocre food”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 3, 2013

We were in the neighborhood for an event and arrived early so we decided to have lunch at Charlies Bar.
Charlies has been here for generations and is the quintessential neighborhood dive bar.

While it may be a great place to hang out and have a couple of beers, the food leaves much to be desired. I had the fish of the day and my coworkers had the beef tips. None of us enjoyed the meal and my fish in particular was overcooked and the flavorless.
I can for the life of me not understand how you can live on an island and not know how to cook fish properly. I guess once you have achieved fame there is no reason to go the extra mile.

For USD $100 for three entrees I had expected much better. By contrast I ate far better tasting and cooked fish sandwiches in Barbados for a fifth of the price.

Regrettably its seems that this place is riding on the coattails of its inherited fame as a bar its OK but as a restaurant not worth the trek to San Nicolas.

  • Visited January 2013
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Mark J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montsy, Guest Relations Manager at Charlie's Bar & Restaurant, responded to this review, February 9, 2013
Dear Sir M J, we cannot twist about taste and respect your opinion. However we don’t think it is fair that you make such serious accusations based upon one experience. We feel honored to carry on a legacy and would not ruin our reputation on purpose. If you had chosen to tell us personally at that moment you would have given us a fair chance to do something about it instead you chose to judge us on tripadvisor. Finally, about the bill you forgot to add the couple of beers to your entrees. We are happy you seem to have had a great time despite it all and invite you to drop by in the future. We have had many of your colleagues as repeater guests.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
244 reviews
169 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 112 helpful votes
“An Old Favorite!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 2, 2013

I first came to Charlie's Bar in 1994 and go there regularly for many reasons. You'll find cheerful bartenders, quixotic decor, and the best shrimp on the island. You can get the shrimp in different sauces or just plain "peel and eat." This place is also a crossroads, where you'll meet locals as well as tourists from around the world, giving you the opportunity to reach out. Started in 1941, Charlie's is now operated by the third generation, and as you'll see, the decor continues to grow as people leave behind business cards, license plates, and various other items of flotsam and jetsam that puzzle the eye for hours. Take your time, linger, and enjoy the scene.

  • Visited February 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank SanNic44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montsy, Guest Relations Manager at Charlie's Bar & Restaurant, responded to this review, February 9, 2013
Dear SanNic44, thank you for sharing your opinion. Coming from a top contributor and foodie like you this makes us feel proud and appreciated. Hope to be welcoming you and all of our (future) repeater guests for many more years to come. Our core business is all about making people happy.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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