The Aruba Beach Cafe is the only place in Lauderdale By The Sea that is actually on the Beach. It looks like a small house from the outside, but its really quite large. There are 3 bars; 2 upfront for casual dining and a more formal one in the rear. There are tables throughout as well.
I'd been to Aruba a few times before, usually just for appetizers and a beer. They have live music after 4pm although sometimes there's a steel drum guy earlier; My favorite app here are the Jerk Wings.
Unfortunately the wings are served with some sort of caribbean mayo which doesn't work with the tangy wings. If I order them again I'll ask for a ranch or blue cheese dressing.jump-->
One Sunday I decided to try their "Breakfast by the Sea", and I'm sorry that I did. You can read the full writeup on it here. It was the kind of disaster that made me vow never to return.
But time heals all, and I heard that they have a 1/2 off lunch special. It's your typical old florida kind of deal; murky in it's implementation and completely unadvertised. If you're not a local or regular you'll know nothing about it. It's something like 1/2 off up to $13 or something; they take $6.50 off of your bill if you have more.
I usually sit at the front bar were you can watch the people at the beach, but this time I decided to sit in the back. It was hot outside and the A/C felt good. The restaurant was fairly busy at 2:30; mostly vacationers and retirees taking advantage of the cheep prices.
The have a lot of TVs but they're mostly at bad angles; none of them were on CNBC or the news. This is not a high-brow crowd.
I wanted to try the conch chowder, so I ordered that and a "Rumaki" special they had. The chowder was $5.95.
The chowder was actually very good; not as spicy as I'd hoped but a venerable offering. The potatoes were a small dice and it had just enough conch to be a nice soup and not a sloppy mess. They also threw some fresh parsley on it that added a nice, clean contrast. I liked the soup.
The Rumaki, which is usually chicken livers wrapped in bacon but often replaced by scallops, was a scallop version that was served with an "Asian Slaw" and a spicy teriyaki.
The scallops were pretty good; the teriyaki was indeed spicy; more like a hot sauce. The slaw was incompetently made; just raw cabbage with dressing thrown on it. Un-marinated slaw should not be served to or eaten by humans.
They have valet parking for $5 and you can get "VIP" parking for $10. I'm not sure what that is; maybe you don't have to wait as long for your car?