Mex it up at Campeones!
Here is why Campeones Cantina & Tequila Bar is the talk of the Mexican town.
It has been more than a month since Campeones opened its doors at Marriott's Aruba Ocean Club (click for Google maps location) and unless you've been living under a rock, I am sure you have seen it all over social media posts and stories from the place.
The space, formerly known as Champions, a famous sports bar that ran for a long time and served many sports fans, reached the end of its existence and in record time was transformed into a Mexican town. No expense was spared when it came to the details filling every corner. From a vintage Volkswagen car parked in the middle to a Coca-Cola machine from the 60s. There is a lot to look at! Mural art, facades of little Mexican village houses... and maaany more things all over, give a feast to the curious eye.
The menu, developed by a team of experts both local and international put together a selection of iconic dishes from one of the world's most beloved cuisines: Mexican. It was in due time for Aruba to be graced with a restaurant of this caliber where you can find more than a taco and a burrito.
I have been several times with different groups of people and the verdict is the same: "So good! I HAVE TO COME BACK!"
Instead of giving you a review of a one-time-only visit, I have gathered a list of my favorites.
An already classic twist to the original with hibiscus syrup. You can choose your preferred tequila for all drinks. They have a large selection.
Without salt for me. This one is the real deal, mixed at the moment by an expert bartender, with no packaged mixes. Surprisingly I have heard a ton of people say they're not into Margaritas and for you, I say: try this one! Probably you've tried those that come premixed in a bottle with cheap tequila added. Ask for no salt... you'll most likely change your mind.
Gin, coconut rum, passion fruit purée, orange juice, pineapple juice, grapefruit juice, agave syrup... Usually, I won't go for the sweet cocktails but this one definitely won me over. It is huge! Listen restaurants: the days of paying bucks for tiny drinks are over.
The Chips & Salsa Station.
One of the many unique things this place offers is an unlimited chip & salsa station. The vintage car in the middle of the street (literally!) has been transformed into a bar where two massive baskets of crispy chips and salsas are displayed for you to indulge in. They have fresh pico de gallo, sour cream, salsa verde, and hot sauce for you to make your perfect nacho cone. One thing: don't make the mistake I made one time by overdoing it. You'll wanna save some space for food.
Can't get enough. Chicken tinga stuffed corn flautas with chile de árbol sauce, queso, and tajín. It is a flavor-packed bite every time. The combination of Cotija white cheese and tajín sprinkled on top is insane.
When your table of four has gone thru two bowls of this creamy thing in one sitting you know it is a hit. This dip was made for all of the Cheese Whiz fans out there. The bits on top are crispy chorizo.
Quesadillas & Tacos.
A tortilla with a layer of cheese and pulled beef. Bright pickled red onion on top. Sheesh!
Chicken Tacos Al Pastor.
These are no regular shmegular chicken tacos. These come with mango and jalapeño slaw!
Baja Fish Tacos.
Crispy beer-battered snapper, cabbage slaw, and tasty homemade chipotle mayo. People's choice award for favorite fish tacos right now.
I am usually skeptical about mixing lobster and cheese... however, this one is all things a quesadilla should be with lobster chunks: Decadent.
I don't think I need to put into words what is great about churros.
Special mention to the Tres Leches cake with a touch of Amaretto. Sorry, I don't have a picture. I got carried away and forgot to take one!
The team behind Campeones is making sure to provide experiences that you won't find anywhere in Aruba, for example:
The Hot Sauce Wall.
I wish I had counted but I assure you they have 30+ brands of hot sauces from all over the world for you to try (Before you ask: YES, All the Cholulas are there). Just take a look, grab whatever makes you curious, and live your own "Hot Ones" moment right then and there.
What else is there to say?
Campeones for sure is growing to be a staple in casual dining in Aruba. Of course, they have all the classics but also as you can see on the menu (linked here), they have tex-mex dishes filled with legit ingredients that you can't find anywhere else on the island. From the unlimited chips & salsa station for dining patrons, and cocktail bar-level drinks to a really cool traditional decor where every detail has been curated to give you an immersive experience.
Surely I still have a ton of things to try on my list but from my experience so far this place is very much FoodE Approved!
Tip: If you are local, the best time to visit is 8 PM when the Happy Hour starts. ALL DRINKS go from dollars to florins. Find me there!
Make sure to follow Campeones social accounts to get to know more!
Facebook: Campeones Cantina & Tequila Bar
Make reservations on OpenTable here: Campeones Cantina & Tequila Bar
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Content courtesy of Aruba Marriott Resort, produced by Enrique Balestrini.