Eating iguana in Curacao: My culinary adventure

For Cultural Tidbits this week, I will finally start telling you about my Curacao travel without a plan experience. First off? Traveling through their food. And the most unique culinary experience of all? Eating iguana in Curacao!

eating iguana in Curacao

Eating iguana in Curacao? Jaanchie’s Restaurant is the spot!

Eating iguana in Curacao is definitely within my Top 2 culinary adventures, only behind my adventure at the Essaouira fish market and eating fresh manta ray in Morocco. Not only was eating such a reptile was unique in itself, but the amazing friendly service and surreal surroundings of Jaanchie’s Restaurant added to the whole experience.

eating iguana at Jaanchies, Curacao

Miniature model of Jaanchie’s Restaurant, displayed by the entrance

Jaanchie’s Restaurant, located in Westpunt, was the lunch stop of the 6 hour+ All West beach-hopping tour I booked with Irie Tours. I reserved directly by using the phone number on a brochure I picked up in Punda. I must emphasize that I called the night before and offered to go with a friend, and when they told me their price, I said that was too expensive and bargained down a good $20/person when I stated we “couldn’t afford” their standard rate. Key here? Never book a tour through a hotel, but rather pick up one of many brochures at the tourist kiosk right across the bridge in Punda (by the clock!) and call the agencies directly – and always bargain! 😉 ps – no, they did not pay me to talk about them. I just had such a great experience that I had to mention them! 🙂

eating iguana at Jaanchie's, Curacao

beautiful dining area of Jaanchie’s Restaurant

eating iguana at Jaanchie's, Curacao

the walls in the inside dining area had wonderful quotes in different languages

Inside Jaanchie’s restaurant

Upon entering the restaurant, I loved the atmosphere. Open, full of bird houses by the sides, which in turn invites many birds to sing, but still stay away from your food 😉 then, the lively owner, Jaanchie, greets you with the biggest smile and best dishes of the house. He can speak like 5-6 languages (maybe more!?). What was so nice of him is that about 3 different languages were spoken by the 6-7 people on our tour, so he sat down besides the Latinas (Spanish), the Brazilian (Portuguese) and the Dutch girls to explain the run down of his menu and daily specials. And while the great atmosphere and hospitality surpassed expectations, the highlight, of course, was eating iguana!

eating iguana at Jaanchie's

Jaanchie (the owner) and me!

Personable service by the owner himself

What I loved the most about Jaanchie, the owner, is that he explained that he understood eating iguana was not for everyone and many people would fear asking for a dish and then risk not liking it. Thus, he always gives a decent plate per the table so everyone gets to experience eating iguana, but enjoy a different dish for lunch. Great Caribbean hospitality right there!

eating iguana AND seafood at Jaanchie's

seafood platter I ordered as main course at Jaanchie’s. Yum!

The food: Seafood and iguana for me!

To be safe, I ordered the seafood mix, which included shrimp and I believe grouper as main entrees. The iguana however, arrived swiftly! I found it interesting that I liked eating iguana more than my actual dish. Iguana tastes like chicken, in my opinion! Maybe a few extra bones, but they simply made me feel like I was eating wings. Most of the table found it downright weird or simply didn’t like eating iguana, so I got to enjoy a good 3/4 of the plate. It was deliciously seasoned, with that characteristic Caribbean kick and full flavor. Needless to say, Jaanchie was quite happy with my appetite! :p

Read: Travel without a plan: My Curacao experiment report

eating iguana process

jou know what I mean…

Is eating iguana in your travel bucket list ? 😉 Or have you had it before?

12 thoughts on “Eating iguana in Curacao: My culinary adventure

  1. Funny that I found your site! I just came back from Curacao and went to Jaanchies and also met the MAN and tried the Iguana along with the Goat Stew! Both delicious! After our meal one of the women working there offered to drive to our hotel, you don’t get that in the states!!! BTW did you try Soul Food, just down the road from Jaanchies, also a very special place!!

    • I did miss Soul Food! I was only on fact part of town one day for the beach hopping tour. I do plan to go back to Curaçao for a full diving holiday however, so I’ll make sure I check it out next time. Got to go back to Jaanchies too to try that goat stew and other interesting items I saw on the menu. Thanks for the tips!

  2. we love jaanchies–but hubby is the iguana eater–good to see foto of jaanchie coz he was home sick when we dined in december

    • Aww, too bad you didn’t get to see Jaanchie! He is great–quite the character 🙂 now you can spot him on your next visit! 😉

  3. We loved Jaanchie’s! The iguana, not so much. Too many bones, not enough meat. It was weird to see live iguanas sauntering through the restaurant as you were eating their fallen comrades, and we wondered, “Is this how they punish the bad iguanas?” But we loved the atmosphere, especially the goats running around and the birds that surround the place.

  4. I’ve had many tasty animals on my travels, but never had Iguana. Looks tasty and I guess it makes sense for Iguanas to be on the menu in places like the Caribbean where farms of larger animals aren’t as common!

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