Blue Note Cafe: A laid back cafe in Avarua
Blue Note Cafe is a laid back cafe/restaurant in Rarotonga's capital, Avarua. It is located just a 5 minute walk east of the Cook's Corner bus terminal, past the Cook Islands Trading Company shop.
The cafe has about half a dozen tables outdoors in its small garden and about ten tables indoors. The interior decor includes a large blue carved figuring of Tangaroa (the God of fertility and the symbol of the Cook Islands) and each table contains a bottle with a colourful flower in it.
The service is friendly and the atmosphere relaxed, with western pop music playing in the background.
The cafe's breakfast menu (served until 11:30am) includes eggs and bacon, crepes, croissants with jam and butter and cereals with yoghurt.
The lunch/dinner menu includes curries (beef, chicken, fish and vegetarian), soup of the day, mixed grills (steak, lamb chops, sausages, fried eggs, fried tomatoes....), parrot fish and chips, octopus, prawns, Greek salad and a range of other meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes.
An impressive selection of desserts includes Mississippi Mudcake with cream, local fruit bowl with yoghurt or ice cream, banana/carrot/caramel cakes and a very tempting looking Bailey's fudge cake with ice cream.
Favorite Dish: I opted for:
Local fruit bowl with ice cream - Cost: 7.50 NZD (approx. 3 GBP)
This selection of local fruits definitely included banana, orange and lime....and I *think* it included mango and papaya. Served with 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Cooks Lager - Cost: 4 NZD (approx. 1.60 GBP)
A 4.9% lager produced by the island's Rarotongan Brewery. The cafe also sells imported bottled beers (Heineken, Steinlager and Fosters).
A nice relaxing cafe with an extensive selection of main meals and tempting desserts!
FBI Fish & Chips: Fish and chips in Avarua!
I had dinner at FBI Fish & Chips one afternoon during my visit to Rarotonga's capital city, Avarua, in April 2006.
This no-frills, family-run fish and chip shop is located on Tutakimoa Road, just a couple of minutes walk inland from where the buses drop you off at Cook's Corner bus terminal. There are handwritten advertising signs on the main road to point you in the right direction!
It is run by a bubbly lady (with that characteristic Cook Islands friendliness and cheerfulness) and her family.......a host of children, young and old, seem to be contributing in their own little way to the running of the place!
This contribution admittedly amounted to sitting at a table playing card games at the time of my visit.........but it adds to the laid-back atmosphere of the place!
There are a handful of tables outside, some in the sunshine and others under the shade of trees. Eating hot fish and chips in the strong afternoon sunshine didn't seem a good idea, so I sat at one of the shaded tables to enjoy my meal.
The menu includes various types of fish as well as crab sticks, prawns and other seafood....and of course large portions of salty chips! One surprising item on the menu (maybe due to a Scottish influence?!!) was deep fried Mars Bars!!
They also offer a fridge full of soft drinks and ice creams to choose from.
Favorite Dish: I opted for:
Fish and chips - Cost: 7 NZD (approx 3 GBP)
An enormous portion of salty chips and 3 battered and (almost) boneless fish. Excellent quality and very filling......wrapped in paper and very much what we consider *proper* fish and chips in the UK.....but far better value!!
Bottle of Coca Cola - Cost: 2 NZD
Super value, super quality.....highly recommended!!
Saltwater Cafe: Laid back cafe near Titikaveka
Saltwater Cafe is a laid back cafe/restaurant with a bright friendly owner and colourful decor.
It is located a short walk (10-15 minutes) west of the village of Titikaveka, on the main coastal road directly across from a superb sandy beach. It is in fact located at the island's "half way" point.....it is 16km to the island's capital, Avarua, whether you go clockwise or anti-clockwise around the island's perimeter road.
The cafe hosts a number of outdoor tables under a canopy. The outdoor wall exhibits colourful paintings (beach scenes, sunshine, turtles, palm trees) and small cats wander around the tables hoping to pick up any scraps from the many diners.
The menu includes a variety of seafood dishes (including a half kilo of fresh prawns served with a selection of dips (28NZD) that I was very tempted to order!), Mexican dishes (nachos and quesadillas), burgers and Pacific-style curry (chicken, fish or vegetarian).
The cafe serves a selection of soft drinks, hot beverages and a good selection of alcoholic drinks including draught Cook Islands lager and imported (Aus and NZ) bottled beers.
The cafe is open for breakfast daily from 9:30am. Main meals are served from 3pm until closing time. Saltwater Cafe is open on Sundays, unlike many other restaurants on the island.
Favorite Dish: I opted for:
Pacific-style chicken curry - Cost: 19 NZD (approx. 8 GBP)
A mild curry with a tasty sauce and peas, carrots, onions and a selection of spices. A dish of chilli sauce was provided separately on the edge of the plate to increase the potency of the curry as desired. Served with a portion of white rice, two poppadums and a side salad (tomato, grated carrots and lettuce in a tasty mayonnaise dressing).
A schooner of draught Cook Islands lager - Cost: 4.5 NZD (approx. 2 GBP)
Ice cold and very refreshing on a hot sunny afternoon........but why do the Antipodeans insist on drinking from silly little glasses instead of proper pints!!? ;-)
A bright and friendly cafe, close to the beach, with a fairly extensive and varied menu. Good quality food and cold, draught beer! Recommended!!
Cook Islands Ice Cream Company: Ice cream, toasties and milkshakes!
Cook Islands Ice Cream Company is located in the centre of Rarotonga's capital, Avarua. It is located in a small cul-de-sac, just a few minutes west of Cook's Corner, and is surrounded by craft and souvenir shops.
This small cafe offers a range of sandwiches, toasted sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, waffles, ice cream sundaes, fruit smoothies, milkshakes and various other sweet snacks.
Naturally, it offers a vast selection of ice cream flavours (strawberry, chocolate, banana, toffee, mango, mint choc chip, rum and raisin, papaya, coconut....)
The cafe has 3 wooden tables located outside, in the shade, amongst the souvenir shops.
Favorite Dish: I opted for:
Cheese and onion toasted sandwich - Cost: 4 NZD (approx. 1.60 GBP)
A couple of slices of toast with a fairly generous serving of melted cheese and diced onions. I've had better toasties, but I've also had much worse!
Chocolate milkshake - Cost: 5 NZD (approx. 2 GBP)
Served in a large cup brandishing a claim to be "the tallest drink in town". Made from blended chocolate ice cream. Milkshakes are available in all the flavours that the ice cream is available in. Nothing special, but a reasonable effort!
A good place to come for an afternoon snack.........or just to buy an ice cream cone in pretty much any flavour you can imagine!
Palace One Takeaway: Burgers in Avarua
Palace One Takeaway is located besides Avatiu boat harbour in Rarotonga's capital, Avarua.
Arriving at Avarua's Cook's Corner bus terminal, head west through Punanga Nui market place and you'll see Palace One located on the opposite side of the road to a large "Raro Fried Chicken" fast food restaurant.
Palace One is basically a glorified burger van.....in fact it isn't even *that* glorified! ;-) It does have a handful of wooden tables outside - some under a canopy and others on the grass amongst the wandering hens (don't stray over the road to Raro Fried Chicken, guys!!!). You can sit in the sunshine looking out across the harbour.....but don't expect too much action, it's not the world's busiest harbour!
I visited Palace One for a morning snack during my visit to Avarua in April 2006. Although the menu lists toasted sandwiches, calamari rings, mussels, fish, eggs and bacon amongst its meals.....at the time of my visit only burgers and hot dogs were available. Admittedly, the selection of burgers was fairly extensive (plain, steakburgers, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, a "Palace Special", burgers with eggs.....). There were also various cakes and puddings on offer.
Favorite Dish: I opted for:
Cheeseburger - Cost: 4.50 NZD (approx 2 GBP)
It wasn't particularly big or filling, but the burger was well cooked and the meat was very good. There wasn't much cheese on it, but it too was very well cooked (to the extent that it had ceased to be melted and had achieved crispiness!). Also filled with grated lettuce, carrots, tomato and ketchup
Bottle of Fanta orange - Cost: 2.50 NZD (approx 1 GBP)
Trader Jacks: Awesome Seafood
An institution in Avarua is Trader Jacks. This place does excellent seafood, and is reasonably priced given the quality of what is on offer.
There's a decent bar next door as well.
Favorite Dish: Go for the seafood platter for 2 at $60. Plenty of different kinds of seafood, and just delicious.
Eat in or Take Away: Casual, friendly and tasty
This outdoor cafe on the south side of the island (near Palm Grove resort) is terrific. Great food, good drinks, and very friendly service - all at a good price.
It's not on the beach, but the owners have gone out of their way to make this a charming oasis.
The Flametree: Try the coconut, cashew, fudge pie.
The Flame Tree has the reputation as the best restaurant on the island for a good reason - great food, decent wine list, pleasant setting and a gay waiter snooty enough to make us feel like we were back in San Francisco.
Even though this is considered an "upscale" place, not to worry - most everybody gets around on scooters, so nobody looks all that well put together, between a day on the beach and a ride in a breeze.
Be sure to sit on the patio - no view, except of the geckos on the ceiling. The service is done on "island time", which was fine with us and gave us time to make bets on whose soup the next lizard would plop into (none did, darn!)
Favorite Dish: The coconut, cashew fudge pie was awesome (enough so that I bought the Flametree cookbook to get the recipe - email me and I'll send it to you).
Be sure to ask them to serve the pie warm.
Worth every calorie.
Blue Note Cafe: A good cafe in Town
We popped into the blue note cafe for lunch. I tried Ika mata, which is a local specialty, and my wife had the seafood chowder. With a drink each the bill came in at less than $30 which was excellent value.
Stefano's: Best Pasta Ever!
This place is fantastic. It is a very small Italian restaurant, with only 5 or 6 pasta's on the menu. There are only 6 tables here, so it is very important to reserve a table. The service is very friendly and there are local and imported wines and beers on the menu.
There is a menu outside so if you walk by during the day, you can have a look at what they offer before they open (opens at 6pm). Open Tuesday to Sunday (closed monday).
Favorite Dish: The Gamberi was simply divine - spaghetti in a tomato based sauce with prawns, chilli and capers. Just perfect and only cost NZ$24.50 - and this was the most expensive thing on the menu.
For desert I had the home made chocolate cake drenched in chocolate sauce. Best chocolate cake I have ever had.
Trader Jacks: Pizza by the sea
Trader Jacks is on the water front of the main town of Rarotonga. It has a couple of bars and a restaurant all with view of the Pacific Ocean; a fantastic setting. We sat and watched locals racing the 6 man canoes whilst we ate.
Favorite Dish: Pizza. Oddly enough Trader Jacks is a seafood restaurant but we visited the restaurant twice and the best thing we tried on the menu was the pizza! It was the best pizza I've had in years and one of the best meals we ate on the island. They also do a desert pizza that the girls tucked into, again fantastic!
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Miro's: Muri Cafe
This small coffee shop has a few tables indoors and about 5 outside on the deck, each with it's own big umbrella for shade.
Toasted sandwiches and burgers are the main menu items with fish & chips and also bacon & eggs also available.
Favorite Dish: I had a ham & cheese toasted sandwich and a bottle of mystery juice (I guess it was home made as it had no label - turned out to be orange and mango). This plus a ham, cheese and tomato toasted sandwich and a fanta cost us NZ$12 - a good price for 2 meals.
cafe salsa: don't miss cafe salsa
this little resturant in the middle of town is a great find for reasonble prices and excellent food and drinks
Favorite Dish: our favourite dish for breaky was the eggs benny. our favourite lunch dish was the chicken ceaser salad and our favourite dinner dish was the steak and fish dishes- awesome. plus have great live music on friday nights.
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Flame Tree: Great seafood & vegetarian
Flame Tree is an old favorite on Rarotonga and on our last visit in October 2006 it remains one of the best restaurants on the island. It is located on a secluded spot just off the main road in the Muri beach area.
Favorite Dish: Favorites for vegatarians include an amazingly delicious French Onion Soup (this was from the specials list, be sure to order it if it's still on the menu!) and a wonderfully laid out and tasty South Indian vegetarian curry.
For seafood lovers, try the Spring Roll filled with local fish, it is unlike any other spring roll I've ever had and very tasty. For mains, all the seafood dishes are good but if you see a Cajun Fish one in the specials, try it out as it's simply delicious.
Sails Brasserie & Bar: Great location, great staff!
Occupying the main floor of the Rarotonga Sailing Club, this airy, nautically decorated restaurant offers a variety of salads, sandwiches, and "island fries" -- sweet potato, taro, and banana. At dinner the chef turns his attention to fresh fish and vegetables, plus mussels and steaks flown in from New Zealand. You might be offered Cajun-style pan-seared tuna or Moroccan-style lamb shanks. Weekend afternoons are especially lively here; club members gather to sail their radio-controlled miniature yachts out on the lagoon. I went there every morning for their excellent coffee and to avail myself of their Zenbu WiFi hotspot, and I also ate there sometimes in the evenings. I liked their food but most of all I loved their very efficient, friendly and helpful staff, they made my stay in Rarotonga special.
Favorite Dish: Caesar Seafood Salad, plenty of scallops and prawns.
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