The Best Restaurants in Tahiti
Whether served from busy food trucks parked near the harbor or at waterside tables set with candles and white tablecloths, the foods of Tahiti—based on the local bounty of just-caught fish and shellfish, as well as fresh fruit—will be one of your fondest memories of the tropical island.
Set on a hill some 2,000 feet above Papeete, with impossible views of the sea and Moorea beyond, O Belvédère is the place locals take visitors for thrilling sunsets and good food. The restaurant and bar have the air of a tree house—the outdoor terrace is even built around the trunk of a tree. An inviting swimming pool on the hill below and occasional live music add to the already strong appeal. Arrange for a 5 p.m. pickup from your hotel to reach the restaurant in time for a celebratory sundown cocktail. The fondue is highly recommended.
Part of the InterContinental Resort, Le Lotus, is set in an overwater building and has a romantic vibe with live piano music, candlelight, amazing views and top-notch French and Polynesian cuisine. Make sure to arrive before sunset to watch the sun turn Moorea golden then pink before fading into black with hundreds of twinkling lights. After dinner head to the Tiki Bar for cocktails in coconuts.
Café Maeva serves excellent French coffee, smoothies, pastries, and proper meals up on the second floor of Papeete’s popular Le Marché shopping complex. Come for the good breakfast menu or wait for lunch, when a mix of Tahitian and French dishes are offered. The standout, a very fresh poisson cru, comes in a number of different versions. The free Wi-Fi and the warm, pleasant vibe may bring you back tomorrow.
The islands of Tahiti have given the world a lot of popular ideas: This is the birthplace of the overwater bungalow, of surfing, the tattoo, and also . . . the food truck? Yep! Well, maybe not officially, but dozens of years before food trucks became popular, Tahiti was rocking the game with their roulottes. These trucks, which serve everything from traditional island fare to cheeseburgers, pizza, and Chinese food, can be found all around Tahiti, but the greatest concentration is in Papeete, where dozens of the colorful trucks congregate at Vaiete Square. Come for dinner or dessert.
Taravao, French Polynesia
In Taravao, at the southern edge of Tahiti Nui, this family-run French place is known for its French-style grilled meats and fish (locals will make a pilgrimage out to the countryside for it). The menu skews to old-school Gallic with dishes like veal’s head and duck breast in pineapple or honey sauce and may be off-putting to some, but a number of items, like the catch of the day, are prepared simply. At dessert, the delicious tarte tatin is made with local papaya rather than the traditional apple. Occasional live music and dancing in the evenings can make you feel like one of the crowd.
On Tahiti Iti, it is hard to beat eating with your toes in the sand right on the beach (there’s also an inside dining room). Order one of the Polynesian dishes that include some fresh caught steamed line fish and local produce from taro to breadfruit. There is also a kid’s menu.
Servitude Lehartel - PK 21
Serving up creative French and Polynesian fare, as well as some wood oven pizza choices, Blue Banana is a trendy restaurant right on the lagoon in Punaauia. Portions are small but well presented and there is an impressive wine list, including French vintages, stored in the air-conditioned cellar. The ambiance is buzzy and it is best to arrive pre-sunset and ask for a table out on the pontoon to watch the sunset over Moorea in the background.
54-66 Rue Paul Gauguin, Papeete, French Polynesia
The very hungry come to Le Grillardin, on Rue Paul Gauguin near downtown, for very well-prepared, huge portions of foie gras. Yep, in French Polynesia. Of course, there’s also excellent seafood, and reasonable prices for Papeete.