Eating in Tahiti

Charcuterie Plate, Tahiti food

Updated March 15, 2023

Since we live in Tahiti now (just kidding), we’ve had two months (and counting) to sample the island’s many food and drink options. Read on for my recommendations of where and what to eat, plus a guide to eating in Tahiti.

Tips for Eating in Tahiti

First, keep in mind that French Polynesia is on its own timeline. Everything opens and closes early. Think 6am for breakfast and 11am for lunch. We arrived at a restaurant serving Sunday brunch at 8am and the place was packed. So get there early. The good news is, unlike other parts of French Polynesia, everything doesn’t close at lunchtime.

Sunday is another story! Barely anything is open on Sunday besides church and the beach. If you want to eat out on Sunday, reserve at one of the few open restaurants in advance.

Don’t trust Google. We’ve been to restaurants supposedly closed that were open, and when we visited one restaurant for lunch at 1:30pm were told they were closed although Google listed the opening hours until 2:30pm. Just a warning to investigate for yourself.

Reservations recommended. Many places are busy and will turn you away if you don’t have a reservation, especially on the weekend. If you have a specific restaurant in mind, call in advance!

Eating in Papeete

The majority of the places listed are in or around the main Tahitian city of Papeete. Papeete is the capital of all of French Polynesia, and with a population over 25,000 is by far the biggest place in this sprawling South Pacific country. Besides being a great place to explore world class street art, Papeete has good eats.

The signature dish of French Polynesia is poisson cru, translated from French as “raw fish.” Here the raw fish is marinated in lime juice and coconut milk. It’s usually made with tuna, and chopped vegetables like red onion and cucumber. If you like fish, this is a must try in Tahiti.

poisson cru, raw fish with coconut milk and vegetables, served with fried yucca
Poisson cru served with yucca and salad

Other popular meals in Tahiti are the French classic, steak frites, and the worldwide standard, burgers. A positive about eating in Tahiti is the wide range of options and varied cuisines besides French and Polynesian. We’ve seen Vietnamese, sushi, Chinese, Italian, and lots of burger and pizza places in Tahiti. A negative is the price. Nothing is inexpensive here, especially after growing accustomed to eating in Colombia!

Papeete alone has a lot of restaurants of all kinds, so this is by no means a comprehensive guide. It is a roundup of the places we liked and foods worth eating in Tahiti. We sampled a lot of establishments in and around Papeete while we were on the hard working on Sava.

Eating in Tahiti: Snacks and Roulottes

Snacks are super popular with locals and they are the least expensive type of restaurant, offering big portions in casual environments. Often snacks are in static food trucks, also called roulottes, and many are takeout only or a few plastic chairs and tables outside on a sidewalk. Please note: unlike in Curacao, snacks here typically only serve carbonated beverages. No beer or wine.

snack truck Papeete eating in Tahiti
This snack truck is parked in front of the boatyard

One of the most popular offerings at snacks is a sandwich. They put anything on a sandwich here! Fries, omelets, we’ve even seen chow mein on baguette – noodles and all! The sandwiches, or chacrouttes, start as low as $3. Menus also include different varieties of burgers and many other fast food staples. Snacks are all about big portions at low prices. No wonder Tahitians love them! Take note, these are inexpensive for a reason. The quality of ingredients is quite low. A ham and cheese chacroutte may turn out to be a spam and cheese whiz baguette. Fair warning.

While many of the food trucks are scattered around, Papeete has a waterfront park with a few food trucks that is busy at night. There’s a lot of construction in the area at the moment, so not easy to get to, but once you’re there it’s a nice environment with a few roulottes to choose for dinner.

Food Truck Papeete
Place Vai’ete Food Truck

Fine Dining Restaurants

L’Alpha B

A French bistro with indoor and outdoor dining and a very friendly and accommodating staff, we had a delicious charcuterie plate at L’Alpha B.

LAlpha B restaurant eating in Tahiti
L’Alpha B had friendly staff and delicious food

L’Alpha B, Papeete

Cafe de la Gare

It’s been a while since we’ve been to a proper wine bar, and Cafe de la Gare is that. Located in downtown Papeete, it’s a great place to sample from their selection of mostly French whites and reds, paired with French appetizers.

Wine flight at Cafe de la Gare Tahiti
A wine flight at Cafe La Gare

Cafe de la Gare, Papeete

Brasserie de la Ramparts

For more French bistro food, Brasserie de la Ramparts is perfect. It’s such a classic Parisian setting with bright and fun decor. We loved the food too, with classics like steak frites and tartare.

Bar at Brasserie de la Ramparts
Inside Brasserie de la Ramparts

Brasserie de la Ramparts, Papeete

L’O A La Bouche

Our dinner at this fine dining restaurant was one of the best meals we had in Tahiti. They serve French classics with local ingredients like foie gras with Tahitian vanilla. Excellent service. A real treat!

duck dinner Tahiti
Perfectly cooked duck at L’O a la Bouche

L’o a la Bouche, Papeete

meherio tahitian bistro

Right next to the marina, this Tahitian restaurant offers live musical entertainment with their poisson cru. We were fortunate to see a Marquesan band perform when we ate there with friends on a weekend night.

Meherio, Waterfront near Marina, Papeete

Medium Range

Vini Vini

This place calls itself a snack, but is higher end than the trucks. Seating is very limited here, so take out it is! Vini Vini has an assortment of grab and go poke, sushi, and sashimi plates that are fresh and affordable. A good pick if you have somewhere to eat it.

Sushi to go at Vini Vini in Papeete
Prepared dishes at Vini Vini In Papeete

We visited the Vini Vini in Papeete, but noticed a few driving around the island. There’s even one at the airport, and they supply these trays to many supermarkets across the island.

Vini Vini, locations around Tahiti

Karaaji Sushi

Karaaju Sushi Papeete
Karaaji Sushi outdoor dining

Located in a mall downtown, Karaaju Sushi is simple and good. However, there may be a wait for lunch. It is hugely popular with the school crowd who swarm the vicinity after 11am on weekdays.

Bento lunch at Karaaji sushi

Karaaji Sushi, Vaima Shopping Centre, Papeete

Restaurant Memene

Maybe it’s not authentic, but we enjoyed our lunch at the Chinese restaurant near the market in Papeete. The staff were also really nice, which goes a long way!

Chinese food Restaurant Memene Papeete Tahiti
Chinese noodles at Restaurant Memene

Memene, Near the Marche, Papeete

la pizzeria

Pizza is just as popular here as everywhere else we’ve been. Humans love pizza! And the pizza baked in the brick oven at La Pizzeria is delicious. We walked over from the marina a couple times to get one of their authentic Italian pies and a tomato salad. They also serve pastas as you’d expect from an Italian restaurant in French Polynesia.

pizza oven La Pizzeria Tahiti
Cooking the pies in the brick oven at La Pizzeria Tahiti

La Pizzeria, Papeete, a block from the waterfront

Coffee and Pastries

Papeete has lots of coffee shops, so much it seems each block has either a French patisserie or a hipster café. Usually we make our coffee at home with the aeropress but when it’s convenient, we’ll go out. Some of our favorite spots for lingering over a latte and people-watching in Tahiti are below.

Black Coffee

Black Coffee coffeeshop Papeete Tahiti
the view from Black Coffee, Papeete

We loved Black Coffee for its modern feel, good coffee and delicious homemade bagels. It was conveniently located near our first Airbnb, so we stopped in a few times for breakfast.

seasame bagel eating in Tahiti
Sesame bagel from Black Coffee in Papeete

Black Coffee, La Misssion, Papeete

Las Reves de Lucie

This little patisserie serving coffees, pastries, and sandwiches has seating available. It’s easy to access and close to the marina.

Cafe eats at Las Reves de Lucie Papeete
Lattes and a treat at Las Reves de Lucie

Las Reves de Lucie, Vaima Shopping Centre, Av. du Général de Gaulle, Papeete

Urban Cafe

Urban Cafe was packed on a Sunday at 8am when I dropped in for a couple of lattes to go. The food is good and it’s roomy with indoor and outdoor seating, but it’s the only game in town on Sundays for brunch so go early or reserve. Or do what we did and go another day for the sit down service. Urban Cafe is actually more than a cafe, offering tapas and happy hours some nights, and a full brunch menu on weekends.

eating in Tahiti Croissant and Latte Urban Cafe
Croissant and Latte at the very popular Urban Cafe

Urban Cafe Tahiti, Papeete

Eating in Tahiti: Markets

We are overwhelmed by the sheer number of supermarkets in Tahiti. Even the express markets have more than we could find during our first two months in French Polynesia. And then there are the Carrefours and Hyper supermarkets! No joke we have been stocking up on non-perishables for the one day we return to less populated and well-stocked islands.

Supermarkets are not just a good source for groceries. They have really good prepared foods for quick to-go lunches and dinners at competitive prices, including sushi and sashimi. It’s a good place to be stuck for two months. And counting…

takeout seafood market Tahiti
Takeout seafood from Easy Market in Papeete

Then there is the public market, or marché in French. Centrally located in Papeete, it’s definitely worth a walk through to browse the local wares and food. And it is the place to be on Sunday morning! Like I said before, everything starts early in Tahiti, so get to the market early on Sunday. We went at around 7am and it felt like the biggest party in Tahiti.

Drinking in Tahiti

Unlike most of French Polynesia, Tahiti has breweries and other drinking establishments. This may be because of the high number of tourists, but locals too enjoy these spots. Before you go learn the many ways to say cheers in French! Here are some of our favorites.

Brasserie Hoa

Of course we visited the local brewery, more than once. It’s a typical brewery with outdoor seating, an indoor stage and gaming area, and some pretty good craft beers. Prices are high, about $10 per pint, especially after The Caribbean and Latin America, but comparable to craft beer in North America. And the vibe and people are nice. While Brasserie Hoa isn’t located downtown, it’s near the boatyard and many of the chandlers. The beer is such a refreshing change from the basic Hinano lager which is often the only beer available in parts of French Polynesia.

Hoa beers Papeete Tahiti
A couple pints at Hoa in Papeete

Brasserie Hoa, Papeete

Restaurant Le Moana

Very popular with tourists, this overwater bar adjacent to the Papeete Marina offers a great happy hour. While cocktails like passion mojitos and Long Island ice teas are regularly $20, between 4-6PM they are half price. We’ve only been for happy hour, but Le Moana serves tapas and dinner.

Le Moana overwater bar Papeete
Great place for a sundowner in Papeete, Le Moana

Moana, Waterfront near the marina, Papeete

Trois Brasseurs

Brian and I laughed when we realized this was the same chain we’ve seen in downtown Toronto and Montreal, but you can’t beat the super fast wifi at Trois Brasseurs. Plus it’s one of the only places open on Sunday and Monday nights, so we’ve stopped in for a beer or two. We’ll miss this place when we return to the outer islands which have no bars at all!

Trois Brasseurs in Papeete Tahiti
We recognized the Trois Brasseurs logo from Canada!

Les Trois Brasseurs, Papeete

I hope you enjoyed my guide to eating in Tahiti as much as I did researching it. And if you’ve been to Tahiti and have any recommendations, we may never leave so please share in the comments!

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

13 thoughts on “Eating in Tahiti”

  1. I don’t have a ton of experience with eating in Tahiti, I only spent 2 days there, but I have been to Moorea many times and it is kind of the same. I love the ahi tuna sandwiches with a cold beer and I usually hit up the large grocery store on the island for picnic items which is cheaper especially when staying 2 weeks!

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