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Cook Islands Travel Guide

Trader Jacks
Trader Jacks overlooks Avarua Harbor, Rarotonga.

Avarua Food

In mid-2004 veteran restaurateurs Sue Carruthers and Robbie Brown opened the Tamarind House Restaurant (open daily) near the Cook Islands Game Fishing Club, a kilometer east of Avarua. Carruthers launched the famous Flame Tree Restaurant at Muri Beach some years ago, and she later authored two local cookbooks. This seaside restaurant housed in a classic colonial building dating from 1915 is currently one of the best restaurants in the Cook Islands. There's an extensive wine list. On a good night, the sunset from the terrace is superb.

The Portofino Restaurant (closed Sunday), on the east side of town, specializes in Italian dishes such as pizza, pasta, steaks, and seafood. The entrees could be better, so go for pizza which is excellent (take-out pizzas are available). Portfino has been somewhat eclipsed since the opening of Tamarind House but it's still recommended.

Much celebrated Trader Jacks, on the waterfront at Avarua Harbor, serves small portions of pretty mediocre meals and most people come only to consume kati kati bar snacks and drink. The seafood chowder is said to be good. It's one of the few places away from the resorts where you can get a beer on Sunday night, and around sunset you may meet some very senior, very drunk members of the local administration. Their 10-drink card can be used on different days by different people. A live band plays here Friday nights.

Café Salsa (open daily), near Telepost in Cook Islands Shopping Center, offers real pizza on their pleasant outdoor terrace.

Café Mehara, on Moss Road opposite the Bowling Club, just around the corner from the bus station, is a good medium-priced choice. It serves a filling breakfast or lunch. Quality local foods are the specialty and you can eat at picnic tables outside.

The Ice Cream Company, at the back of Mana Court, serves large waffle cones of Italian gelato ice cream.

Raviz Indian Cuisine (open daily) on the Avarua waterfront serves tasty dishes. At lunchtime the curry takeaouts are a buy and you can consume them seated at a picnic table on their open terrace. Ask about the Saturday night buffet. It's part of a New Zealand chain and one of the cheaper regular restaurants around town.

Hopsing's Chinese Restaurant (weekdays only), next to the Bond Store in Avarua, serves some pretty decent Asian food. The Mongolian beef arrives steaming at your table. Friday nights there's a buffet. You can eat inside or outside.

At Avatiu Harbor there's Aramoana Fish N' Chips (closed Sunday) with a large fish and chips, plus oysters, mussels, calamari, and scallops. It's surprisingly pleasant with a nice terrace overlooking the harbor. Raro Fried Chicken and Palace Takeaways nearby both sell unhealthy food and should be avoided.

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