Where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in Papeete, Tahiti

 

THE EXPERT

With almost two decades, living and working in French Polynesia, the last four of which as the head chef of Le Taha'a Island Resort & Spa, Thomas Larme has an approach to cuisine that reflects Tahitian culture and French "savoir faire". See relaischateaux.com and letahaa.com

BREAKFAST

Firi Firi is a very Tahitian meal. For all Polynesian families, this local version of doughnuts is a classic for Sunday breakfast. Usually, the locals buy these in the street where the "mama" prepares them in her own kitchen and sells them on the roadside. You can find this real "péché mignon" (guilty pleasure) on every island of French Polynesia and at Le Taha'a Resort & Spa, our version is a mainstay of the breakfast menu.

LUNCH

Teahupoo isn't just known for its enormous surf. It's also famous for its shrimp production. And in Tahiti, shrimp is an important ingredient of everyday cuisine. Locals will prepare it in a very simple way, just sautéed and served with rice and pineapple cooked in fresh coconut milk and enjoyed under a coconut tree. If you can't find a local to cook it for you, in Papeete, head to Snacks de la Place To'ata, where there's an array of food stands serving local specialties. And yes, there are coconut trees to sit and eat under. We serve this dish at the resort and don't mess with it too much. The flavours of shrimp, coconut and pineapple work so well together, there's no need. Another Tahitian classic.

SNACK

Poisson cru is arguably the most important dish in Tahitian cuisine. It's Tahiti's version of ceviche and you can find it everywhere, in the street, in restaurants, in hotel and resort restaurants such as ours and on family tables. It's a dish of raw red tuna, seasoned with fresh coconut milk, lime juice and served with fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumber, onions and carrots. It goes very well with a nice cold Hinano, Tahiti's local beer. L'O a La Bouche, Papeete's fine dining French seafood restaurant, does an outstanding version. See loalabouchetahiti.com

DINNER

Mahi mahi with vanilla sauce is a traditional dish in French Polynesia. Local people prepare it in a very simple way: the fish is grilled and served with French fries and the vanilla sauce. At le Taha'a Resort & Spa the beautiful mahi mahi is also cooked a la plancha, that is grilled, and served with seasonal vegetables, pineapple and coconut rice, and a sauce with vanilla from our island.

DESSERT

Sure, creme brulee is a very well-known and much loved French dessert all over the world, but in French Polynesia, it's exceptional. The main reason is the quality of Tahitian vanilla which is the most important ingredient. We serve ours in a half coconut shell, garnished with a vanilla bean for extra aroma. In Papeete, Le Grillardin includes it in their menu of classic French desserts. (No website; Rue Paul Gauguin.)

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