Fiji may not be the first name that springs to mind when thinking of cafés. However, there’s no disputing the excellence of the produce and the high standards imparted by the well-established tourist industry. There’s now an increasing array of informal dining options in and around the major resorts, tempting you with the quality of their food and the friendliness of their service. Check them out next time you’re in the islands
Residents of Auckland’s Grey Lynn holidaying in Fiji may do a double take – their much-loved local Café O has taken root in Nadi. This represents a return to the café’s roots, as Café O is the creation of the brother/sister team of John Oyagawa and Cherie Oyagawa-Smith. The Fijian-born siblings have brought their philosophy of fresh ingredients, excellent coffee and modern Pacific cuisine back home to Nadi. You’ll find it at Café O in Eden Plaza, with a second café due to open this year in The Palms on Denarau island.
Café O offers breakfast, lunch and coffee in a modern yet casual and comfortable setting. Cherie has long aspired to opening a café with a refined culinary style and family atmosphere. If you love home-cooked treats with a dash of sophistication, Café O is well-worth a visit.
Visit them at: Eden Plaza, Queens Road, Martintar, Nadi
The name expresses the philosophy – a meld of Fiji and Italy. Bulaccino is what you get when you add European café style to the homegrown delights of Fiji. The café lives up to its name with immaculately made espressos, cappuccinos and lattes, plus an carefully designed menu based on organic produce from its own farm. Expect the most delicious pineapple, avocado and honey, served with all its natural goodness intact. There’s also a selection of freshly baked breads and pastries, including gluten-free options.
Bulaccino has proved a hit in Fiji, and the owners now operate three delightful cafés in Namak, Denarau and Suva. This family-run business blends the best of local produce with world-class presentation and friendly service. It’s become a Fijian legend.
Visit them at: Namaka (Nataly Building), Queens Road, Nadi; Garden City, Grantham Road, Suva; near Sheraton Villas, Denarau.
Based in Martintar, Nadi, Taste Fiji Kitchen offers a tempting menu of café favourites such as pancakes, eggs benedict and fishcakes. However, there are some subtle but crucial differences. The fishcakes have a hint of coconut and are served with herb salad and pickled radish. The pancakes come with a choice of local ricotta, pineapple and Savusavu chocolate ganache. The eggs benedict are served with the classic Hollandaise sauce, as well as a choice of Moca spinach and Vuda leg ham.
As you can tell, Taste Fiji Kitchen is all about combining gourmet-standard Fijian ingredients with the classic appeal of café cuisine. The chefs showcase the best of local produce and work with local suppliers to incorporate novel ingredients where feasible. For instance, the usual almond flour in gluten-free baking has been replaced with locally ground tavioka flour or breadfruit flour with desiccated coconut. The results are wholly delicious.
Visit them at: Lot 1 Cawa Road, Martintar, Nadi (opposite St Mary’s School)
Denarau needs no introduction. Fiji’s main resort island is home to some very swanky five-star hotels – and a growing number of relaxing cafés. L’ Epicier is a prime specimen. It’s the perfect place to pull up a chair and listen to the espresso machine hissing and gurgling as the barista expertly whips up your order. Supplement the caffeine hit with a side order of delicate pastries and you’re ready for another hard day on the beach. Or order a gourmet pizza and enjoy a relaxed lunch.
Visit them at: Hilton Fiji Beach Resort & Spa, Denarau Island
To experience a different side of Fiji, book a few nights in Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel. Its history dates back to 1914 but its fit-out is totally modern. Their delightful Swiss Bakery is the place to drop into if your sweet tooth is demanding to be fed. Mouth-watering pastries and cakes, made to centuries old European recipes, will lure you towards the display cabinets. They take baking seriously here, as evidenced by the café’s world record-holder status for the longest swiss roll ever baked. Even if you aren’t tackling such a gargantuan delicacy, we’re sure you’ll be more than satisfied with the bakery fare on offer.
Visit them at: Grand Pacific Hotel,
Victoria Parade, Suva
There are four excellent restaurants to meet your alimentary needs at Sofitel Denarau. For informal French-style dining, La Parisienne ticks all the right boxes. In addition to great coffee and café-style breakfasts and lunches, La Parisienne offers a delicatessen for those times when you fancy a bit of self-catering. A Fiji holiday should be all about relaxation, and this resort’s café gets the balance right between European sophistication and laidback Fijian style.
Visit them at: Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, Denarau Island
It’s not a café, and it’s certainly not an opulent experience, but food-lovers will want to get a taste of what’s on offer in the Nadi market. Bright green chillies and nostril-tingling Indian spices are piled alongside island staples such as taro and pineapples. Kava root is one of the specialties of the market, although it may be a treat that’s best left to the locals to prepare and serve. More familiar favourites, such as pumpkins and beans lend a touch of homeliness.
One thing is certain: there are no middlemen here. You’re buying produce from the people who grew it. It doesn’t get much fresher than that.
Visit the market at: Hospital Road, Downtown Nadi