When you’re out and about this summer and find yourself in Rotorua, we’ve got not one or two, but six new restaurants and cafés that have opened or are nearly open.
The city already has so many great places to dine, and hopefully you have some tried-and-true favourites, but we encourage you to give these folks some of your love, too.
Being the first restaurant of this group to open, it’s clear that the team at Number 8 Wire follows the “She’ll be right!” Kiwi can-do attitude. Also hitting the brief is the menu that showcases fresh farm and game meats, including goat and tahr.
Carpacio of Venison is a must-try entrée that features premium game venison from the high country, thinly sliced and served with wild rocket broad beans, parmesan cheese and wasabi mayo.
Ani’s Gin Bar & Tapas is an incredible addition to Rotorua’s vast selection of restaurants and cafés. Seasonal, fresh and indigenous ingredients are combined in bewitching ways! They’ve only opened in November and the locals are here for it, booking in and booking them solid.
With their menu changing regularly and based on available local products, rather than suggest our favourite dishes, it makes more sense for us to suggest going in with an empty tummy and a few friends so you can try an assortment of small and large tapas dishes, plus have room for dessert (especially if it's panna cotta, pictured above). The “large tapas” are generous in size and excellent for sharing, or make the perfect meal for one. Get your friends organised and book in now!
Family-owned Boasters Coffee Roasters has been roasting and selling their beans and amazing coffees at events around the bay of Plenty for a while, and have just a few weeks ago opened a bricks-and-mortar café in the city centre. Grab your favourite caffeine-fuelled bevvy and a freshly baked scone, scroll or sammy. Enjoy inside the cosy café, or take away. You’ll find them on Haupapa Street between Pollards men’s shop and Sabroso (another absolute favourite restaurant!).
Asian fusion restaurant Mekong Buffalo opened this month. Owned and operated by the same duo, Betty and Victor, who opened the popular Saigon ’60s just down the road, their second establishment features a “sharing-place concept and a chill and tranquil vibe.”
Two of our favourite dishes here are the Banh Khot Vietnamese savoury crepes with prawns (pictured above), and Peking Fajita with hoisin-glazed shredded duck. Finish your meal with the Matcha Crème Brulée, the perfect softly sweet dish to cleanse the palate.
It was in a family meeting that the name of this new eatery, River’s Catch, was decided. River is the youngest of two daughters belonging to Isabel Talabis-Ronquillo and husband Norman (the awesome couple pictured at the top). “No, I’m not selling trout,” Isabel says with a laugh. Being a family-first kind of woman, you’ll see other odes to her family on the menu.
River’s Catch is an upmarket fish-n-chips-n-more shop tucked away in the tree-lined streets of Sunnybrook. Proprietor Isabel, formerly the executive chef at Pullman Rotorua, has “for years and years” dreamt of opening her own little spot. She loves to have fun with flavours, adding her own touch to traditional Kiwi comfort foods by harkening back to her Filipino heritage.
We highly recommend the RC Battered Fish on Between Bread (Isabel’s nickname for the somewhat sweet, traditional Filipino bread roll called pandesal, picutred above). Add a side of kumara fries and chiptle mayo, and you’ve got one heck of a flavourful meal. We also loved the amazing flavours in the smashburger, any of the fried fish, the slaw topped with miso dressing, and the thick-cut fries.
Poco Tapas and Wine opens in the CBD in January and promises to be the best little spot for gathering with friends new and old, and enjoying delicious small plates of food paired with a great wine list in a warm, welcoming atmosphere.