Father Winter technically doesn’t arrive until next month but he’s already giving us a taste of what’s to come with lower temperatures and rainy days. Chimneys are once again huffing and puffing, spas and hot pools are getting more use, and we’re craving thicker duvets and comfort foods.
Here’s a go-to guide for gooey, gorgeous and gorge-worthy dishes in Rotorua.
Here for the brekky
Third Place Café
Our first-place vote here goes to Third Place’s Roasted Kumara Mumble Jumble for breakfast (available until 2.30pm) – and anything sweet from the cabinet. On sunny days, grab a seat near the windows for a beautiful view over Ōhinemutu Village, Lake Rotorua and Mokoia Island. Third Place is always buzzing, there’s lots of seating, and a play area for the little ones.
Mistress of Cakes
Goodness, so many options here, and not just the sweet kinds, as the moniker implies. Although tucked away in the suburb of Lynmore, locals from everywhere know the Mistress for her tasty tarts with bacon, caramelised onion and spinach, super-cheesy scones, and massive, award-winning sausage rolls. You’d be remiss if you didn’t add one of her brownies chocka-full of caramel, raspberry and white chocolate, or one of her sell-out cinnamon scrolls. Get in early!
The Fainting Goat Gastrobar
One of the newer kids on the block, The Fainting Goat is your go-to for pizzas by the foot (they’ve got seven on the menu, including the ones at the top) and the premium beers or ciders on tap. If your group is on the larger size, the Goat also has bar snacks and sizeable sharing boards to pass around the table.
Hearty roasty things
How delish does this look and sound: Fennel salt-crusted pork belly, parsnip puree, and roasted pear, parsnip, carrot and fennel salad? Winter wouldn't be right without some salty, crunchy pork cracklin' and flavoursome gravy. Add in some seasonal veggies for a great cold-weather dish.
Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar
When you think of Stratosfare, think oodles of seafood, expertly cured and prepared meats, and fresh and roasted seasonal produce. Think cheese station, Art of the Grill chef’s station, a flame rotisserie and carvery serving 24-hour slow-cooked prime beef rib. Think dessert station. This award-winning buffet with a killer view over Lake Rotorua and our city will satisfy any and all comfort-food cravings and more. Bookings are recommended.
Seriously, folks, if you’re after a hearty, home-style, meat-and-three-vege feast, head to Pātaka Kai for their amazing hāngī buffet. Of course, it wouldn’t be homelike without steamed pudding, and theirs is one of the best around (shhh, don’t tell Nan!).
Hennessy’s Irish Bar
Of course Hennessy’s serves up an Irish coffee, but you can’t go wrong with their Sunday roasts or Beef & Guinness Pie filled with prime New Zealand beef braised in Guinness, plus vegetables and onions, brought together with a rich gravy and topped with mash and cheese. Sláinte!
This is just a small sample of eateries in Rotorua. Check out our list of great coffee spots, friendly pubs, where to find a scrumptious brunch, and where to go after building up a serious post-mountain bike ride appetite.