One top tip when considering where to eat in Tongatapu, or where to eat in Tonga… Note that Tonga closes on Sunday.
Where to Eat in Tonga?
In all honesty, Tonga isn’t particularly a country known for its cuisine, but there are lots of yummy things to enjoy! If you want Tongan food, a few favourites are Ota Ika and Umu, the first is raw fish in coconut milk, and the second is meat wrapped in taro leaves in coconut milk cooked in a traditional underground oven. A common accompaniment is manioke, a potato-like staple you’ll find everywhere.
Some of the best Tongan food is found with a family on a Sunday, though... So pretty tricky to put into a restaurant list...!
Nevertheless, you can find typical western cuisine in various different restaurants in Tonga, and some of them will also offer Tongan dishes, too.
*** One top tip when considering where to eat in Tongatapu, or where to eat in Tonga… Note that Tonga closes on Sunday. Yup, that’s right. Nothing happens on Sunday. Really, nothing is open. Except for Church. So make sure you have enough food in the house, or visit one of the few restaurants open on a Sunday. There are a couple of restaurants here that stay open on a Sunday! See below...
Let’s have a look at them!
(All the below restaurants are in Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu, apart from one.)
Typically known as the place to go for some fancy food, Waterfront offers some great fine dining just on the other side of the road from the seafront. The restaurant atmosphere is open and fresh, situated on a main road but you’d never know thanks to the peaceful garden feel you get upon walking in.
The food on offer is pretty much anything you could want. Steak, fish, beautiful desserts… And recently they got a new vegan chef and did a bit of a menu revamp with lots of new trendy menu items.
The great food and atmosphere come with a price, as this is probably one of Tonga's priciest joints.
Indoor and outdoor seating. Veggie/Vegan friendly.
Known as one of the best places in Tonga in terms of taste, the only thing this restaurant lacks could be the atmosphere/location.
Some say the food is better than that at Waterfront, but located in the middle of nowhere down a dark dirt track 10 minutes out of the centre of town, it doesn't give you the sea views like others do. Nevertheless, the interior is nicely decorated to be quite quaint.
The menu items are impressive, with lots of different kinds of meat and fish, and a bit more of a Tongan/island vibe in terms of what’s on offer and presentation.
Indoor seating only. Bring your own alcohol.
The best pizza in Tonga? I think so. Thin bases, great toppings, and a great service. Takeout here is the best option since it’s situated kind of in the middle of nowhere. (Just a short walk from the center of town but not close to much, no sea view etc.) Prices are up there on the mid-high range but the pizzas are worth it.
You’ll probably need a family size for two of you…
Some prefer Little Italy, which does win me over on atmosphere, situated looking out to sea, with very Italian decor and a romantic atmosphere, but the pizzas just don’t cut it. If you’re looking for deep pan, fluffy, cheesy pizzas, maybe Little Italy is your place to go to.
Indoor seating only.
A Chinese restaurant located just by the Pangaimotu / Fafa boat terminals. It’s got a great atmosphere right by the sea and offers a wide range of yummy Chinese dishes for when you just need a Chinese.
The beers are pretty cheap here, too!
Indoor and outdoor seating. Open Sundays.
Potentially my favourite place in Tonga, but mainly for its Happy Hour drink and food menu… Sit on their deck overlooking the sea and enjoy yourself a cool island-inspired cocktail whilst having some tasty tapas.
When it’s not happy hour, food can be a bit pricey, similar to the rest of the higher-end restaurants in Tongatapu. Nevertheless, this one wins it for me in terms of options, taste, price, cocktails, and atmosphere!
Indoor and outdoor seating. Open Sundays.
Korean food in Tonga!
Yup, that's right. Walking into Frangipani's is like taking a step out of the palm trees and taking a step into Korea.
Item menus include two types of jigge (soup), as well as sashimi, BBQ meat, sushi, cold noodles, and much more.
The only downside is that, as far as I'm aware, despite the BBQ facilities on the table, there is actually no cooking your own meat at the tables, and instead they come with the meat already cooked in the kitchen. Which is yummy too! But probably not what you might expect if you're used to Korean BBQ.
As a lover of all things Korean, I especially love it here for the atmosphere. It's the most Korean you'll feel in Tonga!
The Top is located right in the centre of Nuku’alofa and is one for those special occasions.
The menu is probably one of the priciest in Tonga, but it’s the location that justifies this so much. You’re at the highest point in the city and from the balcony, you can drink a glass of wine looking out to sea and the outer islands in the Tongatapu island group. There’s also a happy hour here, too, if you want to stay for some drinks and enjoy the view.
Indoor and outdoor seating.
A resort/retreat/restaurant located on the eastern tip of the island; this place offers incredible views over the ocean. Located high above sea level, it’s an amazing spot to do a bit of whale watching. It’s open Sunday, so you can spend the day here as they have their own private beach you can access, with some of Tonga’s best, softest sand!
The owners are lovely and the service here is great. Food ranges from pastas to burgers, and the price ranges quite a bit too!
You can also choose to stay over night in one of their newly built fales and go to sleep and wake up to the sounds of the waves.
Outdoor seating only. Open Sundays.
An Italian restaurant located just on the lagoon a few minutes drive outside of Nuku’alofa city center. The food here is divine, as well as the service, with friendly staff always happy to help. One for a special occassion!
Various dishes include meat and fish dishes, pizza, and pastas.
Opens quite late so be aware and make sure to call in advance to check it’s open. And bring your mosquito spray.
Indoor seating only.