Eating out in Rarotonga header
The sign says it all
PARTY ON A PERCH
If you're looking to meet and mix with a fun crowd, dance and enjoy a few drinks - all within sight of the sea - you have to visit WHATEVER!  The bar-cum-club is perched on a platform overlooking the beach so take care on the wooden steps at the end of your night out.   This place just buzzes.  

On the food front, a straightforward menu includes steaks, fish, chicken and mini burgers that are anything but mini in size.  And it's all cooked on a barbeque in front of you.
WHATEVER! is on the same side as and just past Trader Jack's - turn left before Sava Duty Free.  
Salsa
TASTY IN TOWN
If you prefer a less frenetic but far from stuffy venue, look no further than the centre of town and the stylish SALSA.   A superb menu with loads of daily specials make the mouth water.   And when your chosen dish is brought to your table, it really looks almost too good to eat.  The A word of warning though...service can be a bit erratic (but who wants to hurry here?) 

Salsa is located next door to CITC and is open during the day as well as in the evenings, so it's a great place to take a break while you're sightseeing in town.

SOME PURELY PERSONAL RECOMMENDATIONS ON WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK


COLONIAL MAGIC
Imagine world class cuisine in an atmosphere of relaxed elegance with the beach as a backdrop.  Well, that sums up what's on offer at TAMARIND HOUSE - a superbly restored colonial property, right on the edge of the sea just a few minutes from downtown Avarua.  It was built somewhere between 1910 and 1915 to house the managers of the Union Steamship Company.   And thanks to today's owners, Sue Curruthers and Robert Brown it's been turned into something very special.  
These are just a few of the many restaurants and varied cuisines on Rarotonga (none has paid for their mention).  My advice would be to wander round and if you like the look of the menu, try the place out.   Seafood is fantastically fresh wherever you choose to go, but there's everything from Indian and Chinese to traditional Cook Islands fare on offer (and even a Cook Islands version of a fish and chip shop near the harbour!)

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Tamarind House
POLYNESIAN PERFECTION
Small is beautiful, particularly when it comes to dining at THE LITTLE POLYNESIAN resort.  There are only a handful of tables but that adds to the atmosphere of easy going exclusivity.  The dining area looks across the pool to the white sandybeach beyond. Char grilled and marinated calamari, and lamb which is slow roasted for six hours were two highlights for me.  But everything on the menu is eclipsed by the chocolate demi souffle (in my opinion anyway).  Almost sinful, says the Chilean born chef of his gooey sensation, but I promise you that you won't care!
Drool over the menu at The Little Polynesian's own web site
Stylish dining
Little Polynesian
Breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner are all on offer (the Baileys and white chocolate cheesecake comes highly recommended by me!!).  If you're dining between August and October you might well see migrating whales just off shore.  Or any time of the year, you can enjoy evening cocktails as you watch the sun setting over the South Pacific.  Truly magical. 
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Cook Islands is not the place to go if you're looking for good food and a lively nightlife....but you couldn't be more wrong.   The capital Island boasts some great places.   These are my favourites.
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Mrs Clinton at Tamarind House
Also recommended by Hillary Clinton!
Just in case my endorsement of Tamarind House isn't enough....When  US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton attended the Pacific Islands Forum in Rarotonga in August 2012, she chose to eat there.   She attended an official dinner and then went back the following evening because she enjoyed it so much.  Sue said she told her she never eats in the same restaurant twice, but made an exception because "she loved the food and the ambiance and the location".


Trader Jack's
A RARO INSTITUTION
TRADER JACK'S itself is something of an institution on Rarotonga overlooking Avarua harbour.  It's much more than just a place to eat and drink - the seafood is particularly good.   As its own website puts it..."Traders retains a roguish charm - not least thanks to the larger-than-life presence of the proprietor himself, Jack Cooper (aka "The Trader")."   And never one to undersell himself, Jack goes on to say It has even been described by politicians and journalists as the country's second parliament and true financial centre of the economy!   A definite must visit!

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