Where to Eat Out in Nuku’alofa
Nuku’alofa has a fantastic array of eateries, from Tongan-style takeaways to more sophisticated sit-down dining experiences. Nuku’alofa’s top restaurants cannot only be found in the city centre but lining the waterfront. Try Tongan-style cuisine, like ota ika (raw fish marinated in coconut cream) or lu (meat in coconut cream wrapped in taro leaves). Alternatively, many international flavours can be seen across Nuku’alofa’s menus. Check out some of our top recommendations for sit-down dining in this quick list of the best restaurants in Nuku’alofa.
1. The TOP Restaurant & Lounge
Get amazing views of the Nuku’alofa CBD and the tops of the Royal Palace from The TOP Restaurant & Lounge. Easy to miss on Wellington and Taua’ahau Roads, the entrance is simply an elevator taking you to a large lounge and dining area. Dine in or enjoy your drinks al fresco under the fairy lights as you gaze across the city as the sun goes down. As for the menu, choose from an array of international dishes, from tacos to seafood to gourmet burgers; there’s something for just about anyone. When it comes to dessert, you’ll get to see the offering before you choose. The chef and operator of the restaurant will likely come out for a chat.
Opening hours: 5:30 am to 10:30 pm Monday to Saturday.
Location: Corner of Wellington and Taua’ahau Roads, Nuku’alofa city centre.
2. Little Italy Restaurant
Probably the most out-of-place restaurant in the islands of the South Pacific, Little Italy Restaurant transports you to Europe in its cuisine, decor and architecture. Everything about it is typically Italian, but damn, it makes good pizzas. Dine in or eat al fresco in a quiet location on the waterfront, a short walk from the west side of the Royal Palace. There’s a wonderful choice of creative pizzas, as well as safe favourites. Pasta, steak, lobster and fish are also on the menu. Note that if you’re eating outside, you’re likely to eat your pizza to the sad eyes of a stray dog. The restaurant also has a hotel upstairs – learn more in the 20 Best Hotels in Nuku’alofa.
Opening hours: 3 pm to 9:30 pm Monday to Saturday.
Location: Vuna Road, Kolomotu’a, Nuku’alofa.
3. Seaview Lodge & Restaurant
A little further along from Little Italy, Seaview Lodge & Restaurant offers an upmarket dining experience and cocktail deck overlooking the waterfront. Try one of their award-winning pina coladas at happy hour from 4-6 pm on weekdays and 3-6 pm on weekends, then ease into their nautical-themed dining room with colonial-style architecture where favourites include octopus with grilled vegetables and grilled snapper on homemade lemon butter sauce. The restaurant is also family-friendly with highchairs available. Cash and credit card are accepted.
Opening hours: 11 am to 10 pm Wednesday to Friday and 7 am to 10 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Location: Vuna Road, Tolosia, Nuku’alofa.
4. Chef Zero Restaurant
While a little out of town, Chef Zero is well worth getting to for an upmarket dine-in experience in Nuku’alofa. The family-run restaurant specialises in fresh ingredients transformed into European-style cuisine. Have steak with a wide choice of sauces, pork with tasty apple sauce, or fish (their most popular) cooked Polynesian style, mornay or blackened. Try some of the freshest sashimi platters or keep things simple with pizza or garlic bread. What’s more, the restaurant is B.Y.O wine or beer!
Opening hours: 10 am to 10 pm Monday to Friday.
Location: Tamakautonga Road, Popua, Nuku’alofa.
5. Lunarossa Deli
Lunarossa Deli proves that a fine dining takeaway is a thing with their eatery in Nuku’alofa. What used to be a reputable restaurant is now exclusively open as a deli and takeaway with just four seats to dine in! Most choose to take home/back to their accommodation, however, to indulge in Italian-style dishes such as a range of pasta, ravioli, chicken/beef/fish in a garlic mushroom sauce or pork loin milanese. Whatever you choose for mains, a must-try as an appetizer is their super fresh and beautifully seasoned sashimi! Cash and credit card are accepted.
Opening hours: 5 pm to 9 pm Monday to Friday.
Location: Salote Road (across the road from the Fa’onelua Convention Center), Nuku’alofa.
6. Builder’s Burger
Sure, there are a lot of burgers in Nuku’alofa. But nowhere else builds a burger like Builder’s Burger. They handcraft their own patties (or swap to fish for the same price) and stack them for all walks of life visiting them at their secluded waterfront location right by Nuku’alofa’s ocean swimming pool. Needless to say, the “Builder’s Burger” is their most popular with double patties, double cheese, pineapple, eggs, bacon onion, lettuce, pickle and BBQ and white sauce! Wash it all down with a fresh coconut or a smoothie and let the kids loose at the pool or playground.
Opening hours: 7 am to 9 pm Monday to Friday and 7 am to 3 pm Saturday.
Location: Taufa’ahau Road (at Touliki Ocean Pool, approximately 200 m/220 yards east of Villa Ishadora), Touliki, Nuku’alofa.
7. 12 Seafood Restaurant
Exclusively serving seafood in a far-flung waterfront corner of Nuku’alofa, 12 Seafood Restaurant is a local favourite! Try fish prepared the way Tongans prefer, whether it’s cooked in a gravy/curry sauce or succulently raw and fresh like ota ika. Of course, fish and chips is a very valid and popular option too. What’s more, everything is affordable with all dishes well under TOP$20. Fresh fish is caught (almost) daily and enjoyed right by the tranquil waters of the Fanga Kakau Inlet. Find more like this in The Top Cheap Eats in Nuku’alofa.
Opening hours: 10 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday.
Location: End of Umusi Road, Popua, Nuku’alofa.
8. Friends Cafe
As one of the city centre’s hotspots, Friends Cafe rarely needs an introduction. Learn about the history of the 100+-year-old building on the notices found on each table and treat yourself to a light lunch of toasties, paninis, salads, soups, burgers, all-day breakfasts and more. For the sweet tooth, ice cream and baked cheesecakes are also a winner! They are open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and evening drinks with local beer on tap. Check out more eateris like this in the 10 Best Cafes in Nuku’alofa & Tongatapu.
Opening hours: 7 am to 10 pm Monday to Saturday.
Location: Corner of Taufa’ahau Road and Salote Road, Nuku’alofa city centre.
9. Waterfront Restaurant & Lodge
After strolling down a quaint garden pathway, you’ll arrive at the spacious Waterfront Restaurant & Lodge. A Tongan flair is present right across the restaurant, from its decor of carved pillars to its menu. Try large “Tongan-style” portions of seafood prepared in many ways, succulent steaks, homemade pasta and more. Tongan-inspired dishes include lu as an entree, as well as fish of the day, such as mahimahi beautifully pan-fried or grilled. Leave room for dessert, whether it’s for the cassava tart or refreshing tropical cheesecake. The Waterfront also offers accommodation – see our 5 Best Luxury Accommodations in Nuku’alofa for more details.
Opening hours: 7 am to 10 pm Monday to Saturday.
Location: Vuna Road, opposite Faua Wharf, Nuku’alofa.
10. Billfish Bar and Restaurant
An open-air restaurant on the waterfront, Billfish Bar and Restaurant has been a popular option with locals and visitors for more than 20 years. There’s so much to see here between the woven ceiling to the mounted bills and taxidermies of award-winning game fish caught throughout the years. Enjoy a drink at the bar while watching the sports or sit down with friends and family to indulge in oversized burgers like the “Jucie Lucie” or local fish curry, juicy steaks, ota ika and much more! Later in the evening, the bar often livens up with live music, in-house DJs and more. Learn more about its bar in the 5 Best Bars in Nuku’alofa.
Opening hours: 10 am to 1 am Monday to Friday and 2 pm to 11:30 pm Saturday.
Location: Vuna Road (opposite the eastern end of Faua Wharf), Ma’ufanga, Nuku’alofa.
The Best of the Rest: 10 More Awesome Restaurants in Nuku’alofa
- Pizzeria Royale – Some of the best pizza in town (Faua Wharf, Vuna Road)
- Three Men’s Fastfood– A local favourite of burgers, paninis, fried chicken and pizza (Taufa’ahau Village & Vuna Wharf/Bus Station)
- Hot Pizza & Restaurant – No-nonsense thick-crust takeaway pizza right in the heart of town (Taufa’ahau Village)
- Ngutulei Restaurant – Upscale restaurant with grill-style cuisine (Faua Wharf, Vuna Road)
- 42 Evergreen – An extensive menu of Asian cuisine right on the waterfront (Faua Wharf, Vuna Road)
- Little India – Cosy courtyard restaurant serving irresistible Indian cuisine (Cnr Taufa’ahau Road & Alaivahamama’o Bypass)
- Inglewood LA Snacks – Oversized burritos at this charming hole-in-the-wall takeaway (Wellington Road)
- Young’s Kitchen – Popular Korean cafe open for brunch and lunch (Cnr of Wellington and Tu’i Road)
- Chand’s Curry House – Long-established curry house in the heart of town (Taufa’ahau Road)
- Ini’s Cakes – Not a restaurant but must-try chocolate and coconut cake to takeaway (Taufa’ahau Village)!
More About Restaurants in Nuku’alofa
That’s it for our list of the best restaurants in Nuku’alofa. For more options to wine-and-dine, take a look at the following:
- 10 Best Foodie Experiences in Nuku’alofa
- 10 Best Cafes in Nuku’alofa & Tongatapu
- 20 Best Restaurants on Tongatapu
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Food Guide to Tongatapu: Places to Eat & Food Tours.