While most hotels and residenciales include breakfast and offer additional meals as well, travelers on a budget can buy produce and fish at the open-air Feria Municipal, on Atamu Tekena, or groceries at any of several supermarkets.
Otherwise, Hanga Roa has restaurants ranging from the utilitarian to above average to truly exceptional. Always, however, ask for the Spanish-language menu, which has prices in pesos rather than dollars and is often substantially cheaper.
For light meals, friendly Café Ra’a (Atamu Tekena s/n, tel. 0322/551530, ) offers shady sidewalk seating, German-style sweets, omelettes, salads, juices, and lemonade, as well as a book exchange and Internet access. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily except Tuesday.
Open for lunch and dinner, with enthusiastic and gracious service in simple but agreeable surroundings at Caleta Hanga Roa, Avareipua (Policarpo Toro s/n, tel. 0322/551158) serves a tasty toremo, which holds its moisture better than tuna, for US$9 with salad—about what a good fish dish would cost on the mainland. More elaborate meals, such as lobster, run about US$50 for two diners. Since Rapa Nui gets so many German visitors, the new German ownership is planning to introduce German dishes.
Around the corner, across from the soccer field, Merahi Ra’a (Te Pito Te Henua s/n, tel. 0322/551125) has simply prepared seafood lunches and dinners, around US$11 with a salad, with more variety than most places. Very friendly, it has veranda seating and very good service even when busy.
Kopa Kavana (Avareipua s/n, tel. 0322/100447) serves a more Polynesian-style menu with items such as remo-remo, which has darker meat and stronger flavor than tuna, and fried sweet potatoes.
At Playa Pea (Policarpo Toro s/n, tel. 0322/100382), try the albacora papillón, which features a red wine, pineapple, and mushroom sauce for around US$9; the chicken and shrimp dishes are also good, and the oceanside veranda is a great place to watch the surfers.
Opposite Ahu Tahai, with stupendous views of the sunsets there, Café Tahai (Tahai s/n) is a spinoff from the nearby Residencial Mahina Taka Taka Georgia. Well-prepared lunches and dinners cost about US$15 per person, but it’s also possible to go just for drinks.
South of Caleta Hanga Roa, Jardín del Mau (Policarpo Toro s/n, tel. 0322/551677) serves pasta and fish (try the pelagic matahuiri) in the US$15 range, plus excellent bread and wine by the glass. The service is good, both inside and on the sea-view veranda and in the garden.
On restaurant row, Te Moana (Atamu Tekena s/n, tel. 0322/551578) is a pub/restaurant with fine food but erratic service and a slow kitchen when things get busy. The tuna ceviche (US$11) is an excellent starter, and the house caipirinha (US$6) is deadly. A Rapanui band plays reggae-tinged Polynesian music some nights.
The kitchen is also a bit slow at Kaimana (Atamu Tekena s/n, tel. 0322/551740), but it has very fine fish, gracious service, and an attractive veranda looking toward the sea. It’s open noon–midnight daily except Monday.
At its best, French-run Taverne du Pecheur (Caleta Hanga Roa, tel. 0322/100619) is the hands-down winner for Hanga Roa’s finest (and dearest) food, with entrées starting around US$13 and ranging up to US$40–60 for lobster, depending on the size; drinks and wine are also expensive. Still, the food is worth the price if—and it’s a big if—the service is at its most attentive and responsive, even creative. If the mood deteriorates, though, expect friction and even a lecture—“this is not McDonald’s!”—from the chef.
Other eateries include Iorana (Atamu Tekena s/n near Plaza Policarpo Toro, tel. 0322/100265), where fixed-price lunches or dinners cost around US$7; La Tinita (Te Pito Te Henua s/n, tel. 0322/100813, for seafood; Ki Tai (Policarpo Toro s/n at Caleta Hanga Roa, tel. 0322/100641); and Pérgola Aringa Ora (Hotu Matua s/n, tel. 0322/100394), which was undergoing a major upgrade in 2006.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition