If it is traditional food you want, then one would have to go for the famous Umu, which is a traditional Polynesian style of cooking. Basically, the ancients would heat volcanic rocks, dig a hole in the ground, wrap the food in banana leaves and bury it. Over a few hours, the hot rocks would cook the food, which in ancient times would include fish, green bananas, taro, yams, sweet potato, and chicken. These days, pork and red meat are often added as well. Because of the time and effort involved none of the regular restaurants serve the umu on a regular basis but fret not, it can be found at Te Ra’ai, a complete show on the island which includes a dance show, pick up and drop off to your hotel, face painting using the ancient earth paints and an Umu. You can check out the website here http://teraai.webnode.es. If you cannot read Spanish then just ask at your hotel and they will probably be able to book for you. The other option is Kari Kari (Atamu Tekena – main street). They also do a similar show. On either option, you can potentially skip the dinner and go directly to the show at 9 pm.
Both have a consolidated group of dancers and the costumes, live music, and overall atmosphere makes this a must if you are visiting Easter Island. You will not only watch a dance show but you will also hear about the legends while listening to live Rapa Nui music.
Don’t be surprised if they welcome you on stage to take part of their final routine. Arrive early so you can enjoy dinner with spare time and to have the opportunity to paint your face in the ancestral Rapa Nui fashion.
Obviously – being an island – fish is the tourist dish of choice, and although the island does not catch enough fish to export there is generally fresh fish every day for the local restaurants. Some local good fish are (mata’uira), Kana Kana and of course Tuna among many others.
One of the favorites of the island would have to be Ceviche. Although it is not exactly traditional as such, the proximity of the island to the rest of Polynesia and Chile, both of which make great ceviche, has assured that it is a staple on every menu on the island. The recipe is basically fresh fish seared with lemon juice which can include red onion, coriander, lime and sometimes coconut milk. Some find the idea of raw fish slightly frightening but having lived on the island for 9 years and eating it on a regular basis I have never had a problem.
Another staple is empanadas (a stuffed pastry) either fried or baked. The most popular filling is tuna and cheese and Tia Berta’s restaurant is known as the best empanadas on the island. These are a good alternative if you have little time and a great budget option for lunch.
If empanadas are not your favorite, Club Sandwich offers fast food at reasonable prices. Service might not be so fast when full but it is still worth waiting for their generous sized hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches and fajitas that will leave you and your pocket happy.
Here are some restaurants in Hanga Roa that offer quality food and a great ocean view, with most main meals being sold from somewhere between 12,000 and 18,000 CLP. I have added my favorite dishes to the restaurants that I know.
– Te Moana Restaurant ‘Te Moana Special ‘ which is local fish with a mango coconut sauce and mashed taro.
– Tataku Vave ‘Ceviche’
– Haka Honu ‘The Octopus Salad’ which includes sweet potato.
– Restaurant Te Moai Sunset (just on the far side of the Tahai Moai complex).
Manuia Restobar is another option to have lunch or dinner with a great ocean view. They offer lunch deals for 10usd that include local fish with rice or salad. Manuia’s ceviche is tasty, fresh and they also prepare a really good risotto. Their service is friendly and they have a small terrace. You can find it just across the cemetery overlooking the coast.
For those with a sweet tooth, Rapanui people prepare a delicious banana bread called Po’e made with local bananas and/or squash. This and other fruity delights, including passion fruit, guavas and pineapples can be found among Hanga Roa’s cafeterias. There is a cozy little place at the Kaleta (tiny harbor just across the football field) where you will find artisanal style ice-cream at Mikafé, a complete luxury on this isolated island.
Remember to eat local! Enjoy the sweetest bananas and pineapples that locals sell on Hanga Roa’s main street: Atamu Tekena.