In a country ravaged by recent years of Covid-19 closure, flooding, depleted produce and RSE schemes taking all the newly trained staff - Samoa is doing food better than ever! You can get everything here from international cuisine to healthy vegan options and most importantly the hot local Samoan food that sings to your heart.
Hot fa'alifu ulu, the sharp tangy taste of sea, fragrant fresh oka, the custardy sweetness of a pai fala.....the list of Island food flavours are endless and Samoa is a giant organic food bowl of amazing taste sensations.
For travellers back to the motherland, options range from hot umu at the makeki to flash new organic food choices from a range of cafes to rival the best overseas.
All across both Upolu and Savaii there are faleaigas and cafes spilling over with amazing local produce and flavours, so having a good 'food map' for Samoa cuts out the trial and error coz nobody got time for paying your precious talas for bad food.
While you prepare to go back to the motherland, check our Coco listicle of 'Best of' food places :)
Local Produce Markets
First up the makekis - the upgraded produce market in Fugalei is a clean airy oasis of fresh fruit and hot food. Umu options come out from about 11.30am so you can pick up some hot ulu and eat it with your sea or fai'ai fe'e and wash it all down with an ice cold niu and maybe some supo esi for dessert.
The Savalalo Fish Market is a haven of awesomeness - most people know that if you come down at dawn you can buy all manner of fish, lobster, crabs or fe'e (octopus). If you're a hotel traveller you can buy this fresh from the sea cheap seafood and ask your hotel chef to make you the king of seafood platters :)
Sunday at the makeki is next level though, and this is when there are hot food options - think vaisalo, fa'ausi of all varieties, koko esi, pai fala, puligi enough to want to get your sweet tooth pulled out for good. Get in quick as the juiciest fish and best choices of to'ona'i food options may be gone by 9am.
Next to the back of the epic Mulivai Catherdral in town lives Nourish Cafe, the renowned haven for all things local, organic and delicious.
The ever changing menu features the best of Samoa’s local produce - from the drinks menu that showcases Koko Samoa and local coffee - combined in the super powered Nourish Brew which is a Koko Samoa/ Expresso combo with fresh coconut cream.
There are all manner of fresh juices - from a clean green detox to lemon or pineapple frappes and the famous Nourish Knockout Smoothie that features Sasalapa (the super nutrient soursop) local greens and mint. Nourish Cafe owner Kalais-Jade shows us how it's made here!
Nourish has a life giving soup with watercress ginger and choice of chicken or prawns, and a variety of fresh fish dishes including oka, as well as mexican inspired dishes and cabinet food. They also do pancakes with the holy grail of all sauces - siamu popo caramelized coconut sauce.
- Atina'e St, Apia
Next to the giant SSAB Megastore in town is local favorite Coffee Roaster which features freshly roasted beans in great coffee, with a cheap and cheerful and very popular breakfast and lunch menu.
They have very yummy fresh baked pineapple custard pies with cream.
Next door is the most excellent Kure Juice Bar and Vegan Eatery that has a range of local organic juices, smoothies and niu, as well as taro fries and vegan food bowls. A great one stop shop for great coffee and juice is to go to Coffee Roasters and Kure for a juice to go with.
The popular Phat Burger in Malifa with its comprehensive menu of burgers and fresh oka is making its mark on the young market for its good vibe by the riverside, (the old Home Cafe) good jams and eats. There is a wine list and alcohol available for the adults as well.
In the kingdom of Vaitele there are many new eateries amongst the tried and true - but special mention to Kofe Haus for its great breakfast selection and wide ranging fresh lunch menu from supo povi to kebabs and fish wraps and everything in between. If you are in the Vaitele region this is your go-to coffee and food stop in.
Black Pepper Cafe in the Samoana Hotel in Moata’a has a great lunch/ dinner set up where they do a salad selection with freshly baked ta’amū bread, and you order from a variety of proteins to go with - the tuna in peppercorn sauce is a winner! As is their pavlova.
Formerly known as Scallinis, the Pickled Lam Deli and Restaurant is open for great breakfasts, lunch and epic dinners. Pretty much an institution in Samoa for fine dining dinners with local produce, the Deli is now the best pit stop for people heading over the Cross Island road who may want to pick up lunch / snacks for the beaches. With their own freshly baked bread - the deli has a selection of rolls, muffins, brioche, and cake as well as deli items and great coffee. Our pick is still the notorious pizette balls as dinner, the fish of the day whatever that may be - sometimes a big fat crab, and the desserts like the misiluki flambe with local lady fingers bananas.
- Moto'otua, Apia
The legendary pizza that has won the hearts of diners across the globe continues to shine with its palusami pizza smash hit, and also the swordfish pizza - a great option is to combine both for the win. Notable mention is the salads here, unexpectedly for a pizza place these are some of the best salad dishes on the island - the Tropical salad comes with shavings of toasted coconut, the seafood salad is sumptuous as is the humble chicken salad - elevated with fresh local greens and fruit. Now also featuring a particularly good steak and mushroom sauce and a fresh fish option with the holy trifecta of coconut, ginger and chilli.
Paddles wins hands down for the best seaside location on the island - looking out over the harbour of Apia at sunset is a particular joy, especially if you are eating a bowl of fresh oka with fresh coconut cream and crisp taro chips. For a pasta place they do great fish - particularly the oka and the tuna niçoise.
An option you don't find many places is the tuna belly with garlic butter and salad, you should always have their chilli spiked oka, and strangely their desserts.
Anyone who has had the fruit pie knows its short crust pastry goodness and now with the Koko Samoa ice cream even? Stobit.
We cant ever forget to pay homage to Pinati's - the home of local Samoan/Chinese fast turnaround food. Where you can get a quick plate of sapasui / kale mamoe and a fa’i as the go-to cheapest lunch in town.
Also big on the big portions are Connexions Cafe next to SSAB Megastore in town and 'Izzys' for American style food. Lunch options are too many to mention, so here are some of our special things to try at different places
Up the Cross Island Rd across form the Bahai temple is the Forest Cafe, which does a great curry and roti and fresh niu while you can listen to the birdsong in the bush above the river ravine.
There are great food options at here but what we liked most here was the sumptuous folds of meringue in their rolled pavlova slices with fresh mango and cream!
Other special mentions have to go to best buffet on the Island which sees Taumeasina Island Resort's Sunday Seafood Buffet just nudge out The Orator Hotel's excellent to'ona'i for top place, for its variety of seafood and Samoan food selections for just $65 tala.
Coco Cafe Awards
Best Waiter / Service - Giordarnos for the woman who remembers everything in her head! Paddles for attention to detail, Pickled Lam for charisma.
Best Coffee: Coffee Roasters, Nourish, Pickled Lam
Best Smoothie: Nourish Sasalapa Smoothie
Best Juice: Kure Juice Bar for the Green Juice & Lucky Foodtown for the cheapest fresh options!
Best Pani Popo: is fighting words but the verdict is Maryion of Samoa in Lotopa
Best Oka: Trees on the way to airport
Best Ice Cream: Koko Samoa Ice Cream at Kool Shack Seafood Gourmet
Best Pai Fala: Netzlers Shop Moto'otua
Best Eats for under $10: Pinatis! All dayyyyy.
Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air