Guest article by Marilyn Cornelius
Fiji is a South Pacific Island nation with over 300 islands. Some of the best restaurants in Fiji are in Suva, the capital, which is on the main island of Viti Levu.
And several of these restaurants have delicious options that are both vegan and gluten-free! In general, restaurant food in Fiji is better than hotel food in terms of flavor, variety, vegan-friendliness, and affordability.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Fiji for vegan and gluten-free meals that I discovered on my most recent visit there.
Best Restaurants in Fiji for Indian Food
Govinda have two locations in Suva and serve a large variety of vegetables, pakoras, and other savory snacks. Their food can be on the spicy side, and I enjoyed the biryani, mung dal, and eggplant.
It’s fun to go with a friend and get several dishes to share, creating a beautiful spread of color and flavor. Another option is to order a thali, and you’ll get a variety of curries, rice or roti, salad, and chutney.
All of the Indian food is made from locally sourced vegetables. At these types of restaurants and at food courts, two or three people can eat Indian food for under $25 in Fiji.
International Fare at Resorts in Fiji
Another highlight was eating at The Uprising, a resort an hour away from Suva in Deuba. The Uprising lets you use their beach for the day, and their food is typically excellent.
This time I found the chef had changed, and their Thai curry was below par. To be fair though, Fiji’s tourism industry is still learning to make Thai food (and Mexican too). It might be interesting to the palate, but don’t expect it to be authentic.
A more solid dish at The Uprising, and most everywhere in Fiji, is the vegetable chop suey, which is a simple dish with stir fried vegetables and white rice. Brown rice hasn’t really taken off in Fiji yet. Prices are mid-range, and of course you’re paying for the ocean view!
Best Restaurants in Fiji for Chinese Food
Other notable mentions in Suva include mostly Chinese restaurants, and a unique floating restaurant serving local and American fare.
Shanghai Seafood is one I have always loved, because even though it serves meat and seafood, the vegan options are succulent and delicious.
I often order the choy sum with garlic or the greens with mushrooms. Their rice noodles are also delicious.
The Great Wok of China is still delivering impressive food too. This time I ate a wonderful broccoli dish drizzled with gravy and chili oil, and a tofu and vegetable stir fry with wood ear mushrooms (in Fiji we call these “black fungus”).
Tiko’s Floating restaurant is an exclusive restaurant on a boat in the Suva Harbor, charging premium prices for steaks and seafood.
Despite the wonderful ambience, I am usually reluctant to go there but was invited by a loved one. I was surprised by how tasty their chop suey and Madras curry were — all vegan and gluten-free upon request.
Local Vegan and Gluten-Free Specialties in Fiji Markets
Suva offers tasty food outside of restaurants as well. Here are some pro tips for finding amazing food at the Suva Market, which is a huge produce market:
- On Fridays, look for a couple that sells fekei, a decadent sweet treat made with dalo (taro), coconut cream, and brown sugar. It’s sticky and tastes like a smoky pudding. The cassava (tapioca) version is called vakalolo and is lighter but also very tasty.
- On Saturdays, look for an iTaukei (indigenous) delicacy called palusami. It’s dalo leaves cooked in coconut milk in a lovo (underground oven). Typically, it’s sold in half a coconut shell covered with plastic wrap. You can buy it for about $2. Be sure to buy some lovo dalo (taro) to go with it. Squeeze some local lemon (moli karo karo) on the palusami before you eat it, and that will prevent your throat from itching. Palusami and lovo dalo make a delicious and nutritious vegan lunch.
Best Restaurants in Fiji Beyond Suva
In Rakiraki, I stayed at the Tanoa International Hotel. Their options for me were uncharismatic, but solidly vegan and gluten-free, for which I was very grateful.
I ordered a side of steamed vegetables and the vegetable thali, which had dal, long beans, and potato fry with rice and roti. I usually ask them to hold the roti, since I’m gluten-free.
Roti is a huge favorite in Fiji though — a soft vegan wrap or bread made fresh with white or whole-wheat flour, water, and a little oil.
Lautoka gave me a wonderful surprise in terms of sumptuous South Indian food. Although Fiji-style Indian fare is abundant around Fiji, South Indian cuisine is hard to find.
I sampled the dosa and uttappam at the new Tappoo City food court. Both were divine — flavorful and bursting with heat. I watched the cook at work, and he was a master. The food was inexpensive and very authentic.
Sentai is a go-to spot for me in Nadi town. It’s a Chinese restaurant with great vegan options.
This time I chose the mushroom stir-fry and the one dish that I can’t help but order there — the eggplant hotpot — a mouth-watering explosion of flavor.
While in Nadi, I stayed at the Gateway Hotel. The dal and rice I ordered via room service was surprisingly palatable and home-style.
All in all, my explorations in Fiji were worthwhile and mouth-watering. I look forward to going back again soon and observing how the food landscape continues to evolve there.
There aren’t any vegan restaurants yet, except for a juice bar in Nadi, so I hope the vegan fever hits soon. In the meantime, as I’ve described, vegan food is a staple in the Indian, Chinese, and iTaukei (indigenous Fijian) cultures, which is a wholesome foundation.
About the Author
Marilyn Cornelius is a behavioral scientist, facilitator, wellness and leadership coach, and author whose focus is on vegan and gluten-free cuisine. She runs Alchemus Prime, a consulting company that focuses on integrity, wellness, and flourishing in leadership for individuals, teams, and organizations. She loves to travel to explore food, culture, and nature. Check out her blog and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.