Rotorua Cafe Guide is written with visitors to Rotorua in mind, we've included cafes we think visitors to the city will appreciate. In keeping with our unusual theme we have noted the unusual aspects of each cafe. Coffee chains like Starbucks and The Coffee Club aren't included because they offer similar experiences country wide, but we have noted their locations at the end of the guide. With the exception of Urbano Bistro all of the cafes are in the Rotorua CBD.
Abracadabra Cafe & Bar, 1263 Amohia Street
Abracadabra Cafe & Bar serve brunch from 10.30am Tuesday to Sunday, brunch staples include generous servings of creamy mushrooms on ciabatta ($15.50), and bacon and eggs ($16.50). Take a seat under the Morroccan style lighting in the main dining area, streetside on the black and white verandah, in one of the colourful small rooms, or head out the back to the rustic bar (ideal for groups).
What's unusual? The rustic and bohemian style - take a seat in one of the colourful rooms that are ideal for small group meetings and catch-ups.
Capers Epicurean, 1181 Eruera Street
'Let's go for cake' is often said at our place and one of our favourite destinations is Capers Epicurean. The cafe is open until 9pm so it's a good spot for a late afternoon coffee or a well priced dessert after dinner. Capers is a big cafe with lots of seating and it's popular with locals, we think the prices are a bit high for the salads and savoury food in the cabinet but the cafe's popularity says otherwise. Open 7 days from 7am for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Free 90 minute parking at the door.
What's unusual? Capers have their own range of jam and chutney, and sell packets of native wild herbs like Kawakawa (Maori bush basil) produced by Chef Charles Royal. Other NZ and imported food items sold include honey, chocolate and tea. There is a mirror over the coffee station so you can watch the barista at work, and a little play area for children.
Fancy Meow Cat Cafe, 1210 Arawa Street
The focus at Fancy Meow Cat Cafe is the cats rather than food and drink. It costs from $15 to spend an hour with the cats and the cost includes a hot or cold drink. There is no fresh food to buy but there are packaged snacks. Check Facebook for current opening hours.
What's unusual? The cats, and they're fancy breeds like Ragdoll and Bengal, see Fancy Meow Cat Cafe via thecuriouskiwi/blog.
Le Cafe de Paris, 1206 Hinemoa Street
I receive a hearty 'bonjour' when I walk into Le Cafe de Paris and that's reason enough for me to return. Gluten free galettes (savoury crepes) and sweet crepes are made to order for around $10. Croissants, macarons and pain au chocolat are in the cabinet, and there's a $9.90 all day breakfast. Le Cafe de Paris is an informal and friendly cafe with French memorabilia throughout. Open Tuesday - Friday 7.30am - 4pm, Saturday 8am - 3pm. Free 90 minute parking at the door.
What's unusual? Practice your French when placing your order, or attend a French chat session - see Facebook to confirm dates and time. Snails and foie gras are among the small selection of French products for sale.
Lime Caffeteria, corner Fenton & Whakaue Streets
Lime Caffeteria adds some sparkle to the Rotorua cafe scene with its shaded chandeliers and classic black and white interior. I like the marsala mushrooms on the brunch menu, and Mike's choice for lunch is usually Thai green curry risotto. There is a tempting selection of sweet and savoury treats. Lime is a short walk from the lake front and opposite QE Health Spa. Open 7 days from 7.30am - 4.30pm. Breakfast/brunch served 7.30am - 3.30pm, lunch 11am - 3.30pm.
What's unusual? Lime is licensed and R18 Baileys Hot Chocolate is on the drinks menu. There are plenty of tables and chairs outside to enjoy the sunshine.
88Ra Cafe at Polynesian Spa, 1000 Hinemoa Street
Why is the cafe called 88Ra? Bathers or those 'taking the waters' in Rotorua in the early 1900's could soak in water 'activated' by radium borax. At the time it was thought radium had energizing properties, but by the 1940's radium's dangers had been discovered. Needless to say you won't find radium borax in the water at Polynesian Spa these days but 88 is the atomic number for radium, and Ra is the symbol for radium, so 88Ra it is.
The cafe is an open, airy space with a pitched ceiling and large black wire light fittings and black wire tables and chairs. There is also a long communal wooden table that seats at least 16. Large green plants bring the outside in, and there is also a courtyard with geothermally heated concrete bench seats, although the benches haven't been warm on my few visits. Food in the cabinet includes salads, slices of pizza, sandwiches, wraps, scones and muffins. If you prefer something cold after a hot soak you can have a cone of Kapiti ice cream or Carrello gelato. Local Volcanic Hills wine and Croucher beer is on the beverage menu along with Garage Project beer.
What's unusual? In keeping with the Polynesian Spa wellness theme there are fruit and vegetables waiting to be blended into a dozen types of juices and smoothies ($8.50). The geothermally heated concrete bench seats in the courtyard (if they are working). Note: You don't need to pay the entrance fee to Polynesian Spa to dine at 88Ra Cafe, the cafe is located in front of the spa entrance.
Scope, 1296 Tutanekai Street
Scope – Wild About Flavour, add the hunting magazines on the rack and you have a few clues that wild food is a theme here. The menu includes a Mai Mai Duck Open Sandwich ($23) and a Venison Burger ($23). Venison and blue cheese pasta is sometimes on the specials menu, and a venison sausage is part of the Hungry Hunter Big Breaky ($23.90). Read the rest via thecuriouskiwi/blog.
Urbano Bistro, 289 Fenton Street (corner Grey & Fenton Streets)
Urbano Bistro is a stylish cafe by day and bistro by night. Brunch is served every day from 9am and it's also a good morning or afternoon tea stop as there is always a selection of good looking and substantial slices on the counter. Urbano is just under 1km from Rotorua Central Mall and is opposite Rydges Hotel and Executive on Fenton Motel. Open Monday - Saturday 9am - 11pm and Sunday 9am - 3pm. Free parking.
What's unusual? The cool motorbike cocktail/smoothie maker on the counter. Urbano currently pops up on Bookme with breakfast and dinner specials.
Vetro, 1131 Amohau Street - Revolver Espresso
Revolver Espresso is tucked into the back corner of Vetro Mediteranean Foods. The cabinets at Revolver are filled with muffins, croissants, cakes and ciabatta rolls. Vetro's shelves are stacked with dried fruits, French cheese and wine, pasta and other food from the Mediterranean and beyond. Revolver is open Monday - Friday 8.30am - 3pm, Saturday 9am - 2pm, closed Sunday and public holidays. Free parking.
What's unusual? In keeping with the food theme there is a communal table stacked with cooking magazines, and cook books by Rick Stein, and home grown foodies like Nadia Lim, Annabel Langbein and Cameron Petley. Snap a recipe with your phone or BYO paper - pens provided.
Zippy Central, 1153 Pukuatua Street
Zippy Central on Facebook
At Zippy Central coffee comes with M&Ms on the side and there's a blackboard menu of more than 10 bagels to choose from. The roasted vegetable bagel with pesto, feta and relish is scrumptious and good value at $12 (see photo below). There are muffins and snacks on the counter, and a menu of mains served from 11.30am.
Zippy is a colourful cafe with a graffiti style wall, booth seating and retro tables and chairs.
One of the things we like most about the cafe is the decor always looks clean and fresh, just like it was finished yesterday.
Zippy is popular with mountain bikers and there's a bike rack outside, 90 minutes free car parking at the door and free Wifi. Serving breakfast, lunch and snacks in between.
What's unusual? As well as the bright and funky decor there's a fruit bowl made of carrots behind the counter, and interesting art work on the walls.
Coffee Chains in Rotorua
Starbucks, 1248 Tutanekai Street
Columbus Coffee, 1176 Amohau Street (inside Rotorua Central Mall)
Columbus Coffee in Mitre 10 MEGA, 1542 Amohau Street
The Coffee Club, 3/5 Tarawera Road, Lynmore (Redwood Centre)