Insider's Food Guide to Downtown Tauranga

A hand reaching for a piece of fried chicken.

Nestled amidst the condensed streets and waterfront views, downtown Tauranga has a culinary offering that will both pleasantly surprise and plentifully satisfy.

Word by: Nicole Mudgway

Photos by: Anna Briggs

Featured below are a number of Tauranga’s most well-loved establishments, along with some of its lesser known gems. Together, these places define the city’s diverse food scene, with plenty of different cuisines on offer. Whether you’re after an evening of trendy tapas, a trusty authentic takeaway, a decadent dessert bar or just a darn good loaf of sourdough, the collection below will have you well covered for all occasions.

RIKARIKA Sushi

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45 Grey Street, Tauranga

Conveniently situated for weekday workers, RIKARIKA Sushi offers deliciously fresh sushi coupled with quick service. While the sushi options, including both nigiri and sashimi, steal the show, the karaage chicken is also a crowd favourite. RIKARIKA is tucked at the back of a retail area, and the thoughtfully fitted space offers a modern and comfortable dining experience. There’s various menu options catering to dietary requirements and an obvious intent to integrate tasty, quality food into people's daily routines - an intent (and routine) that it is easy to get on board with!

Sugo

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19 Wharf Street, Tauranga

Sugo stands as one of Tauranga's esteemed Italian-inspired restaurants, renowned for its emphasis on consistency and quality. Situated in a trendy space near the waterfront, Sugo takes pride in hitting all its marks, from food and drinks to service and ambience. Using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, the menu evolves with the seasons while maintaining beloved staples like beef cheek lasagne and handpicked eye fillet. Creativity shines through in innovative dishes and dessert cocktails, complementing Italian classics like tiramisu. Pair this with a welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff; it’s no wonder Sugo has become a go-to destination for Tauranga foodies. 

But First Dessert

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Shop 6/109 Devonport Road, Access via Elizabeth Street, Tauranga

Those with a sweet tooth would be remiss to miss But First Dessert. Specialising in handcrafted, decadent treats, the concept of a dedicated dessert bar is designed to satisfy those whose favourite course is always dessert. Beyond the exquisitely presented cabinet (featuring goodies such as lemon meringue tarts and profiteroles), there’s a menu devoted entirely to dessert. Think panna cotta and parfaits, crumbles and creme brulee, and of course, staple dish chocolate lava s’mores: dessert lovers, rejoice! For those in search of liquid gold, there are also dessert cocktails and coffee available too.

Chicken Fryday

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120 Devonport Road, Tauranga

Chicken Fryday brings Korean fried chicken to downtown Tauranga seven days a week - fortunately, not just on Fridays! As expected, their speciality is crispy boneless chicken, served with your choice of innovative topping. There’s over ten (best-sellers are the 'sweet and spicy' and 'soy garlic' options), and all sauces are proudly homemade, including the marinades, the batters, and even the dipping sauces. While we all love some fried chicken takeout, the spacious, modern interior also offers a pleasant space to dine in. 

Miss Gee’s

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3/59 The Strand, Tauranga

Super central Miss Gee’s is one of Tauranga’s favourite cocktail lounges, a vibrant spot ideal for both relaxing and socialising. The food menu boasts a mouthwatering array of tapas and street food, including crowd favourites Butter Prawn Dumplings and the Korean Fried Cauliflower. Naturally, there is an extensive range of colourful cocktails as well as a variety of spirits, in particular botanical gins. Come nighttime, the volume is turned up a notch, and Miss Gee’s transforms into one of the city’s best places for a boogey.

Falafel Metro

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1 Devonport Road, Tauranga

Converting even the staunchest of meat eaters, Falafel Metro is best known for its falafel and pita offerings. At Falafel Metro, Middle Eastern cuisine bursts with vibrant flavours, colours and textures amidst a range of both traditional and culturally inspired variations on falafel - there’s even a Kiwiana option. The pita sells out daily, and the falafel is always made to order. Falafel Metro has shown Tauranga residents that vegetarian fare is just as satisfying and delicious and secured itself a loyal customer base in the process.

Picnicka

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Elizabeth Towers Level 1/38 Elizabeth Street, Tauranga

Picnicka embodies the aspirational essence of Tauranga's CBD, offering a vibrant gathering spot for all-day dining experiences. The menu revolves around locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, encouraging sharing and community engagement. From signature breakfast dishes like the Bennie (featuring ham hock, miso hollandaise, hash, poached eggs and apple) to BBQ delights cooked over an open flame, Picnicka promises simple yet nourishing fare that captures the essence of quality and generosity. Whether it's morning coffee, after-work drinks, or nightcaps, Picnicka serves as a social hub mirroring the vibrant energy of its surroundings.

Lloyd’s Deli & Pizzeria

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70 Saint John Street, Tauranga

No longer Tauranga’s best-kept secret, Lloyd’s Deli and Pizzeria has become one of Tauranga’s trendiest spots. By day, Lloyd’s functions as a lively space serving up a delicious array of fresh toasted sandwiches made on house-baked bread, extremely moreish cookies and Hamilton-based Grey Roasting Coffee. Come evening (when everyone’s ready for some fun), Lloyd’s transforms into a relaxed spot, dishing up a rotating cast of New York-style sourdough pizzas. Let’s be real, Lloyd’s exceptional food and enjoyable atmosphere meant it was a secret best shared!

Breadhead

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2a Saint John Street, Tauranga

From the founders of Love Rosie Bakery, Breadhead was born from the desire to give both bread and pastry the respect they deserve. What started out as a mere dough workroom has evolved to become a beautiful and busy cafe space oozing with goodies. The team proudly makes everything from scratch and on a small scale, so make sure you go early because items are prone to selling out. There’s a variety of pastries, sandwiches and sweet treats available, as well as freshly brewed coffee. To takeaway, there’s also the store’s pride and joy (it’s in the name!) - sourdough. Different days bring different flavours, but it’s always hard to go past the miso tahini sourdough.

Dam Da

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Family-run Dam Da is a Korean restaurant showcasing Korean flavours in an accessible and enticing way. It’s welcoming, it’s casual, and there’s an abundance of indoor foliage. The counter is busy with sweet treats and authentic Korean snacks, and of course, there’s an extensive offering of bubble tea. There's plenty to choose from, and for those who can’t decide: popular flavours include bubble brown sugar and tiramisu. For food, there is a combination of both traditional delicacies and innovative fusion dishes, ensuring there's something to suit every palate.

Neat Downtown Tauranga Places

Chicken Fryday

The restaurant inside Chicken Fryday Tauranga.
Place Downtown Tauranga
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Bringing a little sample of Korean cuisine to downtown Tauranga is Chicken Fryday, a specialist in, you guessed it, Korean Fried Chicken.

Falafel Metro

Two customers sitting at tables inside Falafel Metro Tauranga.
Place Downtown Tauranga
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Middle Eastern cuisine is full of vibrant flavours, colours and textures, and thanks to Falafel Metro, the residents of Tauranga have easy access to some of the best.

Bobby's Fresh Fish Market

The covered outdoor area at Bobby's Fish Market Tauranga.
Place Downtown Tauranga
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Bobby’s Fresh Fish Market is a name synonymous with quality fish and chips, having delivered the goods to Tauranga locals starting way back in 1996.

Macau Restaurant

The colourful interior of Macau restaurant in Tauranga.
Place Downtown Tauranga
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They say variety is the spice of life, and at Tauranga’s Macau Restaurant, contemporary Asian fusion plates pave the way.