3 Local Dishes to Try on Reunion Island

  • 04 December 2018 | By Natalie Roos

With influences ranging from European to African to Indian to Chinese, the cuisine of Reunion Island is a diverse blend of flavours and spices. While you can find almost any kind of cuisine on the island, there are a few quintessential Réunionnaise dishes that you can’t leave without trying. Ask any local, and they will be able to point you in the direction of a restaurant or café where you can find these delicious dishes. 

1.Rougail Saucisse

The dish every Réunionnaise grew up on. Rougail Saucisse is a rich, warming dish of smoked sausage, tomato, ginger, onion and spices. The Creole speciality is served with rice, beans and Reunion’s favourite accompaniment, chilli and most locals claim to make the best version. There are numerous places across the island where you can enjoy this dish, and every local has their favourite spot. But Chez Herbert on the West Coast is a good place for visitors to try it. This roadside restaurant has bright yellow plastic tables and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Even if you can't speak any French, just hold up two fingers and ask for "Rougail Saucisse s'il vous plaît". Make sure to wash it down with an ice cold bottle of Reunion’s famous Dodo beer! 

2.Bouchon Gratiné 

High in calories but even higher in flavour, this decadent dish is a seriously delicious local treat! A crispy French baguette, stuffed with freshly steamed Chinese dumplings, drenched in cheese sauce and grilled to perfection, it's a prime example of Réunionnaise cuisine’s blend of French and Asian flavours.  While it is big enough to share, you are probably going to want to eat the whole thing yourself! It’s often served with mayonnaise, tomato sauce or chilli. You’ll find it at most beach restaurants and Creole cafés across the island, but if you visit Saint Pierre weekend market on the West Coast, you can enjoy it while taking a break from souvenir shopping. 

3.Cari Poulet 

With a strong Tamil community and a rich cultural influence, Reunion’s cari dishes are authentic and mouthwatering. Lots of onion, turmeric, chilli, thyme, garlic and of course, garam masala are cooked together with the chicken to create a fragrant and delicious dish, which served with the traditional lentils and rice, along with a side of chilli. This dish is like the traditional Indian curry, with a Creole flair. 

There are so many other local specialities to try, including gateau patate (sweet potato cake), chouchou gratiné (a potato bake-like dish made with a local vegetable that has the texture of courgette) and of course all the French pastries you can manage into your visit! These dishes and snacks are available at markets, bars and restaurants and are sure to give you a taste of the Creole culture. To get a taste of as many of the delicious dishes locals love in one sitting as possible, book a table at La Marmite, where you can enjoy a buffet-style dinner of over 15 specialities. 

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