Reunion Island is a melting pot of French, Indian, African and Asian cuisine, which blend together to create distinctly Reunionese dishes and flavours. Make sure you come to the island hungry!
The Réunionnaise love to cook and they love to eat. Local cooking uses classic French principles as the base, adding Malagasy customs, Chinese traditions and Indian spices to create deliciously unique and exotic recipes and dishes.
Finding traditional local food is easy on the island - locals love to eat local and there are restaurants offering a variety of food for every taste. French food, seafood, Creole food - the options are endless. Here are 5 places to find local snacks and dishes on Reunion Island.
Where to find local food on Reunion Island
Saint Paul Market
Every Friday, hundreds of vendors gather under colourful umbrellas and tarpaulins to sell their fresh produce, grilled chickens, French cheeses, deep fried samosas and bonbon piments (spicy bites made from broad beans), steamed Chinese dumplings and bouchon gratiné (a crispy white roll filled with steamed Chinese dumplings and covered in a creamy sauce before being grilled) and homemade chili and jams.
The market is a must-do experience, and offers the ideal opportunity to sample some of the island's flavours while enjoying the atmosphere. Make sure to have a cold Dodo beer to wash it down with. If you need to shop for souvenirs, this is the perfect place to buy locally made goods to take home for friends and family.
Curry or "cari" is a local speciality and comes in many different forms in Reunion Island. Cari is made with tomatoes, onions, ginger, tumeric and other spices with the addition of a protein like chicken or fish. Rougail saucisse is a local favourite – a rich, spicy stew made with a local smoked sausage. It’s served with fragrant rice, thyme herbed beans and a local chilli known as “piment”. At La Marmite, you can sample a huge variety of dishes from a buffet, including many different cari dishes.
Bookings are recommended, so make sure to include this in your holiday plans. Go hungry, because you will want to try every one of the 15 dishes available!
With such a strong French influence, Reunion Island is pastry heaven. Fresh croissants, crispy baguettes, beautiful cakes - you will find them all at the many boulangeries (bakeries) and pattiseries (pastry shops) on the island. Chez LouLou is an iconic bakery in Saint Gilles, where locals visit daily for their fresh breads and pastries.
This little roadside restaurant offers some of the best Rougail Saucisse on the island, at an affordable price. It's a basic little spot, with plastic tables and chairs and chalkboard menu, but the food is quality and delicious.
Truth be told, you can't go wrong with food in Reunion Island. It's easy to find local food and there are no real "tourist traps" where you will waste your Euros on a less-than-great meal. Food is such a big part of the culture, that locals would not settle for less than delicious.