The Unvegan

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Nothing Mexican about Cafe Salsa

I guess I’ll have some meat pancakes.

Wandering the streets (err ummm street) of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, waiting for our hotel to let us check in, we made our way to a part of the island called Avarua. Avarua is often referred to as “town” since it is the closest thing Rarotonga has to a town. As in any town, we got hungry and walked into the first place that looked delicious, called Cafe Salsa. Typically, a restaurant named as such would serve Mexican or some other Latin food, but this was not the case and the only thing remotely Mexican about the place was the name.

The view from their parking lot leaves a lot to be desired.

Instead, Cafe Salsa served up local Pacific foods and since clock was nowhere near noon yet, I kept my eyes glued to the breakfast and brunch part of the menu. Within a moment or two, my choice was made. This was the coconut pancakes with grilled banana and bacon, topped with maple syrup. It screamed awesome and unvegan at me, so I was excited to get involved with it and jump right into such a delicacy of the Pacific.

When it arrived, it was nothing short of beautiful and in no time I was deep in bacon, banana and pancakes. The pancakes were not light and fluffy, but were a little bit on the hearty side, which probably had something to do with the coconut cooked into them. Clearly, though, this was not intended to be a light and fluffy meal, as the bacon was piled onto the pancakes and added a nice salty balance to the otherwise incredibly sweet meal. And speaking of incredibly sweet, the bananas were some of the sweetest I had ever tasted.

I’d like some sugar on my sugar.

The fruit smoothie I got to go with the meal probably overdid the whole sugar factor, but it was totally worth it to get some of their fresh fruit in me, even in liquid form.

Cafe Salsa was a great way to begin my culinary journey of Rarotonga and I have a feeling I would have been back for another morning meal or two if my hotel wasn’t offering free breakfast every morning. Perhaps not Mexican, but Cafe Salsa sure did the salsa name justice.