Wellington is a food lover’s paradise with hundreds of cafes, restaurants and bars, with something to suit everyone’s tastes. Whether you are just in Wellington for the weekend or you have lived here for a while and want to fall back in love with this delicious city, here are our picks of the best foodie experiences on offer.
2 for 1 night at Chow is synonymous with Wellington itself. Each and every Monday night around 5pm, people gather at the Tory street restaurant in eager anticipation of the dishes they are about to enjoy. It will likely be busy, there is almost always a wait, but it really is worth it. Get there as early as possible to avoid lengthy wait times, but even in the case of an hour wait, you can always pop next door for a drink at the Library bar to kill some time. Honourable mentions are the blue cheese wontons, the five-spice curry and the leek and mushroom dumplings.
Coffee is an integral part of a Wellingtonian’s daily life. Customs by Coffee Supreme on Ghuznee Street offers a myriad of Coffee Supreme blends, from take home beans to filter coffee and a classic flat white. In the warmer months, they offer cold brew coffee so good that it has people asking for it year-round. Customs also has a seasonal toast menu that offers simple but delicious toppings including grilled cheese and pickle, caramelised banana butter and avocado paired with pickled radishes. Thursday through Sunday Customs offer Little Dough Co’s donuts, with the flavours changing weekly. Past flavours have included lemon meringue pie, gingernut crunch and rocky road. Get in quick, they don’t last long!
If you’re not already warmed up by the colourful exterior of the two historic cottages that house Havana Bar (in one) and restaurant (in the other) you will be once you’ve sat down to peruse the cocktail list, which is extensive, or tapas menu, which is adventurous. The restaurant encourages exploration and shared plates from pork belly to pan fried ox tongue to masa tortillas. And then there’s the music. Havana Bar support a mix of local and international DJs three nights a week often hosting acts that fill both houses with South American good vibes. There’s always a possy of people up on their feet enjoying themselves. The only Cuban thing you can’t do in Havana Bar is fire up a cigar.
Despite Wellington’s tumultuous weather, the Sunday Harbourside Markets are an iconic weekend activity for both locals and tourists alike. Whether you are there to buy your weekly supply of fresh fruit and veggies (for a much lower price than the supermarket), get your daily caffeine fix or spy on stranger’s dogs, the Harbourside Markets has something for you. Operating between 7.30am and 2pm in the Summer, there is plenty of time to mosey on down after a Sunday morning lie in and pick up something for a late breakfast. There are plenty of food trucks offering healthy options like smoothies and cold pressed juices and if you are looking to treat yourself try the Montfoort mini dutch pancakes smothered in salted caramel or lemon curd. Other deliciousness is the Greek Food Truck souvlaki or a classic BLT sandwich from Food for the People.
If you’re looking for the street in Wellington that has it all food-wise, look no further. Hannah’s Laneway offers a full day’s worth of food orientated activities. Start at the Dixon street end with a $5 soda tasting tray at Six Barrel Soda. If you’re feeling peckish, try out their pickled fries complete with vinegar spritz bottle. Next, head down to Fix and Fogg’s hole in the wall window and pick up a jar of peanut butter (they have many variations including honey, dark chocolate and spicy). Right across from Fix and Fogg is the Wellington Chocolate Factory. You can pop in to see some behind the scenes chocolate making in action, have a hot chocolate or buy a few blocks. If you are super keen, sign up for an in-depth tour which they run every Saturday at 11am. From there, head to Goldings Free Dive Bar for a beer (they have many on tap, a lot of local craft beer) and order a pizza from Pizza Pomodoro. It is a separate venue a few shops down, but Goldings allows their punters to order to the bar. Finish up at Leeds Street Bakery and purchase one of the famous salted caramel cookies for later.
If there’s one thing that Wellington has completely covered, it’s craft beer. With a multitude of craft breweries across the city, the options are endless for a Sunday afternoon brew. Garage Project is the first that comes to mind, described as the ‘darling of the craft beer scene’. Garage Project have two separate sites on Aro Street - their Cellar Door, where they offer free tastings from their 8 tap line-up. They also sell their beer to takeaway, as well as GP merchandise like t-shirts, posters and glassware. Then there’s the Garage Project Taproom just down the road from the Cellar Door. This is a great spot to plant yourself for an afternoon of beer tasting and small bites. The Taproom is lined with 12 taps and 2 cask lines as well as others available in cans and bottles, it’s a beer lovers dream. Visitors to the Taproom can easily spend hours lazing around with good friends and good beer. If you’re looking to branch out from Garage Project, alternatives are Parrotdog in Lyall Bay, the Third Eye Tuatara Temple of Taste or the recently opened Husk aka Choice Bros.
Mount Victoria Chippery is a gourmet fish and chip shop, located in Mount Victoria near Oriental Bay. The tasty fare is non-greasy and delicious. The kumara chips and beer battered fries deserve a special mention, as do the curly fries and each of the burgers they have on offer. Grab a few mates and head down to Oriental Bay to enjoy the classic kiwi tradition that is fish and chips on the beach. If sand isn’t your thing, sit atop the blue boat sheds on Oriental Parade or drive up to the Mount Victoria lookout.
Wellington is known for hidden away, hard to find bars and is often described as Melbourne’s little sister. Library Bar is – you guessed it – a bar themed like a library. With books galore and many punny-named cocktails (Lower Hutt Lemon Meringue anyone?), Library is the perfect hideaway for an evening drink. Adjacent to Chow restaurant, Library is a great spot for pre-drinks before dinner or to spend an entire evening devouring their lengthy cocktail list. They often have special cocktails based around books, one of their recent themes was childhood favourites featuring cocktails based on James and the Giant Peach, Harry Potter and Willy Wonka.
The hot chocolate at Scopa is a real crowd pleaser for out-of-towners and a cheeky treat for locals. It is essentially melted, creamy, thick chocolate ideally consumed with a spoon. It is served with a dash of cream on top and comes in a small or large size. The recipe is a safely guarded secret, but we hear that it is Italian chocolate powder sourced from Italy. This is one not to be missed!
Prefab is one of those spots that is busy rain, hail or shine. It is so busy on Saturday’s that they don’t even need to open on Sunday’s. Prefab is the brainchild of the former owners of Café L’affare just over the road in College Street. Having brunch at Prefab on a Saturday is a Wellington tradition. Though they are always packed, they get people seated extremely quickly and you never feel rushed to leave. Check out their freshly made donuts and the range of ACME products they stock, including their own coffee blend.
Moore Wilsons is an absolute foodie haven, stocking both international and local artisan food brands. It is not unheard of to roam the isles of Moore Wilsons even when you have no intention of purchasing anything. It’s an amazing place to discover new bespoke products and brands, especially as they often have different complimentary tastings in store. With a built-in barista located next to the cheese section, it is easy to pick up a coffee and browse to your hearts content. If you’re looking to support local brands on your shopping spree, check out the Drunken Nanny’s range of goat’s cheese products, Libertine Blends organic tea range and the Wooden Spoon Boutique Freezery ice cream assortment.