Taste Wellington in a weekend
Ever feel like you need a weekend dedicated to indulging? If there’s one place to press pause on the diet and eat whatever, it’s Wellington, otherwise known as the culinary capital of New Zealand – a place that rivals New York for its food scene.
With more than 300 restaurants, cafes and bars dotted around this compact, vibrant and easy-to-get-anywhere city, the only trouble is deciding where to devour. So we’ve done the hard work for you. Enjoy.
When it comes to Wellington’s cheap eats, quality is never at a loss. So if you want something that’s easy on the wallet, but satisfying for the belly, there’s plenty of options on the table.
A favourite amongst locals, Little Penang is Malaysian cuisine the way it should be – authentic, affordable and always-spot-on. The menu boasts all your go to favourites, think flavoursome curries, silky noodles, rice that’s done right, warm or cold beverages and soft roti. We’d point out that you could be hard pressed to find a table. But due to popularity, Wellington’s been blessed with a second Penang, which means double the chance of securing a spot.
Location: 40 Dixon St, Te Aro
If you’re here during Summer, or are a winter beach-goer, heat things up with a trip to The Chippery. Since opening its doors a few years back, locals and visitors alike haven’t stopped raving about it. With a fresh take on all things seafood, you’ll have a new founded appreciation for the cuisine. And if you’ve got any special dietary requirements, The Chippery can most certainly feed you too – their vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options are equally as delicious.
Tucked away in an alleyway known for its delicacies, Pizza Pomodoro serves some of city’s finest Italian Pizza. Having mastered the art of perfection back in Naples, chef, Massimo Tolve, has been feeding bellies with fresh dough since the year 2000. Get one to takeaway, grab a beer from their neighbouring bar Goldings and perch yourself on the waterfront. Or snuggle up indoors. Your call.
Location: 13 Leeds St, Te Aro
Feel like eating guilt-free? Boquita makes Mexican tacos with not only humans in mind, but the planet too. With a menu solely comprised of plant based ingredients, they’re on a mission to keep the planet as clean as possible. And before you question the flavour of plant based tacos, just take a look at the menu – and the outstanding ratings on trip advisor.
Location: 23 Kent St, Mount Victoria
Wellington Night Markets
Looking for free things to do in Wellington? For a mixture of food, art and culture, pencil in a trip to the Wellington Night Markets. Open every Friday and Saturday from 5pm-11pm, you’ll find a variety of flavours to satisfy your taste buds. And entertainment to keep you busy.
Location: 107 Cuba St, Te Aro
One step up.
Climb one step up the Wellington foodie ladder and you’ll find a selection of eateries that aren’t cheap as chips, but won’t break the bank either. They’re also unbelievably delicious.
A new joint on the Wellington food scene, but one that’s making waves, Mr Go’s is a modern Asian masterpiece. The flavours are fresh, unique and varied. We’re talking spicy bao-buns, cauliflower with a kick, avocado salads and kimchi loaded shoestring fries. And that’s just a taster. So if you like the sound of that, we’d recommend booking early on – this place fills out fast.
Location: 59 Taranaki St, Te Aro
Like the sound of burgers and brews? Burger Liquor serves some of the finest. Think buttermilk chicken, smokey bacon, firecracker sauce and lashings of rum and bourbon options. And with the choice to either eat in or take away, you’re free to tuck in wherever, be it Wellington’s waterfront, Oriental Bay, Mount Victoria’s lookout, or if it’s chilly, rugged up indoors – maybe in front of a fire.
Location: 129 Willis St, Te Aro
The Crab Shack
For all things seafood, dive into the Crab Shack and discover one of the tastiest things to do in Wellington. Perched right on the waterfront, this friendly, casual and affordable restaurant is the perfect spot for a party of two, or the entire family (kids eat free every Sunday). As the name suggests, the menu is loaded with delicious seafood options, but if you’d rather something different, there’s also pulled pork, crispy chicken and Halloumi tortillas on offer.
Location: 137 Quay St, Auckland
The Old Quarter
Forget a trip to Vietnam, save your pennies and head to modern Vietnamese restaurant, the Old Quarter. Being right in the heart of Wellington, it could be the very first eatery to tick off. The menu is what menu dreams are made of, with mouthwatering platters to share, tropical curries, bao buns, spicy salads and exotic cocktails – watermelon mojito, blushing dragon and skinny coloada (just to name a few).
Location: 39 Dixon St, Te Aro
Grill Meats Beer
Of course, nothing says comfort like a good kiwi burger and beer. So if you’re in the mood for that, hit up Grill Meats Beer. Order one of their classic burgers, a brew and soak up the atmosphere. And if you’ve still got room, there’s always desert.
Location: 227 Cuba St, Te Aro
Fancy something fancy? Wellington’s fine dining scene is alive and well. So take your pick.
The Salty Pidgin
Just a five minute drive from the city centre, in the quirky suburb of Brooklyn, is The Salty Pidgin Bar & Bistro. Upon arriving, you’ll feel right at home with the friendly faces, open fire and airy space giving off an inviting charm. Menu wise, it’s practically perfect – from grilled beef fillet, to spiced chicken pizza, to buttermilk pancakes. And of course, there’s splashings of beer and wine to choose from.
Location: 5 Todman St, Brooklyn
For some of Wellington’s best fish, or steak, book a table at Ortega. Being in the heart of Wellington, it’s an easy find – that’s also easy on the wallet (as far as fine dining goes). A table for two will set you back roughly $100, included in that is fine food (oysters, beef fillet, crepes, chocolate mousse and more), impeccable service and one of the best beer lists in town.
Location: 16 Majoribanks St, Mount Victoria
Fluent in Italian? You might be after an evening at Ombra. As Wellington’s signature, venetian inspired bacaro – translation: bar and restaurant, you’ll step into not just another restaurant, but another world. Slide into a booth, or settle at the bar for an evening of magic. The food is perfecto, as is the service. Order a round of platters to share and one of their deserts to finish. And if you can, make it there before 6pm – Aperitivo hour means prosecco, aperol spritz and something complimentary from the chef.
Location: 199 Cuba St, Te Aro
If extravagance is what you’re after, sign up for a date at the Hippopotamus restaurant. French inspired, this restaurant is the epitome of sophistication and elegance, particularly with views that overlook the Wellington harbour. The menu boasts a mixture of comfort foods and fine dining, so whatever you’re feeling, you’ll leave with complete satisfaction. Of particular mention is their high tea – an unparalleled celebration of the finer things in life.
Location: 90 Cable St, Te Aro
Field and Green
Once you’ve indulged in an evening of delicacies, there’s no better way to cleanse the palette than an ice cream from Field and Green. With legendary ice cream chef, Laura Greenfield, whipping up some of city’s finest soft serves, it’s an after meal must. Flavours include lavender, pistachio, salted caramel, honeycomb, stem ginger and more. Yum.
Location: 262 Wakefield St, Te Aro
On board? It's time to discover New Zealand's Culinary Capital.
Amongst all the other tourist attractions in New Zealand, it’s important to keep the tank full. So if your taste buds are tinging and your belly’s ready to be filled, it’s time to make a plan. If you’re coming from the South Island to the North, why not jump on the Interislander Ferry? The three-hour Picton to Wellington journey is considered to be one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world, with a grand entrance into Wellington’s stunning harbour. Better still, you can travel by either car or foot. Just check out the Interislander timetable, lock in an Interislander Ferry booking, then hop aboard. Bon appetite.