Food, glorious food! Sure, Wellington is a city of sublime natural beauty, creative energy and incredible history, but it’s also a melting pot of fine dining establishments, diverse cuisines, quirky food trucks and mouth-watering markets. And you can experience it in all its delicious glory on an indulgent foodie weekend.
To give you a taste of what is in store for you palate in Wellington, we have sorted you out with options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus afternoon drinks and late-night sweets. Now there’s no need to worry about where to eat in Wellington, as it’s all here in this handy go-to guide. Happy feasting!
Whether or not you agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it’s pretty hard to resist the smell of just-cooked bacon and eggs first thing in the morning, and who can say no to a stack of pancakes drizzled with maple syrup? So if you’re going to have a proper foodie weekend in Wellington, there’s no such thing as skipping brekky, especially when you discover what this harbour city has on the menu.
Ask any local about the best breakfast places in Wellington, and chances are the same names will keep popping up. One of those is guaranteed to be Fidel’s Cafe, a Wellington institution that has been serving up hearty vegetarian meals and famous thick shakes on busy Cuba Street since 1996. Another is Prefab, a contemporary, industrial-style space that gets a big tick for offering bottomless filter coffee and baking all its bread and pastries on site. Hot tip: if you don’t have a booking at one of these spots, be sure to show up before 10am, because the weekend brekky rush is real! Or hit up one of these spots for some of the best healthy breakfasts in Wellington.
If you’ve enjoyed breakfast like a true Wellingtonian, it’s more than likely you won’t be super hungry by the time lunch rolls around. Enter Wellington’s weekend markets – a smorgasbord of fresh produce, artisanal goodies and yummy food trucks. You can easily spend a couple of hours browsing the stands, picking up things like gourmet jams and home-brewed kombucha to save for later, and snacking on bite-sized treats or international fare. Plus, if you’re on the hunt for cheap places to eat in Wellington, the markets are where you can find some true culinary bargains.
A city favourite would have to be the Harbourside Market next to Te Papa Museum, which is a Sunday ritual for many. We recommend going straight for the Bavarian-style hotdog from Fritz’s Wieners, and following it up with poffertjes from Montfoort – a must-eat in Wellington. The Thorndon Farmers’ Market (another one held on Saturdays) is where you can stock up on organic, free-range and vegan products. You might even pick up a spread from the markets and head out to enjoy your haul at one of these picnic spots around Wellington.
When it comes to fine dining experiences, the New Zealand capital does not disappoint. From seafood showstoppers to innovative Maori cuisine, degustation sittings to Instagrammable plates that look more like a work of art, the dinnertime bar is set extremely high. And while you may need to splurge a bit at these fancier joints, you only live once – and good food is there to be enjoyed!
This brings us to the age-old question: what is the top restaurant in Wellington? While it’s near impossible to choose just one, here are a few that won’t disappoint. First up is Hiakai, an acclaimed eatery by celebrity chef Monique Fiso that is dedicated to showcasing Maori ingredients and traditional cooking techniques in a modern, groundbreaking way. Be prepared to book months in advance, as this is the place to eat at the moment. For old-school elegance there is Logan Brown, which is housed in a historic banking chamber on Cuba Street. With a preference for local and sustainable produce, the five- or seven-course degustation is out-of-this-world good. As for the pick of the Wellington seafood restaurants, you can’t go past Ortega Fish Shack.
For Afternoon Drinks
All that eating can be thirsty work, and considering Wellington is the craft beer capital of New Zealand, it would be rude not to sample a couple of cheeky afternoon sips. The only catch? The CBD is home to more than 20 beer bars and breweries, so it can be hard to know where to rehydrated first. Luckily, there’s the Craft Capital Beer Trail – a self-guided tour of the city’s best watering holes. Simply download the map, plot your route and away you go.
But if a dedicated pub crawl is not for you, there are a couple of standout venues that you do not want to miss. Fork & Brewer is a popular brewpub that boasts 40 odd taps loaded up with everything from fruity IPAs to sour ales. The menu has also been specially curated to match the beers on offer, so it’s not a bad spot as far as Wellington restaurants go, either. For something a tad grungier, the Garage Project has long been a darling of the craft beer scene. Located in the old Aro Valley petrol station, this microbrewery has a reputation for experimenting with flavours – think lemon zest and golden syrup – to produce some truly unique concoctions.
As all good foodies know, there’s always room for dessert – no matter how full you may be. So if you’re wondering what to do in Wellington after a lovely dinner, the answer should be obvious: finish the night off with a tasty treat. And boy, does this harbour city know a thing or two about sugar-laden sweets.
The Little Waffle Shop is a teeny, turquoise-coloured hole in the wall, but what it lacks in space it makes up for in flavour-packed waffles. Open until 10pm every night (and even later on weekends), the toppings are as generous as they are decadent – we’re talking crushed Oreos, caramel sauce, lemon curd and sprinkles – and the waffles themselves are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Be sure to keep an eye out for the ‘Waffle of the Week’. Then there’s Hippopotamus at the QT Hotel. This opulent dining room – complete with stuffed peacocks and crystal chandeliers – is the perfect setting to gorge on divine goodies like a crème caramel topped with p?mu deer milk gelato. Just prepare yourself for the sugar-induced hangover that’s guaranteed to hit the next day.
Take a bite out of Wellington’s food scene by booking cheap flights with Webjet and then locking in your Wellington hotel. You can also explore gourmet things to do in Wellington, including guided food walks, behind-the-scenes tours and even day trips into the surrounding Marlborough region.