Queenstown’s constantly evolving culinary scene never fails to impress. Whether you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful spot to refuel after a day full of activities or a fine dining establishment to celebrate a special occasion, New Zealand's adventure capital has a whole host of world-class restaurants you’re sure to love.
We’ve done the research and know the must-visit restaurants in QT, so read on for the best restaurants in Queenstown.
Locals continue to describe Rātā as the region’s best and it’s easy to see why. The brainchild of Michelin-starred, celebrity chef, Josh Emett, Rātā is a worthy addition to many best restaurant lists. Named after a native tree, the space is modern and airy with natural furnishings and a moody mural of a rata forest. The food on offer is diverse, with starters ranging from venison carpaccio, cured salmon and pork belly served with Bluff octopus, butternut squash, new season quince, pearl barley. The Southland cheese rolls are a must, made with Otago honeycomb, organic mustard and pickled cauliflower, they’re decidedly better than the traditional. For lunch, there’s a set menu for larger groups as well as regular mains. The wine list showcases wines from the Otago region as well as greater New Zealand. Inventive and adventurous, Rātā is so good, you’ll want to return every time you’re in Queenstown.
Nest Bar & Kitchen
Sidle up to the dining room and select a seat overlooking Lake Wakatipu at sunset. Nest Bar & Kitchen's succinct menu is anything but simple, boasting a curated collection of flavourful Mediterranean-inspired fare. Divided into six sections including street food, small bites and mains, we suggest rallying your crew to share because you’ll want to taste everything. Kick off with the calamari and saffron sliders featuring a charcoal bao bun, the flavourful fish tacos and the crowd-pleasing potato and chorizo croquettes. For mains, pair the melt-in-your-mouth slow cooked merino lamb with the roasted kumara and sweet potato—it’s a match made in heaven. See your meal out with a sweet number like the sticky date pudding with sea salt caramel and orange ice cream, or the deconstructed apple pie with flavours of caramel, hazelnut and cinnamon.
The Bunker Restaurant & Bar
Tucked away on a discreet alleyway in the centre of the city, The Bunker is notoriously hard to find. Those who prevail are rewarded upon discovering this hidden gem, with its roaring fireplace, dim lighting and old school music. Described as rustic fine dining, the meat-focused menu uses locally sourced produce with European and Kiwi flavours. Try the scallops to start and then choose from the venison, duck or gnocchi for your main. The Bunker is definitely worth hunting down, especially if you like quality drinks and fine dining in an intimate setting.
No5 Church Lane
Renowned for its extensive cocktail list and an outstanding menu full of locally-sourced Northern Italian and Mediterranean style cuisine, No5 Church Lane is an unmissable restaurant in Queenstown. The space exudes understated elegance and provides a comfortable environment to sample the region’s unique flavours. Dishes are mezze style, perfect for sharing between two or more people. We love the grilled bruschetta duo with heirloom tomato, grana padano parmesan, basil, roast eggplant, confit tomato and feta or any of their sourdough pizzas. Their bar snacks are also particularly noteworthy, try the bocconcini mozzarella. Discerning drinkers should try one of their world-class cocktails. Our go-tos are La Rhumba (Scapegrace gin, toasted fennel, thyme and mandarin infused syrup, citrus, pomegranate molasses and Angostura bitters topped with a local apple cider) and the Crimson and Thyme (Mezcal Reposado, Solerno liqueur, freshly squeezed blood orange juice, homemade blood orange marmalade, fresh lime juice, thyme sugar and soda).
The Cow is a true Queenstown institution. Located down Cow Lane, the restaurant’s rustic and cosy atmosphere is the ideal spot to enjoy delicious pizza and pasta, making it a local favourite for the past 40 years. The casual restaurant is situated in an actual cow shed and legend has it that dairy farmers use to walk through the lane to get to the milking shed over 100 years ago. The Cow is now accessed through a classic stable door. Embracing the theory that you should never mess with a winning formula, the iconic pizza menu has remained unchanged since opening day. We suggest Her Majesty’s Pleasure, which is topped with mushrooms, ham, pepperoni, onions, tomato and herbs or the Napolitana spaghetti with chunky tomato and basil sauce.
Botswana Butchery is undoubtedly one of Queenstown's most stylish restaurants. With spectacular lake views and roaring fires both inside and out, this fine dining establishment tops every best restaurant list in Queenstown. Housed in a gorgeous cottage, step inside and immediately notice its warm, inviting atmosphere. Although meat is without a doubt, front and centre and you can expect a quality steak, the menu is also filled with seafood and veggie-friendly options. The gnocchi is especially delicious as is the Botswana Peking Duck. There’s also a comprehensive wine list that pairs perfectly with the diverse food on offer. Service is attentive and you’ll feel right at home at this beautiful and cosy establishment.
While not exactly a place to sit in and dine, you really can’t visit Queenstown without stopping in for an iconic, world-renown Fergburger. Open 21 hours per day, make sure you come hungry because these legendary burgers are the size of your head. The small restaurant has plenty of outdoor seating if you’re wanting to stick around for some people watching. The menu includes everything from your typical beef and chicken to falafel and cod, which is cleverly named The Codfather. Skip the queue by calling in your order, grabbing it from the pick-up window and heading to the lake. With Fergburger and Fergbaker both staples, there are also rumours that a Ferg bar is in the works. As much of a Queenstown must-do as the area’s main attractions, you can’t come to Queenstown without grabbing a burger at Ferg.
Jervois Steak House
Over the years, Jervois Steak House has become a favourite among Queenstown locals and visitors alike. Arguably one of the best steakhouses in New Zealand, Jervois makes no apologies for celebrating its love of meat. The menu showcases meat in its all forms, all sourced from the best beef and lamb producers. Popular dishes include the Signature Prime Rib and the Jervois cut eye fillet on the bone, which is farmed on the West Coast. The choices are all delicious and vegetarians are left out either. The gnocchi, wild mushroom, fresh curds, mushroom purée, confit garlic and truffle oil is a definite contender as is the cauliflower steak puree. The carnivores will enjoy the finest cuts of meat, including wagyu, prime rib, and Savannah Angus. The impressive menu paired with an extensive wine list makes Jervois a destination restaurant in Queenstown.
Ivy & Lola’s
Locally owned Ivy & Lola’s is contemporary bistro and gorgeous views. There’s plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy during the warmer months. Or, step into the stunning Art Deco interior and sip wine beside the fireplace in the winter. Ivy & Lola’s serves up hearty food with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients and locally sourced produce. From green-lipped mussels to their renowned lamb, the entire menu is outstanding and pairs perfectly with their wine list which showcases the region, craft beers and quality cocktails. The elderflower and grapefruit spritz is refreshing and Purple Haze (made with Scapegrace Gin, blueberry syrup, lemon juice, egg white) is a must-try. Make sure you save room for dessert (the tiramisu is legendary) or even an espresso martini if your evening is just beginning. After a few bites, you’ll quickly see why Ivy & Lola’s is amongst Queenstown’s best dining experiences.
Jack’s Point Clubhouse
Surrounded by mountain ranges, lakes and a well-known golf course, Jack’s Point Restaurant is a pretty spectacular place for a meal. With a menu that reflects Queenstown’s environment, choosing what to order is the hardest decision. Try the cauliflower gratin, black foot paua bolognese served with kelp bucatini, watercress or the big glory bay king salmon with miso, pumpkin, cavolo nero — all are incredibly tasty. The wine list is equally impressive, featuring the best of Central Otago as well as a selection from other regions. Not a wine drinker? There are local craft beers on tap and an assortment of non-alcoholic options. Open for breakfast and lunch every day, Jack’s is a fabulous place to meet for a fantastic meal in a casual environment.
Amisfield Winery & Bistro
Everything about Amisfield reflects Central Otago, especially the beautiful stone building that houses its bistro and cellar door. Since opening in 2005, Amisfield Bistro has become a foodie destination. With its copper roof, recycled timber and gorgeous stonemasonry. Inside, you’ll be treated to Kiwi hospitality and the freshest seasonal produce celebrating the region. Executive Chef Vaughan Mabee’s dishes are truly a work of art and perfectly complemented by Amisfied’s award-winning wines in a relaxed environment. Opt for “Trust the Chef degustation menu, which has been an Amisfield signature since they opened. With three to five courses for lunch and seven courses for dinner, the food is designed to be lingered over. Enjoy the full Amisfield experience and pull up a seat overlooking the vineyards below.
Thirsty? Grab a tipple after your meal at one of these amazing Queenstown bars.
Image Credit: Botswana Butchery, Rātā, The Bunker Restaurant And Bar, No5 Church Lane, Ivy & Lola's