Food & Drink

50 Of The Best Restaurants In Wellington To Tick Off

By Catherine Reisima
21st Aug 2023

The lamb at Liberty, one of the best restaurants in Wellington.

New Zealand's cool capital is known for its huge food scene. We may be a teeeeny bit biased, but we reckon it's got some of the best spots in the country.  

Whether you’re after cheap eats or something a little fancier, we have you absolutely covered with 50 of the best restaurants in Wellington. N.B: These are in no particular order, other than alphabetical.

1. 1154 | Settle in at the communal dining table and enjoy fast and fresh house-made pasta and organic wine, that won’t break your budget.

2. Apache | A beautiful melange of Northern Vietnamese food and French cuisine—think fresh, herby salads combined with decadent French flavours. The Bang Bang Chicken Salad is a stand-out.

3. A Taste of Home | If you’re in the mood for noods, look no further than this teensy spot which dishes up Chinese street food, made with irresistibly fresh hand-pulled noodles.

4. Boulcott Street Bistro | Set inside a historic cottage, this Wellington institution gives a nod to the fine dining scene of yesteryear with a good dash of modern flair. 

5. The Botanist | For when you’ve got a veggie or vegan friend you want to impress. This beachside cafe and restaurant provides plenty of delectable choices for your plant-lovin’ pals and carnivores alike.

6. Burger Liquor | The classic combo of booze and burgers is hard to beat, and this place excels in both. Try a Smokey with a side of Punjabi Poutine, guaranteed to make your taste buds sizzle.Bhel Puri from Chaat Street.7. Chaat Street | With nary a curry in sight, Chaat Street serves up tasty Indian street food that packs a punch. Make sure you order the outstanding Aloo Tikki Chaat, a skillet potato with crunchy lentils and a flavour-filled sauce and the delectable Bhel Puri pictured above.

8. Charley Noble Specialising in wood-fired delights and with a menu to please all palates, this roomy restaurant is always chocka. When you eat here you’ll understand why.

9. Cicio Cacio | The cutest and cosiest restaurant you ever did see. Tuck into homely, Italian fare, just like mamma used to make. 

10. Concord | Cosy up in this chic bistro and take your tastebuds on a transatlantic voyage. French classics like Steak Frites and Crème Brûlée rub shoulders with American faves like a good ole-fashioned Cheeseburger Royale, served in an elegant setting.

11. Damascus |  Celebrating his family’s recipes, Syrian-born Hasan Alwarhani brings the flavours of his homeland to Wellington. Expect fresh, homey food that is perfect for sharing with loved ones.

12. Dragonfly | Draped in dark curtains and with a moody vibe, this is the perfect spot for a romantic rendezvous. Cosy up with modern Asian cuisine and decadent cocktails in the lantern-lit courtyard.

13. Dragons | If you’re a yum cha enthusiast—and who isn’t—then this legendary haunt has got to be on your hit list. 

14. Egmont St Eatery | Hidden down a grungy laneway, this spot has undergone the ultimate makeover from car park to stylish restaurant, serving seasonally inspired dishes for brunch, lunch and dinner. A delicious looking steak on the grill at El Matador, one of the best restaurants in Wellington.15. El Matador | For food full of Argentinian flair, sink your teeth into a meat feast at this Cuba Street haunt.

16. Field and Green | Combining bold European flavours with a dash of Jewish influence, this food feels like a warm hug. Make sure you save room to try the legendary ice cream, too.

17. Graze Wine Bar | A brand new neighbourhood wine bar that combines cosy seating with thoughtful and honest food.  

18. Havana | Step inside the colourful cottages and be whisked away on a wild adventure of global flavours, exotic cocktails, and world-beats—all that’s missing are the Cuban cigars.

19. Hiakai | Helmed by celeb chef Monique Fiso, Hiakai celebrates Maori ingredients and cooking styles and serves up a truly unique food adventure. Book well in advance.

Fruit Toast whipped spiced ricotta, apple, rose poached rhubarb, strawberries, honey20. Highwater | With exposed brick walls, a frenetic open kitchen and an expansive bar, this modern eatery is a slice of the Big Apple. Nearly everything that arrives on your plate is made in-house, so you know it’s good.

21. Hillside Kitchen | Proudly meat-free, Hillside’s menu has been carefully and cleverly crafted to showcase the humble veg. Even the most ardent carnivores might be tempted to switch sides.

22. Jano | Nestled in a cute yellow villa, Jano is an unassuming gem. Settle in for a tasting menu full of utterly gorgeous food that’s screaming to go on the ‘Gram – if that’s what you’re into.

23. Kisa | An impeccable new hotspot on Cuba Street slinging Turkish and Middle-Eastern-Inspired eats from the legends behind Mr Go's and Ombra.

24. Koji | A love child of Asian cuisine and NZ ingredients, this new addition to Majoribanks St has a creative, from-scratch approach to big flavours. Treat yourself to the nine-course chef’s menu, your taste buds will thank you.A perfectly prepared Octopus dish from Liberty, one of the best restaurants in Wellington.25. Liberty | From the talented team behind iconic fine-dining restaurant Logan Brown. While the approach is slightly more casual than its older sibling, Liberty’s food is just as impressive. Enjoy a culinary adventure, with sharing style plates that offer a taste of “here and there”.

26. Little Penang | For a cheap and cheerful weekday lunch or dinner, you can’t go past Little Penang and their belly-warming Malaysian food. 

27. Logan Brown | Synonymous with fine dining in Wellington, this is still a top spot if you’re in the mood for a fancy pants dinner. Make sure the famous paua ravioli lands on your plate. 

28. Loretta | Catering to your brekkie, brunch, lunch and dinner needs, Loretta is a good time any time of day. The menu has a little something for everyone, from pies to pizza, schnitzel to salads.

29. Lucky | Not strictly a restaurant, but the burgers here are so darn good it would be a crime not to mention it. While the fried chicken rules the roost, wait until you try the halloumi burger, aptly named the ‘Happy’.

30. Margot | A small and perfectly formed neighbourhood eatery and wine bar, tucked away on a side street in Newtown. Take a date and graze on European-inspired small plates.

31. Moy Hall | For when you’ve been to Poppies a bunch of times and are keen to branch out and try another one of Martinborough’s vineyard restaurants. Feast on sharing plates while you soak up the winery vibes.

32. Mr Go’s | This is the place to go when you’ve got a hungry crowd and you just can’t decide what to eat. Order a bunch of pan-Asian dishes and watch it disappear in a flash. 

33. Noble Rot | Cheese, charcuterie and over 500 wines to try – need we say more?

34. Oiko’s | Fancy Greek food in the suburbs that will make you want to smash your plate – but probably best not to. 

Caramelised pork belly? Paired with fragrant herb salad and crackling dumplings.35. Old Quarter | Vietnamese classics like Beef Pho and Bun Cha Hanoi get a fun, modern twist at this buzzy joint, which also knocks out a killer cocktail list full of exotic flavours. It’s a trip for your tastebuds. 

36. Olive | Tuck yourself away in the leafy courtyard and savour innovative, contemporary fare at this Cuba Street fave. Swing by on a Tuesday and nab three courses for $55. An absolute steal. 

37. Ortega Fish Shack | Hands down the best seafood joint in Wellington, and some of the best service too. This is fine dining without the stiffness.

38. Panhead at Brewtown | Round up the meat fiends in your life for a mouthwatering feast at this Upper Hutt brewpub. Think pork belly burnt ends, brisket burgers, and platters of meat cooked low and slow. Wash it all down with fresh beersies, naturally.

39. Pizza Pomodoro | Put down that subpar delivery menu and make a beeline for this take-out joint which cooks legit Neapolitan-style pizza. Grab a seat at Goldings Bar and have your pizza delivered direct to your seat.

40. Poppies | If you haven’t tried one of Poppie’s famous platters, have you even lived? The wine is outstanding too, so be sure you order a bottle or several over lunch.

41. Rams | We’ll be the first to admit this place looks a bit average from the outside, but once you’ve tried the world-famous in Wellington chilli oil dumplings and legendary potato tower, you’ll have this spot on regular rotation.

42. The Ramen Shop | This place does what it says on the tin. Soul-warming, fresh ramen that will make you rethink your penchant for two-minute noodles.

43. Rita | This cute-as-a-button restaurant in a quaint cottage serves a three-course set menu which changes as often as Wellington’s weather. This restaurant also claims one of Welly’s best loos too (trust us).

44. Rosie’s Red-Hot Cantina & Taco Joint | From California to the capital, this playful eatery dishes up street food inspired by LA and the Baja Coast. Order a round of slushy margaritas and Monster Nachos and you’ve got yourself a party.

45. Salty Pidgin | In trendy Brooklyn, this pub-come-restaurant is the kind of spot you want to be your local. Top-notch grub, fresh bevvies, and a welcoming vibe make this a home away from home. 

46. Scopa | At its heart, this is a pizzeria, but you’d be a fool to skip over the other menu goodies, like the fried chicken or “Sexy Fries”. Just make sure you save room for the house tiramisu and/or the authentic Italian hot chocolate. 

Crumbed in rice flour and rice bubbles, served with sushi rice, yuzu kosho mayo, pickled cucumber, and topped with spring onion and rice bubbles.47. Shepherd | The menu often features some odd pairings like “peas and custard”, but throw caution into the wind and challenge your palate. You’ll thank us later. 

48. Soul Shack | No one does a spicy fried chicken sando better than these guys, and they’ve recently expanded their beloved tiny shop into a larger sit-down venue. Things can get pretty hot around here, so choose your spice level wisely.

49. Topor | Fondly referred to as “That Polish place”, this friendly, neighbourhood eatery in Plimmerton serves up wholesome Polish cuisine. Wash it down with plenty of vodka. Na zdrowie!

50. Union Square Martinborough | This grand old hotel is a fine establishment for a chill Sunday arvo bevvy or a slap-up brekkie when you’re nursing a hangover after a few too many of Martinborough’s famous vinos.

Work off that epic feed with a trip around 50 of the best free things to do in Wellington.

Image credit: Liberty by Jeff McEwan, Chaat Street, Highwater, Liberty, Old Quarter, Rita, Shepherd.

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