Wellington prides itself on its cafe culture and we’ll be the first to say it’s justified. This city truly runs on good coffee and perfectly-poached eggs.
Given the vibrant array of options—seemingly growing in numbers every day—we know that choosing which cafe to go to can be overwhelming, whether you’re a weekend visitor or a longtime local. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a list of the best places to head so you can get a mug in your hand and fancy toast on your plate in a flash. Get the gang together, put on your loose clothes (you’re going to need them), and try out these bad boys. Trust us, you’re in for a treat.
So without further ado, here are the best cafes in Wellington.
Cuba Street, Wellington Central
Loretta is the cool girl of the Wellington cafe scene. She’s effortlessly stylish, timeless, and pretty damn popular. In terms of interiors, Loretta has it nailed. The long, narrow space is minimalist and natural, with simple, no-fuss styling. Their classy vibe is also reflected in their menu with wholesome, classic dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. While everything on their menu is delicious (trust us, we’ve tried almost all of it), their woodfired flatbreads are in a league of their own. The current sausage, nduja, mozzarella, and gremolata combo is pretty life-changing. As well as a fantastic food menu, Loretta also has an impressive drinks menu, so whether it’s a chai latte or a kombucha punch that tickles your fancy, you’re in for a treat.
Ghuznee Street, Wellington Central
Without the combination of stacked chairs, dimmed lights, and closed doors, you’ll never see Customs empty. One of the capital’s favourite coffee spots, Coffee Supreme’s small but stunning flagship joint lives up to its rep. Customs transforms the humble toast into an utter masterpiece—toastie combos like leek, fried cavalo nero, and aged cheddar are known to fly out the door, while toast topped with everything butter, ruby kraut, hot sauce, and pickled peppers are devoured on site. And let’s not forget the luscious focaccia sandwiches filled with seasonal goodness. Obviously, the coffee is also top-notch, whether you’re a fan of filter or a sucker for an iced latte. Friendly reminder, if you head in on a Saturday, be prepared to wait for a seat. These guys are loved like crazy.
Dixon Street, Wellington Central
With ten years in the game, The Hangar is a Wellington staple. They serve up a killer all-day menu—if you’re feeling sweet, try the lemon honey hot cake, or go for the vegan BLT (yes, you read that right) if you’re craving a little umami. For the extra hungry, the double-smash-patty cheeseburger with a side of paprika fries will work some greasy magic. If you’re after a real-deal coffee experience, you’re spoilt for choice at The Hangar which is Flight Coffee’s flagship cafe. There’s an abundance of options from filter to espresso, hot to cold, Rwanda to Timor-Leste, but don’t worry if you can’t decide—go for a tasting flight and try the lot, or leave it up to the friendly team to guide you to something delicious. Even if you’re just down to keep it simple, you’ll walk out the doors with one of the best flat whites of your life.
Dixon Street, Wellington Central & Park Road, Miramar
One of Wellington’s most championed cafes, Swimsuit is definitely doing something right. We’ve got a few ideas, starting with what’s in the cups. Organic People’s Coffee (another Wellington-born fave) flows out the doors at record speed. The cafe’s funky atmosphere hums with energy yet remains cool and laidback, a testament to the exceptional staff, no doubt. You’ll find some of the city’s best cheese scones here (always toasted nice and crispy), as well as some generously-iced cakes and deliciously loaded gourmet sandwiches. Sitting at the juncture between Dixon Street and Courtenay Place—amidst some admittedly grungy scenery—Swimsuit’s cobalt blue is electric and welcoming. Though once a solely inner-city gem, these guys have opened a second shop in the lucky suburb of Miramar that’s just as much fun.
Lyall Parade, Lyall Bay
Maranui Cafe is a Wellington institution. Loved for its eclectic interior, hearty menu, and unbeatable views of the beach, it’s not hard to see why this is a go-to Sunday brunch spot for locals. Located above the Maranui Surf Lifesaving Club, Maranui is perfectly positioned by the sea, giving you primo views of the sand, the ocean, and the surfers attempting to catch a wave while you chow down on your brunch. Speaking of brunch, it’s what Maranuni does best. Their classically Kiwi menu is simple and delicious, just what you need before or after a day at the beach. For a sweet start to the day, we can’t go past their house-made sourdough crumpets, served with orange and vanilla whipped ricotta and honey. For a cheeky morning wake-up, you’ve got to try one of their “Post Swim Tipples” to start your day with a party.
Cuba Street, Wellington Central
Olive is definitely a jewel in Wellington’s cafe crown. It’s a true classic, but the kind that keeps getting better rather than attributing its charm to the good old days. The menu elevates your classic brunch options and everything in between, from light—think apple and coconut bircher—to more indulgent—the current chargrilled beef filet sandwich is catching our eye! Order a juice or a coffee (these guys do Flight Coffee and do it well) to complement your top-tier brekkie and your day will be off to a fabulous start. Pro-tip: snag a seat in the plant-adorned courtyard and experience one of the dreamiest cafe atmospheres in the city.
Cuba Street, Wellington Central
Since its inception in 2006, Scopa has remained a well-known fixture of Cuba Street, and for good reason. Cosy and classic, it’s the perfect place for comfort food. Pizza lovers rejoice—pretty much every option is to die for, and you’ve got to swing by for lunch on Tuesday when the beloved Margherita goes for only $10. There are spectacular sides and small plates to match, whether you’re feeling crispy calamari, kale caesar (highly recommend), or Scopa’s signature tomato-salt dusted Sexy Fries. Finally, a trip to Scopa isn't complete without a cup of their legendary Italian hot chocolate. The drink is world-famous in Wellington and, once you’ve had your first sip, you’ll definitely be back for more.
The Esplanade, Petone
Seashore Cabaret is an eclectic mix of a bunch of really awesome stuff. Vintage signage, retro furniture, and pinball machines give the space a quirky vibe, while a horse (that looks like it may be from a merry-go-round) hangs from the ceiling over a large central table, adding a touch of carnival magic to the café. Wildly popular, especially on the weekends at the brunching hour, the café is always buzzing. Get in early to get a table for a meal, or enjoy a takeaway cabinet food picnic by the sea. Feeling famished? Go for their truckers breakfast of sirloin steak, fried eggs, and hand-cut chips smothered in gravy. Their coffee, made with Good Fortune beans (roasted in-house) goes perfectly with one of their sweet treats like cakes, doughnuts, pies, and tarts.
Neo Cafe & Eatery
Willis Street, Wellington Central
Neo does a modern twist on a classic really, really well. Located on Willis Street, they’re great for a lazy Sunday brunch, a cheeky working lunch, and everything in between. Blonde wood tables and cute little house plants give the space a modern feel, helping the small venue feel much larger. While their interiors are pared-back, their dishes are anything but. From buttermilk pancakes to chilli scramble, they know how to take your all-time fave and transform it into something even better. For a drink, why not step away from your usual flat white comfort zone and try one of their superfood lattes? Take your pick from matcha, turmeric or red velvet, all equally pretty and delicious.
Comes And Goes
Jackson Street, Petone
If the ‘Gram is always the first to see where you’re brunching, you have got to pay Comes And Goes a visit. Light and airy with Scandi-inspired interiors, Comes and Goes makes the capital proud with its beautiful dining atmosphere. Where it really stands out amongst the crowd, though, is with crazy aesthetically pleasing dishes; think bright colours, beautiful crockery, and edible flowers. Since its inception in late 2016, Comes and Goes has earned quite the rep for having some of the most Instagrammable dishes in the region. Get your hands on the vibrant bibimbap or the spicy chicken katsu burger and you’ll soon find out they taste just as good as they look.
Cuba Street, Wellington Central
Put simply, Floriditas is one of Cuba Street’s classiest. With a fresh, inviting menu that feels as wholesome as it does creative, these guys kill it from day to night. Swing by in the AM and start your day with something sweet and satisfying, like their current luscious rhubarb porridge or banoffee pancakes. More of a savoury brekkie fan? Order their green eggs and ham—honey-glazed ham off the bone plus poachies, wilted greens, and zesty hollandaise. Even if you’re just after some simple eggs, they’ll be delicious whichever way you’d like them and served with stellar Wellington Sourdough toast. No matter what takes your fancy, the foundation will be seasonal, locally sourced ingredients of the highest quality.
The Parade, Island Bay
It’s not just central Welly that’s home to the hip cafés. Beachy suburb Island Bay is now home to Betsy, a modern deli that prides itself on fresh, seasonal takes on classic meals. The vibe in Betsy is unbeatable—funky, fresh and ever so friendly. Pop in for a lazy weekend breakfast (try the house-made crumpets slathered in passionfruit curd and vanilla bean cream cheese) or if you’re short on time, treat yourself to something to go from their insane selection of homemade cabinet food. The best part about Betsy? Free coffee Friday. Every Friday their chalkboard sign outside is updated with a different name—if it’s yours, pop inside and you’ll get a coffee on the house. How lovely is that?
Goods Manufactory And Cafe
Tinakori Road, Thorndon
If you’re craving a pastry with your coffee, Goods is the place to be. Just as much a bakery as a cafe, everything that comes out of the Goods kitchen is dreamy. Pick up a takeaway and a loaf of sourdough on your way out, or take a seat to enjoy a glorious almond croissant or sesame kouign-amann with your brew. Even before you walk through the doors, you’ll be charmed by the cobblestoned laneway and cosy cottage vibe that awaits you. Whether you sit outside or in, you’ll feel far away from the hustle and bustle of the city as you sink into a butter-and-sugar-filled bliss. Thorndon residents are lucky to call this their local.
Jessie Street, Wellington Central
Prefab has mastered the art of a chic, modern interior that’ll make your brunch feel ultra glamorous. Their staff are seemingly unflappable, despite the fact that Prefab is almost always bursting at the seams with hungry customers. Seriously, if you’re wanting to head there for Saturday brunch, be prepared to wait for a table—Prefab really is adored by every man and his dog. Once you see the menu, you’ll see why. Simple dishes made with fresh ingredients (and bread baked on-site) are what Prefab does best. Grab the eggs on sourdough and customise your meal by adding a side of bratwurst sausage and Zany Zeus halloumi. Enjoy bottomless ACME filter coffee while you eat, and get a seat outside for the perfect dog-spotting opportunity.
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Image credit: Top and main image The Hangar, Maranui Cafe, Scopa, Neo Cafe and Eatery, Floriditas, Goods Manufactory and Cafe.