Tell anyone you’re heading to Hawke’s Bay for the weekend and they’ll be insanely jealous. Kiwis from all over the country know just how good the Bay is. With its world class wineries, gorgeous Art Deco architecture, and delicious dining options, there’s never a bad time to visit Hawke’s Bay. So, whether you’re a local looking to switch it up with a new dining spot or a visitor to this fine region, we’ve done the legwork and know our way around all the best establishments in the Bay. Here are the best restaurants in Hawke’s Bay.
You’re in for a treat at Funbuns in Hastings. It’s hard not to get excited when walking into this Asian fusion eatery in all its Art Deco glory. The interior is as fun as the name with kitschy decor and plenty of neon. And don’t even get us started on the menu… From the best baos in town (they’ve got an entire bao menu, no big deal) to the loaded fries and insane cocktails, it’s the kind of place we want to take all our friends. The menu is always changing, just to keep us on our toes, but we’re partial to tofu butter ‘chicken’ bao and the saucy side dishes like pork katsu, which consists of panko fried pork teamed with not one but two doses of sauce, katsu and tonkatsu.
The team at Carr’s Kitchen are all about welcoming you into their restaurant and ensuring you leave completely satisfied (and usually with a plate of leftovers). The friendly establishment is the perfect place to go for breakfast or lunch during the week and they’re open until 9 on Fridays. You can expect fresh sandwiches, the grilled cheese is as tasty as it gets plus burgers, bagels and waffles. If you have a hankering for fried chicken and waffles, this is the place to go. The coffee here is also worth writing home about—it’s by Wellington’s Flight Coffee and is some of the best in town.
If you’re feeling a bit fancy, book a table at Bistronomy for an outstanding gastronomic experience. Settle in for a six-course degustation that will impress and delight your taste buds. The team firmly believes in making every day just a little bit special and they’re part local, part global, infusing fresh Hawke’s Bay produce with far-flung ideas to create extraordinary dishes. The menu changes with the seasons and is inspired by a variety of edible offerings from soil to sea. It’s less about fine dining and more about shared experiences and food you’ll keep coming back for.
Seafood is their game and tasty is their name. Hunger Monger is a fiercely proud local establishment that’s focused on showcasing the very best of the Hawke’s Bay region and East Coast of the North Island from Gisborne down to the Wairapa. The menu is crammed with so many varieties of seafood, from small snacks to classics like chowder, fish tacos plus you guessed it, fish and chips. Their signature morsels include grilled fish, kumara miso mash and bouillabaisse. Always following the seasons, this is strictly a seafood-only affair so you know they do it well.
Set in a weathered blue beach bungalow, Pacifica restaurant is a must-visit for any discerning foodie. This establishment is one-of-a-kind and chef Jeremy Rameka's approach guarantees Michelin-quality food in a relaxed Pacific-style environment. Pacifica’s focus is on quality and every dish is dynamic. The menu changes daily depending on what ingredients are available, so every visit is a completely new experience. You can, however, expect a set degustation menu consisting of five courses every evening. Diners choose between two menus, one is predominantly seafood-based and the other is a mix of fresh seafood and premium New Zealand meat. If you’re looking for somewhere extra special to go, Pacifica is an incredible option.
Pipi’s Café and Truck
There’s a reason why Pipi’s is an institution, the pizzas are incredible and the wine is always flowing. Its iconic pink exterior is hard to miss, located on the corner of Joll Road in Havelock North. After being well established as a restaurant they made the excellent decision to expand as a food truck which makes its rounds in the Bay area, so make sure to follow their Facebook page for regular updates. Order any of their legendary pizzas and prepare to be delighted. Margherita is a classic, but the funghi, which is made with mozzarella base, mushrooms, blue cheese and herbs is equally delicious. For dessert, make sure you order the chocolate cheesecake (it’s worth saving room for).
Housed in Napier’s iconic Art Deco Masonic Hotel, the Emporium Eatery and Bar is quintessentially Napier. The contemporary all day eatery is a lovely spot to enjoy breakfast, coffee, brunch, lunch, a light snack or dinner. They do it all really well and boast a menu using the freshest seasonal ingredients. The adjacent lounge truly captures this era of elegance and extravagance and guests can relax with a drink in a more intimate setting.
Craggy Range Restaurant
You can’t go to Hawke’s Bay without dining at Craggy Range Restaurant. Not only did it make the top 100 list at the Cuisine Good Food Awards, it’s consistently one of the warmest and most memorable dining experiences in the Bay area. Looking out on the spectacular backdrop of Te Mata Peak, the dining room is elegant and understated. The kind of place to spend a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary. The team closely collaborates with local suppliers, allowing the seasons to guide their menu. Open for both lunch and dinner 7 days a week, book ahead and you won’t be disappointed.
Now you've eaten your fill, check out what else there is to do in Napier here.
Image credit: Bistronomy, Emporium