We’re already two weeks into what is arguably Wellington’s best event of the year; Visa Wellington on a Plate, an annual month-long festival and competition highlighting the best and most-badass food and drink in the city. The festival has become a yearly highlight for many foodies in Wellington and with restaurants all aiming for the top spot, some incredible food will be created and enjoyed.
While the first two weeks have been all about incredible culinary experiences, what we’re really here for are the final two weeks. Burger Wellington runs from 12 to 31 October and is dedicated to the humble ol’ burger, baby. Or in this case, not so humble. Some of the ingredients and flavour combinations are far from what we know to be in a traditional burger. To ensure you stay hydrated while making your way through a burger or five, one of Wellington favourite breweries, Garage Project have expertly paired a locally brewed beer to a match each burger (at those with a liquor license).
There are a mind-bending 243 burger entries this year and to save you the hard work and indecisiveness, we’ve trawled through and compiled our list of the top standouts you need to try first. If you’re prepared to drool, go ahead and check the full list, it’s a thing of beauty.
We knew the competition would be heating up this year but we didn't know it would legit be on fire. Bring your extinguishers and behold The Firestarter—a 28-day dry-aged Wagyu brisket and chuck patty with Kāpiti smoked gruyère, truffle and bone marrow smoked onions and Russian dressing in a Brezelmania potato bun literally served on fire. This one is guaranteed to be lit.
What’s better than one burger? Three burgers! And that’s exactly what you’re in for at Wildfire. The Churrascaria is influenced by Brazilian flavours and delivers expert freshness with their grill to plate dining. Their Stra-burg-anza 3rio burger trio is perfect for when you can’t decide on just one burger. We’re calling it, this one’s going to be a hit.
When we saw a pastaria was taking part in a burger competition, we didn’t know what to expect, but now it makes perfect sense. The Marinara Moneyball is 1154 Pastaria perfectly summed up in a burger, full of classic Italian flavours, fresh ingredients and at only $12, say no more, it’s a steal. We’ll be having this meatball sub for lunch at least twice this October.
Foxglove Bar and Grill
Up first is Foxglove Bar and Grill and their full-on Sunday Lunch inspired burger, the Yorkie Boy. They haven’t skimped on anything in this burger, you’ll get all the fillings and trimmings in every mouthful, Yorkshire pudding filled with gravy included!
Karaka Cafe is an iconic waterfront establishment that proudly serves and highlights some incredible Māori flavours and New Zealand ingredients. Their Te Hononga burger is no exception. With ingredients including Paua cream and wild watercress, we know this one is going to be a goodie.
Winner Winner is fairly new on the scene in Wellington. Opening in January they’re already much loved and it’s easy to see why. Their menu consists of juicy chicken (fried or slow-roasted), fresh ingredients and loads of great sides. Their burger, An Ode to Big Bob is a classic fried chicky with some not-so-classic additions like tobacco onions. Big Yes. And triple-fried chips? Even bigger yes.
Boulcott Street Bistro
Boulcott Street Bistro is known for its quality bistro dishes and classic meals so of course, we’ve got high expectations for their burger, and it looks like we’re going to be impressed. They’ve taken a classic New Zealand crowd favourite, the Whitebait Sarnie, and fancied it up with crayfish butter. Thankfully, they’ve kept it in that soft white bun.
What would you say if we suggested meatloaf in a burger… on a doughnut bun… Is it controversial? delicious? gluttonous? We’re not exactly sure but we do know the crew at Fryday Donuts have really gone out on a limb with their burger, Meatloaf - The Burger Not the Singer. This is what Wellington on a Plate is all about, the creativity, trials and experimentations that go on. We’re here for it.
After the year we’ve had so far, we want nothing more than to get out and help our local hospitality scene. So, map out the hotspots and support your local eateries on their culinary endeavours this October.
While you’re at it, why not try an after-dinner drink at some of Wellingtons best bars.
Image credit: Dillingers, Foxglove Bar and Grill, Fryday Donuts,