With its colourful, bustling, pedestrian-friendly city centre, sidewalk cafes and street theatre, Wellington has the feel of a buzzing northern hemisphere city and its excellent restaurants contribute in no small part to this vibe.
The restaurants of Wellington cater to every palate – kiwi, Asian, fusion, modern European – this city has it all. We’ve put together a handy guide to some of the best places to eat, so whether you live in Wellington or you’re there for a long weekend, you’ll know where to go.
Cuisine type: Modern New Zealand
Average main price: $26
Opening Hours: 5:30pm until late
Situated off Courtenay place, Hazel Restaurant offers a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of inner city dining. Hazel Restaurant has been an important part of the Wellington restaurant scene for some time, having evolved from small 60-seat suburban beginnings to the modern, upmarket restaurant it is today.
Enjoy the best of fine New Zealand cuisine in a stylish setting that has comfortable inside dining. Hazel's dining facilities having recently been extensively upgraded; it now has a range of dining options for individuals, groups and functions. Outstanding cellared wines, innovative cuisine, thoroughly professional service – Hazel Restaurant offers a complete dining experience.
Cuisine type: French/Modern European
Average main price: $32
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 12pm until late, Saturday 6pm until late, Sunday by appointment.
Arbitrageur offers a taste of Europe in the heart of Wellington, serving up delicious Mediterranean-inspired dishes in its European-style wine room. It is also home to Wellington’s first oyster bar which boasts a range of fresh seafood including octopus ceviche, grilled langoustine and oysters shucked to order. Arbitrageur has an enviably extensive wine list encompassing more than 450 labels, all chosen by their in-house expert. Sample mains: Parmentier de Joue de Boeuf, beef casserole with pomme puree and root vegetables.
Cuisine type: Contemporary New Zealand
Average main price: $50 (a la carte menu)
Opening Hours: 12noon – 5pm and 5:30pm – 11pm, 7 days
The Logan Brown experience is fine dining at its best: quality food served to a high standard, but refreshingly free of pretension. The emphasis is on balance and simplicity, excellent food and warm, friendly service. The substantial wine list comprising both New Zealand and Old World wines has been designed to complement the menu which includes bistro, a la carte and Saturday night degustation options. Sample mains: Line-Caught Snapper with Black-Foot Paua, Fava Beans & Parmesan Crusted Fennel.
Cuisine type: Modern New Zealand/Casual Dining
Average Main Price: $38
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 11:30am until late, Weekends 10:00am until late. Matterhorn is a Wellington institution, having garnered a reputation over the years as a quality eatery, late night drinking spot and venue for cutting edge music. The ambience is urban cool and the cuisine sophisticated but unpretentious. Matterhorn offers more than 300 wines from the northern and southern hemispheres, with more than 70 available by the glass. Many of these wines are sourced from family owned wineries with an emphasis on teroir and tradition. Sample main: Char-grilled quail, mushroom rice, crisp mushroom, witloof and wood sorrel.
Cuisine type: New Zealand/Seafood/Fine Dining
Average Main Price: $30 and above
Opening Hours: Lunch Wednesday to Sunday 11:30am to 2:00pm, Dinner Monday to Sunday 5:00pm until late
With its expansive views out over Oriental Bay, delectable menu and exemplary service, The White House Restaurant has earned a reputation as one of the capital’s top fine dining establishments. Head chef and owner Paul Hoather has won numerous industry awards for his creative and original menus based on quality fresh, organic and wherever possible, locally sourced ingredients. The White House offers a range of menu options including a la carte, degustation, express bistro and three-course set menu. Sample main (a la carte): Grilled cervena venison, roasted young beetroot, braised lentils, raspberry and beetroot gel, beetroot powder and game pie.
Cuisine type: Italian
Menu Item Price: $15 – $25
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:00am to 3:00pm, Dinner 5:00pm until late
Located in Wellington’s creative hub at the corner of Cuba and Ghuznee Streets, Scopa Caffe e Cucina promises – and delivers – authentic and affordable Italian food in a fun, vibrant atmosphere. Scopa is well known throughout the capital for its excellent pizzas, but don’t discount the tasty pasta dishes on offer. Ever tried a genuine Margherita pizza? How about a Garibaldi? Scopa’s got the lot, so check them out – dine in or takeaway.
Cuisine type: Seafood
Average Main Price: $48
Opening Hours: Lunch Tuesday to Friday and Sundays from 12pm, Dinner Tueday to Sunday from 6pm
Martin Bosley’s Restaurant, upstairs at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, serves an impressive menu of mainly reations underpinned by his simple philosophy of high service standards and using top notch fresh, local and seasonally available ingredients.
In addition to the dinner menu a degustation menu is also offered. Sample mains from the a la carte menu: grilled fish, sashimi tuna, pea risotto, Vadouvan Spice, Shellfish XO Sauce, crisp prawn and hazelnuts
Editorial by Nick Chidley
21 October 2011
Updated 16 April 2012