North Island's West Coast Restaurants

Throughout western North Island, provincial city restaurants and small, tourist-town cafés feature an overall sophistication you might not expect away from major cities: think wholesome and hearty food, local organic produce, good espresso and loose-leaf teas, high-quality New Zealand wines, and local craft beers. Counter food is generally fresh salads, panini, focaccia, filled rolls, quiche, pies,

and homemade soups.

Dinner menus in the higher-end restaurants include the chef's latest creations using high-quality New Zealand eye fillet of beef (beef tenderloin), fish, salmon, lamb racks, pork fillets, and chicken. The best chefs change menus regularly to focus on fresh regional and seasonal ingredients. You will also find Indian, Thai, Malaysian, Japanese, Mexican, Turkish, and Italian restaurants, even in smaller provincial centers. "Smart-casual" is about as formal as attire gets. A legacy of the more basic cafés and hotel restaurants lives on, particularly in some smaller towns; check the guidebook to avoid anything less-than-professional.

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