Wellington and the Wairarapa Restaurants

In Wellington, restaurants, cafés, and sports bars spring up overnight like mushrooms. Although you'll never be without the classic meal of steak, fries, and ale, city eateries have also embraced more adventurous fare. Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Malaysian, Mexican, and Italian cuisines are increasingly common. Indigenous food, too, is appearing in restaurants around the city—native plants might be paired with traditional seafood or made into sauces to accompany meat or sweet-potato dishes.

In rural areas outside Wellington, the wine industry has revolutionized local tables, with excellent dining and wine-tasting spots. In the Wairarapa, restaurants are winning a reputation for creative cuisine.

Generally, lunch runs from noon until 2, and most restaurants close for a few hours before opening for dinner around 6. On Monday, many restaurants are shuttered. Dress codes are still really relaxed; jeans would be frowned on only in the top restaurants.

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  • 1. Martinborough Hotel Bar and Grill

    $$$ | New Zealand

    Polished floors, chandeliers, and glistening glassware are the hallmarks of this restaurant adjacent to the Martinborough Hotel. There are some...Read More

  • 2. The Village Café

    $$ | New Zealand

    At this barnlike café with a sunny outdoor courtyard, all the food is made from local ingredients. The cooks even smoke their own salmon and...Read More

  • 3. Tirohana Estate and Cellars Restaurant

    $$$$ | European

    The dark-tiled floor and white tablecloths put this classy dining area way above the usual winery restaurant. A wrought-iron door, black leather...Read More

  • 4. The French Bistro

    $$$ | French

    Like the black-and-white photos of Parisian models that adorn the walls of this award-winning bistro, the regional cuisine is done with style...Read More

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