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. Boulcott Street Bistro

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    A well-respected institution on the Wellington dining scene, this old colonial-style house conveys tradition and class. Start with crumbed calamari...Read More

  • 2. Shed 5

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    Huge windows facing the harbor belie the fact that this historic building on the wharf was once a woolshed. Crisp white tablecloths and sparkling...Read More

  • 3. Zibibbo Restaurant & Bar

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    Sit in the cozy downstairs bar with its imitation log fireplace or try the upstairs restaurant, which has dark leather seating. The off-beat...Read More

  • 4. SOI Café & Bar

    $$$ | Eclectic

    Watch low-flying aircraft land at the nearby airport or white horses (white caps) sweep across Evans Bay from the floor-to-ceiling windows of...Read More

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