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. Logan Brown

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    Occupying a 1920s bank building with Corinthian columns and a classical dome, Logan Brown is a winner. An aquarium tank is set into the bar...Read More

  • 2. Dockside Restaurant & Bar

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    A wood-beam roof and oiled floorboards enhance the nautical vibe at this former warehouse on the wharf. You can get close to the water, too...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Matterhorn

    $$$$ | Te Aro | New Zealand

    A long passage from the street leads you to this hidden treasure where the bar stretches nearly as far. A large wood burner lends warmth to...Read More

  • 5. Smith the Grocer

    $ | New Zealand

    Sip your coffee at this character-filled spot, where ornaments range from old radios and beer crates to an ancient set of golf clubs. The menu...Read More

  • 6. The Back Bencher Gastropub

    $$$ | New Zealand

    Right across the way from the Parliament buildings sits "the house that has no peers," a landmark watering hole where politicians grab a cold...Read More

  • 7. The Farriers Bar & Eatery

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    At The Farriers, you can watch the chefs in the open kitchen while waiting for your order to arrive. Much of the large menu is devoted to pub...Read More

  • 8. The Green Parrot

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    Talk about character: this stalwart steak-and-seafood joint, which has been serving meals continuously since 1926, has a grill made from melted...Read More

  • 9. The Potters Kiln Café

    $$ | New Zealand

    If you've worked up an appetite, the tiny café at Reikorangi Potteries is just the ticket. Pottery and paintings fill the walls, as do interesting...Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 11. The White Swan Country Hotel

    $$$ | New Zealand

    A big open fireplace, light modern furniture, and glittering chandeliers create a warm, welcoming dining room where the service is impeccable...Read More

  • 12. White House

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    Consistently ranked amongst the capital's finest restaurants White House has also gained an international reputation. A combination of creativity...Read More

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