For worthy eating and drinking experiences around Wellington, NZ (and the greater region) – you can also catch Heather out and about hosting Zest Food Tours around the city…
Slightly hidden gems
Ortega Fish Shack – Majoribanks Street. Gorgeously done seafood in an old Mt Victoria Villa. Chef Mark Limacher formerly of Roxburgh Bistro and Café Bastille. Dinner 7 days.
Pomelo – Oriental Parade above Beach Babylon. Quality pan-Asian dishes by sister chefs with a long Wellington background. Spectacular views over the harbour and really excellent food. Dinner Tuesday to Sunday.
Zibibbo – lower Taranaki Street. Michelin starred Adam Newell partnered with up-and-comer Glen Taylor, still a little Mediterranean leaning but with classy NZ contemporary food appearing. Tapas, to pizza to a’a’carte and a full separate vegetarian menu. Lunch Wednesday to Fridays, dinner Monday to Saturday.
Fratelli – Blair Street. Two brothers from one of the large Newtown Italian families. All pasta and pizza bases handmade daily with the best ingredients. An example of the heart of the Allen/Blair Street area.
Havana Bar – Wigan Street. In the former coffee roastery half of the Havana building. Fabulous nooks and crannies, tasty sharing plates, and excellent staff. Like visiting friends. Monday to Friday 1130am to late, Saturday 3pm to late.
El Matador – Cuba Street (opposite Ombra). Also not hidden per se, but easily overlooked. Argentinian speciality, order a meat platter to share with a few sides. Delicious dulce de leche desserts. No bookings. 7 days and nights.
Charley Noble – Post Office Square. An ‘accessible’ venture from the White House fine dining folks. Wood smoked and oyster bar specialties. Excellent food and service at moderate prices. Same menu day and night, bookings for lunches only (Monday to Friday), dinner 7 nights.
Portlander – inside Rydges Hotel on Featherston Street. Specialising in steak and whisk(e)ys, but catering to herbivores also. A pleasant place any time of the day or night, and some pretty fine desserts too. 2015 NZ Hospo best restaurant. 7 days and nights.
The Egmont Street Eatery – Egmont Street off Dixon (paralell to Leeds Street laneway). Step down into understated quality, both in food and decor. Part wine bar, part brasserie and tasty brunches, a lovely spot for any occasion. 7 days and nights.
Sterling – The Terrace at the top of Woodward Lane. Associated with the Park Hotel and sister to the Egmont Street Eatery above. Excellent food, a little more a’la’carte style than ESE, good service, and light and warm decor. 7 days, Monday to Saturday nights.
Field & Green European Soul Food Eatery – Wakefield Street behind The Museum Hotel. Ex-London chef bringing classics with modern twists, using high quality ingredients and executing superbly. Don’t skip their ice cream. Tuesday to Sunday daytimes, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Pravda – Behind the Old Bank Arcade on Featherston Street. Doing smart food in a classy European-style setting. The food always has interesting twists or components, and are small-medium sizes so you can try a couple of courses. With a steakhouse focus in the evenings. Monday to Saturday, day and night.
WBC – A venture from the Capitol folks upstairs on Victoria Street (above Asian Kitchen). Small and intimate, fresh and seasonal, best for tapas and wine or desserts. bookings for lunches only (Monday to Friday), dinner 7 nights.
Apache Vietnamese – Wakefield Street opposite the town hall. An ex-Dragonfly chef who grew up in French-influenced Vietnam. Quality, authentic and fresh Vietnamese at good prices, in a relaxing environment. Tuesday to Saturday lunch and dinner.
The Hop Garden – Pirie Street. In the old greek taverna space with a wide range of craft beers, vine-covered conservatory area, rooftop bar and cooler restaurant deeper in the back. Very good food, both tapas and full meals. 7 days from late morning Wednesday-Sunday or early afternoon Monday/Tuesday.
The Bresolin – Cnr Willis and Karo Drive. Another venture from the Bresolin boys (Scopa, Tommy Millions) with a focus on meat and sharing plates. Outdoor bar and indoor restaurant options. Last Sunday of the month is spit-roast, beer and music afternoon (by ticket). Day and night Tuesday to Sunday.
Nicolini’s – 26 Courtenay Place. Long-time Wellington establishment, with a fabulous back courtyard and good value, hearty Italian. Pays to book. Dinner Tuesday to Sunday.
Bastardo – 82 Tory Street. A New York Italian 1950’s style restaurant where one could be forgiven for expecting Al Pacino to come bursting in. Large comfort meals with a delicious dessert trolley to complete the old-worlde vibe. Monday to Saturday from 5pm.
Kera-la-carte – 25 Courtenay Place. Some very good Indian from the Kerala Region of South India. Fresh, light, interesting and flavourful. Tuesday to Sunday lunch and dinner.
Young Shing – 296 Willis Street. Eat-in or takeaway fresh, modern and flavourful Chinese dishes. Unbeatable prices, and a warm welcome from the lovely Doris. Lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday.