For worthy eating and drinking experiences around Wellington, NZ (and the greater region) – you can also catch Heather over at KNOW Wellington's Word on the Street Blog or hosting Zest Food Tours around the city…
Slightly hidden gems
Ortega Fish Shack – Marjoribanks Street. Georgously done seafood in an old Mt Victoria Villa. Chef Mark Limacher formerly of Roxburgh Bistro and Café Bastille. Dinner Tuesday to Saturday. New groovy Slim Davey’s bar next door too (look out for Hank the bison).
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 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.
Ombra – corner Cuba and Vivien. A Venetian bacaro of tasters and sharing plates in a rustic simple atmosphere. Interesting food at good price points. Be prepared to wait at the bar with drink and nibbles until a table is available. 7 days and nights.
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. Not your usual hotel restaurant. 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 and 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 some smart food in a classy European-feeling setting. The food always has interesting twists or components, and are small-medium sizes so you can try a couple of courses. 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.
Dragonfly – Courtenay Place near Reading. Fresh and crisp South East Asian plates including a few rarer dishes like fresh green papaya salad. Own Thai rum in some of the cocktails, private-feeling dining, classy courtyard bar out the back, and reasonable prices. Monday to Saturday 4.30pm to late.
Annam – Featherston Street near Waring-Taylor. Indochine decor and clean, crisp, light French-influenced Vietnamese food and cocktails. From lunch til late Monday to Saturday.
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.
Muse Eatery and Bar – Victoria end of Chews Lane. Food from a young former-nearly-fine dining chef, now at a more casual/bistro level, but still with care and quality ingredients. 2014 WOAP menu winner. Bar downstairs, restaurant upstairs. Monday to Saturday from 11am.
Tokeyo – Tucked away in Edward Street. A Japanese tapas bar with outstanding decor and ambience; excellent light, tasty food; and great service. Tuesday to Saturday evenings.
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.