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Cuisine magazine recently announced its top 100 restaurants in New Zealand for 2018 and, lucky you, Wellington is home to 22 of them!
Chosen for their contribution to making New Zealand a premium food and drink destination, the top 100 restaurants were applauded by Cuisine for their innovation, consistency, delivery of promise, value and satisfaction.
Get acquainted with Wellington's top 22 below, then book yourself a table at one of the capital's — and now the country's — top restaurants.
Opened in 1991 in historic Plimmer House, the Boulcott Street Bistro is regarded as one of Wellington's finest restaurants. With chef Rex Morgan at the helm, the bistro has been delivering its signature lamb shanks to many happy customers over the years. The food is award-winning, the atmosphere speaks of old-world romance and the service is always impeccable.
Capitol has an intimate bistro feel and the service is warm and inviting. With classical Italian influences, Capitol's food is fresh, pure and uncluttered. The menu is strongly seasonal and is carefully designed to take full advantage of local produce. Grab a seat by the windows and watch the Mt Victoria locals amble by as you sip your expertly-made martini.
Chameleon Restaurant at InterContinental Wellington focuses on sustainable products from local markets. From organic salad greens, free range and eco-farmed pork, to locally-caught fish, Chameloen strives to integrate the best local produce available into their seasonal menus.
Charley Noble showcases wood-fired cooking, local ingredients, natural wine and craft beers. Charley Noble is a haven for lovers of both seafood, with a choice of freshly shucked oysters and diamond shell clams, along with crudo kingfish and house gin-cured salmon. Their Zesti wood fired char grill and rotisserie is the first of its kind in New Zealand, and they're accredited by the Coeliac New Zealand Dining Out Programme.
In one of Wellington’s unassuming alleyways, a carpark has undergone an unlikely transformation into one of the city’s coolest new eateries. Egmont Street Eatery serve up fresh, seasonal and simple cuisine, with daily specials focusing on local produce, matched with carefully selected craft beer and wine, quality caffeine and house made condiments, make sure you seek out this hidden gem.
Field & Green specialises in European soul food – think classy comfort food. Taking traditional classics and reworking them with fresh and local ingredients, Field & Green’s menu changes weekly with an array of all-day eats. And save room for dessert: there’s a menu of house-churned ice cream with 17 flavours ranging from homely vanilla to adventurous saffron and cardamom.
At Hippopotamus in the QT Museum Wellington you'll experience exquisite French influenced cuisine in a glamorous space with breath-taking views. Treat yourself to high tea in the day, with their global award-winning menu, or indulge in their beautifully presented dinner menu while taking in views of the stunning Wellington harbour.
Disarmingly small from the outside, this Cuban themed bar opens up into its own exotic world – step inside, turn to the left and be swept away. Havana Bar's modern tapas menu consists of small and large plates to share with international and seasonal inspiration. Post-dinner, head next door to the bar for Cuban-inspired cocktails and beats.
With an entirely meatless menu, Hillside Kitchen offers a creative, inclusive style of cuisine that pushes the boundaries of modern New Zealand dining. Chef, Asher Boote, is focused on celebrating ingredients in their own right, not as a substitute for meat, and works closely with local suppliers and producers. Some ingredients are sourced from foraging within the region, and Hillside also has its own kitchen garden.
Housed in a stunning 1920s banking chamber, the always award-winning Logan Brown is charming without the fuss. Their food is innovative, generous and full-flavoured, their service is professional and friendly and their wine list is excellent. In true Wellington style, Logan Brown has its own little quirks – the bar is also a salt water fish tank.
Perfect at any time of the day or evening, Loretta has menus for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Start the day with bottomless Supreme drip coffee served in local ceramicist Paul Melser’s earthenware cups and house-made crumpets with coconut yoghurt, and end the day with a shared dinner of a free-range organic wood-fired chook, freekeh and pea sprout salad, and end with fennel pavlova.
Monte Cervino is a modern Italian hangout with lashings of antipasti, cured meats and pasta. Sean Marshall, former executive chef of Matterhorn, takes rustic Italian food and presents it in a slick and stylish space. Monte Cervino pays homage to Marshall's roots; his grandmother hails from just outside of Venice, and the restaurant’s name, Monte Cervino, is what the Italians call the other side of Matterhorn. Go for a drink, a bite or a feast.
Noble Rot is Wellington’s award-winning wine bar, founded by a group of talented sommeliers and restaurateurs who saw a need for a specialist wine bar in a city nestled between two of the country’s great wine regions of Marlborough and Martinborough. By utilising Coravin Technology, Noble Rot is able offer an extensive menu of wine by the glass; a great opportunity to try wines you might not otherwise. With an aim to excite, inform and educate everyone from wine experts to newbies, Noble Rot has a raw bar and charcuterie to pair with your new favourite drop.
In Russian, Pravda means “the truth”. Hence the eatery’s focus on honest, produce-led dishes that use the very best ingredients New Zealand has to offer. A local Wellington institution, Pravda is set in a heritage building with atmospheric high ceilings and expanses of dark wood and marble. A cafe serving bright, fresh modern classics by day, and Wellington’s best steakhouse by night, serving a carefully curated selection of exceptional cuts of the highest quality and a modern bistro menu with dishes that offer something for everyone.
Oikos (pronounced 'ee-kos') takes fresh approach to rustic Greek food with a respectful nod to tradition. Chef, Theo Papouis, wants to introduce Wellington to Greek dishes and ingredients they may not have come across before (helpfully, the menu has a glossary). This is food made for sharing: there’s a menu of mezze-style plates to pick and mix from, or if you're not in the mood for choosing there's a set shared menu.
Rita is an intimate eatery housed in an historic Aro Valley cottage. With two scheduled, staggered sittings each evening, Rita offers a menu that changes not just by season, but by day and by mood. Book a seat and know that you’ll be in supremely capable hands in ‘this heavenly place’.
Tucked away in the heart of the Hannahs Laneway, Shepherd's menu is fresh, seasonal, and local, and the team try to use every part of everything they cook with – to incredible effect. An informal eating experience with beautiful food that is accessible to everyone, this hidden gem is popular and it pays to book a table.
Former Capitol head chef, Amy Gillies, and her partner, wine guru, JP Henderson, opened this bright and modern suburban bistro in January 2015. Its stylish interior is complemented by a verdant garden bar – the perfect spot to enjoy a pint of local craft beer on a sunny afternoon. The Salty Pidgin’s menu lends itself to sharing with friends, and makes the most of local produce, meat and seafood.
Brought to you by the competent hospo pros behind Hillside Kitchen and The Ramen Shop, the Tinakori Bistro is a standout modern bistro dining experience. With French-inspired New Zealand cuisine, Tinakori Bistro take the very best produce New Zealand has to offer and treat it to French flair and technique. Order the pommes frittes and Clams Marseille, (featuring beaut NZ clams) and you’ll feel like you’re in France – but better.
Located in the former factory space of the Wellington Boot Company, WBC is a busy eatery specialising in seafood and nose-to-tail eating. The regularly changing menu combines small and large plates of the very best of local seafood (oysters are a speciality), meat, and fresh produce, which the affable WBC staff will happily match with the excellent local and international wine and beer menu.
Whitebait, located in the ultra-modern Clyde Quay Wharf development, is an elegant and refined restaurant with a seafood focused menu, which is also translated into Māori to pay homage to the regional kai moana (seafood) used. Other local touches include stone aggregate floor from Wellington’s Red Rocks and oversized paua shell-shaped light fittings.
Hungry for more? Check out all of Wellington's best eateries.