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Meals without meltdowns: where to eat out with kids in Wellington

By Samuel 17 May 2019 • 1 Comments

Parents in Wellington, visiting or resident, this list is important public service information. Eating out with children can be hell. You know it, I know it, condescending waiters know it. Let the following information help ease you through the pain. I want to eat out, I have kids, so I guess they’re coming. Therefore I need to know where and how to do it so that I feel satisfied and no one (child or adult) has a full blown public meltdown. Here's my guide to some of the best spots to eat out with kids in Wellington. 


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Pasta at 1154

1 The safety of pasta at 1154

Pasta to me is generally a cook-at-home type scenario. Everyone loves it, it’s cheap, it’s easy, so why go out for pasta? Well I think 1154 have packaged it up in a way that is fast, tasty and with very broad appeal. For one thing their garlic bread (really just a slightly garlicky dinner roll) is bizarrely delicious. For another their gluten-free pasta is (I am told with great authority by food-obsessed Celiacs) really good. Their dishes range from the child-pleasing bolognese, to more adventurous classics like cacio e pepe or linguine alla vongole.

So it's fast and casual and totally family friendly, but the true reason I recommend this place is that they also serve delicious natural wine and beer. Get yourself a fancy wine whilst the family gorges on pasta and you can get that special dining out feeling, even just for a moment, as that crisp pet nat hits your lips.


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2 The reliable icon that is Maranui

Maranui is one of the busiest, best loved cafes in Wellington/New Zealand/the world, and for good reason. The food is really 90s, but in a good way. Wellington was ahead of the curve in terms of interesting café food in the 90s and Maranui 100% comes from that pedigree. They probably hate me for saying that, but it’s true. It’s classic Wellington cafe fare and it's good. Big milkshakes, bowls of fries, toasted sandwiches, craft beer on tap. The best time to visit is late afternoon, outside of the brunch/lunch rushes. Get your kids some fries, give them a few coins to ride the camel and have yourself a Havana long black whilst staring out to sea pondering the great poets. For the city version of Maranui, try Prefab, no views but it’s a cafe monster with really good food. (Editor: please note that Maranui isn't pram/buggy friendly). 

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The ParrotDog Bar is pretty nice

3 The irresponsible parent trip to the brewery, ParrotDog Nice Bar

Sticking in Lyall bay, not far from Maranui, is ParrotDog’s new vast brewery, tap room and public bar complex. Most of the big Wellington craft breweries have bars and restaurants and taprooms dotted about the place, but ParrotDog have really gone for the big, family friendly 1970s pub feel and it’s a winning formula. Make it your prize destination after a long ramble down Lyall Bay beach to justify the large pints of hazy IPA on offer.

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Tommy Millions: happy pizza kids

4 Al fresco-ish eats 

Look, sometimes you gotta eat, you want something good but you just can’t face the idea of bringing your children into a restaurant environment. I get ya, you need some al fresco dining where fewer people will hear the screams or judge you for giving your phones to the kids. In Wellington you could deal with this by perhaps getting some Tommy Millions pizza or (if you are brave) get the authentic, incredibly good hand-pulled noodles from A Taste Of Home and eat them at the playground outside the Victoria University Te Aro campus.

The Capital Market on Willis Street though; it has some really good food, lots of options in one place, it’s low-fi as heck (if your kids make a hideous mess, no one would notice) and is just slightly more contained than the wild outdoors. The bahn mi from Where’s Charlie is good, Miss Kangsta's Korean fried chicken is good and the jian bing from Mr Circle is really, really good. If you’ve never had it, it’s the ultimate Chinese street food; a thin pancake, egg, veges, a spicy sauce and crispy noodles. It is every flavour and texture in one mouthful. Try it! 

5 Hit the streets for bougie treats

The laneways of Wellington have gone through something of a renaissance in the last few years and wandering around having nibbles of this and that is actually a wonderful way to enjoy the city. Start at Leeds Street where you’ll find Leeds Street Bakery who make the best cookies in town (the gluten-free versions are just as good if not better than the standard flour ones). The Wellington Chocolate Factory is next door which sells all sorts of chocolatey goodness for the whole family but specialises in intense, complex funky tasting single origin bean to bar dark chocolate. Fix & Fogg peanut butter factory is right there too, making their celebrated spreads and selling toast and filter coffee from their little window. 

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  • Grant on 21 May 2019

    Preservatorium Cafe on Webb St is fab. Great wooden toys and board games

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