Capital classics: long-lasting restaurants

Restaurants and cafés come and go. Occasionally the right combination of menu, location, and imagination creates something that lasts

Wellington is fortunate to have a batch of fantastic eateries that have stood the test of time. Many were opened in the 1980s and early ’90s, and in one exceptional instance – in 1840!

Check one out and see what makes the locals keep coming back for more.

Midnight Espresso (1989)

178 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

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The original café for late-night munchies, Midnight Espresso is one of the last places on Cuba Street where you can still find a late-night coffee and a bite to eat.

Their iconic café counter is generously piled high with vegetarian (and often vegan and gluten-free) frittatas, pies, sandwiches, cakes, and slices – all beautifully decorated with fruit and flowers. There's also a vast short-order menu written large on the café wall. Liquid refreshments come in the form of freshly squeezed juices and high-octane Havana espresso to keep you fuelled all night.

Boulcott Street Bistro (1991)

99 Boulcott Street, Te Aro, Wellington

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Generally regarded as one of Wellington’s finest restaurants, Boulcott Street Bistro is led by acclaimed and award-winning chef Rex Morgan.

Opened in 1991 in historic Plimmer House, a charming inner-city Victorian cottage, the restaurant is warm and inviting. The Bistro has a long-established reputation for serving timelessly classic bistro dishes using the freshest seasonal produce and contemporary flavours.

Described on the menu as a ‘BSB Classic’ the aged fillet of beef with Béarnaise sauce, red wine jus and hand-cut, double-cooked fries is a dish that has been consistently popular since the restaurant first opened.

La Bella Italia (2000)

10 Nevis Street, Petone, Wellington

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A piece of Italy in the heart of Petone, La Bella Italia is part restaurant, part deli, and a place to learn more about Italian food and culture. Owner Antonio Cacace and his wife Luisa opened La Bella Italia in 2000 as a traditional Italian restaurant that served good food, but they also wanted it to be a place where knowledge of Italian cuisine and culture could be passed onto New Zealanders.

La Bella Italia imports exclusive Italian products and offers cooking classes from time to time. It's a great place to find high-quality and hard-to-find Italian ingredients for your own pantry.

Capitol (2002)

10 Kent Terrace, Mount Victoria, Wellington

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Capitol owners Kate and Tom Hutchison have created a versatile and award-winning eatery on a vibrant Wellington street corner. It’s a perfect spot to watch the world go by with a cheeky cocktail, sit down for brunch, or if you’re up for a serious meal book a table for dinner.

Tom has fine-tuned his cheffing skills in Auckland, Melbourne, London, and the south of France. Kate, who manages, thinks Tom’s most famous dishes are his parmesan crumbed lamb’s liver and his chocolate pudding. Whatever you taste will be fresh, pure, and uncluttered, and have an amazing balance of flavours.

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