Must-visit eateries and bars with quirky fit-outs
Wellington is a city that embraces colour and diversity - we're not afraid to be a bit quirky and our bars and eateries are no exception. A visit to these playful bars and eateries is part of the essential Wellington experience.
Golding's Free Dive
14 Leeds Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Wellington’s own version of a dive bar, Golding’s has a homey feel, with exposed brick walls and quirky touches everywhere – the bar is decorated largely from recycled materials, with plastic buckets for lampshades and awnings made from old skis.
Golding's Free Dive is a free house, meaning they can put anything they like on tap with no obligations to big breweries, which means the lineup is always fresh and interesting.
Patrons can also order pizza from nearby Pizza Pomodoro and have it delivered to their table while they drink. The small, semi-enclosed deck out the back looks out onto Hannahs Laneway and is a sheltered spot for a drink as you watch the world walk by.
497 Karaka Bay Road, Karaka Bays, Wellington
Scorch-O-Rama is a prime example of a spot where you’ll sit back and say to yourself, ‘you really can’t beat Wellington on a good day’. It’s a bright and bustling café on the shoreline of Scorching Bay, a popular sandy beach on the Miramar Peninsula.
Scorch-O-Rama has a fantastic brunch and kids’ menu, and their coffee is from classic Wellington roastery, Havana. Sit inside the cafe or opt to be seated across the road from the café with the sea lapping the shore beside you. There's a specially placed pedestrian crossing to keep the staff safe as they deliver your coffee across the road. A true ‘only in Wellington’ experience.
105 Hutt Park Road, Gracefield, Lower Hutt
A little jewel in the rough (well, the industrial backblocks of Seaview anyway) that serves up seriously great counter food and locally-roasted Good Fortune Coffee.
The little sister café to the popular Seashore Cabaret on the Petone Foreshore, Miss Fortune’s has a playful retro fitout that film director Wes Anderson would totally dig. The cafe has indoor seating, plus a sunny courtyard out back. Back to that seriously great counter food - expect delicious freshly baked cakes, pies and doughnuts and bowls of tasty seasonal salads to have in or takeaway.
160 The Esplanade, Petone, Lower Hutt
In a prime spot on Petone Esplanade with views across Wellington Harbour, Seashore Cabaret is a fun eatery housed in the historic Petone Rowing Club.
The café’s name is a nod to the site’s previous use as a dance hall and the new fitout combines retired merry-go-round horses, carnival kitsch, pinball machines, and colourful custom-made furniture to create a one-of-a-kind dining experience. The menu gives a new twist on the café classics with plenty of vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes and crowd-pleasing burgers, curly fries and incredibly thick milkshakes. The coffee is their house brand Good Fortune, roasted in-house, fair trade and organic. There’s plenty of dining space indoors, plus some tables on the deck overlooking the water for sunny brunching.
90 Cable Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Experience exquisite French-influenced cuisine in a glamorous setting at coolest little capital’s most creative and art-focused hotels, QT Wellington.
Led by executive chef Jiwon Do, Hippopotamus carries on its award-winning approach to fine dining. By day, Hippopotamus offer an opulent and delicious high tea service that’s the perfect treat or way to mark a special occasion.
By night, their beautifully presented dinner menu has a mix of comfort food and fine-dining dishes with wine or cocktails – made by the expert mixologists from the adjoining cocktail bar – to match. With its flamboyant elegance and stunning views over Wellington Harbour, Hippopotamus makes for an always memorable experience.