Wellington's best cafés
Wellington is the café capital of New Zealand with a huge array of places to go for excellent, local coffee and freshly-made and delicious cabinet food. Order a flat white and a cheese scone and you might be mistaken for a local.
35 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Milk Crate is a favourite with Wellington locals – on any given day you’ll find a mixture of Wellington artists, cool kids, corporates, and everyone in between.
The café has a small but perfectly formed menu of simple, fresh and delicious salads, sandwiches, soup and delicious sweet baked treats – the matcha oreos (chocolate cookies sandwiched with green matcha icing) are a must-try. There's always a good range of gluten-free and vegan options available in the mix.
There’s espresso and filter coffee from local Rich Coffee Roasters, cold-pressed juice from local Earnest and smoothies made to order. You’ll want to make like a local and return here again.
38 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Dive into this breezy minimalist coffee joint on the corner of Te Aro Park. Owned by well-known Wellington barista Tait Burge, this is the place to get an expertly brewed cup of coffee and unpretentious, friendly service.
Swimsuit uses organic fair trade beans from local roastery Peoples Coffee, organic milk from local producer Zany Zeus and plus there’s a range of alternative milks. There’s a light offering of food available including the popular house-made scones and simple counter food like sandwiches. The light and airy minimalist interior makes the perfect spot for people watching or take a seat at one of the outdoor tables.
27 College Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Visit the café and coffee roastery that was a pioneer of Wellington’s now celebrated and world-famous café and coffee culture.
With its pared back industrial look, L’affare is one of those cafés that appeals to everyone. Their all-day menu features all-time classic café favourites like creamy mushrooms on organic sourdough toast and their cabinet is always stocked with delicious sweet treats and savoury snacks. And the coffee, of course, is always fresh, expertly-made and delicious. Go and see why the L’affare remains a firm local favourite.
133 Darlington Road, Miramar, Wellington
The Larder is a popular neighbourhood eatery with an honest focus on ‘nose to tail’ eating.
Owned and run by Miramar residents, chef Jacob Brown (ex-Boulcott Bistro and Tabou in Sydney) is the chef and his partner, Sarah Bullock, the restaurant has consistently won accolades for its thoughtful, creative and innovative dishes and its outstanding service. Jacob and Sarah are passionate about serving fine, honest food through a menu that is produce-driven and reflects the seasons.
The Larder works closely with its suppliers to secure only the finest and freshest ingredients, which are prepared with respect and care.
37 Jessie Street, Te Aro & 4 Glamis Avenue, Strathmore, Wellington
A long-time hidden gem in Strathmore, Gipsy Kitchen has expanded into the CBD with two locations – a café on Jessie Street and a coffee kiosk on Left Bank.
Their original location in Strathmore is a café and deli, where you can buy prepared meals to takeaway, or stay and enjoy food and coffee from the cabinet. At all locations you can get a taste of their fantastic coffee, which is locally roasted by Coffee Supreme and some of their famous baking – their rhubarb and caramel scones are particularly sought after. With friendly service that’s full of character and good cheer, Gipsy Kitchen is a Wellington favourite.
178 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington
The original café for midnight feasts on Cuba Street, Midnight Espresso is one of the last places still open on Cuba Street to score a late-night coffee and 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 decorated in an eclectic and flamboyant way with fruit and flowers and mostly all under $10.
There’s also a vast short-order menu written large on the café wall and liquid refreshments in the form of freshly squeezed juices and high-octane Havana espresso.
170-172 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Olive is a long-standing Cuba Street institution serving seasonal French and Italian-inspired menus in a rustic-chic space. Olive’s curiously lush tropical courtyard featuring, you guessed it, an olive tree, is one of Wellington’s best-kept secrets.
The garden courtyard is the perfect spot to while away an afternoon, sipping on a chilled rosé and nibbling on some warmed olives. The indoor dining room has a French industrial rustic vibe and is the perfect spot for a weekend brunch or an intimate dinner. Head Chef Jamie Morgan regularly changes the menu to include fresh, in-season, local produce.
Coolsville Trading Post
3 Moxham Ave, Hataitai, Wellington
Coolsville Trading Post is a popular neighbourhood café in the Hataitai village, serving up healthy and delicious cabinet food, with plenty of dairy and gluten-free options.
Owner and Canadian ex-pat Lindsay Phillips is one of those super friendly hospitality types, who’ll make you feel like one of the local regulars even if it’s your first visit. If Coolsville is busy, head across the road to Coolsville’s sibling, The Trading Post Catering & Deli for a must-try gluten-free doughnut.
221 The Parade, Island Bay, Wellington
Betsy is a stylish modern deli in Island Bay that is all about fresh, healthy, locally-sourced food with an eco-friendly conscience.
Stocking a range of local products including Libertine Blends tea, Shelly Bay Baker bread, Six Barrel Soda and Peoples Coffee, Betsy also offers prepared takeaway dishes for people on-the-go. The menu is characterised by retro comfort food but with a modern twist - chipotle cauli mac ’n’ cheese anyone? Pop in for a coffee and one of Betsy’s Reuben sandwiches and a slice of Doug’s famous ginger crunch slice for later.
90 Aro Street, Aro Valley, Wellington
In a colourful neighbourhood best-known for its famous craft beer brewing neighbours, Aro Café is a bustling oasis of great food and house-roasted Aro Coffee, where you’re likely to spot a Garage Project brewer grabbing a coffee between beer batches.
About ten minutes’ walk from the top of Cuba Street, Aro Café is open from breakfast and stays open for dinner on Wednesday through to Saturday. Their fresh, simple and seasonal menu has an Italian flair both in the food and the wine that they serve. There’s an emphasis on serving locally-sourced food with organic milk products and free-range poultry. The fresh and hands-on approach is carried through to their coffee which is hand-blended and roasted on-site.
Neo Café and Eatery
132 Willis Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Award-winning Neo Café and Eatery specialises in all-day brunch menu that celebrates the seasons and Wellington’s artisan producers.
With a light and minimalist fit-out and genuinely warm and friendly staff, Café Neo is the kind of café you’ll want to linger at. Café owner and experienced chef Luke Crawford is constantly developing new and delicious additions to the menu.
The brunch menu features café classics done exceptionally well and catering to a range of dietary requirements. There’s also a delicious range of counter food including fresh baking made on-site.
Queen Sally's Diamond Deli
6022/200 Queens Drive, Lyall Bay, Wellington
A retro-themed deli and café by the sea at Lyall Bay.
The smaller sibling of Maranui Café (just a minute’s walk away by the beach), Queen Sally’s has the same approach to delicious, wholesome food with a cabinet full of delicious, seasonal salads, fresh pies and sandwiches and beautifully-presented baking, plus an array of deli delights made in-house and a selection of local artisan products.
There are a few tables inside, as well as some outdoor tables if you want to eat or have a coffee there, otherwise get your order ‘to go’ and head down to the beach. The service is warm, friendly and fun and it’s a popular place with locals.
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.