Capital classics: Long-lasting restaurants

4 hands serve their meals onto their plates at Great India Restaurant.
People sitting at the bar at Boulcott Street Bistro, with a blurred bartender going to serve them.
The interior of Fidel's Cafe, with customers ordering cabinet food.
Interior shot of busy restaurant atmosphere.

Thistle Inn (1840)

3 Mulgrave Street, Thorndon, Wellington

The Thistle Inn has stood in the same spot on Mulgrave Street, Thorndon since 1840. It received New Zealand’s second-ever liquor license and is the country’s oldest surviving tavern.

Today the Thistle Inn is an all-day gastropub, with a tasty menu and local wine, beer, and spirits to match. Tours of the historic building are available if you book in advance.

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4 hands serve their meals onto their plates at Great India Restaurant.

Great India (1983)

141 Manners Street, Te Aro, Wellington

A lot has changed in Wellington since the 80s. But one thing that has stayed constant is the award-winning cuisine at Great India. The family-run business has been passed down a generation since its opening, but the food remains delicious and flavoursome. Over 60 mains are on offer, balancing classics with modern dishes.

Everything is made from scratch at Great India. Spices and herbs are dried and ground, pickles are fermented, and naan bread is made by hand.

Great India

Midnight Espresso (1989)

178 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

The original café for late-night eats, Midnight Espresso stays true to its name. It’s a trusty spot for night owls to get a bite to eat. If you’re an early bird, it’s also got you covered.

Its iconic counter is generously piled high with vegetarian (and often vegan and gluten-free) goodies. Frittatas, pies, sandwiches, cakes, and slices are all beautifully decorated with fruit and flowers. There’s also a vast short-order menu written large on the café wall. High-octane Havana espresso will keep you fuelled all day (or night long).

Midnight Espresso — Facebook
People sitting at the bar at Boulcott Street Bistro, with a blurred bartender going to serve them.

Boulcott Street Bistro (1991)

99 Boulcott Street, Wellington Central, Wellington

Opened in 1991, Boulcott Street Bistro is widely regarded as one of Wellington’s finest restaurants.

The restaurant is in Plimmer House, a charming 1870s Victorian cottage. Surrounded by city high-rises, it’s a time capsule in the middle of the city.

Boulcott Street Bistro serves classic bistro dishes with modern twists. The "BSB Classic" has been consistently popular since day one. Comprised of an aged fillet of beef with Béarnaise sauce, red wine jus and hand-cut, double-cooked fries, it’s an example of simple done well.

Boulcott Street Bistro

Logan Brown (1996)

192 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Behind a bold red door on a corner of Cuba Street is Logan Brown. In an imposing 1920s building, the fine-dining restaurant is an icon of the capital’s hospitality scene. It’s been delighting the tastebuds of Wellingtonians and visitors for more than 20 years.

The food focuses on excellent technique and quality ingredients. The set menu changes regularly, but always includes fresh bread, followed by three courses. Flavour combinations are bold and sometimes unexpected, but always delicious.

For people keen to experience contemporary Kiwi kai, Logan Brown is an absolute must. It’s an elevated taste of New Zealand you won’t want to miss.

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The interior of Fidel's Cafe, with customers ordering cabinet food.

Fidel’s (1996)

234 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

At the top of Cuba Street, Fidel’s is an eclectic café. It’s inspired by the 1950s Cuban revolution and named after Fidel Castro, the man who led it.

Serving strong coffee and "good, honest, food", Fidel’s has been feeding Wellingtonians since 1996. Its thick shakes have become stuff of legend. If you’re after something a bit more substantial, the menu has brunch and lunch classics. A multi-layered cabinet is bursting with home-style baking and treats. Sit in one of the two outdoor areas, or inside with the Cuban memorabilia and Fidel Castro photos.

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Nikau (1998)

City Gallery Wellington, Te Ngākau Civic Square, 101 Wakefield Street, Wellington

Established in 1998, Nikau Café is a mainstay of the Wellington hospitality scene. The light-filled café is in the centre of one of the city’s cultural hubs. Tucked into the corner of City Gallery Wellington, it’s a bit of a hidden gem. Nikau’s ongoing success is a testament to the strength of its offering. People seek it out for the excellent food, coffee, and service.

The menu is full of expertly assembled brunch classics, often served with a twist. Their kedgeree is famous, having been a firm staple on the menu since day one.

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La Bella Italia (2000)

10 Nevis Street, Petone

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. The menu covers Italian classics, and award-winning pizza. Finish with a tiramisu or affogato for a night straight out of Italy.

As well as serving authentic Italian cuisine, the café sits alongside an extensive retail space. Antonio and Luisa import exclusive, premium Italian products and pantry staples to take home.

La Bella Italia — Facebook
Interior shot of busy restaurant atmosphere.

Capitol (2002)

10 Kent Terrace, Mount Victoria, Wellington

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. Sit with a cheeky cocktail, a tasty brunch, or if you’re up for a serious meal book a table for dinner.

Tom 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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