New Zealand recently announced it will be returning to Level 2. What that means is that we all get to go outside, move around, and interact with each other again. The shops and restaurants are open, albeit with some social distancing.
It concerned me that some of my favourite affordable food haunts would be financially impacted by the Covid19 shutdown. With this in mind I have briefly reviewed and showcased the cream of the crop of mind-blowing food (now available again) in Wellington. New Zealand’s funky, quirky and arty capital. If you do come to Wellington in the coming months, I hope you spend some money in these places – they really are incredible and never fail to deliver excellent food.
Vietnamese Fusion delivered with a smile, in funky, atmospheric and hip surroundings
An incredible value $15 lunch menu features several vegan and vegetarian options. Although far from being second thoughts – these meat-free options are absolutely mind-blowing. Think rice-paper rolls with salad and tofu and a luscious sticky-sweet sauce along with mushroom pot sticker dumplings, a coconut rice pudding, a tiny but punchy Pho soup and creamy vegan curries. Or for $15 you can get a hearty, pulled beef curry or chicken curry. Their combo meals are heavenly with several small pieces for a measly $15. Cocktails are potent, exotic and flavourful and able to be ordered with lunch and dinner. There is also a big home-made soda collection for people who want to go alcohol-free. If you are needing a midday pick-up, try the Vietnamese coffee which is cold-filtered drip coffee along with sweetened condensed milk, you will feel bulletproof afterwards.
A cheap, chirpy and stylish pasta place with decadent Italian carbs for fuelling long days or lazy weekends.
Located on Cuba St, 1154 offer meaty and meat-free pasta dishes like creamy risotto, luscious pasta and cheesy oozy lasagna. Along with my personal favourite (I have been reluctant to try anything else) spinach and ricotta ravioli with burnt butter, sage, hazelnut and parmesan. You can add chilli, olives, anchovies, and other goodies to your dish to change it up. Pastas range from $15 to $20 and you can add extras like ciabatta, pickled vegetables, olives, the usual suspects. They have some lovely organic wine there too.
Modern Sichuan street food that’s heavy on the hotness and homely, robust flavours, served in cosy environs.
This place is right opposite Victoria University on Vivian Street and there is always a line of students coming out the door and people eating noodles gratefully and hungrily inside on tiny stools. Intrigued, one day I went in and bought some hand pulled noodles in chicken broth with mung beans and seasonal veg for only $11.50. It was big portion and packed full of ingredients. Be warned though that it’s really spicy, but you can ask them to go easy on the spice if you are a spice weakling like me. After this, I tried the milk bun donuts – mini donut balls coated in lashings of sweetened condensed milk and peanuts. Really amazing flavours, and the team are really friendly. This little place has a chirpy, street food vibe that I like. Highly recommended for spice-fiends and anyone who needs to be warmed up from the cold Wellington winter winds.
A Wellington staple for affordable Indian cuisine. Always fantastic flavours, high quality ingredients. A never-fail curry, any day of the week.
A cosy, Art Deco building on Kent Terrace has been transformed into a bright and vibrant oasis of Indian food. Expect consistently high quality food that is reasonably priced. You can get a lunch deal including a naan and rice for around $12. Or under $20 for a curry, naan and rice at dinner time. An atmospheric restaurant and polite, efficient and friendly service. Try the Fish Makhani or the Chicken Dopiaza for a truly amazing experience. Or the Aloo Bengan – a lovely eggplant and potato curry if you are vegetarian. I have tried pretty much everything on the menu here and it has all been amazing, I hope you enjoy it.
A hidden gem of Island Bay with sumptuous and generous pies in giant and semi-giant sizes.
If you want a pie that is worth travelling from the city for – this is it. Although Island Bay to be fair, is only 10 minutes drive from the city. This is the pie to end all other pies, the one you have been waiting for all of your life. Egg and bacon, vegie pasties, sausage rolls, mince and cheese. Also they have pretty amazing cakes too.
Signature takoyaki in many varieties along with delicate fresh and affordable sushi packed with explosive flavours.
New Zealand is a veritable ocean of sushi joints. Sushi as a snack and a lunch option that is so well-established that several chains exist, producing mediocre sushi all over the country. This is an exceptional exception to the rule. SushiBi that aspires to and achieves artfulness, decorative beauty and above all else – explosions of flavour. Their signature dish which has people queuing out the door is their range of takoyaki balls – not just in the normal squid variety – but also cheese takoyaki for vegetarians, a prawn and cheese version and chicken and cheese for only $1 each! Very affordable and vegetarian friendly. You can get a big tray of highly elaborate sushi of many flavours for under $15.
Kooky, funky, comfy lounge chairs and a mammoth selection of craft beers, along with a laid-back 70’s music playing and friendly staff.
There are many breweries in Wellington CBD, but this one in my opinion is the best. There is a kooky and weird selection of all kinds of ales, stouts, IPA and Gose, lager etc. etc. on tap. They invest a lot and time and effort into lovely branding to go along with their beers. A bit on the pricy side but definitely worth it and the pub food you get here to go with the beer is outstanding. A lovely roof-top beer garden rounds out a cool place to hang out.