My food and beer guide to Wellington

We headed to Wellington last month for four days, for a belated birthday trip in my favourite little craft beer capital. This was our second time in Welly, and since we had already jam packed loads of touristy stuff into the first trip, we decided to devote most of our time to hunting out good food and good beer.

We rarely eat out in Auckland these days, as we’re busy squirrelling the dollars away for a mortgage, but we loosened the purse strings on this trip and ate all the food.

Wellington always delivers, with heaps of cafes, restaurants, street food, laneways, bakeries and breweries. It’s also herbivore friendly so there were heaps of options for me – yaaaas! We got some recommendations from friends and discovered a few new places that have popped up since our last visit, so here’s a run down of where we ate and drank.

Food in Wellington

Egmont Street Eatery

11 Egmont St, Te Aro
Egmont Street Eatery is tucked away down a laneway and used to be an industrial car park. It’s now a modern, black and white painted eatery with those fancy low hanging lightbulbs. We stopped in for brunch here on our first day, after a few hours mooching around Te Papa, and had to queue for a table. This is always a sign of a good restaurant!

We started off with some mimosas to celebrate the trip, followed by a smoked potato hash with mushroom, brocollini, pickled chillies and a slow egg. The fact that it was smoked made the whole dish a bit of a show-stopper. We also had a super friendly, super attentive waiter. It was a little on the pricey side for brunch, but great for a treat.

Price: $$$
Score? 4/5

HUSK bar and eatery

62 Ghuznee St, Te Aro
Husk is a low-key, trendy little back street bar full of fairy lights, foilage and a buzzy atmosphere. We grabbed a corner table which overlooked the brew tanks at the back of the space. The beer options were really interesting, with a raspberry and lime sour called Strung Out On Lasers, which was pretty special. The menu is full of American style grub. I had an Apocalypse Now chickpea patty burger, which was massive and delicious! Husk is also a coffee roastery by day, serving up breakfast and brunch.

Price: $$
Score? 4/5

Cuba Street Markets

Cuba St, Te Aro
We had tickets for the Comedy Festival on Saturday night, so decided to grab a quick and easy dinner at the night markets. We did a couple of laps of the food stalls, accepting all the free tasters (thank you House of Dumplings!) that came our way, before committing to a dish. I went for a very generous portion of veg noodles.

The market has a tempting mix of food stalls – from weiners and waffles to curries and crepes. It’s worth noting that there are limited seating options and it isn’t under cover so it wouldn’t be ideal if it was wet and windy, but perfect for a cheap warm evening!

Price: $
Score? 3/5

Best Ugly Bagel

5 Swan Ln, Te Aro
Best Ugly Bagel all day, erry day. Which is pretty accurate as we made about three visits over the weekend. You can’t go wrong with this place. Low cost and delicious – available in savoury and sweet, whether you’re after breakfast, brunch or lunch. The finest of fast food and loads of vegetarian options. I rate the Humdinger and White Rabbit. Hmm bagels…

Price: $
Score? 5/5

Shepherd

1/5 Eva St, Te Aro
I’m not quite sure how to classify this restaurant, but they have a big focus on sustainable, local Kiwi foods. This was a recommendation from some friends and probably the best meal of the weekend. I need to share what we ate because there were so many interesting food and flavour combinations…

  • To start we shared cauliflower, buffalo curd, Biddy’s aged cheddar, honey, walnut, and pickled quince
  • For mains I had fried rice, kale, ginger, kimchi, sesame, peanuts, and a fried egg
  • For dessert we shared chocolate, Jerusalem artichoke, and caramelised salt

The only negative was that the wait staff were a bit too attentive. They spent a lot of time at our table and I felt like they were watching me eat to see my reaction to the food, which was a bit off putting. Their beer list was awesome though!

Price: $$$
Score? 4/5

Whistling Sisters

Corner Ghuznee & Taranaki St, Te Aro
I had eyed this place up before our trip, as it’s a new brewery AND fermentary – swoon! Turns out it was just over the road from our Airbnb pad, so we popped in for an afternoon tipple or two. The building contains a brewery where you can do tours, a restaurant and bar area – plus loads of amazing artwork all over the walls.

We checked out a menu and the food looked a-mazing so we planned to eat lunch here on our last day. Unfortunately they were closed on Monday – gutted! But just another reason to head back to Wellington I guess.

Oh and did I mention the beer? I had a Rooty Toot Toot – which they describe as a ‘sour, salty gose filled with the earthiness and spice of an excellent summer. Ginger root, turmeric root, galangal and Himalayan rock salt.’ Delicious it was.

Price: $$$
Score? I’ll have to let you know next I’m down in Welly!

Mac’s Brewbar

4 Taranaki St, Te Aro
There’s nothing trendy about this place, it’s a cheap and cheerful chain pub, but it’s located a stones throw away from Te Papa, on the waterfront promenade, so it’s great for people watching in the sun. After our failed attempt at lunching at Whistling Sisters, we stopped in here for pint of Great White and halloumi burger before heading to the airport for our flight home.

Price: $$
Score? 3/5

Craft beer in Wellington

Black Dog Brewery

216 Cuba St, Te Aro
Dogs and craft beer – two of life’s greatest things! We were very excited when we passed this place on our first morning in Wellington, with it’s giant dog mural outside, so we decided to head there for our first drink of the night. There is a tasting room downstairs and a cosy bar on the second floor, filled with dog inspired artwork. I sipped on a refreshing and crisp apricot Hey Day Ale whilst studying their beer encyclopedia.

Golding’s Free Dive

14 Leeds St, Te Aro
We discovered this place on our last trip and it quickly went to the top of our favourites list, so I was excited to get back there to see what interesting brews they had on tap. I’ve since learnt that the ‘free’ refers to how it operates. It’s a free-house, which means that they aren’t tied contractually to serve a certain brewery’s beer. This means that the beer menu is ever-changing and interesting. I had a Kereru Rose gose (a German beer brewed with salt water – thank you beer encyclopedia), which is infused with rose buds and hibiscus. Light, wheaty and slightly sour – right up my strasse.

Little Beer Quarter

6 Edward St, Te Aro
This is another spot we went to on our last visit and loved – I think this was the only place we found my one true love: cherry lambic. This time I had the most magical can of beer  – a tomato, basil and raspberry sour, otherwise known as Beyond the Pale – Strangeways, which wins the award for best beer of the weekend. A thousand thank you’s to the genius crafters at Garage Project!

Fortune Favours

7 Leeds St, Te Aro
We popped into this industrial looking brew bar after dinner at Shepherd to have one for the road. They have a couple of beer tanks in the bar and a brewery hidden out the back. We didn’t sample any of the food but it looked pretty interesting, with a wood fire oven and a hatch at the far end that had a ‘meat and cheese bar’ sign above it.

I had The Goose (a sour gose), which I don’t really remember so it probably didn’t make it into my favourites list. We went in on a Sunday night, so it was pretty empty and there wasn’t too much ambience – probably better to visit on a Friday/Saturday.

Things to do in Wellington when you’re not eating and drinking…

Stop by the Fix and Fogg window on Eva Street for some peanut butter samples. We left with a jar of fruit toast flavoured PB which is next level. If that isn’t enough sweetness for you, there is also the Wellington Chocolate Factory a few steps away, which runs a bean to bar operation, offering up organic, ethically sourced chocolate bars and drinks of all shapes and sizes. There was even a craft beer flavoured bar, infused with hops. We shared a hot chocolate and even half of it was too rich for words.

For all the bookworms out there, Wellington is second hand book shop heaven. In Te Aro, check out Pegasus Books, Arty Bees Books, and The Ferret Bookshop for some dusty delights. I ended up with more books than I could fit in my suitcase, so had to shoehorn them into Matt’s bag.

We accidentally discovered the Harbourside Market on Sunday en route to Oriental Bay, which has a farmers market, food stalls and live music. We sat down in the sun and watched a mesmerising steel band.

Oriental Bay waterfront is a good spot to kick back with a book on the beach. We were lucky to have a sunny (almost) cloudless day, and it was nice to get out of Cuba Street for a few hours and soak up the sun. It’s also walking distance if you’re staying in Te Aro.

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We spent an afternoon in the Auckland Art Gallery, which had an awesome exhibition called This is New Zealand. We watched an amazing film about life through the decades in New Zealand, from the early settlers to the swinging dance halls of the sixties – such incredible footage. It was actually one of the best exhibition movies I’ve ever seen at a gallery. On the second floor, they had several pianists playing beautiful, very moving music. It’s also free to enter but you can give a donation to keep them operating.

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We decided to be tourists on our last day, so we did the Peter Jackson double whammy and headed to the Weta Cave for a tour  ($28 each) and the Great War Exhibition ($15). We had an awesome Uber driver en route to the studio tour, who gave us a history of the area and the inside scoop on the movie scene in Miramar. My favourite, however, was the latter, as the sculptures and sets at the Great War Exhibition were mind blowing. If you’ve been to Te Papa for the war exhibition, it’s more of the same types of sculptures, plus loads of movie-like sets from the first World War.

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If you want more tips on things to do, see and eat in Wellington, check out my trip review from last year.

Equally, if anyone has recommendations, I want to hear them!

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