Eat & Drink

9 Reasons Why Wellington Is The Ultimate Foodie City

If, like me, you’re a so-called “foodie” (and, like me, you’re loathe to use the word “foodie”), Wellington should definitely be on your destination list. The city is said to have more bars, restaurants, roasters, breweries and cafes per capita than New York City.

Eating and drinking is at the heart of this quaint city and there are plenty of places to do more than just fill your belly. Here are some reasons why Wellington is the ultimate foodie city – no matter what your tastes.

#1 Hannah’s Laneway

Tucked away in the heart of the city, the cosy Hannah’s Laneway is packed with flavour-filled factories. It’s the perfect place to engross yourself in Wellington’s great wares. Here you can sample artisan chocolate, bread, peanut butter, soda and locally roasted coffee, all while soaking up those great city laneway vibes. After you’ve made your backpack a carry-round pantry, relax with pizza and craft beer at the colourful Golding’s Free Dive.

#2 Craft Beer

Speaking of craft beer, Wellington is full of it. Breweries and specialist beer bars have popped up all over the city, making it New Zealand’s craft beer capital. You can find a huge range of brews pretty much everywhere you look. Garage Project’s Red Rocks is flash-caramelised with super-heated rocks from the Wellington coastline. And Yeastie Boys offers a fruity dark beer, Pot Kettle Black.

#3 Quality Dining

From cheap eats to fine fare, Wellington offers a smorgasbord of excellent dining options. Zibibbo (winner of the 2015 Dine Wellington menu) is currently enjoying centre stage. It has an amazing range of good quality dishes, from pretty starters right through to rich and unique desserts, and fantastic service to boot. If you have an adventurous palate, be sure to swing by The Larder in Miramar. The gremolata crumbed lambs’ brains are excellent – especially if you want bragging rights about the crazy food you ate.

#4 Quality Wining

Just an hour’s drive or train ride from Wellington city, you’ll find the sweeping rural landscape of Wairarapa. This wine-growing region forms part of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. It’s renowned for its delicious plummy pinot noir, as well as the warm hospitality of its various cellar doors, restaurants and cafes. Hiring a bike and leisurely cycling around the vines is a great way to get around – but there’s so many it’s almost impossible to see them all.

#5 Markets

The markets in Wellington are filled with colour, vitality and local flavours. They’re the perfect way to soak up the city’s atmosphere, among aromas of roasted coffee, fresh vegetables and sizzling spices. Producers, artisans, city-dwellers and visitors come together regularly to trade locally and vocally.

Wander the waterfront on a Sunday morning to see how people and restaurateurs select their produce from the Harbourside Market. Swing by the nearby City Market for small-batch local ingredients and treats, and boogie to buskers with street food at the Wellington Night Market.

#6 Cocktail Bars

Don’t be fooled by the small size of the CBD. Cocktail bars are in abundance here – hiding up unmarked staircases, down secret alleyways and even inside other bars. There’s no shortage of venues to shake it up. Hawthorn Lounge, with its swanky gentleman’s club vibe, has an ever-changing cocktail menu. CGR Merchant & Co is famous for its house-infused salted caramel rum and other infused spirits (also great for those who love things in mason jars). Hanging Ditch is a bit tough to find – tucked away in a little laneway – but its creative drinks make it well worth the exploration.

#7 Gourmet Groceries

If you want a one-stop culinary shop, look no further than gourmet grocery Moore Wilson’s. This place has every kind of fresh produce, baked good, boutique ingredient, vino and beer you could ever want – plus an entire room just for cheese. Be careful though: once you go in, you might never want to leave.

#8 Coffee

Coffee snobs will find themselves pleasantly surprised at the many roasteries dotted around the city. Each one has a distinct approach to coffee craft and can offer you some insights into their bean-grinding philosophy. Customs Brew Bar and Milk Crate serve excellent beverages and live up to their hipster names. Lamason is great for espresso and siphon brewed coffee, as well as latte art you’ll want to put on a canvas.

#9 Food And Wine Festivals

Wellington is home to a variety of food and wine festivals, celebrating the region’s home-grown produce. In August, Wellington On A Plate is the ultimate food festival, with over 100 events, menus specially made for festival-goers, and the highly anticipated Burger Wellington award.

November’s Toast Martinborough offers up some of the region’s finest wine, cuisine and music in the picturesque surroundings of Wairarapa. You can also head to Wairarapa in March to wine and dine the best of the best at the Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival.

(Lead image: C G R Merchant & Co / Facebook)