Wellington has a lot of restaurants and cafés, in fact more cafés, bars and restaurants per head than New York City. Malaysian food is surprisingly popular and available in most areas. You can also get good Turkish kebabs anywhere in the city, or Lebanese at the Phoenician Falafel on Kent Terrace (their kebabs are better than all the Turkish places too). Fish and chips is the best value food and you usually get better quality in the suburbs.
More or less traditional
Aro Street Fish and ChipsAro St
The Backbencher34 Molesworth St, ThorndonPhone: +64 4 472-3065Dine with the political figures of the day, who have a menu to match their misfortunes. A light hearted political/current affairs show is broadcast from the Backbencher on Wednesday nights (except in summer) and the bar will often be packed with Members of Parliament, Parliamentary staff, political activists, and journalists. Crowd participation is encouraged, with heckling common, but the audience are good-natured, as a camaraderie has developed amongst most activists, regardless of affiliation. The Green Parrot16 Taranaki StPhone: +64 4 384-6080Price: $10-30Opened in the 1920s and offers a very interesting atmosphere. Great food, large portions, open late, and serves free bread with every meal. The filet mignon is great.
Aunty Mena's Vegetarian Restaurant and Cafe167 Cuba St, Te AroPhone: +64 4 382-8288Hours: Lunch & dinner M-SuPrice: $10-20Vegan Malaysian/Chinese food. Friendly staff & a homely atmosphere.
Cinta Malaysian RestaurantManners StAffordable Malaysian food with nice cultural decorations and cosy lighting.
Little PenangDixon St (opposite Dixon Street Deli)Price: $2-15Cheap, very authentic Penang-style street food, run by a friendly family from Malaysia. Probably best as a casual lunch spot, but open for dinner as well. Some menu items are only available on certain days, so do ask.
Satay PalaceCuba StDon't let the run-down dcor fool you, ultra-cheap, excellent food and service.
Satay Village58 Ghuznee StThese guys do a good curry laksa. Locals love this place because the owner seems to be able to recall what people have ordered before with near perfect accuracy.
Satay KingdomLeft-Bank (off Cuba Mall)This is the student Malaysian restaurant. On most evenings you will find it overflowing with people coming in for its cheap and hearty food. But don't be put off by the large numbers, the service is incredibly fast with food often arriving at your table before you if you're not quick!
Great IndiaVery well-known restaurant. Has won the Wine & Food challenge for several years running.
Tulsi135 Cuba StOr takeaway in the BNZ food court. Their butter chicken was voted best in Wellington.
Higher TasteLower Ground, Old Bank Arcade, Customhouse QuayThe only pure vegetarian Indian Restaurant.
IndusTinakori Rd, ThorndonThey do delicious North Indian food, and their tandoori chicken is fabulous.
Some of the best ethnic restaurants are on Adelaide Road in the southern suburb of Newtown, between Wellington Hospital and the Zoo.
Curry HeavenA fantastic small traditional restaurant, the people are friendly and do takeaways, the Malai Kofta is excellent.
Planet SpiceTwo doors down from Curry Heaven on Adelaide Rd, they have an upstairs area.
Indian FlavoursA truly Indian experience, all traditional curries, and Indian sweets, very authentic, best place for a home-sick Indian.
Yoshi Sushi & Bento126 Featherston St, CBDEmail: firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone: +64 4 473-4732Fax: +64 4 473-4734Hours: M-F 10:00-17.30Japanese cuisine. Enjoy the stylish and modern atmosphere. Choose from the vast array of Japanese sushi and sides starting from as little as $1 or enjoy a delicious Japanese bento (lunchbox), salad, miso soup, or a combination of them all. Catering also available.
California SushiLeft Bank off Cuba StYummy food and friendly shop owners. The place might not look like much, but they provide excellent service. Has been closed for health and safety reasons but is open again.
Kazu Yakitori & Sake BarLevel 1, 43 Courtenay PlHours: 17:00-lateJapanese-style barbeque, fresh sushi, great selection of beer and sake. SakuraCnr Whitmore and Featherston StPhone: +64 4 499-6912Fax: +64 4 499-6913Hours: Tu-F 11:3014:00, Tu-Sa 17:3022:00Price: $15-20Japanese cuisine, fresh sushi, great selection of beer and sake.
Domo Sushi22 Brandon StExcellent, freshly made sushi served by a very enthusiastic and welcoming Japanese man. Mainly caters to the lunchtime office-worker crowd, being just off Lambton Quay.
Viva Mexico210 Left Bank, off Cuba Mall (apparently they have a second restaurant at 180 Riddiford St, Newtown these days: +64 4 389-0975)Email: email@example.comPhone: +64 4 382-9913Price: $10-20The most authentic, home-style Mexican food you'll find in Wellington. Seem to be open all day, but definitely book for dinner at the Newtown one. La Boca Loca19 Park Rd, MiramarEmail: firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone: +64 4 388-2451Price: $10-20A bit out-of-the-way in Miramar, but still authentic, interesting Mexican cuisine. Good selection of proper Mexican tequilas. Open every day (except Tuesday) for brunch, lunch and dinner. Adjoining shop sells imported foodstuffs from Mexico, including masa, dried chillies and condiments.
Fisherman's Plate12 Bond StPrice: $5-15Looks like your average family-run fish-and-chips shop, but they also do excellent Vietnamese food, with an emphasis on noodle soups. Sit right up the back in the dinky plastic chairs for an even more authentic Vietnamese experience.
NAMWillis Street Village, 142-148 Willis StPrice: $10-20Good Vietnamese food. They also run a takeaway shop next door which is the place to get some lovely banh mi ($7.50) for lunch and a sweet dessert (a mung-bean sesame ball is recommended). If you go too late they may have sold out of banh mi for the day, though.
Phong Vu210A Left Bank ArcadeHours: Open for lunch and dinner, closed SundaysThey have all the Vietnamese basics covered, $10-20; also allows BYO.
Wellington Night MarketLeft Bank of Cuba MallHours: F 17:00-23:00Nice selection of food stalls offering cheap food ($10-15 at most) from around the world, including Chinese, South Indian, African, Filipino, and Malaysian. Has a quirky, bohemian vibe; live music sometimes, and a few little crafty-type stalls as well.
Harbourside MarketLively market along the waterfront near Te Papa, every Sunday morning. All sorts of fruit/veges and other food supplies, but in terms of finding breakfast/lunch, there are a good variety of options in the $10-or-less range, including casual-yet-sophisticated, Kiwi-style barbecue stalls (look out for the pulled-pork-sandwiches place; fish is good too), plus Vietnamese, South Indian dhosa, Chilean hot dogs, South American churros etc. Everything finishes up by about 13:00-14:00.
Food on Willis1 Willis St, Wellington CentralThere is a food court in the basement of the State Insurance Building (the big black square tower that looks like, in one architect's opinion, Darth Vader's pencil box). It has been neglected for many years and might not be the most pleasant place to dine, even if the stalls' food is good. It is mostly frequented by the many office workers in the area looking for a place where all co-workers can dine together happily. There is Sushi, Indian, Greek, Turkish stalls, amongst others. There are few seats not taken at lunchtime, so you may want to just get take-away. Some of the stalls offer discounted food after 14:00, and are all closed by 15:00.
Boulcott Street Bistro99 Boulcott StEmail: email@example.comPhone: +64 4 499 4199Fax: 04 499 3879Hours: Bistro Lunch M-F from 12:00, Bistro Dinner M-Sa from 18:00, Wine bar all day M-F, reservations accepted for lunch only. Private room available for groups of 10-16Price: Starters $14-21, mains $29-35Modern bistro. Classic combinations, fresh ingredients, attentive service. Pravda - elegant bistro dining107 Customhouse QuayPhone: +64 801-8858Hours: early to latePrice: $8-40Pravda means The Truth in Russian, but here it is a cafe, bistro, bar and restaurant. The coffee is strong, the food is diverse and of a high standard.