Taking a bite out of Wellington

Yes, I'm still going on about my little weekend in Wellington. I can't help it. It's just a special little city that really left me feeling inspired. It combined all of my favorite things (the things I like to blog about) travel, design, and food.

My favorite and most leisurely part of our visit was exploring the restaurant scene. Just steps outside of my hotel, there were tons of restaurants to choose from. For me, a great restaurant is not only about great food; it’s about the ambiance, the decor, the service, and the menu, all coming together for a perfectly relaxing and indulgent experience. The restaurants on Cuba Street nailed it! Most places we just stumbled into, and all of them turned out to be home-runs.

Here are a few of my Wellington restaurant recommendations:

Brunch at Olive

Olive has a really great vibe. It’s quaint, eclectic and friendly, and even has a secret garden out back for those in need of a little sunshine. The menu was simple in a great way. I ordered pancakes with figs and maple syrup. Oh. My. Gosh. Those who know me, know I love my pancakes and waffles on the weekend. I’m told that as a child, I used to dance for pancakes. But when I’m traveling in other countries, I sometimes tend to shy away from them, because they’re just not like what I’m used to at home. Well Olive’s pancakes kicked butt! They were familiar but had this extra light fluffy buttery oomph that almost reminded me of New Orleans beignets… and the caramelized figs – on another level. I’d really love to return one evening to try out the tapas.

Pancakes with fresh and caramelized figs at Olive. YUM!

Pancakes with fresh and caramelized figs at Olive. YUM!

Lunch at St. John’s

If you’re visiting Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand, then head over to St. John’s for lunch. It’s a short walk from the museum and located right on Oriental Bay with beautiful views of the city. What attracted me here, were the people sitting on beanbag chairs, drinking wine in the grass. Yes please. What better way to spend a sunny afternoon in the middle of the city?  Artichoke and feta salad, goat cheese and onion tart – done and done!

Lounging on the waterfront outside St. John's

Lounging on the waterfront outside St. John's

Dinner on Cuba Street

Looking for dinner and drinks? Head down Cuba Street! Each night, Joe and I wandered out of the hotel and onto the street, reading menus until we found a place that lured us in.

Dinner with a group at El Matador

Recommended to me by a friend, this Argentinean/Spanish restaurant has ambiance for days and a menu that matches. I’d recommend this place for a night out with friends. It’s the perfect place to linger over your meal, enjoying tapas and sangria in a cozy, dimly lit corner for hours. They also have an outdoor patio where they cook the biggest burgers you’ve ever seen in your life. (Guess what Joe ordered). I highly recommend the flank steak with chimichuri and the Sangria!

Dinner at Floridita’s

Floridita's is known for its excellent baking and wine list. The modern international menu is comprised of fresh local produce, and best of all, it’s reasonably priced. This place just made me feel comfortable and at home. Its simple décor, subway tiled walls, and antique brass light fixtures evoke the mood of a pre-war Parisian brassiere. If I lived in Wellington, I’d totally be a regular here. It’s great for a date night, but I'd also feel totally comfortable dining alone with a good book and glass of wine.

Date Night at Veni Vidi Vici

Veni Vidi Vici is all about the drama, romance and vibe of traditional Italy. We went on a Friday night and it was packed, so we enjoyed a few cocktails at the bar while listening to the tango played by a live band. This is the perfect spot for a romantic date, a little red wine, and a “Lady and the Tramp” style spaghetti kiss.

On my list of “Next Time”

Logan Brown - "fine dining without pretension"

Matterhorn - officially labeled the 33rd best bar in Asia Pacific, serves full meals and imaginative tapas with live entertainment

Print available on  Etsy

Print available on Etsy

In just 2 short weeks, I'll be back in Wellington with my parents. I'm looking forward to diving deeper and trying even more new places (aka stuffing my face)!