In our three-part series on Hawke’s Bay, we delve into everything this beautiful destination has to offer, from delicious food to exciting happenings, and all the most special places to stay. Offering a truly multi-faceted experience to anyone who visits, Hawke’s Bay will quickly feel like a home away from home — provided you know all the best places to go. That’s where we come in.
A region known for its bountiful, natural produce and acclaimed wineries, Hawke’s Bay is a foodie haven, boasting a raft of exceptional food and beverage destinations for hungry punters of any persuasion. From fine-dining experiences to understated but delicious hidden gems, and of course, a number of exceptional, globally-renowned wineries, the culinary landscape here is varied and wonderfully vibrant. And whether you consider yourself a gourmand or not, we promise you’ll find something to sink your teeth into here with our comprehensive list of the best eats in Hawke’s Bay.
Central Fire Station Bistro
Located in one of Napier’s most impressive Art Deco buildings, this popular bistro was founded by a husband-wife duo (a chef and pastry chef, respectively) and offers an exquisite, ever-changing menu that harnesses the flavours of fresh local produce. Here, the ingredients are the hero, with simple but elevated dishes that never try too hard. Trust us when we say, this is one worth making time for.
Seafood is the hero at this flavoursome eatery. Showcasing the freshest local ingredients and dishes that shine a light on Hawkes Bay’s bountiful kai moana, the variety of seafood on offer at Hunger Monger is astounding. From mouthwatering sashimi and oysters to crab and scallops and squid and, of course, perfectly-cooked fish, this is the place to go if you have a hankering for a taste of the ocean, where you can partake in the tasty menu or pick up some fish and chips to enjoy by the water nearby.
Serving up delicious, vibrant food from its modern Thai menu, Sai Eatery should be on everyone’s list as the perfect place to drop into for a leisurely bite. Founded with the idea of offering authentic dishes that give traditional Thai cuisine a modern twist, this eatery boasts a raft of tasty options to suit any proclivity, from flavoursome slow-cooked curries to satiating noodles and a few enticing sweet treats to finish.
Get your health fix at Hapi, an organic cafe and grocery store serving an array of tasty foods and drinks that are as good on the palate as they are good for you. At the cafe, enjoy perfectly-brewed coffee, fresh juices and smoothies, delicious grab-and-go lunches and guilt-free treats (including vegan desserts and soft serve) — the perfect stop-in to replenish the soul after one-too-many winery tours, we think.
If it’s a casual bite you’re after, look no further than Napier hotspot, Vinci’s, serving up pizza pie just as it should be; big, thin-crusted and extremely tasty. Available by the slice or whole, we can never pass up the aptly-named ‘Banger’, arriving with seasoned cream, mozzarella, parmesan, red onion and sausage or the ‘4 Cheese’, with seasoned cream, mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta and blue cheese.
At this widely-acclaimed Hawke’s Bay stalwart, Michelin-quality food is served in a relaxed atmosphere, with focus placed on freshness, flavour and dishes that promise to surprise and delight diners. Offering a set, five-course menu that changes daily (depending on the ingredients available), this restaurant is the kind of elevated dining experience that puts a unique twist on classic fine dining.
Matisse Wine Bar
Drop into this fun, lively wine bar and wine shop for a glass of whatever takes your fancy, whether it be a bottle of something from overseas or a lauded local — the extensive wine offering here is highly-curated and ever-evolving. Alongside its wine list, Matisse offers tasting sessions, a seasonal menu of delectable sharing plates and tapas and an array of cocktails, craft beers and ciders.
At this under-the-radar, laneway-style bar, enjoy a glass of the best from a Hawke’s-Bay-heavy wine list or a creative cocktail or craft beer, if that’s more your style. There is also a delicious, tapas-style food menu, perfect for sharing among friends as you soak up the laid-back, convivial, open-air vibe.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Mister D is a fuss-free, unpretentious eatery that puts the focus on good food and friendly service. Here, everything served is of the highest quality and is usually made in-house, with the various pasta, bread and pastries made by Mister D’s chefs daily, and a wine list curated to offer the best of the best of the Bay.
With a tasty menu designed as a ‘homage to Hawke’s Bay,’ this laid-back daytime cafe is the perfect spot to pop into for a coffee and a bite. Serving all-day breakfast (if you’re craving some 2 pm toast or granola, you know where to go) and all-day lunch (where flavoursome takes on classic dishes offer elevated lunchtime fare), F.G. Smith offers something for any proclivity.
This sustainably-minded aperitivo and cocktail bar has fast gained a loyal following and for a good reason. Born from the idea of bringing a world-class cocktail bar to Hawke’s Bay, Teresa celebrates local, seasonal produce, creating its exceptional beverage offering via sustainable practices and locally-sourced ingredients. Being a small, walk-in-only venue (of 25 seats) Teresa offers an intimate, boutique vibe and some of the best drinks you’ll likely have ever tried.
Shining a light on locally-sourced, seasonal, organic produce, St Georges has built its reputation on innovative, enticing food that focuses on provenance and sustainability. Helmed by award-winning Head Chef Francky Godinho, who grows 90 percent of all the ingredients used for St Georges’ dishes in the restaurant’s on-site garden, this unique destination has been designed to connect its guests with the food on their plate and with the environment around them. This ethos extends to its open-air setting, with luscious, grapevine-hung patios set against the arresting view of Te Mata Peak. Embodying the essence of Hawke’s Bay dining in every way, St Georges is a memorable foodie experience that should undoubtedly be on everyone’s list.
More than just a wine bar, Cellar 495 is a haven for anyone who loves exceptional wine. Started by local wine master Michael Henley, this new spot is a tasting room and bottle shop by day and bistro and wine bar by night, and aims to demystify wine culture by offering customers up-close-and-personal experiences with some of the best wines in the world, all in a welcoming, laid-back environment.
Started by a couple with an extensive background in winemaking, Hastings Distillers is New Zealand’s first producer of certified, organic artisan spirits and liqueurs, which have garnered a reputation for being deliciously complex and entirely unique. At the distillery’s Tasting Room in Hastings, customers can sample the brand’s products via a casual drink and a bite to eat or book in for a tasting or a more in-depth, bespoke experience with the master distiller.
Brave Brewing Co.
Born from its founders’ desire to take a home brewing enterprise to the next level, Brave Brewing Co. initially opened as a small craft brewery and has since expanded into a significant operation with its very own taproom and eatery attached. The taproom is open five days a week, with a casual, walk-in vibe and tasty food to be enjoyed there or taken away, and its very own flagon-filling facility for craft-beer enthusiasts.
It is fitting that ‘Sazio’ means ‘full’ or ‘satisfied’ in Italian because that is exactly how you’ll feel after dinner at this delicious Hastings restaurant. With menus that hero delicious pasta and authentic, Italian dishes, Sazio’s food shines in its simplicity, with a focus on good quality ingredients and exceptional flavours. Expect it to be busy — for good reason.
Craft and Social
Set inside the Toitoi (Hawke’s Bay’s Arts and Events Centre) part of Hastings’ newly reopened Municipal Building (an eight-year, multi-million dollar project to reinvigorate the heart of the historic township) Craft and Social is a bustling, welcoming bar and eatery that will immediately immerse visitors in the area’s warm hospitality. Offering a menu of elevated, bistro-pub fare (from sharing plates and satiating mains to pizzas and sweet treats) alongside a line-up of wines, craft beers and ciders, this local favourite promises good food, great drinks and a relaxed, convivial vibe.
Serving modern fare that combines locally-sourced ingredients with innovative flavours and dishes, Opera Kitchen is a lovely local eatery, perfect for a satiating breakfast or lunch. With a friendly, welcoming vibe and food to suit any proclivity, this is an easy drop-in to keep on your radar.
Find the perfect brew at this cool, concrete-fitted coffee shop. Serving specialty coffee and delectable French pastries this small but sleek cafe is the best place to kickstart your day.
Mary’s Wine Bar
At this simple neighbourhood restaurant, expect to enjoy utterly delicious food and wine in a cosy, laid-back atmosphere. On the menu, classic dishes collide with modern flavours, with a variety of dishes to suit any persuasion (including a dedicated kids section). Alongside your dinner, enjoy a glass of wine from Mary’s award-winning line-up or a cocktail or two if you’re that way inclined.
A beloved Havelock North stalwart, Pipi has long been loved in this neighbourhood for its delicious pizza menu and eye-catching, pink interiors. Here, you can expect to be surrounded by locals as you sink into Pipi’s cosy, bustling vibe while enjoying a tasty bite and a wine or two.
Passionate about traditional Neapolitan pizza, Alessandro’s serves up some of the most authentic pizza you’ll likely have ever tried. Topped with only the freshest ingredients and wood-fired to perfection, the food here is smoky, flavoursome and simply delicious.
You would be hard-pressed to find a more spectacular view of Hawke’s Bay than at this local favourite eatery and venue. Set on Te Mata Peak Road, overlooking the whole of Hawke’s Bay, Peak House is as known for the panoramic views its lawn offers as it is for its simple, delicious food and community vibe.
If it’s Japanese food you’re craving, look no further than Piku. At this delicious Izakaya-style restaurant and cocktail bar, indulge in sashimi, sushi, Yakitori and perfectly-grilled meats alongside a raft of thirst-quenching cocktails.
Smith & Sheth Oenothèque
Set behind Porters Boutique Hotel, the beautifully designed Smith & Sheth Oenothèque offers a series of world-class wine experiences and tasty charcuterie and sharing menus to provide the perfect gourmet escape in the heart of Havelock North.
Offering a decidedly modern take on the classic, local watering hole, Giant Brewery’s Havelock North Pub serves housemade craft beer, delicious wines, fun cocktails and a raft of tasty bites by Good Company Catering.
Designed as a place in which all are welcome, Deliciosa balances its come-as-you-are vibe with utterly delicious food, exceptional wine and warm, welcoming service. From its bean-bag-lined front lawn to its more intimate, cosy dining room, Deliciosa offers something for everyone and has garnered a reputation as the place to go for a laid-back and flavoursome bite.
Get your health fix with Pixie Bowls’ range of antioxidant-packed smoothie bowls, toasts and wholesome treats. Shining a light on simple ingredients and superfoods Pixie Bowls’ plant-based menu is all about nourishing yourself from within — a worthy pursuit, we think.
Birdwoods Gallery & Sweet Shop
This Havelock North gallery is one of Birdwoods’ three locations around the country (the other two in Parnell and Arrowtown) and showcases a range of stone and metal sculptures, textiles, collectibles, furniture, jewellery, ceramics and more. Alongside the gallery space is a delicious restaurant and cafe as well as a very sweet, old-fashioned lolly shop.
Helmed by a chef who cut his teeth working in Michelin-starred restaurants overseas, Malo serves modern restaurant food with a sophisticated twist, harnessing the potential of seasonal local produce to offer a fresh take on European-inspired cuisine.
Hawthorne Coffee Roasters
Attached to this renowned roastery is one of the cutest espresso bars we’ve ever come across. Helmed by award-winning baristas who churn out some of the best java around, this coffee shop is certainly a worthy drop-in.
Indulge in some delicious drops from this widely-acclaimed boutique vineyard, which also provides a place in which to find some of the best local food and produce in Hawke’s Bay via its kitchen (offering gourmet take-home meals, preserves, pickles, local oils and sauces, herbs, coffee and organic meats) and its Growers’ Market (every Saturday morning throughout summertime — kicking off on December the 4th). We have also heard that the renowned Black Barn Bistro is tipped to reopen before the end of the year (following a devastating fire in February), which is worth booking into as soon as you can.
Head to Craggy Range’s elegant Cellar Door for a wine and food experience you’re unlikely to forget. Set against the dramatic backdrop of Te Mata Peak, this exceptional cellar door will see you enjoying a range of delicious dishes to be paired perfectly with Craggy Range’s award-winning wines, with the whole thing guided by the encyclopedic knowledge of the winery’s friendly staff. It’s hardly surprising really that Craggy Range was named Australasia’s leading winery after coming 11th in the world at the 2021 World’s Best Vineyard Awards.
Crab Farm Winery
While the land at Crab Farm has been family-owned for over 100 years, it wasn’t until after Napier’s 1931 earthquake that it became viable for a vineyard, and ever since, Crab Farm Winery has grown to include three vineyards that produce some of the best drops in the region. At the Crab Farm Winery restaurant, guests can expect to enjoy satiating dishes with fresh flavours and perfect wine pairings, all enjoyed in a relaxed atmosphere where summer will see you soaking in the sun in the open-air courtyard and winter will have you curled up with a delicious wine by the fire.
Clearview Estate Winery
Producing some of the most delicious, small-lot drops in Hawke’s Bay, Te Awanga’s Clearview Estate Winery is the perfect place to go for a seasonal feast. Its on-site restaurant offers an ever-changing menu of innovative, fresh dishes made using the best locally-sourced ingredients around, alongside specialised wine tastings, made all the more enjoyable for Clearview Estate’s laid-back, welcoming atmosphere.
Established in 1851 by pioneering French missionaries, Mission Estate is New Zealand’s oldest winery and is credited as being the birthplace of New Zealand wine. At the sprawling, on-site restaurant, visitors can soak in the vineyard’s beautiful surroundings with a glass of world-class wine in hand as they enjoy a plate of delectable, contemporary fare. Or for those more interested in the wines, Mission Estate’s cellar door offers a variety of tastings and tours to satiate any curiosity.
The Kitchen at Oak Estate
Boasting a menu designed to highlight the best local produce and seasonal ingredients, The Kitchen at Oak Estate is the ideal place to sit back, relax and enjoy some flavoursome, artisanal food with a glass of one of Oak Estate’s lauded wines. Sitting below Roys Hill in the Bridge Pa Triangle, this small-scale winery is also part of the Bridge Pa cycle route, meaning you can roll up and give yourself a well-deserved wine break while exploring the Hawke’s Bay Trails.
Founded in 1897 at the same site on which it still sits now, Church Road is one of the country’s oldest wineries — its offering, the product of 125 years of carefully-honed winemaking skills. At Chuch Road’s cellar door, visitors can enjoy tastings, tours, and enticing food from the restaurant’s a la carte menu or go for a stroll (wine in hand) around the luscious, park-like grounds.