Discover the best Wānaka restaurants. Whether you’re looking for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or dessert, we have you covered in this incredible town.
Though Wānaka is a relatively small town, it has become something of a mecca for foodies.
There, you will find a fantastic array of fine dining, casual meals and ethnic cuisines, each a treat for your taste buds.
From cheap eats to fine dining, classic flavour combinations to the completely unexpected, Wānaka does it all – and it does it well.
Whilst exploring this incredible Otago destination, be sure to check out some of the following local restaurants and eateries.
COVID-19 has come with its fair share of challenges for New Zealand businesses. Though we do our best to share accurate information, this can change quickly as some businesses make the decision to operate under reduced hours or hibernate. We suggest you double-check they are open before finalising your plans.
The Best Wānaka Restaurants
Our Favourite Wānaka Eateries for Breakfast/Brunch (& Lunch too)
If you’re looking for a new favourite lunch spot in Wānaka, Scroggin could well be it!
Serving only free range, they focus on high-quality ingredients that are locally source (where possible). They make the vast majority of their food in house, even curing and smoking their own bacon, baking their own breads and pastries and creating their own sauces, pestos, relishes, and sausages.
They take quality food seriously and it shows.
Brunch Menu Highlights:
- Scroggin Benedict: Potato rosti, crispy kale, honey hollandaise, chili oil, rocket, two poached eggs and dukkah.
- The One Hander: Bacon, egg, gouda, tomato jam and aioli, on a milk bun bap.
- Buckwheat crepe served with seasonal compote, coconut rice pudding, coconut yoghurt and maple glazed pecans.
In addition, they serve fantastic cabinet food (which is perfect if you need to grab-and-go).
We recommend spending a leisurely morning there if you can though as this cafe has a fantastic vibe.
Scroggin’s interior is inspired by the backcountry hut; a place in the wilderness that allows people to be present and connect more deeply with their food and community.Scroggin Cafe
Monday – Friday: 7am — 3pm | Saturday – Sunday: 8am – 3pm | Bookings not required.
71 Ardmore Street, Wānaka
Set in an elegant yet cosy environment, Arc create breakfast and brunch dishes that rival the level of thought and innovation that is generally seen during the dinner service.
In addition to fantastic food, Arc also serve delicious coffee and breakfast cocktails too.
Choose to fit amongst the gorgeous native plant garden or inside amongst their plants, dried Otago wildflowers and recycled native rimu furnishings, whilst you enjoy your meal.
Brunch Menu Highlights:
- Apricot & strawberry waffle, coconut yoghurt and maple syrup
- Morning Glory: Turkish egg, Ora king salmon & avocado bagel plus an apricot and strawberry waffle – a breakfast tasting plate.
- Arc Breakfast: Black pudding, poached eggs, bacon, mushrooms and baked beans.
Arc also offers a small but well-considered lunch menu and a range of delectable tapas in the evening.
Check them out next time you’re in town.
Monday – Tuesday: Closed | Wednesday – Sunday: Brunch 9am – 2.30pm & Bar/Tapas 5pm – late.
74 Ardmore Street, Wānaka
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for another amazing coffee spot, also give Wee Tart a go.
The Best Wānaka Restaurants and Eateries Serving Lunch
In addition to the cafes mentioned above, Wānaka has a number of awesome lunch spots.
3. Kai Whakapai
Though we’ve included Kai Whakapai, like many of the recommendations on this list, they’re worth a visit at any time of day – breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack.
In fact, regardless of the season or the time of day, you’ll find this eatery buzzing with people.
Thanks to its amazing lakefront location, quality food (with a touch of gourmet) and quick and friendly service, it is considered a must-visit whilst in town.
Pull up a seat on the footpath or head upstairs for beautiful views of the lake. Wherever you choose to sit, you can be guaranteed a memorable visit.
Not only is the food delicious, but they’re also known to support local brewers. The majority of their tap beers are made in Wānaka (with the odd appearance from other Kiwi brewers). We recommend enjoying a local drop alongside their tasty pizzas and burgers.
Lunch Menu Highlights:
- Open steak sandwich: Ribeye steak, truffle mayo, pesto and semi-dried tomatoes topped with parmesan.
- Beef cheek bao buns: Pulled Sichuan braised beef cheek, pickled onions, sweet & sour sauce and wasabi peas.
- Chicken burger: Katsu crumbed chicken, kimchi, wasabi mayo, Asian slaw, fried shallots and pickled ginger in a milk bun.
Open daily: 7am – 7pm.
121 Ardmore Street, Wānaka
Pro Tip: If you’d rather visit Kai Whakapai late in the day, they hold happy hour from 5 – 6pm. Just be sure to arrive early to get yourself a table.
Plus, if you enjoy a good beer, Ground Up, B Social and Rhyme and Reason also come highly recommended whilst in Wānaka.
4. The Brownston Street Food Trucks
If you’re travelling with a group of people that have different tastes, we suggest you make a beeline for the food truck park on Brownston Street.
Rather than this being a recommendation for one eatery, we’re point you in the direction of a collection of exciting dining options.
These food trucks are found in a beautiful setting, offering a variety of cuisines along with outdoor dining tables.
The vibe here is always relaxed and friendly and the food is, of course, top-notch.
We recommend checking out Firebird for delicious fried chicken and Burrito Craft for tasty Mexican food (tacos and burritos are their speciality).
For dessert, pop along to Charlie Brown Crêpes for traditional sweet French crêpes – yum!
Menu Lunch/Dinner Highlights:
- Burrito Craft – Shredded beef burrito: Smokey shredded beef brisker, zesty rice, refried beens, tasty cheese, guacamole, sour cream, burrito cause, roasted tomato salsa, shredded lettuce, spring onion and shredded cabbage.
- Firebird – Firebird burger: Firebird fried chicken, slaw and BBQ sauce, piri-piri mayo.
- Charlie Brown Crêpes – Pomme D’Amour – Sweet French crêpe, caramelised apples, caramel and whipped cream.
For a relaxed, casual dining experience to make the whole whānau happy, it’s hard to go past the food trucks on Brownston Street for lunch or dinner.
Times vary depending on the food truck but they are generally open daily from 12/1pm until approximately 8/8.30pm.
42 -79 Brownston Street, Wānaka
5. Federal Diner
The Federal Diner is a popular dining spot for locals – so you know it’s a great option when you’re in town.
Offering up a relaxed dining experience they serve organic eggs, free-range meats and speciality coffees.
Their menu is inspired by different cuisines the world over, ensuring that there really is something for everyone.
They also have world-famous-in-Wānaka scones that are obviously worth trying – or perhaps popping in your bag to enjoy later in the day.
Lunch Menu Highlights:
- Roti’n’roll: Braised pork shoulder roti with hoisin, coriander, QP mayo and pickled chilli.
- El Mexicana: Blue cod tacos with chimichurri, shredded cabbage, coriander, lime and chipotle mayo.
- Wisdom Salad: Roasted apple, quinoa, fennel salad with caramelized walnuts and apple dressing (+ add goat’s cheese).
Come for a quick coffee or stay all day, we’ve something for everyone.Federal Diner
Open for breakfast, this is another great spot for an early morning bite too.
Open daily: 7am – 3pm.
47 Helwick Street, Wānaka
Unmissable Wānaka Restaurants Serving Dinner
If you’re celebrating a special occasion in Wānaka, we recommend heading along to Kika.
Making the most of local, seasonal ingredients, the team whip up a great selection of delicious plates designed to share.
The take inspiration from a variety of global cuisines, combining them with fantastic New Zealand ingredients. The result is an eclectic but memorable style of dining that is distinct to Kika.
We highly recommend you pay them a visit when spending time in this part of Otago.
Don’t go thinking this is a stuffy fancy restaurant though – with a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, this is the kind of place you can enjoy incredible food in complete comfort.
Dinner Menu Highlights:
- Small sharing plates
- Seared tuna, palm sugar & chilli dressing with coriander wafer and cucumber.
- Beef tartare with confit egg yolk, crispy shallots, miso mayo and soy jelly.
- Large sharing plates
- Te Mana lamb shoulder with preserved lemon, rosemary and chilli.
- Roman gnocchi, truffle mushroom puree, confit garlic cream and pecorino.
When visit Kika, be sure to have your camera ready. Each and every one of their plates are immaculately presented, and even if you’re not normally one to photograph your food for Insta, we promise you’ll be tempted here.
Open daily: 5.30pm – late.
2 Dunmore Street, Wānaka
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for an extra-special experience, be sure to try the ‘trust the chef’ dining package and/or make the most of their carefully curated wine list.
7. The Cow
The Cow serves hearty, filling food in a relaxed environment.
With a roaring fire and rustic ambience, this is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day of exploration – particularly when the weather’s cold outside.
The food at The Cow is consistently good. Though they have a relatively limited menu, they do a great job of what they serve.
These are honest, hearty Italian meals that the whole family will enjoy.
Dinner Menu Highlights:
- Portofino pizza: Bacon, mushrooms and prawns.
- Di pollo spaghetti: Chicken, ham, mushrooms and chillies – a hot and spicy pasta dish.
- Spaghetti bolognese: With a rich meat sauce, this is a classic done right.
We loved it! It’s very small and they don’t take bookings, but we went about 6:30 and got a table – the candlelight was a nice touch too. The garlic bread is next level, and our pasta dishes (seafood and bolognaise) were generous and tasty. We had a great night here!Jac – TripAdvisor Review
Open daily: 4pm – late.
33 Ardmore Street, Wānaka
8. The Big Fig
If you think healthy food can’t be tasty and that tasty food can’t be affordable, the Big Fig will have you second guessing yourself.
During the morning they operate a normal menu but come lunch and dinnertime they serve delicious meals family-style.
Diners simply choose the size of plate they’d like and then take their pick from a range of slow-cooked meats, salads and vegetarian and vegan hot dishes.
Whether you eat in or take away, you’ll be guaranteed fresh and healthy meals (which is a godsend when travelling the South Island).
Lunch and Dinner Menu Highlights:
- Meat dishes
- Beef cheeks slow-cooked in pomegranate and red pepper paste.
- Lamb & beef meatballs with lemon, mint, yoghurt sauce.
- Marinated, free range rotisserie chickens.
- Side dishes include:
- Kūmara gratin cooked in sage, garlic & cream.
- Roasted cumin cauliflower with green tahini sauce, and many, many more.
Big Fig is all about slow food, served fast – delicious hot dishes, fresh salads, barista coffee and baking – all packed with flavour, made with love and ready to go. We don’t take bookings – just turn up and grab a table.Big Fig
Closed Mondays (until mid-April) | Open every other day: 8am – 8.30pm.
105 Ardmore St, Wānaka
Muttonbird is another Wānaka restaurant that encourages its diners to share plates with one another.
They focus on serving only the freshest seasonal ingredients – because of this, their menu is forever rotating and evolving. They source their produce from across Otago and Aotearoa New Zealand, creating a distinctly local experience that features bold flavours at reasonable prices.
The dining room itself is relaxed and informal, making this the perfect place to enjoy refined, creative food in an accessible manner.
In addition, you’ll find an extensive wine list at Muttonbird, ensuring the perfect pairing for each stage of your meal.
Dinner Menu Highlights:
- Ricotta agnolotti pot stickers with tomato and Thai basil.
- Matangi beef carpaccio, kale and Hāwea horseradish.
- Royalburn lamb neck with harissa and broccolini.
- Dessert – White chocolate semifreddo, Bundaberg ginger beer and greengage.
Sensational dinner in a really pleasant setting. We had the trust the chef menu and flavour combinations were superb with lots of wee surprises in there. The service was excellent, plus they had really good wine recommendations. We’ll be back!Ewan M – TripAdvisor
Tuesday – Saturday: 5.30pm – 10pm. Closed Sunday & Monday.
33 Ardmore Street, Wānaka
10. Bannockburn Hotel – Wine Country Restaurant
Though the Bannockburn Hotel is not actually in Wānaka, it’s still definitely worth sharing.
Located in Cromwell, a 40-minute drive through beautiful Otago countryside, the Wine Country Restaurant is another great option if you’re celebrating a special occasion (or are just looking to treat yourself to a superb meal).
With an incredibly extensive wine list and a range of flavourful meals, it’s impossible to go wrong here.
Consisting of tapas and small sharing plates inspired by both European and Latin American flavours, local produce is used to create an ever-changing menu.
Be warned though – people know how amazing the Hannockburn Hotel restaurant is though, and they travel from miles around. Because of this, you will want to phone ahead to make a reservation – particularly at dinner time.
Dinner Menu Highlights:
- Baked Camembert: Baked Camembert round served with braised mushrooms, dates, roasted pancetta and toasted ciabatta.
- Baja fish taco: Blue cod goujons with pineapple, tomato, cucumber and onion salsa, coleslaw and Sriracha mayonnaise.
- Char grilled Scotch fillet (Ribeye): Flame grilled, grass fed New Zealand Savannah scotch fillet (Ribeye) from Neat Meat, with Bordelaise jus and smashed potatoes with tarragon mayonnaise.
- Dessert – Crema Catalana: Orange, lemon and vanilla flavoured Spanish crème brûlée with burnt sugar crisp.
We are privileged to look out over some of the finest vineyards, landscapes and mountain scenery in the world and with over 200 wines on our list and more than 60 of those available by the glass, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to sample some fantastic wine and craft beer with your lunch, dinner or a lazy grazing afternoon.Bannockburn Hotel
Closed Monday & Tuesday | Wednesday – Saturday: 12pm – 9pm | Sunday: 12pm – 4.30pm
420 Bannockburn Road ,Cromwell
Desserts and Sweet Treats in Wānaka
11. Cinema Paradiso
Though it might be surprising to find a movie theatre on a list of the ‘best restaurants in Wānaka’, stick with us for a second.
Not only is taking in a movie at this gorgeous little cinema a worthwhile thing to do in Wānaka (thanks to its comfy sofas and unique seating options – including an old convertible car), but the food is worthy of a mention too.
Deservedly one of Wanaka’s biggest attractions and just maybe a NZ National Treasure!NZ Lonely Planet
Cinema Paradiso serve a great variety of tasty meals (including pizzas, salads, wraps and burgers) which can be enjoyed before, during or after your film, along with the most incredibly buttered popcorn, but it’s their desserts that really get us excited.
Using local ingredients where possible, they serve homemade ice cream and the most incredible freshly-baked cookies which are perfect for intermission. You can’t go wrong with any of these thick, fluffy cookies, but we particularly recommend the white chocolate and ginger cookie and their traditional choc chip too – delish!
You’ll also find a collection of cakes and slices in the cabinet that can be enjoyed at any time during your visit.
After a busy day of exploring (and dinner – perhaps somewhere else on this list, perhaps at Cinema Paradiso), we don’t think there’s better option in town than to curl up at this unique movie theatre with a freshly baked cookie in hand.
Open daily. Hours vary depending on screening times – check online for current schedule.
72 Brownston Street, Wānaka
12. Pembroke Pâtisserie
Just five minutes from central Wānaka you’ll find one of the best little pâtisserie shops in the South Island – if not New Zealand (in our humble opinion).
They serve an incredible array of sweet treats, cakes and pasteries, along with freshly baked bread and barista coffee.
With a number of seats both inside and outside, you’re welcome to sit down and relax. We recommend doing exactly this, but also ordering a few extra treats to take away with you – you’ll thank us later.
Though everything there is amazing, we particularly like their stuffed doughnuts (the salted caramel one is amazing), macarons and custard squares.
In our opinion, a visit to the Pembroke Pâtisserie is a must whenever you visit Wānaka!
We specialise in classic French patisserie with a modern Kiwi twist, and we’re world famous in Wanaka for our custard squares, doughnuts, pies and almond croissants.Pembroke Pâtisserie
Monday – Friday: 7.30am – 2pm | Saturday & Sunday: 8am – 2pm.
20 Alison Avenue, Albert Town
Whatever meal you’re looking for, each of the listed Wānaka restaurants is a winning option!
Which will you visit first?
Related: The best walks in Wānaka.
Photo credit: All photos are care of the restaurants and eateries mentioned, or taken by Sarah Chant.