As a solo traveler with an extremely favorable exchange rate, I took great advantage of being able to eat whatever the heck I wanted in the two and a half days I was in Wanaka. Two days of hard climbing, canyoneering, and one full day of sitting on a bus made for a very, very, very hungry girl. I ate my way through the best restaurants in Wanaka to get you this list. You’re welcome.
Alchemy wins hands down. Of the few breakfast places I’ve tried in New Zealand, this had the least generic menu. Free wifi, handcrafted espresso and a space resembling San Francisco’s most hipster coffee shop makes this a winner in my book. Plus it’s a great place to hide at until the weather clears up.
Runner up: Relishes Café
Pictured above: potato hash and mushroom stack
After a long day of climbing, the only acceptable food group is a burrito. Luckily Wanaka delivers with not one, but two, burrito food trucks. I tried Burrito Craft which is the only reason why I’m recommending it first (full transparency and all). It’s not authentic by any means, but anything wrapped in tortilla and foil with mildly burrito-esque ingredients wins. Now if someone could only serve breakfast or California burritos…
Runner up: Burt.Rito
Pictured above: pulled pork burrito with rice, refried beans, lettuce, cheese, capsicum, spring onion, crema, coriander, guacamole, burrito sauce
Pasta or pizza tickle your fancy? The slightly swanky Francesca’s Italian Kitchen has a little bit for everyone, although at a slightly higher price. Service was fantastic and they were very accommodating for a solo traveler with no reservations. I was in and out in a jiffy. Bonus: they have a pizza food truck. Reminds me of home.
Pictured above: linguine with squid, garlic, chili and pangrattato
To go snacks
I’m not talking trail mix, granola bars or candy here. I’m talking legitimate cooked and delicious things that kind of do okay in a pack. The Doughbin and their pies win by a landslide. With a late night Friday and Saturday pie window, this is the only food option available during an evening of binge drinking. Pies and other pastries can be picked up during regular people hours and make a tasty breakfast or snack at the crag. The butter chicken and steak & cheese are best sellers.
The interior might scream Vietnamese pho restaurant, but Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen definitely did not disappoint. The restaurant offers a reasonably priced menu and slightly innovative offerings leaving me full and more importantly, satisfied.
Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen did an excellent job of accommodating a solo diner with reasonably speedy and attentive service. The chef even came out to greet every diner and inquire about the meal. I’m still on cloud 9. It was that stellar. Get the venison fillet followed by creme brûlée. Unfortunately the much pricier and swankier Mazunga left much to be desired, in both food and service.
Runner up: Mazunga
Pictured above: Wanaka Mountain River venison cooked medium rare, served on kumara mash with beetroot and cranberry relish, jus, and brocolli
It was surprisingly difficult to find a place with bar seating so I wasn’t drinking alone at a table. Winner goes to Woody’s in Post Office Lane, arguably the hippest part of Wanaka. With pool tables, ample outdoor seating and young people milling about, it was hard to feel like an alcoholic when I really wanted a beer.
Runner up: Alivate
Don’t bother: Gin & Raspberry, overpriced, average cocktails and a bartender who forgot about his patron(s) once his friends wandered in. Also extremely empty and alcoholic-feeling. Pembroke Wines & Spirits, listed as a top 10 restaurant/bar on TripAdvisor for some reason, this is more liquor store than sit there and enjoy a drink store. Get a pint of overpriced beer or a pour of overpriced whiskey and sit there… and look at some wine bottles. Or look at the parking lot. The ambiance is terrible; don’t do that to yourself and save your money.
Black Peak Gelato is the pick by default because it was the only real dessert/ice cream place I could find. I didn’t Google terribly hard though either. They serve you no less than 2 scoops of gelato per cup or cone. Grab some and then head down to the lakefront to look at the mountains. It’s good for the soul. Really.