Wellington has long been held in high regard when it comes to New Zealand’s restaurant hot spots. There are options to suit every palate. One sort of restaurant is somewhat of a white whale in these waters though: the establishment that offers waistline-friendly fare. Read our guide to the top 10 joints in the capital where you can rest a little easier on that score as you tuck in.
Restaurant, Indian, Chinese, European, Vegan, Vegetarian, $$$
Located at the Old Bank Arcade, in the heart of Wellington city, this Hare Krishna eatery specialises in all things vegetarian and vegan. Higher Taste’s hearty menu boasts a variety of European, Indian and Indo-Chinese dishes, from samosas, to paneer, and chow mein. If you have a sweet tooth, these guys also serve purely vegetarian ice cream as well as many other appetizing goodies.
TANK Juice Bar
Cafe, Juice Bar, Smoothie Bar, Australian, $$$
Maybe it’s controversial to include a chain store in our list of healthiest restaurants in Wellington, but it can’t be denied that, since the opening of the first TANK store in Auckland in 1998, they’ve been a dependable haven for those in need of something quick and healthy to eat or drink. The juices and smoothies have been honed to a fine art over the years, so there’s nothing to complain about here. The salads, whilst not being gourmet, are nonetheless undeniably good for you. They contain fresh vegetables and leafy greens. At the end of the day, you can’t get around the fact that you’ll live longer eating at TANK than at KFC. Some people might snub them as a chain, but we think that TANK are pioneers — producing fast food in an ethical and nutritious fashion.
Cafe, Restaurant, Vegan, Vegetarian, $$$
This little restaurant has popped up on Willis Street and has garnered quite a following among the Wellington food community. It’s low key but offers some unbelievably healthy lunch options. Not only is the food fresh, free of refined sugar and vegan, but it’s also crazily low priced. You can pick up a mixed salad for about 10 bucks, which makes this a no-brainer if you’re on a budget and don’t want to go down the old processed chicken nugget and fries route.
Origin - Gourmet Food Shack
Cafe, Food Truck, Restaurant, Vegan, Vegetarian, Australian, $$$
Origin – Gourmet Food Shack encapsulates everything that it is to be a modern, independent food provider. This mobile kitchen caters to those with dietary requirements, and offers all sorts of vegetarian and vegan delicacies. It also offers small-batch espresso. Combine the beautiful food with biodegradable packaging, locally sourced fresh produce and meat that is butchered just around the corner, and you have an exemplary modern Wellington restaurant.
The Arborist Rooftop Bar & Eatery
Restaurant, Australian, $$$
It might be a stretch grouping The Arborist Rooftop Bar & Eatery in with holistic, vegan joints, but we’re going to let it slide this time. This is because The Arborist prides itself on, and is renown for, the quality produce that it uses when constructing the divine gastronomic delights that emerge from its kitchen. We freely admit that the calorific content of the mutton backstrap with pine & rosemary-salted pistachio mint crumb and preserved plum might just outweigh that of a vegan broccoli salad, but it probably satisfies your palate more too. The Arborist allows you to build your own meal with their plates, making them as healthy — or not — as you like. Even if you decide to indulge, you can find solace in the fact that every aspect of your meal is top-quality or made in-house, so you don’t have to worry about those dishonest, processed-type calories.
Bar, Restaurant, Asian, Fusion, $$$
Chow is an Asian-Fusion favourite with a compelling selection of drinks. Organic ingredients feature heavily in their offerings, which are renowned for coming under 150 calories. Their Vanilla Vodka Cocktail was invented in-house, and has gained so much traction that it is now served all over the globe. Sober night owls will be happy to know that their selection of non-alcoholic cocktails is quite diverse, and practically as good as the real thing.
The Old Quarter
Restaurant, Vietnamese, $$$
Unsurprisingly, we have a Vietnamese restaurant on our list of healthy restaurants to visit when you’re in Wellington. Vietnam is famous for its food and, more specifically, for the utilisation of fresh produce that sparks off the palate. The Old Quarter is a must-visit spot for those who love their food zinging and fresh. In most restaurants, it’s easy to end up with a meal that is not as good for you as it could be. For most of us, that’s not a problem, as eating out is a treat in itself. However, for those who are trying to keep a check on what they’re eating, The Old Quarter is a restaurant that will deliver cracking taste with minimal damage to the waistline. Give the the Tofu Salad a whirl for something healthy and different.
Cafe, Restaurant, Snack Bar, Smoothie Bar, Salad Bar, Australian, $$$
Here’s another restaurant chain on our list that may cause some controversy, but it’s for good reasons. The food might not be the most spectacular that you can find in town, but it falls under the the category of healthy. Just like TANK — although with perhaps slightly less finesse — Habitual Fix supply their customers with salads, smoothies and sandwiches. The food is competitively priced and, as fast food goes, is nutritionally stellar, especially when you compare their food to those of the giant fast-food conglomerates. So if you’re in a rush come lunchtime, why not zip in and grab one of their tasty vegetarian Lawn Bowl Wraps?
Cafe, Restaurant, Australian, $$$
No list could be complete without the mention of Fidel’s Cafe on the famous Cuba Street. This cafe has been a firm favourite for years, and there looks to be no sign of that changing. Its eclectic menu and decor have made it a favourite of uni students and young professionals, busy suits and relaxed retirees. If you want some properly tasty cabinet food made with love and some of the best ingredients, then look no further. Also, the coffee is probably the best in town.
Nature Vegetarian Restaurant
Restaurant, Malaysian, Chinese, Thai, European, Vegan, Vegetarian, $$$
This is a must-visit if you’re passing through the Lower Hutt region. Nature Vegetarian blends Malaysian, Chinese, Thai and Western cuisines to bring a tasteful assortment of vegetarian and vegan options. Some of their specialities include vegan BBQ buns, soya nuggets, veggie curries and soups and an array of interesting tofu offerings.