Wanaka’s charm goes beyond its picturesque scenery. If you’re heading into this South Island town for longer than a day trip, we’re going to help you dine up a storm. Here are 12 of the great restaurants you’ll find in this underrated New Zealand destination.
The White House is renowned for its rustic decor, delicious food and quaint charm. Set in a 1930s Art Deco style building, this restaurant specialises in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food with a distinctly New Zealand flair. Their wine list gives exclusivity to local blends, and their blackboard food menu is always adapting to suit the seasonal changes.
Authentic flavours are the norm at Francesca’s Italian Kitchen. The spacious restaurant boasts a trove of traditional Italian dishes, with plenty of options for vegetarian and gluten-free diners too. As with many Wanaka restaurants, wine and produce are locally sourced, and this restaurant serves New Zealand brewed Allpress coffee too.
Federal Diner adds a wholesome touch to all of the day’s meals. Contemporary classics are the house speciality: breakfast crowds can relish the diner’s signature cheese scones and buzzing coffee blends; lunching visitors will be able to sink their teeth into an interesting selection of salads and sandwiches; dinner crowds will savor Kiwi staples like slow roasted lamb, as well as unique offerings like the fish and prawn curry.
Big Fig serves up quality food for meat lovers and vegetarians alike. The restaurant operates on a “no reservations” basis – you just turn up, make yourself at home, and browse the incredibly diverse Mediterranean/Middle Eastern menu. Selected faves include the meatballs, stuffed pittas, flavoursome salads, and plenty of baked treats for sweet-toothed diners.
A generous helping of Indian food, paired with the Otago region’s finest wine, is what you can expect from The Spice Room. Late night visitors can drop by for a takeaway meal, and there’s a special NZ$20 curry, rice and popodum feast awaiting everyone who comes for dinner between 6pm and 7pm too. Other specialities on the menu include the malai kofta (house-made vegetarian potato dumplings) and the ever-classic butter chicken.
The upmarket Bistro Gentil is your local expert of all things French cuisine. Diners can choose from an elegant à la carte experience or, if visiting on a Friday or Saturday, they can savour the restaurant’s finest offerings over an extensive seven-course tasting menu. To add to the classy ambiance, the bistro showcases local artwork and holds regular dinners with the area’s leading artists.
Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite to eat or a chilled out dining experience, Thai Siam is bound to keep you satisfied. Tantalise your taste buds with an array of Thai cuisine essentials, including spring rolls, Pad Thai, and a large assortment of curries. It’s recommended that you get in before the lunch/dinnertime rush as the place gets quite busy.
The WGK has set the standard for stonegrill dining. Slow-cooked roast lamb shoulder is the kitchen’s signature dish, and premium meat cuts are a prominent feature all year around. If that’s not to your taste, don’t fret: the à la carte dining menu is filled with seafood delicacies, plentiful vegetarian starters and mains, and delectable desserts that will satisfy all your sugar cravings.
Decent dishes that cater for all palates and dietary needs, and an incredible offering of margaritas and cocktails are just some of the things that attract diners to Amigos Mexican Grill. Whether you’re in the mood for grilled corn, pork belly, quesadillas, burritos or churros, you can always count on these guys to offer deliver it with gusto. As a bonus, the cozy interior with large fireplace will definitely keep you snug in the chilly winter.
The Cow Pizza & Spaghetti House delivers exactly what it says on the tin. The venue’s famed pasta and pizza are always a hit with the visiting crowds. Expect generous portions and pleasant Italian flavours to make a lasting impression. Earthy wooden interiors with a classical flair add a bit of finesse to the overall dining experience. In the summer months, a sunny outdoor courtyard will keep you bright and replenished.
Bar, Restaurant, European, Oceanian, Contemporary, $$$
As you can probably guess by the name, Trout Bar & Restaurant sets the scene with delectable seafood offerings. A shared mixed platter, composed of prawn twisters, lamb skewers, brie, chorizo, roasted tomatoes, dips and ciabatta, is a popular choice among large dining groups. The roasted pumpkin risotto is among one of their dishes catering for vegetarians and gluten-free patrons, and there are some tantalising lamb options to satiate the meat lovers too.
The Landing is renowned for keeping things fresh. Menus are seasonal and always changing, with local produce featuring prominently on each contemporary dish plated. Even the wines are sourced from local vineyards. Make sure to grab a balcony table so you can get a good look at the stunning Lake Wanaka sunset.