Emporium Eatery and Bar
The Emporium Eatery and Bar is quintessentially Napier. Housed within the epochal Masonic Hotel – one of the city’s preeminent architectural landmarks – this popular restaurant is the perfect distillation of the city’s antipodean take on Art Deco style. With an effortless blend of gourmet foods, an accessible wine menu and the country’s traditional flat white coffees, those on a shorter visit to Napier can capture its unique essence here. Their banana-stuffed brioche panini is the ideal set-up for a day touring the region’s wineries, but for those wandering the city’s pastel colored streets the Emporium breakfast may be a better recommendation to fuel their day.
MINT Restaurant is an obvious but welcome anomaly in Napier, as it is the only restaurant to be housed within one of the few surviving Victorian-era buildings. While the facade might mark it out as an exception in Napier, the food on offer inside MINT is a keen reflection of its setting. The freshly steamed New Zealand greenlip mussels are a local favorite, and here they are infused with manuka smoke and cooked with shallots, white wine and marinated lemon. As though it were competing to be the most ‘Kiwi’ dish on the menu, the 14-hour braised lamb shoulder and pan-fried lamb loin is accompanied by the New Zealand staple of creamed kumara with a carrot and Pernod purée and fennel-infused juice.
MINT Restaurant, 189 Marine Parade, Napier, New Zealand, +64 (06) 835 4050
High-end dining is on offer within Pacifica, which provides a refreshingly relaxed and endearing setting. New Zealand’s familial, unpretentious and welcoming spirit fills this restaurant, which is housed inside a weathered beach bungalow. Diners are treated to an ever-changing array of dishes, determined according to the best available local produce. According to their website, the cuisine at Pacifica is ‘based on emotion and bravery rather than convention’, an assertion which could feel contrived in most other cities around the world, but not in Napier. The strong connection that New Zealanders have with their surroundings is captured in a menu celebrating locally sourced seafood.
Pacifica, 209 Marine Parade, Napier, New Zealand, +64 (06) 833 6335
For an expression of the hip, future-focused side of Napier, Mister D is a cafe and dining establishment whose tables fill up fast almost every evening. Mister D has an abundance of attractions, from its modern, light-filled and vibrant eating area to doughnuts for dessert, injected by the overjoyed diners themselves with custard, chocolate and jam syringes. In fact, the menu here is not just a document advertising the day’s food but a mix-tape of the owners’ quirky and alternative style. Telegraph Hill olives, nuts and salted caramel popcorn are combined in a scene-setting appetizer which could precede the broccoli soup with garlic, chili, Village Press olive oil and crème fraiche.
Mister D, 47 Tennyson St, Napier, New Zealand, +64 (06) 835 5022
The Old Church Restaurant and Bar
Perhaps Napier’s most romantic restaurant setting is The Old Church Restaurant and Bar, whose inland location is an exclusive-feeling escape from the city center. The Old Church’s interior harks back to an idyllic era, with soft white woods and a breathtaking glass chandelier. The dishes on offer reflect the indulgent and traditional surroundings, with main courses of eye fillet of beef and braised rib wellington, broccoli cream, beets and crispy potatoes, or oyster mushroom gnocchi, thyme and truffle butter with grana padano. Nothing could round off the evening better than the rhubarb-focused dessert – choose from ginger parkin, rhubarb ripple, rhubarb puree and rhubarb and almond wafer.
The Old Church Restaurant and Bar, 199 Meeanee Rd, Napier, New Zealand, +64 (06) 844 8866
Mission Estate Winery Restaurant
Mission Estate is perhaps the most well-known of the Hawkes Bay vineyards, but the restaurant here isn’t one to settle on a centuries-old reputation. The stunning dining room overflowing into the State’s fragrant gardens would be a sufficient attraction for the droves of visitors, even if the food was comparatively uninspiring. Thankfully, this isn’t the case; the pan-fried fresh fish and lemon and parsnip mash, or medium rare beef eye fillet, potato rösti, mushroom duxelles and spinach and parmesan puree make the Mission Estate Winery Restaurant an attraction in its own right.
Mission Estate Winery Restaurant, 198 Church Rd, Napier, New Zealand, +64 (06) 845 9350
Te Awa Winery Restaurant
At Te Awa Winery Restaurant executive chef Stephen Tindall has designed a menu which transforms local New Zealand produce with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors. Diners can experience this fusion in the pulled lamb and green olive cigars with parsley and cumin salsa, or the pork kefte with caramelized fennel and crackle. But perhaps the most interesting offering available here is a sophisticated take on the traditional Sunday roast: Tindall serves up a 14 hour slow-cooked pork shoulder with boulangere potatoes, roasted Lawson’s carrots and freekeh salad with herb and yoghurt dressing.
Te Awa Winery Restaurant, 2375 State Highway 50, Hastings, New Zealand, +64 (06) 879 7602
Provedore, in Napier’s trendy Quay Marina, is a bustling tapas bar and restaurant set in the appealing New Zealand Shipping Company building. With typical Kiwi candor, the restaurant blends great quality food with a nonchalant atmosphere. Whether drinking in the marina views over a languid evening, or being serenaded by live music, Provedore’s patrons are sure to enjoy winning kiwi fare. The salt and pepper squid comes with garlic alioli, a regionally adored sauce, while the orange braised pork belly pairs nicely with locally brewed Monteiths IPA. Among a selection of tempting desserts, it would be hard to overlook the passion fruit pavlova with fresh cream and caramelized pineapple.
Provedore, 60 W Quay, Napier, New Zealand, +64 (06) 834 0189
Restaurant Indonesia is a beguiling mixture of Asian and Dutch influences which has its origins in late European colonialism. The decor within is distinctly Indonesian and the antithesis to the pastel hues outside. The star attractions here are the Rijsttafel (roughly translated from Dutch as rice tables): innumerable plates of food that resemble tapas. The origins for these Rijsttafel comes from the Dutch colonization of Indonesia when they would want to treat visiting dignitaries to a selection of each of the island’s specialty dishes. Here in Napier diners can choose from a vegetarian, danang (meat), ikan (fish) or supreme version of these feasts.
Restaurant Indonesia, 409 Marine Parade, Napier, New Zealand +64 (06) 835 8303
Salvare is a boutique winery with an award winning wine cellar. Though the food options available here may be limited, the platter that accompanies wine tastings at the distinctive ‘Red Shed’ are exceptional. Alongside locally sourced cured meats and cheeses are homemade olive oils, a spicy crushed nut Dukkah and a delectable Chardonnay mustard to slather over rustic cuts of bread. Salvare’s unique frozen shots of wine finish these platters with the deep, satisfying feeling of a sorbet.
Salvare, 403 Ngatarawa Rd, Napier, New Zealand, +64 (06) 874 9409