The 10 Best Bars On Cuba Street, Wellington

Matthew Clark

Cuba Street is Wellington’s own little piece of bohemia – the culture and food is a throwback to the Caribbean island of Cuba, even though historically it is not related to the multi-ethnic country on the other side of the world. This inner city street is host to some of the best restaurants and music venues. Read on to discover the best bars in the area.

Fidel’s Back Garden

1. Good Luck Bar

Bar, Pub Grub, Oceanian

Good Luck Bar is an underground bar that serves delicious Asian -inspired bar snacks to accompany the great selection of cocktails and sangria jugs. It’s busy on weekends, when live DJs perform, but it’s well worth the visit in order to make the most of the great drinks specials on offer. Although this is a regular hang out for a more alternative and hipster crowd, anyone is guaranteed to have a great night.

2. Olive Café

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Australian, Contemporary

Olive Cafe
© Phillip Capper / Flickr
Olive, a restaurant, cafe and bar, is one of Wellington’s secret havens. Its outside garden area is adorned with palm trees and wooden decor, and is a great place to have a drink between friends, or even a romantic drink with someone special. If you’d prefer to eat indoors, the simple, intimate decor is great for a casual dinner. Olive Café offers a fresh and delicious breakfast menu from 8am onwards, a selection of fast and light snacks, long, lazy lunches or contemporary Mediterranean options for dinner.

Opening hours: 8am-late daily

3. Duke Carvell’s Swan Lane Emporium

Bar, Cafe, Oceanian

Duke Carvell’s Swan Lane Emporium
Image courtesy of Duke Carvell’s Swan Lane Emporium
Duke Carvell’s Swan Lane Emporium is located in Wellington’s center, and is a throw-back to the Victorian era, when the art of cocktail-making first made its appearance on the bar scene. As well as offering a wide selection of beverages, this bar and cafe offers hearty food that warms the soul and goes perfectly with the traditional cocktails provided by the skilled bartenders.

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-late; Sat-Sun 9am-late

4. Laundry Bar

Bar, Pub Grub, Caribbean, Cajun

Another venue that embraces Cuba Street’s quirky vibe is Laundry Bar. Set up to look like an old central city Laundromat, this is one of Cuba Street’s coolest bars and music venues, and it exhibits some of Wellington’s greatest up-and-coming DJs and live local musicians. This is also a great place to come for a bite to eat, and on the menu are a range of Caribbean options and Cajun-inspired cooking, granting an appropriate Cuban atmosphere to the establishment.

Opening hours: 4.30pm-3am daily

5. Havana Bar

Bar, Restaurant, Cuban, Tapas, Street Food

The quirky, colorful decor in this hidden tapas bar pays homage to Cuba’s largest city and capital. You can have a bite to eat while enjoying the music of local and international artists or the DJs who play here three nights a week. On top of a dinner menu that features authentic Cuban flavors, Havana Bar is happy to offer their list of tapas options, providing a modern twist on the Spanish tradition.

Opening hours: Mon-Thur 11am-1am; Fri-Sat 11am-3am

6. Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant

Bar, Restaurant, European, Vegetarian

A favorite meeting place on Cuba Street for over 100 years, Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant is more than just a place to get a drink, it’s a part of the community. In addition to its top-notch food and drinks menu, there are plenty of things to do at this bar and restaurant. Check out their website to see what events are coming up.

Opening hours: Mon-Thur 8am-12am; Fri-Sat 8am-3am;Sun 9am-12am

7. Matterhorn

Bar, Restaurant, Oceanian

The history of Matterhorn is hard to pin down, as it is laced with hearsay and gossip from over 50 years of trading since 1963. There is one thing we know for certain about this restaurant, cafe and cocktail bar – it’s a gem that has graced Cuba Street’s dining and bar scene for years, and remains a favorite for many of Wellington’s residents. The decor in Matterhorn’s dining room is reminiscent of some of the finest dining establishments in New Zealand, whereas the outdoor bar area is a classy modern garden bar.

Opening hours: Mon-Sat 3pm-late; Sun 1pm-late

8. Fidel's Café

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Mexican, European, Cuban

Fidel’s Café represents the country from which Cuba Street takes its name, from the decor to the food and, of course, the drinks. As well as offering a Caribbean-inspired brunch until 4pm, an all day menu from midday, and pizzas from 5pm, this cafe also offers a huge range of non-alcoholic, hand-made juices and smoothies, not to mention the authentic Cuban coffee, which is sure to give you a boost. Of course we can’t forget that this is a great place to kick back with some mates and have a few beers.

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-10pm; Sat 8am-10pm; Sun 9am-10pm

9. San Fran

Nightclub, Cocktails

Originally known as a rock venue, San Fran now presents a wide selection of music genres as live entertainment on Cuba Street. San Fran is a great spot to discover up-and-coming Kiwi artists, as well as more well-known international musicians who take to the stage. Behind the long bar you can expect the award-winning service for which this venue is known, as well as the wide selection of local and international beers and ciders.

Opening hours: Tues-Thur 3pm-1am; Fri-Sat 3pm-4am

10. S&M Cocktail and Lounge Bar

Gay Bar, Pub Grub, Oceanian

S&M Bar
Image courtesy of S&M Bar 
The dark wooden walls and Egyptian chandeliers aren’t all that’s classy about Scotty and Mal’s Cocktail and Lounge Bar, where you can expect to be served a great quality cocktail or a classic gin and tonic. The owners of this elegant institution are Scotty and Malcolm, a power couple who have been leaders of the hospitality industry in Wellington for years. This is a great place to come for a quiet drink during the week, but don’t be fooled, as on the weekend the downstairs bar is frequented by their resident DJ, who will help you party the night away.

Opening hours: 5pm-late daily
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