The 10 Best Outdoor Bars in Dunedin, New Zealand

Carey's Bay Historic Hotel
Carey's Bay Historic Hotel | © Matt / Flickr
Photo of Thalita Alves
25 March 2018

If you like the idea of unwinding outdoors with a nice drink and some good company, Dunedin is a great place to do it. Whether you’re looking for a casual pub experience, a sophisticated bar-restaurant setting or something in between, this buzzing New Zealand city has got you covered. Here’s a selection of 10 must-visit establishments to get you started.

Ironic Cafe and Bar

Bar, Restaurant, Cafe, European, Contemporary, $$$
Red wine | © congerdesign / Pixabay

Ironic Cafe and Bar is located right next to Dunedin’s iconic Railway Station. People often pop by for a weekend lunch or brunch after browsing the Otago Farmers Market; at night, patrons might visit for a lovely sit-down dinner amid the stylish interiors or for some casual drinks at the spacious outdoor seating area. For those wanting to wet their whistle, wine and beers are the house speciality; you’ll find an extensive offering of local and international drops to savour.

Ombrellos Kitchen & Bar

Bar, Restaurant, European, Contemporary, $$$

Ombrellos Kitchen and Bar is a great go-to if you’ve got an affinity for craft beers, live music and an effortlessly sophisticated food menu. A beautiful courtyard area with ample seating allows patrons to relish the venue’s casual ambiance — and it’s also where many of the visiting music acts perform. On a cold night, you can venture indoors to warm up right next to the indoor fireplace. The restaurant and bar has a total of 15 beers on tap, and it’s open for lunch and dinner.

Carey's Bay Historic Hotel

Bar, Pub, Pub Grub, European, Contemporary, $$$
Carey's Bay Historic Hotel | © Matt / Flickr

Carey’s Bay Historic Hotel was originally established in 1894 as a hotel with its own public bar and restaurant. The accommodation side of operations has long been abandoned, but the Victorian-style pub experience has stood the test of time. This venue enjoys a picturesque seaside location that’s ideal for an alfresco seafood meal or some casual drinks as the sun goes down. Craft beers on tap, bottled cider and a varied selection of New Zealand wines are the main items on the drinks menu.

Salt Bar and Restaurant

Bar, Restaurant, Cafe, Contemporary, European, Oceanian, $$$

Salt Bar and Restaurant is one of those establishments that seamlessly transitions from a trendy cafe during the day into a vibrant bar and restaurant at night. Indoor and outdoor seating is part of its appeal; on those bright summer days, visitors can soak up plenty of sunshine. Food offerings include the house’s speciality Bedford Burgers, an array of European-inspired shared plates as well as a selection of meat, poultry and seafood dishes.

The Taproom - Emerson's Brewery

Bar, Craft Ale Bar, Contemporary, European, Oceanian, $$$
Emerson's beer | © baudman / Flickr

Emerson’s is a Dunedin-based craft beer brewery. Since starting operations in the 1990s, Emerson’s flagship location has expanded to include a stylish bar and restaurant known as The Taproom. Whether you choose to revel in the rustic interior vibes or you’d like to sample some ales in the modern outdoor area, you can be sure there will be plenty of food and drink options to keep you satisfied. If you’re feeling peckish, The Taproom offers an array of classic sharing plates, bar snacks and brunch thoroughfares as well as a dedicated kids’ menu.

Luna Bar and Restaurant

Bar, Restaurant, European, Contemporary, Seafood, Vegetarian, $$$

Whether you choose to settle indoors, in the downstairs patio, or on the rooftop deck, there’s one thing you can be certain of: Luna Bar and Restaurant is surrounded by beautiful harbour views. Luna was established in 2008 and offers the ultimate relaxing getaway for those exploring the suburban Roslyn village. For those heading here for a drink, there’s a wide range of fresh tap beers, bottled ales and spirits to choose from. If you’re dropping by for a meal, there’s the ever-changing Risotto of the Day as well as a tasteful selection of meat, seafood, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes to sink your teeth into.

Lone Star Cafe & Bar

Bar, Restaurant, American, $$$
Steak | © Divily / Pixabay

Lone Star has quite a convenient location to share; the George Street bar and restaurant is only a few minutes away from the university and Forsyth Barr Stadium as well as a few local hotels. A spacious courtyard with plenty of outdoor seating adds to the venue’s character and charm. For those unfamiliar with the restaurant chain, Lone Star is renowned for its hearty, American-style meals: think massive steaks, Cajun chicken and your classic Tex-Mex burritos. Drinks include a selection of New Zealand, Australian and international wines, a range of bottle and tap beers, plus a wide array of classic cocktails.

Starfish Cafe & Bar

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, European, Contemporary, Oceanian, $$$
St Clair Esplanade, Dunedin | © itravelNZ / Flickr

Starfish Cafe and Bar is set in Dunedin’s picturesque St Clair Esplanade. The cafe, bar and restaurant boasts some great alfresco dining facilities which includes a stunning upstairs deck with plentiful seaside views. Food is fresh and seasonal, and the menu is regularly updated to make sure the finest local ingredients are used. Make sure to keep an eye on the venue’s Facebook page so you can time your visit to coincide with some cool evening tunes.

Portobello Hotel and Bistro

Bar, Pub, Seafood, Pub Grub, Contemporary, European, $$$
Fish and chips | © sharonang / Pixabay

The Portobello Hotel opened its doors in 1894 and is one of Dunedin’s oldest pubs. Its popularity has been sustained thanks to its sunny indoor and outdoor seating areas, friendly vibes, a fantastic selection of seafood dishes, a comprehensive wine list and a generous offering of beers on tap. Whether you’ve got a taste for seafood chowder or some classic thoroughfares like fish and chips, this is a great place to chill out by the seaside as the night sets in.

Ratbags and Innocent Bystander

Bar, Restaurant, European, Contemporary, $$$

Ratbags is a bar located right at the heart of Dunedin. On the footpath, you’ve got the ultimate alfresco dining venue comprising 12 tables, umbrellas, shade awnings and outdoor heating for those chilly South Island winters. Head upstairs to its sister venue, the Innocent Bystander Pizza Bar, to get a taste of the house’s famous half-metre pizzas, spicy chicken wings and sticky BBQ pork ribs. Live sport and entertainment is a regular fixture on the Ratbag side of operations and the Innocent Bystander’s topless bar is known to attract patrons of all ages.

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