Calling all foodies and wine connoisseurs, Hawke’s Bay is the place for you! From fine dining winery restaurants to cellar doors full of character to brunches and lunches that will blow your mind, here are 12 of the best restaurants in Hawke’s Bay.

Good food is one of the things I miss the most about travel, and it’s not something New Zealand is particularly known for.

Sure, we’ve got some icons (Fergburger in Queenstown comes to mind), our fish and chips are better than the UK, and each city has a handful or two of top restaurants, but I never thought we could compete with my favourite foodie destinations like Vietnam, Italy and Turkey.

But I’ll admit it now, I spoke way too soon!

Mum and I headed to Hawke’s Bay for three days with the aim of testing out some of their best food and wine experiences, and we were not disappointed. We finished the trip with a newfound appreciation for New Zealand’s food suppliers, an obsession with honey like never before, and more than a few bottles of wine.

Whether you’re looking for good coffee and a sweet treat to start the day, a fancy lunch for a special celebration, or an epic food experience to add to your Hawke’s Bay itinerary, there’s a Hawke’s Bay restaurant on this list that will satisfy your cravings.

Read on for my top picks of the best restaurants in Hawke’s Bay, including cafés and restaurants in Napier, Havelock North and Hastings.

Best brunch in Napier: Mister D

47 Tennyson Street, Napier

With freshly made bread, pastries and loaded doughnuts complete with injectable fillings, visiting Mister D is one of the best things to do in Napier for brunch lovers.

Their breakfast menu is packed with the classics like smashed avo, granola and a big breakfast, along with less common dishes like cheesy baked eggs, fish cake eggs benedict, and a winter warmer in the form of apple crumble porridge.

They also have a fab lunch/dinner menu for later in the day, and their parmesan shortbread is to die for.

Must-eat meal: A cinnamon doughnut with an R18 42 Below Manuka Honey Vodka Jelly syringe *drool*

Best Asian restaurant in Hawke’s Bay: SAI Thai Eatery

205 Emerson Street, Napier

For an authentic and modern Thai restaurant experience, SAI Thai Eatery is unbeatable.

Open for lunch from 11.30am-3pm and dinner from 5pm til late, make sure you plan your day to make sure you get here with an empty stomach, because the dishes are big!

SAI Thai has all the usual suspects like pad Thai, chicken cashew and tom yum soup, but they pride themselves on cooking authentically rather than catering to Western tastes.

Their signature starter is meang kana, a explosion in a single mouthful of Chinese broccoli lead, ginger, lime, cashew nuts, pork crackling and shredded coconut. Mind blowing.

I’d suggest going with a bunch of friends so you can order for the table and try as many of the dishes as possible.

Must-eat meal: They have an option to order assorted desserts so you get five different sweet treats to try! We loved the coconut ice cream and lychee & lime sorbet.

Best European restaurant in Napier: Central Fire Station Bistro

163 Tennyson St, Napier

Open for dinner from 5.30pm til late on Tuesdays to Sundays, and lunch from 12pm to 3pm on Friday only, Central Fire Station Bistro is a newcomer to the Hawke’s Bay restaurant scene, having only opened in late 2019.

The Bistro is set in one of Napier’s iconic art deco buildings, and the interior is decked out with velvet green booth seats, vibrant wallpaper and an open kitchen to see the expert chefs at work.

The menu changes based on what seasonal produce is available locally but you can expect beautifully presented dishes, simple yet refined flavours and good options for vegetarians as well as seafood and meat eaters. The wine list is impressive too, with local as well as international options for most wine varieties.

Must-eat meals: We ordered the sourdough with brown butter and manchego croquettes with burnt honey for the table, fried halloumi as a starter and gnocchi with blue cheese and walnut for the main, and all of the dishes were brilliant.

Best restaurant in Havelock North: Malo

4 Te Aute Road, Havelock North

Located right next to the lobby of Porters Boutique Hotel, Malo is a vibrant modern eatery serving up seasonal dishes and funky cocktails.

The service at Malo was next level, super quick and it was cosy and warm inside on a chilly winter’s night. Despite the time of year I couldn’t resist trying one of their famous cocktails and opted for some sugary goodness which came out in a huge tiki cup!

The menu changes often and they use a bunch of local ingredients like Arataki honeycomb, Te Mata mushrooms and Hohepa cheese. Carnivores will love the butcher’s block selection, and there are plenty of options for vegetarians to get their fill too.

This place was my favourite of all the restaurants in Hawke’s Bay that we visited.

Must-eat meal: We had some seriously impressive dishes here but the goats cheese, Arataki honey and thyme profiteroles are probably one of the best meals I’ve ever. Big call I know! I also highly recommend the feijoa dessert which comes with Malibu foam and coconut ice cream, divine.

Best classic winery restaurant in Hawke’s Bay: Mission Estate

198 Church Road, Taradale, Napier 

There’s no doubt that Mission Estate is a finely-tuned commercial operation, boasting the title of New Zealand’s oldest winery and being a reliable and affordable wine option for people all over Aotearoa.

The historic seminary building is incredible, especially when you learn that it was cut into 11 pieces (yep, 11!) back in 1909 and moved 5km to the site where it currently stands.

The onsite restaurant is elegant and sophisticated, with comfy chairs and friendly service. The meals are delicious but not too contemporary or over-the-top, so it’s a good option if you’re travelling with older family or even picky eaters. There’s things like soup, risotto, beer battered fish, roast chicken and eye fillet, to name a few options.

Make sure you book in a time for wine tasting before or afterwards as Mission staffs their cellar door based on reservations, and you don’t want to miss out.

Must-eat meal: We ordered the banana crème brûlée and it was exceptional, I’d go back for that alone!

Best modern winery restaurant in Hawke’s Bay: Black Barn Bistro

Black Barn Road, Havelock North

With an exquisite menu serving up dishes like steak tartare with bone marrow, paua with pork cheek, and venison with shiitake mushrooms, Black Barn Bistro is an award-winning fine dining restaurant set at one of my favourite wineries in Hawke’s Bay.

The indoor restaurant looks over endless vines and for the warmer months there’s an outdoor veranda with a makeshift canopy of grapes overhead.

They also have local cheese available for dessert, or pick up some to take home from their onsite gift shop, Black Barn Kitchen.

Best casual winery lunch in Hawke’s Bay: Askerne Estate

Our visit to Askerne Estate was a bit of a let down… because we had wayyy too much food before we went and couldn’t make the most of their epic gourmet picnics they had on offer! This is SUCH a good idea and I can’t believe more wineries don’t do it.

Askerne offers a different kind of lunch experience than most of the wineries in Hawke’s Bay, they have the option to pick and choose your favourite cheeses, bread, dips, cured meats and other snacks, and make your own DIY grazing platter to enjoy with a glass or bottle of wine (or beer, or juice!).

Any leftovers can go home with you (except for the beer/cider due to licensing) and it means you get to select exactly what you want without worrying about wasting food.

Askerne are also known for their dessert wines which is rare in Hawke’s Bay, so make sure you do a tasting while you’re there.

Must-eat meal: When we visited they had an incredible brie from Australia which was incredible, melt in your mouth! And I love their late harvest Gewürztraminer.

Best Hawke’s Bay food experience: Honey & cheese tasting at Arataki Honey

 66 Arataki Road, Havelock North

Cheese lovers, this one’s for you. Arataki Honey is a local legend, and they’ve been providing Kiwi homes with honey since the 1940s. These days they have an interactive and educational visitor centre on their production site, complete with honey tasting of all their different varieties. It’s a must-do for any families visiting Hawke’s Bay.

But the team at Arataki Honey are taking their experience to the next level for foodies like you and me, with a brand new honey and cheese tasting experience in conjunction with a few other legendary local suppliers.

You’ll taste five different types of Arataki Honey, paired with delicious cheeses from Origin Earth, and a platter full of local treats like Te Mata figs, Wild Game Salami, Telegraph Hill Olives and Le Petite Chocolat, to name a few.

We were the guinea pigs for this new tasting tour and it was absolutely amazing, I only wish I had room in my stomach to eat more! The only thing better than fresh bread, delicious honey and creamy cheese is when all three of them are locally made and paired by the food suppliers themselves. The dream!

The tasting session lasts about an hour and they can have groups of up to 8. The experience isn’t bookable online yet but I’ll update this post when it is, for now if you’re interested then get in touch with Arataki Honey with your travel dates here.

Best coffee in Napier: Georgia on Tennyson

42 Tennyson Street, Napier

I’m not a coffee drinker so I’ve had to rely on word of mouth for this one, but my local friends all love this coffee house right in town.

Georgia on Tennyson’s house brew is made with ‘Flight’ beans but they also offer a range of coffee from other roasteries, using a variety of methods to make sure you get your ultimate cup o’ joe.

Pick your poison, add on a pastry and enjoy the sun while people-watching from their pavement tables.

Best seafood restaurant in Napier: Hunger Monger

129 Marine Parade, Napier

I can’t speak from experience here as I haven’t been yet but Hunger Monger has a 5/5 Facebook rating and 4.6/5 from more than 600 reviews on Google, so I think it’s only fair that it has a place on this list.

Located on Marine Parade opposite the beach, the seafood here is fresh and plentiful. The seasonal menu boasts dishes like seafood chowder, crab dumplings, fish tacos and octopus on a skewer, and the takeaway menu offers $12 Fish’n’Chips with 120g of fresh fish battered or crumbed, served with chips, lemon and tartare sauce. An absolute bargain.

Best cocktails in Napier: Monica Loves

Tucked down a laneway behind Mister D, Monica Loves has one of the most impressive drinks list I’ve ever seen in New Zealand.

Whether you want a bright and beautiful cocktail, an up-and-coming craft beer or a glass of local vino, this is the perfect place to stop for a pre-dinner tipple or to get you and the girls ready for a night on the town.

The snacks menu is also worth a look, with chorizo spring rolls, eye fillet crostinis and a couple of excellent platters to choose from.

Best healthy café in Hawke’s Bay: Pixie Bowls

Shop 2/10 Napier Road, Havelock North

Step into Pixie Bowls on Havelock North’s main road and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Bondi Beach or a Balinese café.

With a focus on fresh and healthy drinks and meals, Pixie Bowls churns out Instagrammable fruit-filled smoothie bowls, oat bowls and healthy toasts, as well as offering a brilliant coffee menu.

Each bowl comes with fresh fruit, granola, coconut yoghurt and a variety of toppings, and then you can choose to add on superfoods like goji berries, chia seeds and cacao nibs to your heart’s content.

Best bakery: Y’a Bon French Baker

216 Heretaunga Street East, Hastings 

This artisan bakery supplied the sourdough bread at our honey and cheese tasting session, and we were so impressed that we had to go and buy a load (or three) to take with us.

They’ve also got a small deli with imported cheeses and meats available, plus fresh pastries and next level coffee.

Who’s hungry after reading all that? I hope I’ve helped you decide on where to eat in Napier, Havelock North and Hastings, and given you some good ideas for restaurants in Hawke’s Bay.

If you think I’ve missed anywhere important then let me know in the comments and I’ll make sure to visit on my next Hawke’s Bay adventure.

My trip to Hawke’s Bay was sponsored by Hawke’s Bay Tourism. As always all opinions are my own and are totally based on my personal experience.


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