Modern dining at Napier's Bistronomy. © Tourism Hawke's Bay

Indulge: 12 unique food and drink experiences in the Hawke’s Bay


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While the region is famous for its stellar vineyards, there are plenty of other dining options in the Hawke’s Bay, too. From American-style barbecue to sleek bistros and quirky coffee carts, we’ve rounded up 12 options, well worth investigating. 

1. Hunger Monger

On Napier’s Marine Parade, just across from the rolling surf you’ll find Hunger Monger – serving possibly the region’s best, freshest seafood. The eclectic, laidback dining room is like visiting someone’s retro but impeccably stylish bach, lush with hanging plants, mismatched sheepskin-covered seats and quirky artwork. But the menu is something else. From freshly shucked oysters, new-style sashimi, fish tacos and seafood morsels to classics like chowder and ubiquitous fish n’ chips, it’s a pescatarian delight. Make sure you order the loaded fries – topped with Kewpie mayo and bizarre, quivering bonito flakes. 

2. Bareknuckle BBQ

Bareknuckle BBQ is fast becoming a legendary Hastings dining experience. Expanding from its original outdoor location, Bareknuckle has now got more permanent digs on Pakowhai Road. Hosts Jimmy and Tam Macken brought this slice of Texas to the Bay, the result of a research trip to learn how to pit-smoke ribs and brisket from some of the USA’s best barbecue masters. It’s southern American style BBQ, served as it would be in Texas and fingers are the best cutlery. Try the slow-cooked pork ribs, wood-smoked beef brisket, or authentic Mexican food with extra jalapeño if you’re feeling brave.

3. Smith & Sheth

A newish addition to the Hawke’s Bay wine and nibbles scene is Smith & Sheth in Havelock North village. Smith & Sheth operates as a cellar door for CRU wines during the day, then morphs into a snug wine lounge come evening. Run by Steve Smith MW and Brian Sheth, the wine list is, of course, exceptional – with local drops complemented by sommelier-selected wines from around the globe. Artisan breads, dips and charcuterie platters are also available.

4. Wallingford Homestead

Wallingford Homestead in Central Hawke’s Bay is the largest single-storey dwelling in the Southern Hemisphere. Built by the Ormond family in 1854, today Wallingford is run as boutique accommodation with a seriously good food offering. Wallingford Kitchen, run by Australian chef Chris Stockdale serves degustation dinners focused on produce sourced largely from the property. Though it certainly helps when said property produces its very own truffles. Enjoy a selection of six small courses with matching wines for dinner and, for the full experience, spend the night in one of the many guest suites to enjoy breakfast the next day, too. 

5. Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market

Tap into the source of local produce at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market – one of New Zealand’s oldest and largest. Every Sunday morning at the showgrounds in Hastings producers, artisans, makers and craftspeople gather to sell their wares. Pick up freshly squeezed juice, pickles, preserves, chocolate, interesting locally-grown produce, meat and seafood while sipping a hot coffee. All dietary requirements are catered for here, with plenty of vegan and gluten free options, plus you can start your food journey from scratch with a range of seedlings to grow at home.

6. Bistronomy

Napier’s award-winning Bistronomy features an eclectic and evolving menu based on local, seasonal produce. Claiming to be ‘one part local, one part global and one part special sauce,’ chef-owner James Beck infuses Hawke’s Bay ingredients with international flair, from his time working in Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe. A casual, modern space creates a relaxed setting for the intricate, creatively inspired cuisine. 

7. Pipi

Pipi is a Hawke’s Bay icon. Serving regionally-famous pizzas, pastas and platters since 2005 the original Havelock North café has branched out to include a food truck that creates much excitement when it visits neighbouring towns. In 2017 the owners announced that the cafe was for sale, but after a local outcry they changed their minds – deciding to preserve the pink and pretty Pipi vibe for years to come. 

8. Fun Buns

Asian street food bar Fun Buns can be found in the centre of Hastings. Owner Nick Pike makes his bao buns fresh every day, serving them with Asian-fusion flavours including a delicious Kiwi Lamb version. The KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) is also not to be missed. Park up at the high tables or sit outside, it’s a casual, lively space that lives up to its fun moniker.

9. Flotsam and Jetsam

A local gem in the heart of Pōrangahu Village, Flotsam and Jetsam serves excellent Good Fortune espresso from a horse float converted into a coffee cart on owner Orlando McDonald’s front lawn. He also whips up a mean smoothie, delicious turmeric lattes and, depending on the day and what’s available, homemade food ranging from mussel chowder (BYO bowl) with rewana bread or handmade bagels. You can also pick up a gorgeous posie of flowers from Backyard Blooms to take home with you.  

10. Matisse

Napier’s Matisse is all about wine and art and the art of wine. The colourful, spacious bar with velvet couches and high tables is an easy spot to while away an evening. Matisse has an ever-changing menu of wines from around the world and knowledgable staff who’ll find a tipple to suit your tastes. Food includes seasonal tapas, also designed to complement the drinks selection. 

11. Malo

From breakfast to cocktails and all the meals in between, Malo serves Hawke’s Bay ingredients with big city style, all in a sleek and stylish space in the heart of Havelock North village. The modern and creative menu includes rustic flavours and adventurous concoctions like duck liver profiteroles and veal tongue croquettes, alongside more classic bistro fare.

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12. Vincis Pizza

If you fancy a hot slice of pizza the size of your head, visit Vincis in a stylishly revamped Art Deco space in Napier. At Vincis, the dough is made on-site and hand stretched to form the gigantic 18” pizzas – apparently the largest in Hawke’s Bay. Traditional Italian toppings include lashings of stringy mozzarella and free range meats. Eat in and watch the world go by from the seats in the arcade window, or grab a slice to go. 

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