The Best Cafés and Restaurants in New Plymouth
For a smaller city, New Plymouth’s hospitality scene punches well above its weight.
Words by: Grace Hall
Photos by: Anna Briggs
With plenty of good cafés, restaurants and bars to pick from, our carefully selected list of just some of the many New Plymouth establishments that aren’t to be missed: expect everything from coffee to craft beer, yum cha to woodfired pizza. It pays to head to New Plymouth hungry.
Liardet Street Project
21 Liardet Street, New Plymouth
A collection of food trucks and stalls in a communal courtyard area, Liardet Street Projects has something for everyone, including Vietnamese to healthy poke bowls to Spanish cuisine and Malaysian classics. A firm favourite with locals is Gamma Ray’s, which some go as far as to say, serve the best burgers in the galaxy. Their cheeseburger is a knockout. Coffee roasters Escape keep the punters caffeinated with their site, Rinsed.
162 Devon Street East, New Plymouth
A relatively new kid on New Plymouth's restaurant scene, State Pasta serves some of the best (you guessed it) pasta in town. The pasta is made fresh daily, with an emphasis on letting good quality ingredients sing. There’s plenty of antipasto to snack on with an Aperol spritz too, all of which comes served with fresh, homemade focaccia. In keeping with Italian tradition, there’s gelato by the scoop made by Left Coast Gelato, and great tiramisu to round off your meal.
40 Powderham Street, New Plymouth
In what was once New Plymouth’s Salvation Army Citadel, you’ll now find one of the city’s hottest restaurants, Social Kitchen. A meat-heavy menu of plates designed to be shared, there’s plenty on offer for non-meat eaters too. The house-made blue cheese gnocchi is a standout. On balmier evenings there’s no better spot to enjoy a jug of sangria and antipasto platter than Social Kitchen’s sheltered outdoor courtyard.
117 Devon Street East, New Plymouth
A favourite ever since it opened its doors back in 2006, Elixir does good coffee made using beans from New Plymouth roastery Ozone Coffee, laidback service, loud music and the kind of Kiwiana kitsch decor you’d expect to find in a rugged Taranaki West Coast bach. Don’t go past Elixir’s chicken and bacon sandwich, which is, as the menu says, “Taranaki famous”, or the mince on toast, a dish of truly epic proportions.
42 Queen Street, New Plymouth
Monica’s Eatery is named after the founding benefactor of New Plymouth's Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Situated at the sunny end of the Gallery, Monica’s is a restaurant that is as well-suited to long lunches as it is perching at a communal leaner knocking back an early morning espresso. At breakfast time, the variations on eggs are hard to pass. Come lunch, expect wood-fired flatbreads and plates of pasta, best washed down with a glass of wine or something from the small but ‘covers all bases’ cocktail list.
The Federal Store
440 Devon Street East, Strandon, New Plymouth
About a five-minute drive from New Plymouth’s CBD, in the popular suburb of Strandon, is The Federal Store, affectionately known by locals as ‘The Fed’. Look for hearty breakfasts, a cabinet chock-full of delicious salads and generously portioned home baking, a steady stream of locals popping in for milkshakes after a surf at the nearby East End Beach and really good coffee.
Fork n Knife
91A Devon Street West, New Plymouth
Down a long corridor, in a space that was once a tattoo parlour, is Fork n Knife, a postage stamp-sized restaurant that punches well above its weight. Open Wednesday - Saturday nights for dinner, Fork n Knife offers some of the best value restaurant dining in New Plymouth, with its ever-changing menu of four courses for $70 a head (you can dine a la carte too). Expect exciting twists on old favourites and lots of regional produce. Run by a young local couple, Fork n Knife nails being relaxed and fun; in fact, it almost feels like you’re hanging out in the owners’ (very delicious) dining room.
326 Devon Street East, New Plymouth
One of the best places in town for coffee and cake is Tartan Rose, a small café on the fringes of New Plymouth’s CBD. The cakes here are impressive - generously portioned and beautifully presented. You will find flavours that are far from run-of-the-mill, and plenty of options for those who are gluten, dairy or nut-free. The coffee is good and made using Supreme beans, and so too is the menu of sandwiches and salads. Just make sure you leave room for the cake.
Ms White and Snug Lounge
47 Queen Street, New Plymouth
The White Hart Hotel was once the headquarters of New Plymouth’s motorcycle gang, the Magogs, but now, after being lovingly restored and rebranded as the West End Precinct, it’s home to some of the best places to eat and drink in the city. Find yourself a seat in the busy, covered courtyard and take your pick from Ms White’s lineup of woodfired pizzas and craft beer, or the Snug Lounge’s Japanese-inspired tapas and seriously good cocktails. This place is loud and bustling and fun.
The Laughing Buddha
38 Currie Street, New Plymouth
One of New Plymouth’s only authentic Chinese restaurants, the Laughing Buddha is a restaurant where sharing is encouraged, so take a group if you can. Housed in an upstairs area that was once a wine and jazz bar, the Laughing Buddha is a cooked-to-order yum cha restaurant at lunchtime and BYO by night. Takeaway and kid-friendly too, it’s little wonder that the place has continued its history of being a bustling local favourite.
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