It’s important to get a taste of whatever town you’re visiting, and the best way to do that is to simply get out and about and sit yourself down at some of the neatest restaurants in town.
If you’re short on time in Wanaka or you’re just eager to go straight to the best, we’ve done our share of taste testing to bring you Eat Wanaka – a foodies guide to what to order where.
Hot Mac burger, Red Star Burger
26 Ardmore Street, Wanaka
If the rave reviews of most of the town are anything to go by, then you best buy your next burger from Red Star. Most of the burger ingredients come from The Mediterranean Market next door, while the team craft the rest of their sauces, chutneys and patties in-house each day.
For something to really quell the hunger pains, go for the Hot Mac Burger (beef, Swiss cheese and jalapeños in the freshest of buns), but don’t kid yourself with a knife and fork - this beast needs taming by serious eaters only.
Roti ‘n Roll, Federal
47 Helwick Street, Wanaka
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so the saying goes, and hence why Federal Diner’s most popular lunch time dish ain’t going anywhere.
Braised pork shoulder with hoisin sauce, coriander, Vietnamese mint, QP mayonnaise and pickled chilli all packaged onto a roti wrap - lunchtime feasting at its best, and a hearty meal that won’t leave you hungry. Beware wandering forks from your lunch partners though, as this one is hard to resist a taste of.
Vegan pie, Fedeli
47 Helwick Street, Wanaka
When your devout meat-eating customers also start buying your vegan pies, you know they must be really darn good. A satay mix made with coconut cream, carrots, beans and other veges, the whole pie mix is encased in fresh crunchy olive-oil pastry.
A pie like no other, it’s no wonder if you arrive after lunchtime, there will be only crumbs in the cabinet.
Beef Wellington, Cardona Hotel
Cardrona Valley Road, Cardrona
A lunchtime excursion out to Cardrona Hotel is more than likely to give you an appetite, so once you’ve finished fawning over the most beautiful historic building in the region, park up at a table and set your eyes on the excellent menu.
You can’t go past the beef wellington here, where the kitchen staff have got creative on an old favourite and wrapped beef fillet in mushroom and prosciutto, paired it with pickled walnuts and wrapped the whole lot in flaky pastry. Cooked to perfection and garnished with bright sprigs of rosemary, this is a sight to make the trip well worth it.
Fish tacos, Burrito Craft
42 Brownston Street, Wanaka
Ask the team at Burrito Craft why fish tacos are their best seller, and they’ll tell you simply ‘it’s coz they’re delicious’. There’s no real arguing with that, and when you’ve tried one yourself you’ll be inclined to agree.
The fish is battered in polenta and cornflour (making this a gluten free treat too), while the cabbage has been pickled in lime to give it a real zing of flavour. All packed into the perfect little taco pouch, it’s best to order three at once coz they’ll be gone snap quick.
Homemade ice cream, Kika
2 Dunmore Street, Wanaka
Perhaps not the first thing you think of when it comes to fine dining, the dessert menu at Kika is just as stunning as the main menu. Proud to push the boundaries when it comes to flavour and presentation, Kika has pulled out all the stops to make the humble ice cream on a stick into something special.
Served on locally made rimu blocks and coming in flavours like lavender and shortbread, the desserts are then sprinkled with extra ingredient adornments.
Gnocci braised beef, Francesca's
93 Ardmore Street, Wanaka
There’s no denying that the best pasta in town comes from one of the best Italian restaurants.
Francesca’s offers diners the chance to eat house-made potato gnocchi dotted with squares of pecorino, served on a bed of golden gremolata and swimming in rich, dark sauce from the braised beef cheeks – this is a dish to put all previous pasta dishes to shame.
Pair it with a bowl of polenta fries, because you’ll definitely be needing something to soak up those juices.
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