7 things you should eat in Manawatū

The Manawatū has more than their fair share of delicious, local ingredients to work with.

Pastries at Babco.

Feature image: Pastries at Babco. 

Whether you’ve lived here your whole life or are just visiting for a moment, you won’t want to miss these seven dishes which showcase and celebrate local farmers, fishers, bakers, butchers, growers, baristas, chefs and even florists. Lots of the menus change with the seasons, but these plates will give you a sense of what’s in store.

A worker holding sourdough.

BABCO - Brick Artisan Bread Company

3B/95 Albert Street, Terrace End, Palmerston North

BABCO, which stands for Brick Artisan Bread Company, is the bakery of your dreams. Grab a loaf of their famous Everyday Sourdough. This stuff has been perfected over the last five years by owners, bakers and spouses, Alice and Jeremy Hocquard. The duo built the business from the ground up, and are self taught pastry chefs and bread bakers respectively.

The sourdough is perfectly tart and strikes that balance between crunch and chew - it’s a top notch carbohydrate that you don’t want to miss whilst in Palmy. All of the breads, danishes, scones, rolls, sandwiches and other treats, are made on site by the team. Take a loaf (or five) away for toast, platters and sandwiches, or stay a while to enjoy a beautiful pastry with a barista coffee or tea.

Slices on a table.

Ginger Bird

527 Taonui Road, Colyton

This wee country coffee spot has got the goods when it comes to barista coffee and sweet treats. Housed inside of two containers, Ginger Bird is cosy and welcoming.

Everything is made fresh each morning on site, and after a minute or two you’ll forget you’re inside a container all together. Peek inside the cabinet and discover their array of slices for which locals come back again and again. The Bounty Bar has got all the classic coconutty goodness you’d expect but, plot twist, it’s completely vegan without sacrificing even a bit of yom. The cashew caramel slice, meanwhile, balances savoury, nutty flavours with sticky, sweet caramel and also happens to be gluten free. While gluten free and vegan treats aren’t the sole focus, Ginger Bird does them excellently. Check out the homemade pies, too!

A close up of squid on a plate.

Saigon Corner

54 Princess Street, Palmerston North

The salt and pepper squid salad at Saigon Corner strikes a perfect balance between moreish and nutritious, and can be enjoyed as a main or as a sharing plate amongst mates.

Fresh cuts of squid are delicately fried till golden brown and dressed with plenty of salt and pepper. They’re then perched atop a heaping of colourful salads made of green apple, spring onions, celery, coriander, carrot, peanut and cabbage with a zingy dressing. These fresh, punchy flavours paired with the crispy, fried squid, are completely delicious and will leave you feeling satisfied and well looked after. 

A whitebait pattie.

Feilding Farmers Market

Manchester Square, Feilding

For the last 15 years, the Feilding Farmers Market has popped up every Friday morning on Manchester Square just beneath the clock tower. Here you’ll find an array of fruits, flowers, veggies, cheeses, olive oils, cakes, breads and other locally grown and made products. So stock up and enjoy a meal here, as well.

Peter and Ash, two local sheep farmers, serve up notable white bait, paua, and mussel fritters at the market, and they’ve got the classic recipe down to a science. For the whitebait fritter, it’s just “two eggs and some whitebait.” In reality, it’s a lot of whitebait, one of the most generous serves you’ll find maybe anywhere in New Zealand for just ten bucks. Add your own lemon, salt, pepper and t-sauce and enjoy this simple, yet supremely satisfying, New Zealand treat.

A veggie bowl.

The Herb Farm

86 Grove Road, Kelvin Grove, Ashhurst

Head to The Herb Farm and escape into nature in more ways than one. This beloved skincare brand was created by Lynn Kirkland and her family in 1993. At their Ashurst farm, you can wander through rows of herbs, explore the skincare range in the shop and enjoy a delicious meal at the café.

Running through every aspect of the business is the same ethos and commitment to natural, local and healing ingredients. On the menu at the cafe, you’ll find colourful, nourishing plates like the special ‘Buddha Bowl’. This generous dish comes served with beetroot and garlic dip, garden salad, seasonal roasted veggies, chickpea herb lemon salad, pickled cabbage and ginger and your choice of free range chicken, scotch filet, halloumi, falafel or smoked salmon. Check out the cabinet for inventive desserts like the flower slice which is pretty and delicious. 

Desserts on display in the cabinet at Cafe Cuba.

Café Cuba

236 Cuba Street, Palmerston North

Anyone who loves, or even likes, dessert should not overlook Café Cuba in downtown Palmerston North. The cabinet is filled to the brim with homemade baked goods like chocolate mud cake, custard slice, lemon yoghurt cake, silk cake and so much more.

Each serve of these sweets is hearty, so you can have some now, save some for later or enjoy it all straight away in this humming cafe or on their outdoor patio. Pair with any of their Havana Coffee Works barista coffee beverages for optimal outcome. If you prefer savoury, though, you’re still in luck. Café Cuba does top notch brunch plates including the southern buttermilk fried chicken burger.