GuideFive Food Streets of Nelson

The Nelson food and drink scene is a mixture of exciting newcomers matched with popular staples that have stood the test of time.

Access to fresh local produce from both land and the sea makes the city a big player in New Zealand’s food scene, and a true culinary destination. We’ve gathered together a collection of downtown streets that play host to some of the best eateries and drinkeries in town.

Church Street

Church Street is really a little lane that is home to some interesting eateries. If a celebration of plant-based goodness, Mexican fare or fair-trade coffee sounds like your thing, make sure to head this way.

East St Café

8 Church Street, Nelson

Plant-based food pioneer East St Café knows how to make all things veggies well. Hearty food, great atmosphere and a wide range of craft beers and local wines make this Nelson restaurant a favourite amongst omnivores and vegans alike. Weekly and monthly live gigs top it all off.

Next door to East St, Nicola’s Cantina serves self-proclaimed semi-authentic Mexican Food in a colourful and bustling environment. Expect tasty tacos, big burritos and excellent margaritas, friendly service and overall good vibes.

Behind the bar at East Street Cafe with lots of liquor bottles and hanging plants.


5 Church Street, Nelson

Across the road, Kush Café and Roastery serves great coffee and delicious food within eclectic, retro-infused interiors. Kush sources organic, fair-trade beans from small farms focusing on quality over quantity. Grab beans for your home coffee making purposes here as well.

Retro and vintage framed portraits and sculptures hanging on a bright blue wall.

New Street

​​A wee lane wedged in between the main streets of downtown Nelson, New Street boasts an array of taste bud enticing destinations. Whether you’re after craft beer, great coffee, lunch or a late-night bite, this street won’t disappoint.

Workshop Brewery

32c New Street, Nelson

Next door to Sublime, Workshop Brewery offers a selection of on-site-brewed beer and a food menu starring pizza and burgers. There’s a roaring fire to keep you warm on a winter’s day and outdoor seating for those sunny Nelson summers.

Lots of people sitting outside The Workshop Brewery at night.


22 New Street, Nelson

Just down the street, you’ll find a gate that leads you to the secret garden of DeVille. With plenty of outdoor seating, a sunny day is where this café comes to life but indoors is just as cosy. Expect a breakfast and lunch menu, plus excellent coffee and a good selection of local craft beer and wine.

Just across the road from Deville, Red 16 churns out delicious tacos until late and sports a hefty drinks list. A casual, cosy and intimate atmosphere with regular live music and open mike nights.

The wooden bar inside the Deville cafe at night.

Kirby Lane

Eat globally at Kirby Lane, a bustling outdoor eatery on any given day. 

The Kitchen

111 Bridge Street, Nelson

Right on the corner of Kirby Lane, you’ll find The Kitchen. Simplistic yet enticing, just like the food it offers, this café is a great spot for people-watching while enjoying great coffee and healthy food. You’ll find plenty of paleo and keto options, as well as vegan and vegetarian. 

A plate of food being served onto a plate by a chef at The Kitchen.

Kirby Lane Food Trucks

Kirby Lane, Nelson

The resident food trucks on Kirby Lane, Mister Karaage, Rea’s Tacos and Saed’s Falafel keep everyone well fed with Japanese, tacos and Palestinian culinary goodness while visiting food trucks such as Viva la Vaca (don’t walk past their empanadas) brings in flavours from Argentina. 

A man ordering from a red falafel truck at Kirby Lane market in Nelson.

Hardy Street

​​Home to some of the most exciting restaurants in Nelson, Hardy Street is the foodie destination in town. Along this street, you’ll find some world-class eateries offering interesting fare within tasteful spaces.

Hardy St Eatery

136 Hardy Street, Nelson

Sitting pretty at the beginning of Nelson’s unofficial food street, Hardy St Eatery prides itself on making just about everything on-site – think preserves and sourdough bread. This European-style eatery serves expertly crafted simple, tasty dishes in a beautiful architecturally designed space.

A chef spreading jam onto a toasted piece of sourdough.

Parts & Service

274 Hardy Street, Nelson

Up a block from Arden sits Parts & Service, a light industrial dining space focusing on charcoal-fired food. Meat and fish are cooked in a coal-fired oven, resulting in flavoursome, delicate results. Fresh seasonal ingredients and a menu filled with options from small plates to accompany a drink to the full dinner experience.

A flatlay of multiple plates of food on a concrete background.

Trafalgar Square

Upper Trafalgar Street is the most well-known dining precinct in Nelson and for good reason. It is one of the most picturesque spots in the city with masses of outdoor seating for eating, drinking and people watching. There’s a wide variety of options on the street to please the pickiest in the family and to make things even easier here are our picks for where to dine.


284 Trafalgar Street, Nelson

Local institution Hopgoods restaurant provides a touch of elegance and well-considered fine dining with modern seasonal bistro food in a relaxed atmosphere.

An extreme close up of a plate of lamb and vegetables inside Hopgoods restaurant.

Words by: Petra Nyman
Photos by: Nancy Zhou & Supplied

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