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 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.
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.
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.
Sublime Brew Bar
32 New Street, Nelson
Sublime Brew Bar is a one-stop shop for serious coffee drinkers. A celebration of coffee in its purest form, at Sublime you’ll be sipping expertly crafted single-origin coffee. No espresso machine, just the good stuff how it should be. Find a selection of homemade cinnamon buns, scones and biscuits to accompany that cuppa.
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.
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.
Eat globally at Kirby Lane, a bustling outdoor eatery on any given day.
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.
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.
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.
216 Hardy Street, Nelson
Further down the street, you’ll find another true foodie experience at Arden Bar & Kitchen. Tapas style dishes that are designed to share, yet also perfect for the solo diner, great atmosphere and friendly service. Minimalistically appealing décor, seasonal food, plus a wide variety of natural wines makes Arden a must visit.
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.
Urban Oyster Bar & Eatery
278 Hardy Street, Nelson
Right next door to Parts & Service sits another restaurant worth getting to know. Urban Oyster Bar & Eatery functions as much as a bar as a restaurant. Sit along the open kitchen and watch the chef at work, or park on the bar side and let the drinks list be the focus of deliberation. Fresh oysters and an ever-evolving international menu filled with surprising and delicious dishes.
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.
Harry’s Hawker House
296 Trafalgar Street, Nelson
Bringing the flavours of South-East Asian street food to Nelson is Harry’s Hawker House. Their range of delicious shared plates is created with ingredients that are close to 80% homegrown and self harvested, resulting in a true garden to plate experience in a bustling and fun environment.
Words by: Petra Nyman
Photos by: Nancy Zhou & Supplied