Rincones Sabrosos: The Best Latin American Restaurants in Wellington

Mexican meals on colourful plates.

Taco Tuesday coming up? Here are the best places to head to in Wellington for a fix of Latin American soul food.

Words by: John Son

Photos by: Anna Briggs

Tacos, enchiladas, feijoada, and empanadas - you name it, if it’s a Latin American treat, you’re likely to find it in Wellington.

Perhaps one of the more underrated players in Wellington’s formidable food scene, top-notch Latin American food abounds in the capital - you just have to know where to look.

And we’re not just talking about your run-of-the-mill taco joints. From sizzling asado platters that evoke the flavours and heat of Argentina, to chic cafes serving up meaty Brazilian or Cuban brunches, you can take your tastebuds on a journey through Latin America right here in this compact city. Here are our picks of the bunch.

El Matador

196 Cuba Street, Te Aro

One of the standout restaurants on Cuba Street, El Matador is a meat-lover’s paradise, bringing the joys of Argentinian asado culture to the heart of Wellington. Think chunky, wood-fired steaks served alongside a staggering array of meat and seafood tapas. An authentic South American dessert menu (dulce de leche cheesecake, anyone?) ensures you can certainly finish with something sweet.

Los Banditos

Restaurants key icon.

19 Blair Street, Te Aro

You can’t walk through Blair Street without being drawn in by the neon lights of Los Banditos, and the food inside is just as lively. Bringing a bold, funky take on Mexican food to central Wellington, the menu is jam-packed with sharing dishes that are as tasty as they are Instagrammable. The flaming cheese, best washed down with a sangria jug, is a must-have. 

Tequila Joe’s

35 Dixon Street, Te Aro

With its track record of whipping up Mexican classics done right, it’s no surprise that Tequila Joe’s remains a popular pick for those after a taco fix. Can’t decide what to order? Tequila Joe’s has one of the most impressive daily deal menus in town, so whether you head along on Taco Tuesday or Wings Wednesday, you won’t be out of ideas. Also, did we mention it’s BYO?

The bright yellow and red exterior of Viva Mexico in Wellington.

Viva Mexico

Various locations

Viva Mexico serves some of the best Mexican food in Wellington, and with two stores in town and one in Petone, you’re never far from the delicious tacos, quesadillas, and other treats on offer. The menu here is a celebration of the tried and tested Mexican staples, so get ready to indulge in all the ceviche, enchiladas, and flautas you can handle.

Ernesto’s

1 Grey Street, Wellington Central

Offering a fusion of Cuban cuisine and American soul food, Ernesto’s is a classy bar and restaurant that blends in with its sophisticated Grey Street neighbours. Open for breakfast, brunch, and dinner, each menu takes you on a different Latin American journey, from breakfast wraps through to hefty burgers and sandwiches. The daily deals are worth checking out too - who could say no to Mojito Mondays?

Bebemos

88 Riddiford Street, Newtown

A quirky little spot that fits seamlessly into its Newtown surrounds, Bebemos is a fantastic all-day eatery serving up classic Latino dishes. Take a seat by the fire inside or for a change of scenery, check out the heated beer garden out back, before diving into the extensive menu. For a versatile brunch or dinner option, try Bebemos’ take on Brazil’s national dish feijoada (black bean stew with wild meats and chorizo).

El Barrio

35 Dixon Street, Te Aro

Tucked away up above street view, El Barrio is a great spot for enjoying some tapas with a side of people-watching. But the tantalising Latin American dishes and cocktails are far from the only drawcards here, as El Barrio is where you come for some serious fun. Whether it’s the live music and fiestas every weekend or the salsa and cocktail-shaking lessons, with karaoke thrown in for good measure, there’s always something happening in this noisy stretch of Dixon Street.

Neat Wellington Places

Cake & Kitchen

A fake living wall inside a brightly lit cafe.
Place Hutt Valley Upper Hutt
Cafes key icon.

Cake & Kitchen is a cafe in Upper Hutt, bringing people together over delicious food and coffee.

Squirrel

The beautiful entry to Squirrel cafe in Wellington.
Place Wellington
Cafes key icon.

Nestled near the corner of popular Blair Street, Squirrel offers a warm and inviting haven complemented by a menu that showcases the best of Wellington’s producers and suppliers.

LUCKY

Burger and fries.
Place Wellington
Restaurants key icon.

Keeping things simple, LUCKY takes its vibes from the West Coast skate scene, where doing your own thing comes with a hint of rebellion.

Miss Fortune's

Coffee machine and bags of coffee on a colourful counter in Miss Fortune's cafe
Place Hutt Valley Lower Hutt
Cafes key icon.

Lower Hutt’s industrial precinct isn’t exactly where you’d think to head for a slice of quintessential Wellington hospitality, but at Miss Fortune’s, you’ll find one of the region’s most charismatic little brunch spots.