Cosy Corners, Filling Foods and Winter Warmers around Wellington

A fluorescent sign that says 'just as hot as you'.

Wherever you go in Wellington, you’ll be sure to find a cosy corner offering a hearty meal or a punchy cocktail to keep you warm in winter.

Words by: John Son

Photos by: Anna Briggs

Wellington embraces winter like few other cities do. Sure, it gets a bit nippy, and that famous horizontal rain doesn’t help, but when it comes to finding shelter, you have a plethora of inviting options. 

Tucked away in this compact city’s many nooks and crannies, you’ll find an unbeatable range of cosy corners to retreat to. From homely restaurants serving hearty meals to hidden wine bars where you can kick back by a real fireplace, here are some cosy corners to add to your list this winter.

Hawthorn Lounge

Bars key icon.

82 Tory Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Tory Street might not be the first spot that comes to mind when you think of hidden bars, yet it is home to Hawthorn Lounge, a superb place to seek shelter from the biting cold. One of the most popular speakeasy-style outfits in Wellington, Hawthorn Lounge exudes class and warmth in equal measure - think oversized leather sofas, moody lighting, and intimate tables for two. Order your favourite cocktail at the polished oak bar, park up at a seat by the fireplace if you can, and wile the night away at this secluded little haven.  

Hanging Ditch

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14 Leeds Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Another secluded Wellington bar that executes the moody vibes to perfection, Hanging Ditch is a linchpin of the popular Leeds Street and a great place to warm yourself up. The dim lighting bounces off the bottles suspended from the ceilings, the leather bound menus, and the array of trinkets strewn across the walls, giving the place an effortlessly cosy feel. Grab one of their signature cocktails and spend the night soaking it all in.

A close up of lots of bowls of curry on a table.

Indian Alley

290 Wakefield Street, Te Aro

When it comes to dinners that are guaranteed to warm you up, few match the reliability of a solid Indian curry. Indian Alley on Wakefield Street is one of the best places to get your korma or madras fix or dive straight into a fiery vindaloo to really get the sinuses going. Don’t forget to check out the chef’s signature dishes, too, including the popular parda biryani, a truly unique treat for all lovers of Indian food.

Little Beer Quarter

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6 Edward Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Tucked away on Edward Street, one of Wellington’s many hidden side streets, Little Beer Quarter feels like a world away from the city — and that’s before you even walk in. One of the homeliest little spots in town, the inside resembles more of an extended living room rather than a bar, and you’re certainly invited to make yourself comfortable. With 14 rotating taps, more than 100 beers in the fridge, and a great pizza menu to match, the team will have you sorted for the evening.

Squirrel

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4 Blair Street, Te Aro, Wellington

For a calm, cosy and contemporary café escape from the elements, you’ll find more than just nutty treasure at Squirrel (the almond croissants are all-time, though). Just two streets back from the waterfront’s wide open sky, take a seat at the window and watch the world (and weather) go by, or curl up in a corner booth and take in the cheery interiors; fresh flowers, upcycled chairs, hanging bulbs and greenery; and of course, dig in: to their decadent toast offering, excellent coffee and irresistible baked cabinet goodies.

Puffin

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60 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Carrying on the theme of secluded spots to nestle in when it gets cold, Puffin is one of the classiest wine bars in Wellington and a great place for a winter nightcap. Grab a spot at one of the plush velvet booths and really feel the warmth as the place continues buzzing well into the night. An extensive wine list has all your bases covered, and there’s a great range of small plates in case you’re feeling peckish.

Cicio Cacio

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behind Moon Bar 167 Riddiford Street, Newtown, Wellington

A real gem discreetly hidden away in the heart of Newtown, Cicio Cacio offers much more than a nice Italian meal. The traditional Italian Osteria is perhaps one of the most Instagram-worthy restaurants in town, with the warm wooden interior, the fireplace, and all the little details on both floors easily making you feel at home. The menu (entirely in Italian, of course) changes every month, and the knowledgeable team is always on hand to help you navigate it.

Crumpet

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109 Manners Street, Te Aro

The perfect place to curl up on a wet winter evening, Crumpet has rightly earned its reputation as a favourite haunt for local cocktail aficionados. Take a seat by the window with a custom-made cocktail (you can’t go wrong with the sazerac) and do a spot of people-watching against the wintery backdrop. The bar is as homely as they come, but for an added bit of warmth, order a loaded crumpet to nibble on.

Mabel’s

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66 Tory Street, Te Aro, Wellington

For a winter warmer with a difference, try a Burmese dinner at Mabel’s. Co-owner Marlar and her team will ensure you’re looked after well, serving up unique Southeast Asian delights you won’t find anywhere else in town. Rich curries and noodle bowls dominate the menu, making it a perfect place for a winter treat. Make sure you sample one of the signature dishes, la phet thoke (a salad made from fermented tea leaves) and the tohu, a delicious, chickpea flour-based ‘tofu’.

Neat Wellington Places

Cake & Kitchen

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