Impress Your Tastebuds with Wānaka's Most Delicious Dishes

A staff member holding three plates of food at Kika in Wānaka.

It’s important to get a taste of whatever place you’re visiting, and the best way to do that is to simply get out and about and sit yourself down at some of the neatest restaurants in town.

If you’re short on time in Wānaka or you’re just eager to go straight to the best, we’ve done our fair share of taste testing to bring you Eat Wānaka – a foodies' guide to what to order where.

Hot Mac Burger, Red Star Burgers

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26 Ardmore Street, Wānaka

If the rave reviews of most of the town are anything to go by, then you best buy your next burger from Red Star. Most of the burger ingredients come from Mediterranean Market next door, while the team craft the rest (sauces, chutneys and patties) in-house each day.

For something to really quell the hunger pains, go for the Hot Mac: a chargrilled beef pattie, Swiss cheese and jalapeños in the freshest of buns. Don’t kid yourself by picking up a knife and fork — this beast needs taming by serious eaters only.

Roti Roll, Federal

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47 Helwick Street, Wānaka

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so the saying goes, hence why Federal Diner’s most popular lunch dish ain’t going anywhere.

Braised pork shoulder with hoisin sauce, coriander, Vietnamese mint, QP mayonnaise and pickled chilli on a deliciously soft and flaky roti: this is lunchtime feasting at its best, and a hearty meal that won’t leave you hungry. Beware wandering forks from your lunch partners though, as this one is hard to resist a taste of.

Vegan Pie, Fedeli

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47 Helwick Street, Wānaka

When your devout meat-eating customers also start buying your vegan pies, you know they must be darn good. A satay mix made with coconut cream, carrots, beans and other veggies, the whole pie mix is encased in fresh and crunchy olive oil pastry.

A pie like no other, it’s no wonder that if you arrive after lunchtime there will be only crumbs left in the cabinet.

Bao Buns, Cardona Hotel

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Cardrona Valley Road, Cardrona

A lunchtime excursion out to Cardrona Hotel is more than likely to give you an appetite, so once you’ve finished fawning over the most beautiful historic building in the region park up at a table and set your eyes on the excellent menu.

You can’t go past the bao buns here — the kitchen has got creative with slow-braised beef brisket rendang, pairing it with crispy shallots, cucumber, pickled chilli and coriander. Wrapped in fluffy bao buns, these morsels are a sight (and taste) that make the trip well worth it.

Fish Tacos, Burrito Craft

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42 Brownston Street, Wānaka

Ask the team at Burrito Craft why fish tacos are their best seller, and they’ll simply tell you ‘it’s coz they’re delicious’. There’s no real arguing with that, and when you’ve tried one yourself you’ll be inclined to agree.

The fish is battered in polenta and cornflour (making this a gluten-free goodie, too), while the cabbage has been pickled in lime to give it a real flavour zing. All packed into the perfect little taco pouch, it’s best to order three at once 'coz they’ll be gone before you know it.

Smoothie Bowl, Dripping Bowl

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82 Anderson Road, Wānaka

For a colourful and refreshing meal of nourishing whole foods that’ll give you a taste of the tropics any time of the year, head to Dripping Bowl and wrap your hands around the coconut shell of a smoothie bowl.

This humble food truck has health, nutrition and sustainability at its core, using quality ingredients that are primarily organic and locally sourced where possible. The smoothie bowls are made from soaked chia and coconut milk, are naturally sweetened with things like bananas and date paste and are topped with the delicious crunchy assortment of toasted coconut, cacao nibs, freeze-dried raspberries, toasted buckwheat and Nelson-made granola. Choose from Salted Snickers, Acai Berry and Creamy Green flavours.

Neat Wānaka Places

Wilson & Dorset

A leather armchair with a sheepskin cushion at Wilson & Dorset, Wānaka.
Place Wānaka

We love to sit down. But it wasn’t until we plonked ourselves on a Wilson & Dorset Shaggy Bean Bag and lounged on their sheepskin rugs that we realised just how good putting one’s feet up could be. What a revelation.

The Old School House

Exterior of The Old School House building.
Place Wānaka
Fashion key icon.

Over a century old, The Old School House is doing far better than most of its age.

Gallery Thirty Three

Entrance to the gallery.
Place Wānaka
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Whether it be painting, sculpture, ceramics or jewellery, this gallery isn’t fussy when it comes to medium.

Cardrona Hotel

Historic cream and maroon weatherboard frontage of Cardrona Hotel with a vintage cream 1968 Chrysler Model 62 parked in front.
Place Wānaka Editor's Pick
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Rumoured to be the most photographed building in the country, Cardrona Hotel was built in 1863 first and foremost as a place to stay for hardworking gold miners.