The First Timer’s Guide To Dining In Invercargill

We’ve rounded up the seven best places to eat in Invercargill, no matter the occasion.

Words by: Caitlin Brown

Photography by: Nancy Zhou

You’d be doing yourself a disservice not to explore all of the hidden gems within Invercargill’s local food scene. From casual fare to steak and seafood, this Southern city leaves nothing to be desired when it comes to a great experience dining out. From the flavours of Mexico to a relaxed tapas bar and bistro, Invercargill manages to strike the perfect balance between great food and ambience without becoming fussy or over-the-top. 

Emberz

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35 East Road, Ascot, Invercargill

The dining room's traditional, elegant vibe invites you to linger over a long dinner at Emberz, with menu options made from fresh ingredients grown in the restaurant’s on-site gardens located just a hop, skip and jump away. The chargrilled steaks are a major hit and taste even better when paired with their thoughtfully chosen “Wine of the Week”. 

Amigo's Mexican Grill

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10 Dee Street, Invercargill

A Mexican food establishment set in the heart of Invercargill, you can’t go wrong with the soft tacos in this cheerful, buzzy spot. From classic flavours like Carne Asada (charred ribeye, salsa verde, fried onion) to inventive options like Calamar y Papas (fried squid, garlic potato, pickled carrot), everyone will find something they love here. If you’re in the right place at the right time, be sure to stop by on Taco Tuesday to pay just $5 a piece for any of their mouth watering taco options.

Level One

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20 Kelvin Street, Invercargill

Tucked away above Kelvin Street, Level One has been a bar for nearly 55 years. This classic spot feels just swanky enough for a special occasion but still plenty casual if you’re just looking for a great meal after work. Top picks include the steak, blue cod, salmon and venison. The bar hosts a solid selection of craft beer, plenty of gins and boutique tonics, and a cocktail menu that might make you hang around a little longer than expected.

Tuatara Café & Bar

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30-32 Dee Street, Invercargill

A downtown Invercargill craft beer bar, brewery and pizzeria, Tuatara Café & Bar is the best place to come for a hot slice and a cool brew. The products they don’t make themselves are sourced from suppliers who share their sustainable food ethics, and they offer everything from a classic Margherita to an inventive dessert pizza with chocolate sauce, berries, bananas, mascarpone and marshmallows.

Ziffs

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143 Dunns Road, Invercargill

Ziffs is the go-to spot just outside of the city, this casual eatery feels like a true escape thanks to an inviting wraparound porch surrounded by lush greenery. The Crispy Chicken Salad is the most popular item on the menu, but it’s far from your average, boring salad. This delightful lunch and dinner main features crispy panko chicken strips, belly bacon, brie, avocado, cashews & tomato on salad greens with aioli.

Buster Crabb

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326 Dee Street, Avenal, Invercargill

This local spot serves up hearty fare, plenty of drink options and a dimly lit atmosphere. Buster Crabb's menu, which doubles as a vintage newspaper and a history lesson, offers starter favourites like the seafood tasting tray and charred breads and dips before moving onto the star of the show, chargrilled steaks ordered to the temperature of your liking

Neat Southland Places

He Waka Tuia

He Waka Tuia sign.
Place Southland
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In the heart of Invercargill you’ll find art and museum space He Waka Tuia, a joint initiative between the Invercargill Public Art Gallery and the Southland Museum and Art Gallery.

The Auction House

The Auction House outdoor seating area with lots of people.
Place Southland
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Open for breakfast through to dinner, expect tasty tapas, a wide range of mains, funky cocktails, an expansive NZ wine list and frequent live music events in the spacious, modern courtyard that often play into the night.

Niagara Falls Café

Graffiti wall inside a covered courtyard.
Place Southland
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A magical café run by a local family in a one room school house constructed in 1893.

The Pantry

The refill bins.
Place Southland
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Invercargill's non-profit health foods store, café and community hub.