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. 

Louies Café & Tapas Bar

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142 Dee Street, Invercargill, Southland

Louie’s Blue Cod stands out amongst the rest thanks to a light sauce made of pinot gris, caper and lemon cream sauce, served on a bed of roast potatoes and spinach. Alongside is pickled ginger, fresh coriander and microgreens, adding the perfect touch of colour and brightness to the meal. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here, though. The tapas menu offers plenty of options for a shared dining experience.

Emberz

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35 East Road, Ascot, Invercargill, Southland

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, Southland

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, Southland

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, Southland

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, Southland

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, Southland

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

Ziffs

Fish and chips on a table.
Place Southland
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You may only be a few minutes from the city, but Ziffs has a knack for making you feel a world away.

Level One

Flatlay of a platter and fried chicken from Level One..
Place Southland
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This restaurant has managed to keep the best of Southland hospitality, food and drink at its core for 55 years.

Te Hikoi Southern Journey

The inside of the permanent exhibition space.
Place Southland

An immersive look at NZ’s south coast where a rich bi-cultural narrative pre-dates Riverton’s 1836 establishment.

Tuatara Café & Bar

Close up of a flat white and newspaper on a table.
Place Southland
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A brewery, craft beer bar and pizzeria rolled into one, visit Tuatara Café to enjoy all of the above in one of Dee Street’s historic buildings.