New Plymouth restaurants and Taranaki tastes
The creativity that drives Taranaki's passion for contemporary art, theatre and live music overflows into the region's restaurants, cafés, bars and providores. Whether you're looking for a big night out in the West End Precinct or picking up picnic items for a hike in Egmont National Park, you'll be blown away by the quality and sheer deliciousness of New Plymouth's food scene. And if you want to discover one of New Zealand's best boutique gins, there's a vintage shot glass with your name on it at Begin Distillery.
Here's a sunrise-to-moonrise introduction to the Taranaki region's most acclaimed food and drink experiences, to whet your appetite for a holiday in Taranaki.
Breakfasting for a big day outside
Let's imagine that you've risen early for a stroll, jog or bike along New Plymouth's magnificent coastal walkway. As you soak up the awesome views of Tasman Sea breakers rolling onto the beach, the fresh air's going to feed your appetite for a hearty breakfast and a shot of Ozone coffee at one of the city's acclaimed cafes.
In the West End Precinct, Monica's Eatery will present you with a breakfast that'll look delectable on your Instagram feed. If your palate runs sweet, try the house granola with a pink poached pear or a brioche donut filled with lemon curd. For a savoury approach, Monica's house cured salmon with poached free range eggs always does the trick.
The West End is also where you'll find the Public Catering Company for artisan eats you can take away. Their almond croissants and savoury tarts are legendary. Another acclaimed breakfast provider is Federal Store, just out of the CBD in Devon Street. Its fun 1950s décor is complemented by a breakfast menu that makes choosing difficult. Should you have creamy balsamic mushrooms, banana and coconut porridge or the full Federal Breakfast, complete with house-made rosti?
With breakfast on board, you're ready to embrace Taranaki's great outdoors. Don't forget to pack a picnic; most of New Plymouth's breakfast eateries can also help you assemble a gourmet packed lunch.
Casual eats, craft beers and cocktails
As the day wears on, the lure of a tapas menu and cocktail list becomes impossible to resist. Unsurprisingly for a city that truly has its food act together, New Plymouth has some tempting places for small plates, tall drinks and lively conversation.
- The Hour Glass: Tucked away in Liardet Street, this exquisite dining and drinking establishment has a worldly ambiance, glamorous décor and inspired menu. Whether you want to sip a glass of bubbles or try a few local craft beers, it'll feel like you're hanging out in a much bigger city
- Social Kitchen: Housed within the former Salvation Army Citadel, Social Kitchen makes food to share. Small plates feature big tastes like firecracker chicken and hand cut beef tartare, while larger plates focus on crowd pleasers like beef brisket, lamb shoulder and pork belly
- Snug Lounge: Get your nom nom on at a Japanese inspired cocktail lounge that does amazing things with dumplings, wontons, sashimi and bao buns. Snug Lounge is also well-known for original cocktails, sake and an extensive list of excellent New Zealand wines by the glass
Fine and fancy dining
After you've enjoyed a theatre performance at TSB Showplace or Little Theatre, get acquainted with the after-dark places to eat in New Plymouth.
Fork N Knife is a smart choice if you love creative New Zealand cuisine in an intimate setting. The chefs here make the most of quality local produce to wow you with dishes that have big flavours and beautiful detail.
Another excellent option in the central city is Arborio, which is part of Puke Ariki. Stylish and modern, this restaurant is a Beef and Lamb Excellence award winner that consistently gets five-star reviews. The menu is creative with a leaning towards the aromatic flavours of Asia.
Right on the waterfront, and often described as one of the best restaurants in New Plymouth, Gusto delivers a view of the port and a menu of classics - like duck breast, rack of lamb and slow-braised pork belly. The set menus are great value.
Other choices in the city centre include award-winning Salt Restaurant in the Millennium Hotel, Table at Nice Hotel and Meat & Liquor Steakhouse.
Find Begin Distillery for Juno gin
Every city has a secret treasure that inspires pride and awe. In New Plymouth, that place is Begin Distilling in Westown. The home of Juno brand gin, Begin Distilling is the work of Taranaki locals Jo and Dave James. One has an engineering background, the other is a scientist and together they are making gin that's gathering awards around the world.
Check their website or facebook page to book a distillery tour and tasting. Alternatively, look for Juno in New Plymouth's best bars and pubs. As well as classic Juno gin, which is in the London Dry style, there are seasonal releases of Juno that are infused with selected botanicals to give them a special character. All Juno gin includes perfectly pure water sourced locally from Mt Taranaki.