Nelson Food Guide: 10 Must-Eat Restaurants & Street Food Stalls in Nelson

January 21, 2018 Hana Mouser

Nelson’s thriving arts and music scene has helped to establish it as a destination for free spirits and art-lovers. Festivals, studios, galleries, craft markets… Every cranny of this South Island city seems to buzz with artistic energy. Lord of the Rings fans will flip for the Jens Hansen workshop in Trafalgar Square—Hansen is the goldsmith who designed the “precious” guarded by Frodo in the LOTR films.
Things to do in Nelson

1. Boat Shed Cafe

351 Wakefield Quay, Nelson 7010, New Zealand Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar Seafood, European, New Zealand, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night, Drinks +64 3-546 9783
Excellent
59%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
3%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Boat Shed Cafe

Reviewed By Fabian H

Fresh made food. We've had a fantastic rich haloumi salad and a delicious pancake with banana/bacon/maple syrup/butter. Best bacon I've ever had! Best coffee since weeks. Amazing location above the water in an old restored building with fantastic views. Very polite & helpful young team.

2. The Tides Restaurant & Bar

66 Trafalgar Street, Nelson 7010, New Zealand Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Street Parking, Free Off-Street Parking, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Wine and Beer, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Wifi, Accepts Credit Cards European, New Zealand, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options, Vegan Options Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Drinks +64 3-548 7049
Excellent
57%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
4%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 314 reviews

The Tides Restaurant & Bar

Reviewed By Dunca2015 - Nelson-Tasman Region, New Zealand

We went to the Tides on a grab a deal on a Friday,the place was busy,We ordered a lemon and lime,and a ginger ale,but got served a ginger beer.We ordered the lamb shank and the roast lamb,these were served very promptly,we did not get offered the complimentary tasting,that everyone else did,also no offer of the water bottle,weather the service is slack because of the grab a deal I don’t know,then we waited and waited and waited ,there must have been 6 waiting people working,they walked up and down the centre,look at you and just leave you with the finished plates still on the table.The dessert which were the cheese cake and sticky date pudding,we had to ask if we were going to get them,they finally showed up after half the people that came in after us had well gone. From the photos I took the time between the mains and the dessert being placed on the table was 63 minuets,I see that the owner replies to some TripAdvisor comments,so I would point out that we are seniors that dined out 280 times last year so we do see a lot of the workings of the cafes and restaurants.

3. Harbour Light Bistro

341 Wakefield Quay, Nelson 7010, New Zealand Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Highchairs Available Seafood, European, New Zealand, Contemporary, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options, Vegan Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch HK$55 - HK$204 +64 3-546 6685
Excellent
68%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 510 reviews

Harbour Light Bistro

Harbour Light Bistro is a locally owned Nelson restaurant based on Wakefield Quay, one of Nelsons beautiful waterfronts. Harbour Light offers a selection of locally and internationally inspired dishes. All dishes are made fresh and our menus change seasonally as we use locally sourced fresh produce when possible for our restaurant. Harbour Light Bistro & Restaurant offers spacious indoor dining with picturesque waterfront views, suitable for large groups or an intimate lunch or dinner for two. Our wines are also locally sourced from Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough regions and are all carefully selected to accompany our many fine dishes. Harbour Light Bistro & Restaurant is open weekdays from 11.30Am to late. On the weekend we open at 9.30 For brunch then through to close with dinner. Please call us on 03 546 6685 for a reservation so as not to be disappointed.

Reviewed By danjonelson - Nelson, New Zealand

This restaurant has it all, stunning location looking straight out the harbour, with the big ships coming in. Food is tasty, fresh and perfectly cooked.
Not a huge menu to choose from, but there is something for everyone, even the fussy eaters.
Service is good, with great attention to detail.

4. The Indian Cafe

94 Collingwood Street, Nelson 7010, New Zealand Highchairs Available, Delivery, Takeout, Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Street Parking, Free Off-Street Parking, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Wine and Beer, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Accepts Credit Cards Indian, Asian, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Late Night HK$31 - HK$173 +64 3-548 4089
Excellent
66%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 669 reviews

The Indian Cafe

Come and visit us for the most authentic taste of Indian cuisine !! Situated right in the heart of the Nelson CBD, our warm and homely surroundings will add to your whole dining experience.

Reviewed By Georgina C - Melbourne, Australia

Fantastic Indian restaurant in Nelson. The restaurant itself is lovely with outdoor Seating around a garden and lights. We had the banquet which was delicious and far too much food for the reasonable price! We really enjoyed the atmosphere and food and would highly recommend...MoreWe are really delighted that your experience with us was enjoyable and we really appreciate your positive feedback. The Indian Cafe family is thankful to you.

5. Hopgoods

284 Trafalgar Street, Nelson 7010, New Zealand Serves Alcohol, Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Full Bar, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Digital Payments, Accepts Credit Cards European, New Zealand, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Dinner HK$110 - HK$204 +64 3-545 7191
Excellent
83%
Good
13%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 1 reviews

Hopgoods

Good honest local cuisine, served in a casual environment.

Reviewed By Arden O - Eugene, Oregon

We are leaving today after 15 fabulous dinners in New Zealand. This was clearly the best on the South Island, exceeded in our estimation only by Food on Waiheke. The venison was flawlessly prepared and included delightful taste surprises. The scallops similarly were exquisite. The chocolate desserts rounded it out nicely.
There is a reason these guys are atop the ratings in Nelson. They should be regionally and nationally as well.

6. FORD'S Restaurant & Bar

276 Trafalgar Street, Nelson 7010, New Zealand Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Free Wifi, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa European, Soups, New Zealand, Contemporary, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Drinks, Breakfast, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night HK$110 - HK$204 +64 3-546 9400
Excellent
57%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 850 reviews

FORD'S Restaurant & Bar

Reviewed By Taxbandit - Nelson, New Zealand

This is a lovely place to sit out for lunch and we were looking forward to our meals. We had a long time to wait for the food to arrive. My steak Sandwich was tiny, overcooked and only lukewarm sitting atop a small piece of bread. My wife had the lamb greek salad which was mainly cucumber and olives with a joghurt type sauce, a far cry from a tzatziki and the lamb was quite fatty. Altogether not a pleasant lunch experience. If you only have one hour for lunch, give this restaurant a miss.

7. Smugglers Pub and Cafe

8 Muritai Street | Tahunanui, Nelson 7011, New Zealand Takeout, Parking Available, Highchairs Available, Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Street Parking, Free Off-Street Parking, Television, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar Bar, European, Pub, New Zealand, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night +64 3-546 4084
Excellent
53%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
4%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 550 reviews

Smugglers Pub and Cafe

SUPREME WINNER TOP SHOP 2014 and WINNER FOOD, BEVERAGE & HOSPITALITY CATEGORY - NELSON The Smugglers Pub and Cafe is famous for its hearty meals, foaming craft ales and great wines all served up in a unique old world atmosphere.Located within easy walking distance from Nelson's Tahunanui Beach and set amongst the areas' busy motel district, the Smugglers is ideally placed to cater for your group no matter how large or small. Food is available all day and into the evening with extensive snack, lunch and dinner menus including gluten free and children's menus for young Smugglers. We stock a variety of regional, national and international wines along with Mac's & Speights beers, Guinness, Kilkenny, Becks and Stella Artois.We are open seven days a week including most holidays and absolutely no surcharges ever. So come on down relax and enjoy the award winning atmosphere that is so unique to Smugglers.

Reviewed By amycM9166WE

My partner and I enjoyed a relaxed dinner at Smugglers the first night we were in Nelson. Great menu for people with gluten intolerances. Overall very happy with the food and the price we paid.Thankyou for taking the time to review us with such positive feedback. We try to cater to all dietary requirements and happy to hear you enjoyed something from our Gluten Free menu.

8. Melrose House Cafe

26 Brougham Street | very top of Trafalgar Street!, Nelson 7010, New Zealand Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol Cafe, New Zealand, Contemporary, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Breakfast, Lunch, Brunch +64 3-548 9179
Excellent
71%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 379 reviews

Melrose House Cafe

Reviewed By karenjG2649DT - Nelson, New Zealand

Prior to seeing our friends off, we had lunch at Melrose. As ever, excellent food and friendly service. Very nice place to enjoy a relaxed lunch in the sun.

9. La Gourmandise

276 Hardy Street, Nelson 7010, New Zealand Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Outdoor Seating French, European, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Brunch +64 3-546 6348
Excellent
66%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
2%
Terrible
4%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 193 reviews

La Gourmandise

Reviewed By TirelessWorker - Nelson, New Zealand

When I went to La Gourmandise on Saturday for lunch, I chose a cured salmon salad instead of a gallette, which is what I normally choose when I go there. It was delicious, with just the right amount of vinaigrette to add teat extra flavour.

10. Speight's Ale House

99 Quarantine Road, Annesbrook | Next to Wow Museum, Nelson 7011, New Zealand Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Free Off-Street Parking, Television, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Wine and Beer, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Wifi, Reservations, Accepts Credit Cards Bar, Pub, New Zealand, Gastropub, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options, Vegan Options Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner, Brunch, Drinks HK$31 - HK$188 +64 3-547 7336
Excellent
59%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
4%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 428 reviews

Speight's Ale House

Situated on Quarantine Rd opposite Mitre 10 Mega and the WOW Museum we are proud to be the 17th Speight's Ale House across the country and the very first of the new look Ale House! Whether its good hearty portions of southern style food or Speight's exclusive range of award winning tap beer and extensive wine list this is the place to cater for all. With space for over 250 patrons in one of our many areas of the Restaurant , Bar or sun drenched Garden Bar there is always a spot for everyone. The Speight's Ale House brings strong traditions of legendary southern hospitality and you'll find the owner operator Gareth Caldwell and his great crew of staff live and breath by these age old values. With always plenty of entertainment , live sport and weekly specials keep your eye on our "What's on at The Ale House" to be sure not to miss out! Our popular upstairs area allows us to offer a private function area in which we are capable of catering for groups up to 75 people so whether it's a Birthday Party, Social Club gathering, or just a good old get together we can cater to your every need. Come on down and see what we are all about and start experiencing the Ale House way of Southern Hospitality! "Good on ya mate"

Reviewed By Jyzil

Great service. Amazing food and outdoor eating area. The use of their free shuttle after too many beers. Live music. Really enjoyed our evening here.

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