Paihia has no shortage of gorgeous food and top-notch atmosphere when dining out. We’ve put together a list of 10 of the best restaurants in Paihia to help you find that perfect burger, burrito or fine dining experience in 2020/2021.
Some of these are absolute waterfront beauties and some are hidden-away gems that the locals just love – so get amongst it!
1. Charlotte’s Kitchen
Named for a “fabulously naughty lady” from the settler’s days, Charlotte’s Kitchen is currently THE place to dine in Paihia, a firm favourite for locals and visitors alike. The décor has a fresh, airy vibe with lots of wood panelling and windows overlooking the water (check out their virtual tour to see the dining areas). They do an amazing hand-crafted woodfired pizza and the slow-roasted pork knuckle is a dinner to die for (this dish should be booked ahead). They updated their menu in late 2020 – try the new venison dukkah tataki.
2. Zane Greys
This informal waterfront place is well-known for its huge aquarium in the middle of the restaurant, so it’s a great place to take the kids for that novelty factor. Alternatively you can dine out on the pier. The staff at Zane Greys are friendly and attentive, and it is well suited to large groups.
3. Bad Habits, Paihia Lanes
Go to Bad Habits for a trendy, quirky and unique cocktail bar. It opened in late 2020 has been described as “the deli counter at Farro, but with a cocktail bar”. The staff are charming and enthusiastic – gin seems to be a passion, and you can get some delicious cocktails whipped up or even buy bottles to take home.
4. Tipsy Oyster
Tipsy Oyster is a bright and colourful tapas bar that opened in 2019. They serve up incredible flavours from South East Asia, India and the Middle East – as well as a large range of beer and wine. Most importantly, they sell oysters, any which way you can imagine! Go fresh and pure, or try Indian masala and fenugreek battered oyster, oysters in seasonal fruit salsa, in Japanese vinaigrette, or in tempura, just to name a few. The young owners (a husband and wife team) have really created something special in Paihia.
For a bit of a 5-star luxury treat, The Glasshouse next to the Paihia Beach Resort and Spa is your go-to. The dishes of high-end New Zealand cuisine are consistently the “best I’ve had” on reviews, and the service impeccable. You can order share plates for the whole table, or go traditional with individual entrees, mains and desserts. What would you say to slow roasted Dargaville lamb shoulder served with Northland kumara puree, balsamic beetroot, crispy fried broad beans and chèvre cheese – paired with an award-winning Northland wine? Yes please!
Popular with locals, Green’s has both Thai and Indian chefs, resulting in a menu with anything from Pad Thai to Tikka Masala and lots of kiwi twists. It’s a great place to go if you have a large group, the service is excellent and the food quality. They also do takeaway.
7. El Cafe
For some of the best Latin food in New Zealand head to this small Mexican place – with local ingredients and rich flavours. El Cafe is great for an easy lunch and good coffee – just around the corner from the beach. The staff are friendly and the atmosphere is great, usually with some decent music playing. It’s open for breakfast and lunch only, closing at 3pm.
8. CBK – Craft Beer & Kitchen
This well-known line of restaurants has its Paihia establishment right on the waterfront – it’s such a beautiful setting so make sure you get a table with a prime view. The food at CBK is pub-style, portions are large and the beer is cold.
Perfect for brunch with a view of the waterfront, this place has a lovely relaxed vibe and occasionally live music. The food at Alfresco’s is fresh and flavourful – helped by the restaurant’s own garden and use of local Northland produce.
10. Thirty 30
This cool little place is perfect for catching up with a small group of friends for a burger and a couple of beers, or for wine and nibbles. Thirty 30 always have live music too, whether that’s a guest star or an open mic night, as well as a quiz night and the odd comedy night: check the website to see what’s going on.
We hope this helps you out on your search for a great meal and dining experience in Paihia – with this line up something is sure to satisfy! Travelling outside Paihia? Check out our list of best restaurants for whole Bay of Islands