Starting on July 21, Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium will host six games for this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. If you’re heading to town to catch your favourite team in action, make time to refuel and decompress at some of Dunedin’s top dining spots.
Named after a song by influential Dunedin rock band the Clean, Side On is one of the city’s favourite cafes with a cabinet piled high with all manner of glistening treats: golden brioche scrolls, buttery croissants and cardamom buns. Grab a pastry to go or sit in for seasonal dishes like crab and haloumi omelette or a corned beef Reuben. On the other side of town, stop in at Adjo; the Scandinavian cafe is open for daytime fare during the week and dinner on a Friday. The signature Adjo’s Breakfast will set you up nicely for the day, with a soft-boiled egg, homemade bread, basil salt, butter, cheese and yoghurt with stewed apples and muesli.
Step back in time at Best Cafe, which opened in 1932 and serves a delightfully nostalgic menu of fish’n’chips, as well as sides like pāua patties, battered mussels, blue cod burgers and seasonal Bluff oysters. With two Dunedin locations (North East Valley and CBD), Beam Me Up Bagels does a roaring trade for its hand-rolled, small-batch, boiled bagels – get one filled to order with combinations like Cajun chicken and salad, grilled haloumi with house-made chilli jam, and hot smoked salmon with organic cream cheese. Right by the Octagon, Jizo Japanese Restaurant is a mainstay for its ranging menu that includes sushi, sashimi, bento, udon, ramen and Japanese sharing plates. It’s also known for its separate menu full of vegan and keto dishes – even keto sushi, using cauliflower “rice” and cream cheese.
An essential wander along the brisk St Clair promenade will take you right to Esplanade and its Italian offering of handmade pastas, woodfired pizzas and antipasti. The restaurant has one of the best outlooks in town, taking in the sea from its cosy, brick-lined corner site. From the same team, and also a worthy visit, Māori Hill neighbourhood bistro No.7 Balmac serves seasonal produce sourced from the on-site garden and wider South Island – dishes like wild Fiordland venison saltimbocca with balsamic-roasted potatoes and whipped chevre are deeply flavourful and cooked in the woodfired oven. For another celebration of Otago’s famously vibrant, high quality ingredients, find 26-seat restaurant Moiety in the heritage warehouse precinct. It serves a degustation menu with optional add-on snacks, but it’s more approachable than fine dining. For an even more casual vibe, the offering at Side On’s sibling restaurant Pizza Bar is self-explanatory. The excellent pizzas have ever-changing toppings, and there’s both natural wine and craft beer on tap.
Find craft brewer Steamer Basin Brewing in Dunedin’s Old Bond quarter, housed in a formerly derelict heritage brick building on No Name Alley. Drawing on what’s available from local farms, the brewery produces supreme beers that naturally evolve with the seasons, so there’s always something new to try. One constant, though, is the South Island hops and malt. The cave-like bar is also ideal in this cold weather, featuring golden lights and natural stone walls. For cocktails and a low-key, eclectic atmosphere, head to Woof. The bar’s recent claim to fame is repeat visits from Cyndi Lauper and crew when she performed in Dunedin in April. It’s inclusive, queer-friendly and has creative bar food with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.
Located centrally, boutique hotel Ebb Dunedin is striking from the outset with its steel and glass facade fronted by a large-scale artwork from local artist Simon Kaan. The Gary Todd-designed modernist hotel is built around an interior atrium complete with trees growing in the space. Find a fantastic daytime menu at Ebb Cafe on the ground floor, helmed by chef and writer Alison Lambert. On the other side of the Octagon, closer to the harbour, Fable is a five-star boutique hotel in an impressive Victorian-era building. Go for the plush, contemporary rooms that are fitted out with nods to the city’s Scottish heritage and stay for the hotel’s restaurant and bar, named The Press Club, an homage to the media who’d frequent the site in the 1870s.