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By Kylie Klein-Nixon
May 05, 2014
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By Kylie Klein-Nixon
May 05, 2014
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Wellington is a cafe town - we're sorted for frittatas and filo parcels, but do we know our scrambled eggs from our egg white omelettes? Do we know how to make the perfect eggs benedict?  Are our mushrooms even sautéed? You bet.  So whether you're into a whopping great moreish meal to last you through the day or a refreshing palate cleanser to tide you over until brunch, Wellington's cafes, restaurants and delis have got the breakfast for you.

1. Fidel's Cafe

Get stuck into your morning with some revolutionary zeal at Fidel's, a Wellington institution. Perched at the top of Cuba street, Fidel's has been serving hearty, rustic, Kiwi fare since 1996 when owner Roger Young and partner Potti turned their tex-mex restaurateur attentions to the day time crowd.  Cooking up a cafe with a Cuban feel, inspired by the location and a fourth form project on the Cuban Revolution, Fidel's was born. The food is all Nu Zilind-style however, with generous portions of morning staples like big fat waffles with bacon, bananas and maple syrup; creamy scrambled eggs on hash browns, and lightly fried mushrooms with spinach on toast. The breakfast bruchetta, with tomato, basil, red onion and avocado on toasted ciabatta is an absolute classic. Fidel's is popular and pretty cozy, with snug booths and bench tables, so if you can't find a spot inside, there are two outdoor dining areas - the larger one out front is great for people spotting on Upper Cuba, while out back is a little sun-trap perfect for reading the paper over tea and toast.

234 Cuba St, Te Aro

2. Hippopotamus

If you're the type with Champagne wishes and caviar dreams, then breakfast at Hippopotamus is the thing for you. Prices are as rich as the fare, but it's worth every penny. With commanding views over Chaffer's Wharf and the marina, Hippopotamus has the best breakfast location on this list. The interior is pretty impressive too, with a selection of the Museum Hotel's art works on show amid the stuffed peacocks and highly polished glass. It could be a little intimidating, but the friendly, skilled service takes the toffy edge off, making for an enjoyable dining experience. All that would mean nothing without the food to back it up. Chef Laurent Loudeac delivers a bold, elegant menu that ranges from European classics like black pudding or mince on toast, to buttermilk pancakes and French toast with bacon. Their signature dish, the Hippo Breakfast, is a daunting pile of food delivered with a hearty "good luck" from the waiting staff. Steak, eggs, bacon, mushrooms and thick wedges of toasted ciabatta bread are an event not for the faint of heart, while the scrambled eggs made with cream and butter - possibly the best in Wellington -  are rich, fluffy and in good supply. A beautiful buffet offers all the classic options but takes presentation to the next level. Add a sneaky Buck's Fizz, for a tingly morning pick-me-up and it's the perfect morning indulgence.

Museum Hotel, 90 Cable St, Te Aro

3. Floriditas

One of the most elegant cafe-restaurants in Wellington, Flroiditas is bright, airy and furnished with some damned fine chefs. They even bake their own sweet treats - the cupcakes and tarte tatine are divine. But the real reason to start your day at Floriditas is the eggs: scrambled, poached, fried, with hollandaise, with hot smoked salmon, on rye or on their own - with endless choices all cooked to perfection, Floriditas' chefs are the egg masters extraordinaire. Their menu extends wall past the humble egg though, with fresh, seasonal vege, organic cereal, mackerel potato hash and free range bacon also on offer. There are also lots of gluten free and organic options in this stylish eatery too.

161 Cuba Street, Te Aro

4. Maranui Surf Club Cafe

Not content with making the best scones in the city (date and orange: you'll never look back), Maranui do a full breakfast that has to be seen to be believed.  In fact Maranui is really a feast for the eyes as well as the puku.  Set right on the each at Lyall Bay, the picture windows overlook the mouth of the Cook Straight and Wellington's finest surf beach. The menu changes to reflect the seasonal vege. In the past their tofu hash has been a vegan delight, while Maranui's eggs Florentine are possibly the best in the city. It's one of the most popular joints in Wellington on the weekend, so be prepared to wait for a table. But with great food, great service and a stunning view, breakfast at Maranui is a welcome wake up.

Upstairs at the Maranui Surf Club, Lyall Parade, Lyall Bay

5. Dunshea's Deli

Tucked away on the edge of the Otairi bush in Khandallah is a delicious little deli called Dunshea's.  It's a suburban deli that specialises in homemade treats, with all their food sourced locally where possible, including using Wellington's own Karamu coffee. Dunshea's serves cafe food with an international twist, after chef and owner Craig Dunshea return for his wanderings to set up shop.  The place has the feel of an NYC local deli. There's also a Canadian influence by way of chef Tom from Vancouver and his Nanaimo bars - a lemony, custardy, chocolatey indulgence that is all things good and gooey. Dunshea's breakfasts are tasty and well proportioned - letting the flavours, rather than the volume do the talking.  Their mushrooms and spinach on rye dish is rich and fulfilling, while they do wonders with hot smoked salmon and a poached egg. It's a popular spot, so you might have to wait for a seat at the shared table or outside under the awning, but it's a good place to meet up before hitting the bike trails, or heading up Mt Kaukau (and an even better place to recover afterwards).

7 Burma Rd, Khandallah, Wellington

6. Sweet Mother's Kitchen

Although better known as a post Friday night, hangover-curing, brunch hang out, Sweet Mother's Kitchen does the only traditionally-prepared breakfast burrito in the Capital. Juicy folds of fluffy scrambled eggs, liberally coated in cheese, slathered in spicey black beans and wraped up tighter than the pig in a blanket in a flour tortilla. It comes with a side of guacamole and salsa, with hash browns an optional extra. Add the creamed spinach, too,  for a breakfast that'll strap on your chaps and get you ready to rustle through your day.

5 Courtenay Place, Te Aro

7. Drexel's Breakfast Restaurant

Enjoy US-style diner food in the heart of Wellington's CBD at Drexel's.  And by US-style we mean massive piles of tasty goodness, in a seemingly endless variety of combinations. The butter is whipped, and the jam is grape, but don't let that put you off.  Drexel's - whose US/Kiwi owners brought the franchise to Wellington after the original diner took a hit in the Christchurch earthquake - has the best buttermilk pancakes in the city (if not the country).  Fluffy, fat and oh-so-sweet, Drexel's pancakes are an absolute breakfast must-have. But then everything on the breakfast-only restaurant's substantial menu is a breakfast must-have - you literally cannot go wrong here. If you're looking for some carbo-load comfort food, or to spice up with some tex-mex, then you want to head here. There are also gluten-free options for the waffles and pancakes.

32 Waring Taylor St, Lambton Quay

8. Queen Sally's Diamond Deli

You are cordially invited to dine with her Majesty, Queen Sally of Lyall Bay. But don't worry, there's nothing stuffy or posh about this diamond doll's pantry. Sally's delivers hearty, handmade fare with a rustic, cafe vibe. Date scones, granola and exotic toasties hold court, while sweet treats include traditional lamingtons, cupcakes and meringues roughly the size of your head. With a quirky decor, and hard-to-find, locally-produced food stuff on offer, Queen Sally's is a truly charming place to break your fast.  And although the options are limited  - there's no kitchen so hot food is limited to toasties and the like - it's a top spot for a light repast before strolling on the beach or a bracing dip in the briny. Queen Sally's opened after Maranui Cafe was closed by fire as a stop gap measure for locals in need of their daily coffee, but it's proved so popular it stayed open.

200 Queens Drive, Lyall Bay

Photo Credit: Dunshea's Deli via Kerry Dunshea

View all Wellington Cafes.

Published on May 05, 2014 by Kylie Klein-Nixon

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