My Town: Chef Lizzie Rogers’ Favourite Spots In Wellington

Lizzie Rogers. Photo / Supplied

Soon to take up a position at Pōneke restaurant Supra, where does chef Lizzie Rogers go when she’s got some time off?

Lizzie Rogers has called Wellington home for more than seven years now, and she’s been happily bouncing around the city’s hospitality scene.

“I first fell in love with the idea of working in restaurants at a young age when we as a family would go visit my uncle behind the bar when he was working in some cool vineyards and restaurants over in Hawke’s Bay.”

Lizzie shares her favourite spots in the capital with Viva.

Koji is my favourite restaurant. To narrow down just one is impossible! Koji of course would definitely be top on my list though. Head chef Johny and owner Johnon have created something really beautiful here. A Modern Asian restaurant taking traditional dishes and introducing New Zealand produce. Upon arrival, you will immediately feel you’ve walked into something special. With the relaxed yet buzzing greeting at the door and the incredible smells coming from the charcoal grill in the open kitchen, you become intrigued by what the night will bring.

I would go to Graze Wine Bar for a special occasion. Although you don’t necessarily need to wait for a special occasion to dine at Graze wine bar out in Kelburn, it is my favourite place to dine if I’m feeling like a fun night out! Graze is owned and operated by Max and Stina and is without a doubt the coolest little restaurant in Wellington. Serving up delicious and ethically thought out food as well as an insane wine list. I do recommend if you can, sitting up at the chefs’ table. Not only do you get to watch the chefs prepare and plate your food, but they might even make you a cocktail while you wait!

Fred's, 149 Cuba St, Te Aro. Photo / @freds.sandos
Fred's, 149 Cuba St, Te Aro. Photo / @freds.sandos

My favourite cafe is Freds, HANDS DOWN! I’m not much of a lunch kinda person but great sandwiches — yes, please! An easy excuse to run over to Cuba St before work and grab a sandwich to have there or to take away is always going to be a highlight of the day for me. The chicken sandwich, the beef roll and also keep an eye out for the weekly changing specials that are always a must.

I would get KC Cafe to take away. I have been dining at KC cafe on Courtney Place for seven years and I still haven’t tried everything off the menu, there are 160 items. You are greeted by a huge menu when you walk in, which can still now for me seem daunting but the delicious smells and comforting space is what always draws me in. To name a couple of items, the eggplant with salted fish and pork mince clay pot and their homemade tofu with pork are my go-to. If you are ever stuck — @kc_review is the best Instagram page I think anyone has ever created. They are currently going through and reviewing all the items on the menu and posting photos. So if you ever are stuck in line ... once you get closer to the front, pull you’re phone out and have a look.

Dees Place is a great bar to visit. There are some pretty cool bars around Wellington! Dees Place on Cuba St is probably where I’ve been heading the most recently after work with friends for a drink or two. A cosy underground whiskey bar with the best selection of vinyl behind the bar. The incredibly friendly staff here know their stuff and whilst their whiskey selection is to die for, it would be silly not to order a cocktail while you’re here. I have to also recommend the freshly pressed apple juice and whiskey — super refreshing after a day at work.

Elixir does some of the best cocktails in Wellington. Photo
Elixir does some of the best cocktails in Wellington. Photo

Elixir is a must-visit for a good cocktail. On the topic of cocktails, we are spoilt with how many incredible bartenders are in Wellington! I first met Alex and Lexi, owners and operators of Elixir, when they moved from Melbourne in 2020 and were working at Poquito, a cafe and bar in Te Aro. These two crazy fun bartenders have now opened their own space, tucked away just off Willis St away from the hustle and bustle is a beautiful cocktail bar. Although it’s very easy to get comfy, it’s also very easy to strike up a conversation about what they have on offer here and without a doubt you will leave having learned something new about the delicious wine and or spirits you’ve been drinking.

If you are in Wellington, you must check out the Harbourside Market on the waterfront Sunday morning! The selection of fresh produce is the main attraction here for many locals but you’ll also find small locally-owned businesses selling homemade items and great live music. Sundays in all honesty are usually my day of rest and recovery but a walk down Oriental Bay where I live and a quick stop in at where all the food trucks are parked is a great way to start the day. Usually, the guys who own the Greek food truck are here, which I definitely recommend checking out.

A hidden gem is Plonk! A super fun, stylish yet laid-back restaurant and bar on the corner of Customhouse Quay and Johnson St. Whether you’re looking for a fun place to grab a drink and some snacks after work or dinner and maybe even a bottle from the crazy selection of wine they have here, it is a must if you are in Wellington. Luckily too there is always something going on here to keep you entertained. On Thursdays you have live jazz, on Friday nights they have a local DJ taking care of the fun vibes and occasionally they have guest chefs making appearances creating some exciting and unique menus I always make sure I can go check out!

Plonk wine bar dishes up good food too. Photo / @plonk_winebar
Plonk wine bar dishes up good food too. Photo / @plonk_winebar

Something exciting coming up ... Is a new restaurant I’m going to work at soon, Supra! Owned and operated by the old owners of Amok, Thom and Tashie, is going to be a beautiful new space in town designed for some tasty snacks and small share plates. I won’t reveal too much but keep an eye out for it!

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