Gisborne does not have a vast selection of restaurants and cafes. With a population of only 34,000 it can indeed be difficult to find something suitable for your taste, particularly on a Sunday! However, there are a few hidden gems which I discovered on a recent trip there which were very enjoyable.
Thai Sunshine Restaurant (Thai)
Although we had heard good things about Just Thai in Gisborne, we were curious to try the Thai Sunshine Restaurant after driving past to see it deserted on a Saturday night. We found out later that this was due to a big rugby game between the All Blacks and Australia, which resulted in the entire local population being at home glued to their TV sets!
Nevertheless, despite the lack of accompanying diners, we had a most enjoyable meal. The menu contained all the standard Thai dishes and at reasonable prices. We opted for a Panang curry and a vegetable with cashews dish. Both were amongst the best Thai food I have tasted anywhere. The curry, in particular, was richly flavored and with just the right amount of spice. Encouraged, we decided to finish with a deep fried banana dessert; it was simple enough but again delicious.
Thai Sunshine has a nice but fairly bland décor. It matches the manner of the owner, who seemed laid back almost to the point of indifference. However, the food was magnificent – and he did serve us the largest glass of Taylor's Ten Year Old port I have ever been offered!
All in all, highly recommended.
- 116 Grey Street, Gisborne
- Open: Dinner from 5pm, Monday – Saturday
- Licensed and BYO Wine
Verve Cafe and Bar
On a quiet Sunday lunchtime this place was buzzing and it's no wonder – this is an absolute gem of a place. Seemingly a casual cafe, the prices appeared to us to be quite high. However when we saw the size of the portions offered, we came to the conclusion this was fine value indeed; our vegetarian wraps were superb and large enough to last two meals (we took half of it home for dinner).
The rest of the menu seemed equally appealing and innovative. The coffee was also very good.
One thing worth mentioning was the outstanding service. The staff were very friendly and attentive.
- 121 Gladstone Road, Gisborne
- Open: 7.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday; 8.00am – 3pm Saturday & Sunday
Other Gisborne Restaurants
This fine dining restaurant is in a lovely setting, right on the conjunction of the three rivers in Gisborne (one of the three rivers, the Turanganui River, is the shortest river in New Zealand, being only 1.2 kilometers long). The menu is best described as 'international' with innovative dishes of meats, seafoods and others.
It's good to see a wine list with a fair selection of local Gisborne wines too.
Price-wise this is top end, but the Marina Restaurant has an excellent reputation.
- Marina Park, Vogel Street, Gisborne
- Open, Dinner from 6.00pm, Tuesday to Saturday; lunch, Thursday to Saturday
- Fully Licensed
- website: www.marinarestaurant.co.nz
On the Beach Restaurant
As the name suggests, this is right on the sea front, and probably has the best view of any restaurant in Gisborne. Being upstairs (above the local surf lifesaving club) the panorama stretches virtually the entire expanse of Poverty Bay, with Young Nick's Head in the distance. There is a good variety of well presented meals and separate selections for both children and seniors (for the latter the menu states “Golden Oldies: must be 65 years and over”).
- Centennial Marine Drive, Gisborne
- Open: Lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Friday; breakfast, Saturday & Sunday
- Fully Licensed