As part of our travels through the North Island, we spent just under a week in Wellington, which gave us plenty of time to check out a few of the capital’s vegan options. For the first few days, we were caught up in the tail-end of cyclone Debbie which meant we spent most of the time huddled up in the van in scarves, coats and hats, avoiding the torrential rain! Once that cleared, we were grateful to have a few sunny days to explore the city’s famous streets and laneways, including Cuba Street. This vibrant street crosses through the centre and is lined with Edwardian buildings and packed with bars, restaurants and shops. With everything from cheap takeaways to fine dining, op shops, tattoo parlours and boutiques, it’s a street packed with character.
It’s along Cuba Street that you can find Midnight Espresso, a quirky cafe that opens its doors for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snacks. Having been a social hub for many over the last 28 years, this cosy cafe has been referred to as a ‘cultural melting pot’ and is packed until the early hours most nights!
I visited for a quick lunch one afternoon, but found myself returning a few days later as it was the perfect spot to get a bit of blog work done. On my first visit, I discovered they had vegan nachos on the menu and that was a no-brainer for me. I’d happily have nachos for dinner every day – I’d been keeping my eye out for vegan nachos since arriving into New Zealand but this was the first place I found them!
In my excitement I went for the large portion, but as soon as they arrived I realised I’d made a mistake… They were HUGE. I couldn’t help but laugh as the lady put them in front of me – I love nachos, but there was no way I could finish the bowl! I ended up taking half away to eat for dinner that night. The corn chips were topped with a super generous portion of bean chilli, plus salsa, hummus, vegan mayo and a chunk of avocado. I’ve never had vegan mayo with nachos before, but dolloped on top of the bean chilli, it worked. I personally would have preferred the avocado to have been mashed into guacamole, but I love avocado so will happily gobble it up in any format! I sat on one of the stalls in the window, which meant I could snack on my nachos whilst watching people wander down Cuba Street in front of me.
Being well-established with a reputation for great food, coffee and a chilled vibe, this place is always rammed. I walked past it nearly every day and no matter what time, people were always spilling out the doors. Don’t expect to be able to find a table straight away – both times I had to wait at the bar, eyeing up other diners and jumping in the first available spot! People seem to order regardless of whether there is a space, with the hope one will become free before their food arrives.
Once your food is ready, one of the chefs will rut of the kitchen yelling the dish name until someone happily claims it. It definitely adds to the homely vibe to sit sipping a coffee with chefs running past shouting ‘cuurrrrryyyyy!’. The food is always delivered with a smile before they dash back into the kitchen.
On my second visit, I decided to try their vegan breakfast as I’d already heard good things about it through other blogs. Their vegan ‘hash stack’ is made up of two slices of seeded toast topped with two large portobello mushrooms, two roasted tomato halves, spinach, half an avocado and a hash brown. Everything on the plate is house made, and you can definitely taste it. The bread was soft with a crunchy sesame crust and the hash brown was by far THE BEST I’ve ever had. The outside was perfectly crunchy and very well seasoned, with the inside soft and fluffy. Far from the greasy, tasteless hash browns I’ve had before, these were loaded with flavour and I could have happily eaten a whole plateful! The dish is served with a pot of homemade vegan mayo and a splash of unidentifiable green sauce which was especially tasty.
I’d definitely recommend checking out Midnight Espresso if you are in Wellington. It’s a great place to chill out and enjoy great coffee and an awesome veggie brunch in a quirky, relaxed cafe with a big personality!