Salient’s Definitive Guide to Best BYOs & Bars
Home to Wellington’s largest pool table pockets. A good place to watch sports with the proletariat, or just start the night. About as rural as you can get on Cuba Mall, if you are feeling homesick. Only 17, but have a somewhat decent-fake? You’ll be fine.
Good Luck has excellent shareable teapots–get your friend to buy the first one and then leave before it’s time for the second round. Avoid the dancefloor post-midnight unless you are after grinding. If you are, in fact, after grinding, then this might just be the place for you, just watch out for the sake bottles that line the walls.
Once in Electric Ave, a guy recognised me from a lecture. He had two different shoes on and gave me a number of emotional hugs, before apologising: “I just did like 6 lines bro, I’m a bit buzzy”. Don’t let the balding middle-aged male dancer outside put you off: there’s a sweet goldfish tank in the back, and Wellington’s cheapest shots.
If you’re wanting to watch sport of any description, you won’t be better served anywhere else in Wellington. If you aren’t into sports, you are going to be very bored. Salient suggests use of the phrase “it’s a game of two halves”. Get in early for he major events, because it will pack out. The food’s not bad either.
A shining stainless steel beacon of ethnic diversity. If you leave your drink unattended, consider it immediately spiked. If you ever find yourself alone on Courtenay Place, head here to dance with the hype girl who is paid to pretend that the club is “going off”.
San Francisco Bath House
Home to the city’s finest balcony— especially if you need a cheeky high- altitude vom at one its ‘trendy’ international gigs. Good for live music and avoiding dudebros—it tends toward the ‘hipster’ end of the spectrum, but not as much as…
Wellington’s quintessential hipster bar. Get ready to get intimate with some weird people in the tiny smoking area, because it is also the only place you can escape the music. Cheap bottles of Castlepoint generally offset the $5 or $10 door charge. The bouncer doesn’t let you in if you look too drunk or not ‘chill’ enough, or if you’re wearing something you bought first-hand.
Can’t decide if it’s trying to be a faux-upmarket lounge bar, a place to watch sports, or a club. Has one wall of the club open to fresh air. Serious groping commences post-midnight. Jaime Ridge has been spotted here more than once, do with that information what you will.
Many bros, little hope. You can guarantee that you will hear the top five club songs at least three times a night, as well as whatever is big on the internet. This week, expect ‘Harlem Shake’. A certain Salient staffer accidentally ended up in the kitchen instead of the bathrooms once, which resulted in her stealing a frozen focaccia loaf and some shrimp in her leggings. Prepare for adventures.
It seems as if bars named after buildings are where you take your date if you’re out to impress. We would mention the Hawthorn Lounge too, but you probably can’t afford it.
Tokyo Tea House
Don’t let the swanky name fool you. Situated below Mish Mosh, it basically operates as Mish Mosh’s squalid grinding dungeon. Be prepared to duck if you’re over 6’2”.
Boogie [The Bar Formerly Known As Boogie Wonderland]
Actually has a disco floor.The DJ is always keen and quite randy—flirt with him and he will play the Mamma Mia soundtrack. Watch out for cougars/your parents. Sneak away to the Alice-in-Wonderland-themed Alice (in the back) if you are after something a bit more relaxed.
If you mourn the loss of the pole at the Big K, Red Square’s cages could be for you. If you regularly use the phrase “pull”, you will probably enjoy yourself.
The place to go if you’re looking for an eclectic mix of schmancy cocktails and E-list Auckland celebrities. OMG, like, Brad from The Edge Nightshow!
If the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the word ‘basement’ is Josef Fritzl, well, you aren’t far wrong. Seriously though, if you have a thing for unwitting Austrian tourists, Basement is your hotspot.
If you’ve spent the last five years languishing in the closet in a rural hellhole like Paeroa, Wellington’s gay venues provide an excellent chance to bust out of the closet, lube in hand. Dignity not included. The one straight friend of your group? S&Ms and Ivy are both a lot of fun, and you can still flirt with the bartenders for cheap drinks.
Lotus has two capacities: fucking empty, or fire-hazard full. A Salient associate discovered hooking up with the bartender won’t get you free drinks, but it will result in making his night better. Another associate discovered ‘inappropriate touching’ will get you kicked out. DJs are known to tell 3am-yawners to “fuck off”, and guest MCs aren’t above dropping an entire verse about certain patrons to impress the girls surrounding them.
Don’t. Although $5 spirits with a VUWSA membership card, holla.
A recent Salient investigation proved eating Ozeki noodles can in fact be a major challenge, but sculling your wine fast enough to avoid corkage isn’t so tough. Ozeki is good for large groups. Ask for anything with moving fish flakes after sculling the aforementioned wine and you’re in for a great night.
The key with Satay Kajang is to keep your order as simple as possible, or you might be disappointed. This means staying in the under-$10 noodle and rice sections of the menu. Lots of table space means you usually don’t have to book, but the staff are pretty ruthless with their kick-out time of around 10pm.
Cheap, and feels like it. The expensive corkage is balanced out by the incredibly cheap food. The toilet light is often blown out, possibly by the matron’s shrieky falsetto. A TV on the wall provides entertainment in case your dinner companions are conversationally challenged.
The more upper-market of Wellington’s top BYO jaunts, Hede offers a more traditionally Japanese style of decor for your boozy night on the sushi. On that note, watch out for the traditional bench-style seating tipping you and all your mates onto the floor when someone overbalances after one too many sake bombs.
Namastey India once accommodated our group of 30 without a booking. Readers are invited to form their own conclusions on the reasons for their lack of existing patronage. The food, however, was excellent. Highlights include free corkage if you buy a naan, and erotic wall art (gourd-as-vagina).