If you’re about to tackle the adventure of road tripping the south island of New Zealand, first off, I’m jealous, and, secondly, you will most likely find yourself passing through the city of Invercargill. The quiet city sits at the base of the south island and as the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand.
If you’re road tripping chances are you’re living off noodles and protein bars. Within this city lies Louies, which I would easily consider the jewel of Invercargill. If you want to actually enjoy your food for one night of your trip, eat here. Invercargill is surrounded by fertile farmland and water so the food you are about to consume could be the freshest you have ever eaten.
Right when you walk in the scent of wood and orange peels fills the room. Oddly enough, this is an important part of the decor of Louies as you’ll find out later.
The restaurant has a killer collection of beers along with an impressive wine list. The bar is the restaurant’s centerpiece. Jordan and I were in awe of this fortress of alcoholic happiness — almost the same way a wide-eyed 6-year-old girl reacts when she’s handed her Barbie birthday cake (and the Barbie on the top is edible and it’s all for you). Same feeling, same facial expression.
When it comes to the food, Louies uses nothing but the freshest ingredients so the menu could change depending on what’s in season. While we were visiting, on the menu were items like pan-roasted salmon fillet, cider-braised pork belly, roasted lamb rump and blue cod, just to name a few. While the decision was one of the toughest on the trip, one thing was for certain: the green-lipped mussels in the coconut cream sauce were a must. It’s safe to say this was one of the best dishes I had while exploring New Zealand. I’m a coconut fanatic, and the creamy sauce on top of the biggest mussels I’ve ever seen in real life made me forget I was in a small-town restaurant in New Zealand instead of the food mecca of New York City.
The restaurant is run under the inspirational leadership of Owner Mana Davis (pictured above), who prides himself on being as environmentally friendly as possible by producing very limited waste (take note, America). “Instead of throwing out all the leftover citrus, like a lot of people do, we turn it into marmalade and jams to marinade our wild venison and wild pork in,” said Davis. “Instead of putting it down the drain, any alcohol still in trays at the end of the night we drain and turn into vinegar, which we use for cooking or cleaning. All the offcuts from the vegetables go to the animals or to re-feed the plants.”
Louies prides itself on creating a comfortable atmosphere for guests. “When people enter into our space, they enter into someplace they wouldn’t expect from this part of New Zealand,” said Davis. “We focus on our open fires and good ambiance. We try to maintain a nice style of music and lighting as well as promote new styles of food from recipes we create on site. Louies is about coming in, enjoying our ambience. Enjoy our food, enjoy our nice wines and our herbal teas. Hopefully when you come to Invercargill you’ll come find us.”
Louies is surely not to be missed when traveling through New Zealand. The restaurant is located right off the main street in town at 142 Dee St., Invercargill 9501, New Zealand.