It’s not possible to starve in Auckland city – there’ll be plenty of alternatives within easy reach of your Auckland accommodation! The formal restaurants here are world-class, offering food that is of the same quality – if not better – than anyplace else on earth. If it is luxury you would like then you will be well taken care of, but you’ll also find a big and classy variety of less formal dining places, wine bars, bistros, gastro-bars and ethnic restaurants and cafes. And Auckland takes its cafe lifestyle very seriously: these places are generally (but not necessarily) licensed to sell alcohol too, with an eclectic menu, cool décor and laid-back, friendly surroundings.
Without producing absolute recommendations, we are here to guide you in the proper direction for some terrific food encounters in Auckland… bon appétit!
First class dining
Where do we start? The French Café, The Grove, Euro, dine by Peter Gordon, Vinnie’s, Te Whau (on Waiheke Island – recently recognized as one of the worls’s best vineyard restaurants), White, Antoine’s, Bracu (south of Auckland in the Bombay Hills), Number Five, the Engine Room (on Northcote Point, over the harbour bridge), Mollie’s (private dining suites).
Not quite as fancy but still upper market are Cibo, SidArt, Prohibition, Sails, Prego, Eight Point Two (across the bridge in Birkenhead), Wine Chambers, The Mudbrick Vineyard and Stonyridge Vineyard (both on Waiheke Island) and, in Mount Eden, Meredith’s, Molten, Bowman’s and CAC.
For a much more casual bar bistro style establishment, try Pure, O’Connell Street Bistro, The Occidental Belgian Beer Café, Mondial, Prime, Bluestone Room, Ponsonby Road Bistro, The Mulberry, Pastis (authentic French), Soul, De Post (Belgian; Mt Eden).
You’ll find the coolest cafes in Ponsonby, Herne Bay, Parnell, Grey Lynn, Mt Eden, Devonport, Takapuna, Kingsland, ‘K’ (Karangahape) Road, or simply stroll through the central city – especially in the vicinity of High Street, Chancery and Vulcan Lane. There are outstanding cafes a bit further out of town, as well – in fact, it’s difficult to imagine anywhere in Auckland where you will not find an awesome cafe providing excellent food cost effectively. Some of the greatest of the present café selection are Gala, Dida’s, The Fridge, The Teed Street Larder (Newmarket), Ben, Allelulya (K Road), Landreth, Agnes Curran and the very typically ‘Kiwi’ Queenie’s Lunchroom in Freeman’s Bay. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg!
Seafood is superb and succulently fresh in Auckland, and you will find loads of dining establishments specialising in it. A few of the favorite are Harbourside, Kermadec, Sails, Hammerheads, Mikano, Squid Row (pub-style) and Soul.
Survey the scenery
If you’re just around for a few days mix your eating and site seeing, try Vertigo at the Mecure Hotel, Orbit, Sails, any of the Waiheke Island vineyard restaurants, Hammerheads, HQ, Euro, Mikano.
Window shopping for restaurants
Want to determine what’s being offered before you commit? There’s several great restaurant ‘zones’ in Auckland which make it easy to window shop. Try Ponsonby Road, O’Connell Street and High Street in the CBD, Parnell Road, the Viaduct Basin and Takapuna; all four offer loads of eateries of all types.
Fancy High tea?
New Zealanders sure do appreciate a decent ‘cuppa tea’, and normally a good spread of sweet and savoury treats to go with it! For a old fashioned high tea, visit the Cornwall Park Restaurant. Located in the charming and spacious Cornwall Park on One Tree Hill, locals have been enjoying high tea here for over 100 years. You can also go for a super luxury experience at Cotter House in the well to do suburb of Remuera. They also offer high tea (or rather a modern day version of high tea) at the rotating restaurant, Orbit, in the Sy Tower (Saturdays and Sundays only), or Low Tea at Prohibition in Ponsonby (Friday and Saturday afternoons). Or if it’s the desserts you are interested in more than the tea then forget about all that and head straight to the Little Cake Kitchen on upper Queen Street in the CBD. Yummy!
Any popular beach front in Auckland should have a cafe nearby serving basic but yummy breakfast, lunch and dinner time menu’s. My personal favorites are out ’round the bays’ in Mission Bay, St Heliers or ‘Kohi’ (Kohimaramara), or over the harbour bridge to suburbs like Devonport and Takapuna. For something completely distinct though you might like to go out to the Piha Cafe, beside the incredible Piha beach on the west coast. It can be a decent drive, but distinctively Auckland encounter (closed Mondays and Tuesdays).
Out of the ordinary
If you eat out a lot and really would like to experience something new and unique, try somewhere like Prohibition in Ponsonby, Allelulya (café) on K-Road, Deus Ex Machina (Wellesley Street in the Central business district), the absolutely French and fabulous Le Garde-Manger (Upper Queen Street, CBD), Queenie’s Lunchroom in Freeman’s Bay, or the above-mentioned Piha Café.
Like almost all big cities nowadays, Auckland of course provides a great variety of ethnic eating choices too. To be frank I think Auckland may provide more options than the majority of cities with a really varied culture mix, including African, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Indian, Middle-Eastern and more.
Locals tip: Looking for a quick fill up but don’t want to spend a lot? Try fish and chips – they’re offered through out the city, but I advise heading to the closest beach and eat them straight out of the wrapping paper while you take pleasure in the last of the sunshine dipping over the horizon.
Sarah Boyle is a a freelance travel writer from New Zealand. She travels alot, but is just as happy staycationing at home, especially if it involves a vacation at her preferred hotel in Auckland. Find out more regarding things to see in Auckland.