Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, a thriving metropolis and a melting pot of cultures. With over two hundred different nationalities, you can be sure to find any cuisine that tickles your fancy. From a creamy caffeine hit to exquisite farm-to-table fare, there are delicious gems around every corner.
We’ve put together just a small selection of our favourite places as a good starting point to whet your appetite. So, without further ado, here is the ultimate guide to Auckland’s best food and drink!
Rise & Shine
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, what better way to fuel up for the day with a cup of coffee and some hearty food to boot? New Zealand has a prolific coffee culture so make sure you sample as many different roasters as possible!
One of Auckland’s best markets boasts both indoor and outdoor stalls, chocka-block with everything from fresh Turkish bread and dips to local produce to paella cooked in giant pans. We recommend finding a spot in the sunshine with a flat white (don’t forget your keep cup!) and a bacon and egg breakfast bun. Grab a French pastry on the way out, too!
Located at the iconic Chelsea Sugar Factory right on the water’s edge, Sugar is unmissable with its trademark shades of pink dotted throughout. With an extensive menu and cabinet, you’ll be drooling as soon as you step through the door. The café is famous for their insanely delicious (and huge) lamingtons, often selling out before lunch time. For the full experience, pre-book a tour through the Chelsea Sugar Factory, still in operation today!
Light & Tasty Lunches
Feel like something light and tasty to see you through the afternoon? We’ve got you covered.
You may laugh at the name, but we really do suggest you try it out! This authentic Vietnamese restaurant serves up bowls of steaming hot pho. It’s loud, fast-paced and good for the soul. The menu is sizeable, but we can’t look past the classic lemongrass chicken with rice noodle soup.
Stop by Paasha Turkish Kitchen, a new kid on the block having just opened in August 2020. Picture shish cooked over charcoal, fresh salads, and tasty sauces and be transported straight back to Istanbul! A takeaway falafel, rice and salad meal from here will set you back just $14.
As the name suggests, Little Bird Unbakery was one of the first places to open in Auckland on the raw food scene. Even if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, you’ll still enjoy one of their bird bowls or superfood smoothies. Our favourite? The raw ginger slice for a kick of goodness.
The three o’clock slump is real. For a pick-me-up, pay a visit to Little & Friday. This Auckland institution began in 2007, only opening their kitchen on Fridays. Fast forward to present day, it has expanded to multiple locations across the city, but the same five-star quality remains. Using a variety of free-range and organic ingredients, the savoury brioche and tarts are especially tasty. And you absolutely must try one of their jam and cream donuts, touted as one of the best in the City of Sails.
A refreshing tipple is the perfect way to end a busy day. Est. 1901 is a small, narrow bar filled with so much charm; from its antique furniture to original (refurbished) toilet, it’s a lovely spot in the bustling Ponsonby area. Park up on one of their outdoor tables to watch the world go by.
Dig Into Dinner
The Auckland restaurant scene has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years. There are a fantastic variety of restaurants meaning you can dine out on any budget, and on any craving, you may have!
Featuring an open kitchen and a (small) outdoor area with city motorway views, Cotto delivers deliciously affordable Italian fare. Divided into three price brackets (plus a dessert section), we won’t blame you for wanting to order one of everything! We recommend the handmade spinach and goats cheese dumplings which are fast becoming the most popular dish on the menu. Afterwards, a post-dinner stroll down vibrant K Road is a must.
Known as the Japanese yakitori and kushiage bar to go to, you might miss its entrance when you go. Follow the stairs downstairs to The Cave and hope for a seat at the bar to watch all the action. The food and drink arrive hot and fast, so is often frequented by locals going to or from a show at one of the nearby theatres.
Calling itself the food embassy for Aotearoa and the Pacific, Homeland opened last year in a bid to support New Zealand producers with a restaurant and cooking school hybrid – encouraging people to taste, cook, buy local and share recipes. Food is created seasonally so the menu is constantly evolving, making it a pleasant surprise upon your visit.
For the grand finale, it would be rude to pass up dessert. With a take on an old-school New York Jewish delicatessen, Federal Delicatessen is an all-day eatery but we like to visit for its trio of dessert pies. Choose from a New York cheesecake, banoffee, cherry and chocolate or lemon meringue pies and get stuck in! If you’re lucky enough to sit at the kitchen (our favourite spot), watch on as the chefs churn out orders late into the night.