While traditional New Zealand food seems to barely extend beyond a Maori Hangi, that does not mean that Kiwis don’t know how to cook! Don’t be fooled by the fast-food filled shop fronts of Queen Street, Auckland is full of fantastic, independent eateries, peppered across it’s many suburbs and newly renovated areas. As much as it pains me to say, there’s no way you (or me, or anyone) could possibly eat everything there is to try here, so these are my recommendations of where to start when deciding what to eat in Auckland. Bare in mind that my taste is not at all fancy and I pretty much have the palate of a child, so if you’re looking for Michelin Star dining, this is not the place.
Moving to a new city can be stressful. Finding a new house, a new job and new friends can be hard, but nothing is as challenging as finding a new go-to pizza place. I moved to Auckland in mourning of my previous favourites, worried that life would never be quite the same. And then came Sal’s. They serve amazing individual slices, 30 inch pizzas and garlic knots which means they cater to every stage of hunger and are liberally scattered across the city so you’re never too far away from heaven. The perfect local pizzeria. Thank you Sal.
Burgers are one of the most popular foods in Auckland but none are raved about as much as Burger Burger‘s burgers (confusing). With locations in Newmarket and hipster hangout, Ponsonby Central as well as one down by the water in Takapuna, they have the most popular neighbourhoods covered. The sandwiches are simple and they provide good quality for a relatively cheap price, especially as you usually need to pay at least 20% more just to enter into hipster territory.
I don’t know if it’s obvious but I LOVE pizza. Finding a great New York style slice is one challenge but finding a good Neapolitan is something else entirely. Another Ponsonby favourite with roots in Takapuna, Dante’s serves up fantastic, authentic Italian pizza in a restaurant that steers well clear of the pretentiousness often found in these areas. With sticks of salami hanging from the wooden bar, and a reasonably priced menu, this place offers the experience of a good family Italian.
Auckland is full of Mexican chains but the imaginatively named Mexico is by far the best. They specialise in shareable street food with the tacos and fried chicken being my personal favourite. They also make amazing homemade soda and serve 10 different flavours of margarita! Sign up to their club and get free corn chips with salsa or guacamole every time you visit!
Best Ugly Bagels
A New Zealand institution, Best Ugly Bagels is a rite of passage whilst in Auckland. Grab one of their imaginative creations or take home a pack of freshly baked deliciousness to make you’re housemates jealous on a daily basis. You can find them in the CBD or head out to Newmarket for a bite in a perfect people watching spot.
Do no visit Auckland without eating the fried chicken and waffles at Orleans. I’m sure are all great, but I’ve never felt the need to stray past the glorious waffles. Take a seat in their adorable courtyard in the Britomart area and peruse the menu of classic dishes from Louisiana, before ultimately deciding that you can’t just take my word for it. Go on a Wednesday and get them, plus a shake, for only $12! How could you not?!
I haven’t actually been to Depot myself because of my complete aversion to sea food (it’s an oyster bar) but I’ve heard fantastic things from those people who think slimy food is good food. Owned by Al Brown who also has Best Ugly Bagels and The Federal Deli in his repertoire, you can be sure to find a young and trendy atmosphere along with some pretty tasty meals.
This modern Italian in the newly developed (where isn’t?!) Wynyard Quarter is named after meatballs but it can do other stuff pretty well too. Don’t be expecting pizzas but Baduzzi do a great range of pastas and mains as well as four kinds of meatballs for you to try. Note to self: Wood Fired Bistecca is not a fancy word for pizza. It means steak. Now I look stupid.
The Blue Breeze Inn
The large Asian population of Auckland means there is no shortage of authentic Asian food in the city, and The Blue Breeze Inn provides some of the best. With an innovative selection of interesting small plates and mains, it’s perfect for sharing while sipping a few cocktails on the outdoor terrace. They also have a smaller, “chop chop” restaurant round the corner so those wanting a quick bite.
Just down the road from The Blue Breeze Inn is Mekong Baby. Serving a very similar kind of shareable, Asian fusion (tapas style food is very popular here), the food quality and atmosphere are very similar. The duck massaman curry pushes Mekong Baby into first place for me but be sure to give both a try and see for yourself.
El Sizzling Chorizo
Meat is the order of the day at Argentinian BBQ joint, El Sizzling Chorizo. And pretty great meat it is too. Order meats separately or opt for one of the platters (pictured above) which can come with a variety of sides including empanadas and fried potatoes. The kitchen is open so you can watch as the chefs pile up steaks, ribs and sausages on the grill. Not suitable for vegetarians although they do have a go at being accommodating by providing a grilled cheese option. Nice try.
Freeman and Grey
Freeman and Grey’s food isn’t exactly mind blowing but I’m including it as they offer $4 pizzas during there Happy Hours, which are 12-2pm and 5-7.30pm everyday. The topping choice are interesting and the quality is definitely good enough for $4 to feel like a fantastic deal. Join their “best friends club” to claim a free pizza and $7 glasses of wine from now until forever. What more do you need?
Where is your favourite place to eat in Auckland? Let me know below!