You’ll enjoy some free time in the City of Sails on your Kirra Tour of North Island, so here’s a guide to some of Auckland’s best restaurants.
Pace your palate, ladies and gentlemen, Auckland is more than the City of Sails; although you won’t find a better gateway to the North Island, this cosmopolitan capital is fast becoming just a little bit famous for its gastronomy. The Auckland food scene is more than a city pit-stop on your way to coastal haunts and wine-tasting adventures, it’s somewhere to be, to be seen and to enjoy. Food seamlessly intersects with experience, culture and whimsy, from island-hopping off the coast to the saltwater flavours of the Viaduct, every meal promises anticipation and pleasure.
Hungry? Let’s take a world tour of some of our favourite Auckland restaurants.
Soul Bar and Bistro: Viaduct Harbour at its best
Positioned right next to the marina at Viaduct harbour, Soul Bar & Bistro is idea for lunch, cocktails, dinner or a late-night party.
- Pricing: $25 to $48 for a main
- Classification: Casual dining
- Food Geography: New Zealand and Europe
- Atmosphere: Relaxed and unpretentious. An amazing meal without the dress code. Overlooks Auckland’s Viaduct harbour.
- Menu Picks: Try the smoked Trevally toast with lemon parsley mayo ($12 for 2pcs) – a starter with a taste of New Zealand. The Soul Signature cocktails include Five O’Clock on a Friday – a time we all look forward to and also here a refreshing cocktail of coconut tequila, Cointreau, chilli and lime.
One Tree Grill: famous for its 6-course deluxe degustation menu
A relaxed, upmarket suburban bistro, One Tree Grill serves fine wine with a renowned menu. They have a sustainable policy with food waste composted and then recycled back into the kitchen garden.
- Pricing: $40 to $59 for a main (add $10 per side)
- Classification: Fine dining
- Food Geography: New Zealand and Europe
- Atmosphere: Professional and attentive service, quite busy, potential privacy with booth seating and technological touches: a visual taste of the dishes courtesy of iPad menus.
- Menu Picks: Spoil yourselves with the 6-Course Deluxe Degustation Menu ($125 pp) – it will not disappoint. Why not spoil yourself a little more and opt-in for the per-course wine pairing ($68 pp)?
Azabu: bustling Japanese restaurant
Japanese cuisine with the finest local ingredients, Azabu is a bustling bar and restaurant.
- Pricing: $9 to $56 for a main
- Classification: Relaxed dining
- Food Geography: Peru and Japan
- Atmosphere: Relaxed but a little loud at times, wait-staff move between the tables with ease – you won’t be starved for great service here.
- Menu Picks: Say yes to the Crispy Pork Belly with a spicy miso glaze, salsa and a cauliflower puree – you’ll be back for more. Dessert won’t hurt? A beautiful Pavlova with seasonal fruits is the perfect end to your meal.
Ponsonby Central: best Italian pizza in Auckland?
Created on the site of an old print works, Ponsonby Central is a collection of different restaurants, bars and shops in one place. You can take your pick from a culinary world tour, with the flavours of Turkey, Italy, Thailand, Japan, China, Argentina, France, Venezuela and South East Asia all under one roof.
- Pricing: from $10 – there is a choice of 18 separate restaurants
- Classification: Informal dining
- Food Geography: Truly global!
- Atmosphere: Vibrant with a mix of bars and shops too
- Menu Picks: Try a pizza from Dantes Pizzeria – the first in New Zealand to be recognised in the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. The pizzas may only be cooked for 90 seconds – but the dough takes 4 days and has been hand-stretched before the Italian toppings are added.
Elliot Stables: plenty of choice for everyone
Set in the heart of the city in an old warehouse, Elliot Stables is a self-styled “Dining Village”, with tables around a “village common”. Choose from a variety of cuisines from around the world, from sushi to Cajun and French Patisserie to a classic American burger joint.
- Pricing: from $10 – again there is a choice of separate food bars
- Classification: Relaxed dining – walk-ins welcome
- Food Geography: Different international cuisine
- Atmosphere: Laid back and relaxed
- Menu Picks: For a perfect lunch, how about a seafood Yaki Udon, Japanese stir fried noodles and a cold beer from Samurai Sushi.
Commercial Bay: eating in the lifestyle precinct
If you are in bustling Auckland CBD, drop into Commercial Bay. It’s the city’s newest “lifestyle precinct” featuring over 100 dining, fashion and beauty outlets. Spread over three levels, it enjoys an enviable position, located on Waitematā Harbour. The second level features Harbour Eats, a collection of restaurants and bars with waterfront views.
- Pricing: from $10 – from a drink, a snack to a fine dining meal
- Classification: Relaxed dining – just drop in
- Food Geography: Enjoy tastes from all over the world
- Atmosphere: Modern and stylish in a precinct setting
- Menu Picks: You can choose everything from a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream right through to contemporary New Zealand cuisine from Ahi, the Maori word for Fire.
Hey there, sweet-tooth, we haven’t forgotten you. Dinner isn’t the only meal of the day, there’s dessert too!
Giapo: mysteriously good icecream
Normal ice cream is boring, according to Giapo! With a variety of flavours and shapes, it’s hard to disagree!
- Pricing: $10 to $31 for a movie night tub
- Classification: Ice cream, cones, tubs & desserts
- Food Geography: Italian gelato with a twist
- Atmosphere: Fun and original
- Menu Picks: You won’t believe the Colossal Squid Ice Cream – it’s an ice cream work of art!
If you are into your craft beer, Auckland doesn’t disappoint. There’s a vibrant craft beer scene in the city – and one destination where you can visit 7 craft beer bars in just one mile…
Auckland Beer Mile: heaps of breweries and taprooms in a row
Seven bars and pubs brewing and celebrating independent brews from Mt Eden to Morningside. At 3.2km, the route is actually nearer to 2 miles, and of course, you don’t have to visit them all in one go! This will be one hoppy trip. Have a look at the breweries and/or taprooms you will come across.
- Urbanaut – brewery/cellar door (Morningside)
- Beer Spot – pub (Morningside): 42 different brews on tap
- Garage Project – taproom (Kingsland)
- Behemoth Churly’s Bar – taproom/pub (Kingsland): features its own butchery serving Italian style cold meats
- Fridge & Flagon by Beer Jerk – (Mt Eden)
- Galbraith’s Alehouse, a traditional English style pub
You could finish off at the “casual” 605 Morningside Drinkery, also on North Road and opposite The Beer Spot. This is definitely the craft beer equivalent of street food, often with live music late into the night.
16 Tun: free house with an amazing selection of craft beer
Located on Jellicoe Street close to Viaduct Harbour, 16 Tun is a free house bar that offers a range of craft beers from all over New Zealand. It’s open every day from 11am – 11pm (midnight on Friday and Saturday) and has over 15 changing beers on tap. You’ll often find a choice including IPAs, pale ales, sour and fruit beers or craft lagers and stouts.
As well as enjoying the delicious breakfasts, lunches, dinners or desserts provided on your Kirra Tours, we hope these suggestions will also help you make the most of your free time in Auckland, one of the world’s most exciting foodie destinations.