When you’re in New Zealand’s biggest city, you’ll find you have plenty of things to do. But between jumping off tall buildings or experiencing the native New Zealand culture, you need to eat. We save you the trouble of finding out where to go in this list of the best 10 restaurants in Auckland.
With a name that means ‘the heart and soul’ in Japanese, it’s clear right from the off what the proprietors of this new-age joint are out to provide for their customers. Set in a quiet side street off the very trendy, very busy, Ponsonby Road, Cocoro is a refreshing delight. The fish is so fresh you wouldn’t be surprised if it dove off your plate, but the really interesting thing about this place is the layout. It might be a slightly different dining experience from what you’re used to: more intimate, for one thing. There is only space for 40 people here, with seating spread along the wall and a large communal table set in the middle of the room. Being seated at the latter is reminiscent of being in a sushi-train restaurant, and the effect is quite fun.
Taxidermied birds and mounted stag heads are scattered around the cosy Cazador. Its tagline – ‘Hunt. Gather. Feed.’ – truly reflects the cuisine on offer. Quite different from your usual meat options, what’s offered here can’t be bought from your local supermarket. You’ll have a hard time deciding, but whatever you choose will undoubtedly be rustic, heartwarming and delicious, and there’s also a fantastic craft beer selection.
Everything about this old-hand of the Auckland restaurant scene is fast, fresh and happening. The food is made from seasonal ingredients and mostly cooked over charcoal or hardwood fires, giving the food a real depth of flavour, and the service is well-oiled and professional without any hint of pretentiousness. As this is an oyster bar, it’d be rude not to grab half a dozen of the little beauties to start off. There are no reservations here, so it pays to be early or have time on your hands. Thankfully, the table turnover is fairly fast, so it won’t be long before you’re putting on the nosebag.
Orbit 360° Dining soars over Auckland, occupying the 72nd floor of the famous Sky Tower. This is truly one of Auckland’s most sought-after dining experiences, so it’s wise to make a reservation if you plan to dine 190 metres above the ground while taking in panoramic views of New Zealand’s largest city. Orbit 360° is open for lunch and dinner every day of the week, as well as brunch, which is available only on weekends.
We all have our preconceived notion of what an experience at an Indian restaurant should be like. It’s food that nourishes the soul. There’s nothing quite like presiding over a few lovely curries, with some crisp popadoms and a selection of chutneys on the side, then washing it all down with something nice and cold. Cassia, on the other hand, turns these notions on their heads with its award-winning combination of Indian favourites jazzed up with a contemporary twist.
It seems that there are infinite possibilities when you dine at Eight, located at The Langham Hotel in Auckland’s city centre. This incredibly lavish restaurant’s name represents its eight different kitchens, each one serving dishes from a different world cuisine. A New-York-style grill, a seafood bar and a station for freshly made sushi are just some of the selections on offer, along with a comprehensive wine list that contains some of the best local wines as well as international specials.
The French Café is run by a husband-and-wife team, and has garnered more awards – both in New Zealand and internationally – than you can shake a baguette at. The duo’s approach to running this cracking restaurant is a holistic one, where the service, food and atmosphere all come together to produce a really memorable experience. And the food? Think decadence in the form of butter-poached crayfish or smoked duck with caramelised apricots.
Baduzzi’s cooking has a modern style that’s grounded by classic gastronomic techniques from French cuisine. At Baduzzi, you can expect to sample some of the fantastic Italian food that has been developing for decades in Auckland’s North Wharf. Leather seats and wooden tables give this restaurant the feel of a European bistro, while the food and service are what make it one of Auckland’s most elegant fine-dining experiences.
It’s anniversary night or a 50th birthday, or perhaps a long-absent uncle has returned from an exploratory trek through the tangled forests of Borneo. Whatever the occasion, The Grove is the one restaurant in Auckland that the keen diner or party organiser turns to when they really want to pull out all the stops. This is high-end dining at its finest. Oh, you’ll pay for it. You’ll pay through the what’s-it. But, for such an occasion as the safe return of Uncle Augustus from the depths of the jungle, it’s well worth it. The French-inspired food here is to die for. Go all out and order the seven-course degustation menu.
The Ponsonby Road Bistro is one of the many restaurants in Auckland that continue to cement their place as culinary hot-spots year after year. With the menu changing every few weeks, it’s also a place that you can continually return to and experience something new, as well as returning to a handful of classic dishes that you can turn to like old friends. Offering global fare in a relaxed, stylish and – dare we say it – very Auckland environment, Ponsonby Road Bistro is nothing if not a deliciously safe bet.