Auckland, as the biggest city in New Zealand, is quite the cultural melting pot. What this means – among other things – is that it is stuffed with every conceivable cuisine that a food enthusiast could wish for. Here are the top 10 best restaurants in the splendid suburb of Ponsonby.
Bar, Restaurant, Vietnamese, Fusion, Thai, $$$
If you feel like treating yourself to the gastronomic equivalent of a Full Moon Party
then head to Mekong Baby, asap. Here you’ll get to experience the heady, bold and colourful flavours of Southeast Asia, and wash it down with some of the best cocktails in the area. If you’re feeling adventurous – or lazy – you can pay $60 NZD a head and proclaim, “Let’s Eat!” and you will be served with the choicest parts of the brilliant menu. This is the perfect way to get to know Mekong Baby and what the incredible staff in the kitchen are able to produce. As good as the food is – and it is really
good – the drinks are also next level. The drinks menu is so extensive you’ll no doubt spend a good 10 minutes pouring over it. So next time you feel in need of a pad see ew with braised wagyu skirt, you know where to go.
Restaurant, Contemporary, Japanese, $$$
A modern twist on haute cuisine is offered by Cocoro
by providing an exquisite tasting menu that tests the incredible skills of their talented chefs. The precision and dedication required to create each delicious portion really pays off in the end product. The simple, classy decor and excellent service competently form an ambiance in which the food is paramount, and dining excellence is also of prime importance. This is quite simply the best restaurant in the area.
Boy and Bird
Restaurant, Australian, $$$
More of the good and less of the bad is not something that you’d necessarily think of when you think of a restaurant that specialises in chicken. However, modern cooking is all about turning preconceptions in on their heads, and such is the ethos of the gals and guys at Boy and Bird. It’s not healthy in the way that vegan restaurants are healthy. In fact, you might not want to mention this culinary stop to your dietitian. What makes it worthy of mention is that it serves up solid soul food that makes your tummy sing. And whilst they might not skimp on the carbs and the focus is on chicken and other birds, the meat is of the highest quality welfare, free-range type. The veggies are all locally sourced and organic. So, although you can enjoy a 33-dollar scotch steak with polenta
fries and Bearnaise sauce – and you should if you get the chance – you can rest assured that the meat is from a happy cow and the eggs in the sauce were from free-range chooks.
Cafe, Restaurant, Australian, Israeli, $$$
When it comes to old hands that have been serving quality gear to the taste buds since – comparatively – way back, then Dizengoff would probably top our list. This establishment has been churning out the good caffeine, scrumptious brunches and sweet treats since ’94, which in New Zealand terms makes it practically neolithic. There’s a Jewish influence to the menu with pastrami, chopped liver and salmon on offer – which might strike you as a bit rich until you get your chompers round the offerings. This place has been attracting a wealth of clients, from rich Auckland housewives to Green Party politicians to hipsters for years, and for good reason. Come and join the cool kids, because this is a place to be seen.
Restaurant, Fast Food, American, $$$
Resembling an old-school American burger bar, Burger Burger
cuts no corners and creates reliably delicious burgers alongside other signature American classics. Supporting local suppliers and producers who are equally passionate about organic and free-range products adds to the authentic taste and genuine texture that can be found in these burgers. Environmentally friendly and socially responsible, Burger Burger is ethical and delicious. If you fancy really pushing the boat out and are quite happy with loosening your belt a notch or three, then why not grab one of their out-of-this-world milkshakes.
Cocktail Bar, European, $$$
Strictly speaking, this is not a restaurant, but it’s such a Ponsonby institution that we had to include it. Mea Culpa has been on the radar of all of Auckland’s cocktail aficionados for many years now, and slides smoothly into any list that is compiled on the city’s best cocktail haunts
. Everything is hand-made here, including the hand-pressed fruits and the garnishes that are purchased from local suppliers. This joint has been ticking along for a good while in a cut-throat industry and that tells you they’re consistently amazing when it comes to mixing up a bit of an alcoholic restorative, and that their menu is always changing to accommodate the mercurial tastes of the consumer. This is probably your safest pick when it comes to wrapping yourself around the outside of an excellent snifter. In the event all that drinking does make you hungry, they also have a fantastic selection of cheeseboards to peruse and nibble on.
Chop Chop Noodle House
Restaurant, Asian, $$$
The culinary kung-fu masters at Chop Chop Noodle House make it their business to serve up the best in Asian
street food that Ponsonby has to offer. A “mega ramen” packed with both pork and chicken as well as kimchi, mushrooms and noodles is just what the doctored ordered on a wet and miserable day, and will leave you with fire in your belly for a good while after. Whether you might feel like having some Chinese crispy crab buns or a little Korean fried chicken, these guys have all your Asian desires covered.
Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
Reflecting the beautiful nature and landscape of New Zealand, SIDART
has more than impeccable service and elegant cuisine. Here you can experience an inspiring gastronomic and artistic journey that highlights New Zealand’s
magnificence as well as its authentic produce. Executive chef Sid Sahrawat’s intention was to create a formal dining experience with a unique personal touch, and this ambition has been accomplished, evident in the care and creativity invested into each incredible dish. This is truly the epitome of fine dining in the Ponsonby area.
Restaurant, Contemporary, Italian, $$$
This restaurant has been here since 1986, and in the unforgiving world of hospitality that may as well hark back to the beginning of time. Clearly they are doing something right here. You simply must visit Prego if you live in Auckland. If you want that special restaurant for that romantic occasion then look no further. Using fresh local ingredients, Prego
develops fantastic contemporary flavours that celebrate traditional Italian fare. The wine list is replete with some of the best wines that New Zealand has to offer, and which you can enjoy with your selection from the menu that’s full of your favourites. The name of this rustically decorated restaurant translates loosely as ‘you’re welcome’, and that’s appropriate, since the only thing you’ll be saying after the excellent service and delicious food is ‘grazie
The Blue Breeze Inn
Restaurant, Contemporary, Chinese, $$$
The impressive and daring stylistic choices in the interior design of The Blue Breeze Inn give it a post-industrial look. The dining area is flanked on one side by the busy kitchen of chefs working shoulder-to-shoulder, and on the other are floor-to-ceiling windows that let outside light trickle in on the dark wooden furniture. Layers of flavour are admirably developed around Chinese
specialties using local New Zealand ingredients, resulting in a well-balanced and satisfying eating experience.