On any given weekend, head to Westmere shops at the end of Garnet Road and it’s bound to be lively. Westmere Butchery is one of the most popular in Auckland; there’ll be people spilling out onto the sidewalk from cafes Seabreeze and Catroux; and plenty with dogs or prams heading to Meola Reef, Westmere Park or Cox’s Bay Reserve.
The vibe is “family-friendly neighbourhood”, and it’s a short trip up the hill to the restaurants of Herne Bay or Grey Lynn in the other direction. All Westmere village was missing was a dedicated neighbourhood restaurant in the evenings – until Ragtag opened in December 2022.
It's from chef Dan Freeman, the founder of the popular Ragtag taco pop-ups. The two-storey venue is on Garnet Road, and was inspired by neighbourhood wine bars in London and Europe. The fit-out was provided by Pacific Projects (Ooh-fa, Gloria's) and feels both relaxed and refined. Minimal light fixtures line the ceiling and upper wall; there’s a dark wooden bar and wooden tables; and framed maps of London hang on the two-toned cream and teal walls. The main dining room leads into an open kitchen out the back, with seats at the bar and more space for diners to spill out upstairs.
For the menu, Freeman has drawn on his years of experience working in restaurants across a wide variety of cuisines. If you’re familiar with his pop-up experiences, and “100 per cent not authentic” duck-fat flour tortillas, you’ll know the pop-ups were never restricted to Mexican-inspired dishes.
He views tacos as a vessel to try out different flavours and ingredients, so fillings might vary from smoked lamb shoulder with cucumber and sesame, to charred eggplant and harissa.
There's also a rotating selection of sharing plates, and the drinks list features natural wine from Still Life and other Wine Diamonds drops, and Hawkes Bay’s Brave Brewing Co beer on tap.
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