There’s nothing like landing in a new region and making a beeline through unfamiliar streets to a dining destination you’ve long wanted to try. That sense is amplified in Auckland, or Tāmaki Makaurau as it's known in te reo Māori, which teems with locations offering famous fine-dining to street eats, and everything in-between.
Here’s a guide to where to book a table when you’re fresh from the plane – from the region’s newest openings to Auckland institutions.
Odettes is in City Works Depot, which also houses New Zealand hospitality stalwarts Brothers Beer and Best Ugly Bagels. Open seven days and three nights (Thursday to Saturday), Odettes is an all-day eatery serving reliably delicious Mediterranean- and North Africa-inspired fare from breakfast to dinner. If you require a little extra in the morning, pair a hearty breakfast like Odettes’s Complete (eggs, heirloom tomato, avocado, bacon, whipped feta and sourdough) with a peppy Mimosa, Bloody Mary or Hugo’s Spritz (Prosecco, elderflower, lime and mint).
Occupying a narrow, 100-year-old Victorian terrace on Ponsonby Road, Orphans Kitchen is a 40-seat eatery open since 2013. The daytime-only menu is informed by a series of principles outlined in a manifesto published on the restaurant’s website, and which include sustainability, seasonality and innovation. Diners sit at rough-hewn timber tables in the ground-level space, while upstairs a dining room is available for private events. Out the back is a courtyard with bench seating shaded by elm trees.
With textured interiors lined with tiles, marble, concrete, exposed bricks and wood, this warm and polished restaurant is inspired by the flavours and history of Andalusia in southernmost Spain. Alma is backed by a large open wood fire, which imparts that all-important charred flavour to most of the menu. Andalusian cuisine blends Spanish and Moorish influences; Alma embraces the latter with dishes such as pork pinchitos (kebab-like skewers), the Moroccan eggplant and tomato dish zaalouk, and chicken with harissa and ajo blanco (white gazpacho). Seeing as Alma opens from 11am daily, there’s a sensible non-alcoholic drinks selection including horchata and house-made sodas, plus a wine list that spans Spanish bottles and New Zealand-grown Spanish varietals, as well as a good selection of vermouths and sherries – and a lengthy dedicated gin list.
From the same owners as the ever-popular Cafe Hanoi comes Ghost Street, the mid-2021 addition to the Britomart dining scene, care of hospitality duo Krishna Botica and Tony McGeorge. The vibe here is elevated Chinese street food matched with upscale drinks in a moody lair. Starters veer from baked BBQ pork buns with pork floss butter crunch, and lettuce cups with pressed tofu, pickled greens, vegetables and pickled noodles, to hero mains like wok-seared eye fillet with doubanjiang (a spicy bean sauce), Chinese celery, ginger and dried chilli, or steamed silk tofu with salted chilli, spring onion, oyster mushrooms and coriander. After dinner, lychee freaks can be happily sated via the lychee mousse with lychee jelly and lemon yoghurt ice cream, or a crisp lychee martini, featuring Bison Grass vodka with lychee, sour cherry and fennel.
Located on Karangahape Road, a diverse creative hub universally known as K’ Road, Gemmayze Street is a family-owned Lebanese restaurant in St Kevins Arcade. Named after Gemmayzeh, a bohemian district in Beirut, Gemmayze Street delivers Lebanese hospitality and flavours using Aotearoa’s seasonal produce. The Jeeb menu (from the Arabic for “to bring”) is a banquet that recreates a Lebanese family feast. Hummus, baba ganoush and fattoush appear on the mezze menu, while larger dishes, still to share, include beef shish with pickles, saffron rice, date and walnut gremolata and duck breast with cherries and green tabouli.
A popular destination in a striking corner site in Commercial Bay, Ahi is owned by acclaimed Kiwi chef Ben Bayly and hospitality veteran Chris Martin. Ahi is the word for “fire” in Māori, and the restaurant encapsulates New Zealand cuisine – its native ingredients, local produce, seasonality and famed hospitality. In the kitchen, Bayly puts a modern spin on traditional Māori cooking techniques and pays homage to Aotearoa heritage.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Visit Auckland. Discover more and bookmark your holiday to Auckland.
This article has been updated to replace venue closures.