I’ve blogged quite a bit about places to go in New Zealand and about some of the quirks of living here, but I haven’t talked much about restaurants. Another Kiwi expression that was new to me is using the word ‘feed’ for a meal. They will say something like “we’ll have a quick feed” or “that was a great feed”. So I thought I’d make a list of the feeds I like the best so far in Auckland and add to it as I explore more. If you have one to add let me know!
- Cafe Hanoi — this is my absolute favorite restaurant in Auckland, hands down. One of our vendors took my team here for an end of year lunch and now I’m hooked. I had never heard of it despite the fact that I live just a block away! It’s on the corner of Galway and Commerce Streets in the Auckland CBD (very close to Britomart) but the entrance is a somewhat nondescript red door and I never noticed it. They do an amazing job with their seasonings and the sauces will blow you away — I’d recommend asking your server for help and trying a variety of dishes family style so you can get the selection. Don’t miss the prawns with green rice, the pork skewers with lettuce, and the pork and seafood pancake wraps. Dessert is also great — the traditional Vietnamese warm dumplings were really good and something different for me.
- Bamboo House —
if you like Korean food then this is a great little eatery in Auckland. It’s on Commerce Street so close to Britomart and in the CBD. We go there quite a bit because the food is good and service is great (their English is limited but they try hard). We almost always order a kimchi pancake (theirs is really good) and usually get the steamboat for two with homemade dumplings and tofu. The dumplings are pork and chive and I could eat them all day. You can easily feed three people with the steamboat for two as there is a lot of food.
- Elliott Stables – the building this is housed in was originally built in 1910. Their website labels them as an ‘epicurean village’ which is a great description. It’s the only one of its kind I’ve ever seen and is a great experience. The ‘village’ structure is very open — tables are set up in a large middle area and each table has a number on it. Around the tables on the outside of the village are the eateries themselves. The way it works is that you pick a table and then pick an eatery – order the food you want at the counter, tell them your table number, and then sit down at your table. When the food is ready they will bring it to you. There are probably 10-15 different restaurants with food from around the world – Cajun, German, Spanish, Indian, Mexican, Japanese, Italian, a juice bar, Mediterranean, grill, wine bar, a French creperie, burgers, etc. The food is great, the selection is incredible, and the people at your table can sit together and all eat from separate vendors!
- Govinda’s Restaurant – if you research this place further you’ll notice that Zomato and other sites don’t give it a great rating. And if you go in expecting the typical dining experience then you’ll be disappointed. But me and my family love it. It’s different, simple, unrefined, cheap, and the food is great. Govinda’s is a Hare Krishna restaurant — the meals are all vegetarian and they don’t use garlic or onion in anything. The décor is minimal and looks kind of like a school cafeteria. There’s no wait staff really and you pick up your food at the counter when it is ready. The food selection consists mostly of curries — they usually have a list of curries that are available for the day and you can either pick what you want from there or order what we call the $10 mystery plate. The plate comes with two curries but you don’t specify what curry you want so you never know which two you’ll get. The plate also comes with dal, rice, poppadum, and a sweet for dessert.
- La Zeppa – La Zeppa is easy walking distance to the CBD and more of your traditional city restaurant. Much of its menu is tapas with a great variety to choose from for both meat eaters and vegetarians. It has a nice fire inside in the winter and an awesome and large deck for the summer. The wait staff has always been good when we’ve been there. My favorite menu item is the polenta sticks but we haven’t been disappointed on anything we’ve ordered here. If you have more than 2 people, ask about their boards – the boards are $49 each and have a varied mix of items from the tapas menu.
- Orbit – I know it’s the touristy thing to do but I don’t care, I like it. Orbit is the revolving restaurant inside the Sky Tower. It’s much like the revolving restaurant in the Space Needle in Seattle. And like the Space Needle in Seattle, it isn’t a cheap meal but you can go to the viewing area for free if you eat there. We went for my step-daughter’s birthday and we thought the food was really good (the Jafa hot chocolate we’d pass on next time). They have a three course menu for $75 which includes an entrée, main and dessert — go during lunch if you want to save some money as lunch options are cheaper. Order the chocolate ball for dessert! I don’t want to ruin the surprise but it is worth it!
- Mexican Café – I’m from Texas and I love Mexican food. So be warned if you go in to the Mexican Café that this isn’t what I would call ‘real’ Mexican food. It’s the best I’ve found in the city so far though and it will do. If you’re from Texas, you’ll be shocked and amazed when you want a refill on your chips and salsa and they tell you that the refills cost money. And once we went there and they were out of guacamole because it was too hard to get fresh avocados, but they have good margaritas (not cheap but good) and their chimichangas and guacamole (when they have it) are great. Service is consistent and they have a nice outside area that I assume is open in the summertime (it is enclosed in the winter).
- Torchon Frech Crepery — I was shopping downtown last weekend and tried this place. I was looking for something different and stepped in for lunch. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was the only diner in the restaurant but it still took a while for my food to arrive after I ordered. It was worth
it though! I ordered the ‘Popeye’ which was a crepe with mushrooms, onion, bacon, spinach, and cream. It was really really good — the cream sauce was just about perfect. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Torchon is both a restaurant on its own and part of Elliott Stables (mentioned above) so you can get their crepes either way.
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