Whenever we head back to New Zealand, we’ve got some tough choices to make on where to dine – the gastronomic scene has such a depth of quality that we’re always torn between checking out popular new openings and revisiting old favourites. Here are our picks for our tried and tested restaurants in Auckland that you simply don’t want to miss.
We’ve lost count at how many awards this shrine to modern Indian cuisine has won (or perhaps we’re just too lazy to look them all up), but let us tell you – it’s a lot. A dark, industrial basement tucked away on Fort Lane, this cave-like central city hideout is one you want to seek out. From the stable of much-lauded NZ chef Sid Sahrawat, Cassia delivers the goods one expects from such a gastronomic genius in the most casual format of the three of his restaurants (more on the others below). It’s modern Indian done oh so well – all your favourite Indian dishes are there, of course with a twist, and there are plenty of creative takes on Indian flavours too. This is absolutely tastebud-blowing Indian food that lovers of the cuisine will be craving long after their visit. Read our full review here.
We’re not usually one for hyperbole, but Parnell’s Woodpecker Hill serves up our favourite Asian food on the planet. In fact, we love the food at all of master-of-Asian-cuisine Che Barrington’s many Auckland restaurants (Blue Breeze Inn, Go Go Daddy and Chop Chop also are under his expert guidance). For us, it’s just not a trip to Auckland without visiting this unique fusion establishment (yes, it’s got a little fusion in there but hear us out) that takes American Smokehouse BBQ meats and dresses them up in fiery Thai flavours (there’s plenty of seafood for those of you who are into that too, never fear). This is serious Thai cooking, bursting with flavour and heat. We crave this year round.
Just across the road from Woodpecker Hill is our 2018 restaurant of the year, Pasture. It’s recently shrunk from 14 seats to a mere six, and only opens Weds-Sun for two seatings a night (5:45pm and 8:15pm) – that means there are only 60 seats per week available at this very special chef’s counter. Pasture focusses on New Zealand ingredients, bringing out the best in them through wood fire, fermentation and a whole lotta heart. This is New Zealand’s most boutique and intimate dining experience – don’t miss the pairing, both the non-alcoholic and alcoholic pairings are killer. Click here to read our full review of Auckland’s Pasture.
A long-standing Auckland fine dining institution, The Grove has done it again with new head Chef Ryan Moore in 2020. Expect white tablecloths, great service and an exemplary wine list – as well as show-stopping food. The Grove is the perfect spot for a romantic date night, with food that will keep even the most experienced foodies well entertained. Click here to read our full review of The Grove.
Auckland has many Asian fusion eateries but Hello Beasty is definitely one of the very best. The menu brings together Chinese, Japanese and Korean flavours with great success – their chicken karaage had us swooning at first bite. Expect a vibrant atmosphere, fragrantly flavourful dishes, killer service and a great wine list with natural-leaning options if that’s your thing. Click here to read our full review of this Viaduct hot spot.
Sid at The French Cafe
What do you get when you take Auckland’s most famous fine dining institution (The French Cafe) and insert Auckland’s most lauded chef? You get another excuse to feast on Sid Sahrawat’s food, and that’s something we’re more than ok with. Sahrawat and his boss restauranteur wife Chand are gradually transitioning the classic French establishment into a showcase for their finest cuisine, while still paying homage to the long-standing history of the venue. It’s not an easy task to take a restaurant that’s had regulars for over a decade and write a new chapter in its story – but we’re loving the way this tale is unfolding so far.
Nestled in the heart of Kumeu wine country, The Tasting Shed is a world away from most of the other inner city establishments on this list. It’s home to good vibes, good wine and good food – ok, by good we mean great. Really great. It’s modern-rustic-backyard-shed-chic, and oh-so kiwi. We just wish it was a little closer to town, but it’s definitely worth the trip – make a day of it, bribe a designated driver and explore the nearby vineyards while you’re at it (the Cooper’s Creek tasting room shares a driveway with the restaurant – too easy!). Read our full review here.
Culprit are the cool kids on the inner-city block, drawing a steady stream of hungry foodies to their first floor Wyndham Street location like no dining establishment has before them. Their modern kiwi take on yum cha is a delight for diners who love tapas-style eating (us) but there are larger plates too. Read our full review here.