If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that our love affair with cafes will never die. Whether it’s tucking into a stack of pancakes on a lazy weekend, a quick cabinet treat to go or kick-starting our mornings with terrific coffee, there’s nothing quite like a cafe to get the job done. While we remain loyal fans of established eateries who continue to effortlessly impress, we can’t look past the calibre of new cafes that have warmly opened their doors and made their mark during what can only be described as tumultuous times. From small neighbourhood spots to sleek, refined city eateries, these are the best new cafe openings of 2020 (in no particular order).
Mount Albert locals got lucky this year with the opening of Dear Jane, the sunny new space from Fonda Chloe Huo and Fang Bai, who also opened Common Ground Eatery in Browns Bay. The cleverly crafted menu features a mixture of old school classics with a smattering of Asian-fusion dishes (think eggs Benedict, shakshuka and a salmon lox bagel sitting side-by-side with a sticky pork belly bowl, teriyaki salmon soba noodle salad, and a tonkatsu karaage chicken burger), along with irresistible cabinet treats, fresh juices and smoothies.
Hero Sandwich House
We were stoked earlier this year to hear that the ever-popular Hero Sandwich House has set up shop in the city, bringing its tasty creations to those working and living in the CBD. From the famous CBJ with a generous slathering of chicken, bacon jam and cheddar to the Philly cheese steak with skirt steak, jalapenos, buttered onions, pickles and cheddar, Hero’s toasted sandwiches are the stuff of legends. Located inside inner-city multi-functional workshop, gallery and work space The Tuesday Club, Hero Sandwich House makes the perfect lunch pit stop.
While a visit to newcomer Percy mostly likely came with a side of international travel at the start of this year, we’re pleased to report there’s still plenty of reasons to visit this Mangere cafe, sans airport stopover. Located in The Landing Business Park, this airy, inviting space boasts a peaceful lakeside view and a playground to keep littlies entertained. Foodwise you can expect to find the likes of savoury French toast featuring mushrooms, semi-sweet caramelised onions and moreish parmesan sauce with truffle crumbs plus the unbeatable breakfast bao with pork belly, plum sauce, fried eggs and crunchy cos lettuce.
Taking over the prime position previously occupied by Redwall 1939, Luxerose Cafe is the new all-day eatery overlooking Parnell Rose Gardens. The highly Instagrammable space, with neon signage, flowers abound and an enviable view also features an equally photogenic drinks menu complete with pastel-coloured lattes and the signature deconstructed Luxerose iced mocha.
We love a hidden gem, and nestled in a tiny block of shops in Mount Albert, Young George is the new pint-sized spot providing the neighbourhood with great coffee, tasty bites and friendly chats. The small but mighty menu specialises in sandos, a quintessential Japanese street food that Young George has executed with aplomb. The chicken sando is unmissable, comprising juicy crumbed free range chicken slathered on one side with tonkotsu sauce and the other in a deliciously tangy mayo — reminiscent of Big Mac sauce or something similar — with iceberg, sandwiched between ultra-soft Japanese milk bread, toasted for a bit of crunch.
Delving deeper than just the usual stock-standard options, Deep is the new cafe run by Danny Lee, a talented barista with varied experience in the local hospitality scene. Located in the North Shore suburb of Rosedale, the menu spans everything from breakfast favourites such as savoury mince on sourdough toast and balsamic mushrooms with horseradish crème fraîche to a juicy double patty burger and some of the most indulgent French toast we’ve ever laid eyes on.
Another tasty addition to Auckland’s North Shore is Fields, a new neighbourhood cafe in Albany. Spacious and sleek, with enough space for 110 hungry brunchers, Fields cracks the perfect combo of top-notch coffee, amazing cabinet treats and a mouth-watering dine-in menu. With offerings spanning from buckwheat hotcakes (with meringue, Whittaker’s dark chocolate and berry mascarpone) to virtuous vegan options (such as the ‘always good’ with red quinoa, broccoli, tofu, preserved lemon and jalapeño dressing), you can guarantee even the fussiest of diners will find something to whet their appetite at Fields.
WooZoo’s Roger Liu was truly on a roll in 2020, with inner-city cafe Spectra joining his established stable of eateries (including the aforementioned Percy and Fields). Located in the light and airy Sky Lobby of Commercial Bay’s impressive new PwC Tower, Spectra’s deliciously concise menu and delectable cabinet offerings make it the ideal spot to grab breakfast or lunch on the go, or to linger a bit longer for business or leisure.
The Humble Canteen
Wynyard Quarter’s The Humble Canteen is on a mission to offer tasty food that nurtures the body and the planet, with a delicious breakfast and lunch offering during the working week that is wholesome, hearty and healthy. Start the day with any one of their breakfast options, like a filled flatbread; granola, bircher or chia pots, or a build-your-own cooked breakfast; or pick up a tasty salad, hot soup or cabinet treat for lunch.
Fans of the laid-back charm and excellent fare of Point Chevalier restaurant Ambler will be pleased to learn its owners brought their assured sensibility downtown this September with a new addition to their hospitality offering. Named Wander, the cafe, bistro and wine bar occupies a light-filled, high-ceilinged space in Wynyard Quarter. Hinging on the restaurateurs’ signature style of fresh, seasonal fare with a French twist, diners will find a comprehensive brunch menu available until 3pm, and a bistro menu served from 11am until late.