Denizen’s guide to the best ‘first date’ spots in Auckland

Got a hot date? Don’t fret. When it’s often the place you don’t want to be seen as much as it is one where you can sidle up to the subject of your affections in the comfort of a cushy booth, we’ve got all your bases covered with these deal-sealing first date spots.

1. Love Bucket
Tucked-away in utmost discretion and run by the good people from Hallertau, this K’ Road haunt has cocktails on tap — because never did we need the Dutch courage more — as well as plenty of snacking fodder. It’s also the sort of locale where you can lose track of time, which, all going well, should be a good thing.
K’ Rd Food Workshop, 309 Karangahape Road, (09) 869 2469

2. Xuxu Dumpling Bar
Nothing breaks the ice more effectively than a rogue shumai flip-flopping across the table as you begrudgingly reveal your chopstick ineptness. At this oft-forgotten spot, you can ensure that your palate remains wet with excellent libations whilst you remain in close proximity to your date (as well as various types of public transport in the case that you need to make a quick escape).
Cnr Galway St & Commerce St, Britomart, (09) 309 5529

3. Gypsy Tea Room
It doesn’t get more casual (albeit charming) than at this Grey Lynn watering hole. If you want to test the waters on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, we suggest doing it here before making a segue to dinner across the road at Siostra (it’s deliciously low-key) and won’t look like you’re trying too hard. You know, if that’s your vibe.
455 Richmond Road, (09) 361 6970

4. Barulho
If you want to enjoy some good food in a relaxed setting, keep this slick new address up your sleeve. Not only are the tapas tops, but the hibiscus margaritas and Pisco sours are good enough to make any girl (or guy) swoon. Barulho’s charming set-up might be the most unintentionally perfect date spot we’ve ever come across.
7-15 Faraday Street, Parnell, (09) 379 0277

5. Annabel’s Wine Bar
Okay, she’s a bit of a ‘hot spot’ right now, but at least going here you can negate the inevitable “oh, I wish we’d gone to Annabel’s” comment. We get it. You’re onto it. You’re the type who knows what’s up in Auckland. It’s also a good place to ascertain whether your date is one who knows his/her cheese because lord knows this can (or should) make or break a relationship. Amen.
277 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby

6. Bonita
Ponsonby Road offers more than just Annabel’s. Bonita, aka the bar that’s been there forever, is one where absolutely everybody is close to each other. So if you want to make a move but don’t want to get off your seat to do it, let this cheek by jowl joint do all the hard work for you.
242 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, (09) 376 5670

7. Apéro
I mean you could make inappropriate innuendo about the metre-long sausage they serve here, or, you could just grow up and chat about how much you like aperitivo (apéro in French) as a culinary art form. God knows they do it justice at this much-loved K’ Road destination.
280 Karangahape Road, (09) 373 4778

8. Kiss Kiss
Busy, noisy and interactive with its conversation-starting cocktail viewfinders, Kiss Kiss provides ample stimuli in the event that the chat doesn’t flow like a fast-running river. Never mind the fact that it’s delicious. Who knows? You could really bond over the lamb ribs and end up at the Korean karaoke joint over the road afterwards.
1 Rocklands Ave, Balmoral, (09) 600 3076

9. Scarlett Slimms & Lucky
The scene is set at Mount Eden’s most date-friendly bar by the plentitude of fairy lights that illuminate it at night. With a busy yet romantic vibe, we think it’s an ideal place for a first-time catch-up.
476 Mt Eden Road, (09) 630 5251

10. Stafford Road Wine Bar
It turns out Northcote’s got plenty of date game. Between The Engine Room, the Bridgeway Cinema and Clarence Rd Eatery, you could spend all day there, though we suggest kicking things off with an afternoon in the sun, sipping a good glass of bubbles at the Stafford Road Wine Bar. And you know, it’s really not as far as you think.
141 Queen Street, Northcote, (09) 480 2690

11. Madame George
Continuing to garner acclaim for its culinary prowess, Madame George is another K’ Road gem worthy of first-date frequenting. The knowing staff will probably read your situation like a Mills & Boon romance novel, ensuring your glasses remain topped up and distractions are kept to a minimum.
490 Karangahape Rd, Newton, (09) 308 9039

12. Freida Margolis
Freida Margolis sits in the place of a historic butchery so you can rest assured that 112 years of history won’t pass judgement on your date. While there’s a scattering of seating on the sidewalk, you’ll probably want to choose an indoor table before pining over the impressive roundup of boutique beers, wines and tapas on offer.
440 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, (09) 378 6625

Gastronomy


This better-for-you Snickers bars recipe is the treat you need right now

Get to know MDC, the forward-thinking champagne that’s here to lighten the mood

Cocktail recipes to shake things up, plus the best Bloody Mary for the next day