Being based in the centre of Auckland city sure does have its perks. The streets are busy, it’s fast-paced and the atmosphere is exciting, but it can also be a tricky one to navigate. Even if you spend every day working or attending university in the CBD, you’re still bound to find yourself stumped at times on where to go to eat. With so much on offer, finding a place to start is not easy. As such, we have crafted this definitive guide on where to eat and drink in Auckland’s CBD. You’re welcome.
For something quick and on-the-go, you can’t go wrong with Receptionist Coffee. The barista has honed the speediest skills in town after having to deal with a decent morning rush, but he never lets the fast pace get in the way of quality. Make sure to add a pastry to your coffee order, we recommend the almond croissant.
32 Lorne Street, Auckland CBD
Adding yet another outpost under its impressive belt of bakeries, Daily Bread’s clever new inner-city kiosk is situated right next to the Saint Patricks Square in the CBD. Designed by renowned architecture firm Monk Mackenzie, it is a perfectly compact outpost for breakfast and lunchtime crowds to visit when the craving strikes for one of Daily Bread’s renowned pastries, sandwiches or pies, or just a coffee or cold drink.
33 Federal Street, Auckland CBD
Tucked away on High St, this popular cafe can be quite easy to forget as it’s located off the beaten track. Chuffed is renowned for serving the smoothest flat whites, excellent omelettes and the most delicious poached pear crumpets that are easily a favourite in our book. If you’re lucky enough to stretch your time here through to lunchtime, the poached chicken sandwich is a must-try.
43 High Street, Auckland CBD
There’s something about starting the morning at Scarecrow that is sure to kick off your day on a high note. With a florist located right next door, the combination of the warmly-lit cafe and grocery store makes you feel as though you’ve entered a small village — a charm that is hard to come by in the heart of the city. The shakshuka is hands down our favourite dish here. It’s hearty and comforting, especially when you add a juicy lamb merguez sausage.
33 Victoria Street East, Auckland CBD
This new hole-in-the-wall spot captured our attention earlier this year for serving some of the tastiest, most authentic tacos in town. The tiny Federal Street eatery is the perfect place to grab some tacos to go, with the vegan pulled jackfruit and the birria with tender, caramelised beef being particular favourites.
64a Federal Street, Auckland CBD
Lowbrow in Queen’s Rise is most certainly one of our go-to lunch and dinner spots. The hot sandwiches, particularly the hot spice chicken and tempura-battered hot fush have our mouths watering even just thinking about them. Using premium quality ingredients to create indulgent, fast-food-style bites is a recipe for success and we can’t seem to get enough.
125 Queen Street, Auckland CBD
If you’re craving authentic Chinese food, Sunnytown is currently the hottest spot in the CBD and rightfully so. The menu is divided into three categories — Noodles and Wontons, Buns and Porridge and Beverages which is all you really need in a simple Chinese lunch. However, it’s the pork buns that have us returning to this establishment again and again. The fluffy white buns are filled with succulent chopped pork that is slathered in a slightly sweet and tangy sauce, and are nothing short of heavenly.
10-14 Lorne Street, Auckland CBD
Misters Real Food
Proving that healthy eating doesn’t have to mean lacklustre flavour, Misters Real Food on Wyndham St is one place which we visit frequently, especially on a weekday when we need something to take back to the office. Serving up wholesome bowls of micro and macronutrients that are not only beneficial to our health but also titillating to the tastebuds, the Moroccan with slow-braised lamb shoulder is easily the winner out of them all.
12 Wyndham Street, Auckland CBD
A strong favourite among university students, Kai Eatery is the orange container stall (along with a new Commercial Bay outpost) that is frying up chicken as big as your face for a humble price. Not to mention, the ultimate kumara fries that boast the crispiest batter and the most addictive plum, sugar and salt seasoning. If you’re after something fast that really hits the spot, Kai is the one for you.
1 Rutland Street, Auckland CBD
Luna Cafe and Eatery
This Vietnamese eatery is home to some of the best bánh mì sandwiches in Auckland, undoubtedly due to every single ingredient being made in-house. From the crispy baguette to all the fillings, including the pâté, pickled vegetables and specially-seasoned proteins, each and every element has been carefully crafted to perfectly balance and complement each other.
30 Chancery Street, Auckland CBD
It’s no secret that we’re avid lovers of this contemporary restaurant and once you have a dining experience at Culprit, you will understand why. Beginning with a trolley service proffering the likes of chicken liver parfait doughnuts, lamb tongue pops and smoked fish belly, to name a few, turning away a dish that makes it to your table is almost impossible. But you need to remember to save room for mains, especially the pressed pig’s face and pork-stuffed roast duck.
Level 2, 12 Wyndham Street, Auckland CBD
One of the most exciting additions to the central city in recent memory, Commercial Bay has injected a full-on flavour hit into Auckland’s dining scene since it opened earlier this year. The sophisticated downtown complex is packed with dining possibilities, with an option to suit just about any mood. Be it a casual bite at Harbour Eats, a drink with a view at Saxon + Parole or a meal to remember at Ahi, you can trust Commercial Bay to deliver.
7 Queen Street, Auckland CBD
Translated to ‘Mum Cuisine’ in Hebrew, Ima’s food exemplifies the love and comfort of a homecooked meal, which works perfectly with the welcoming ambience of the restaurant. On a weekend evening, Ima Cuisine fills up fast so we recommend you make a reservation to guarantee yourself a seat. The set mezze is always a hit, with a spread of favourites including hummus, falafel, tabbouleh and babaganoush. Add your choice of protein (think chicken skewers, lamb kebabs or pan-fried haloumi) and you’re on your way to a full-on feast.
53 Fort Street, Auckland CBD
O’Connell Street Bistro
Specialising in classic and sophisticated bistro-style cuisine, O’Connell Street Bistro consistently delivers a premium dining experience that includes stellar service, superb food and fine wine. The signature rabbit pappardelle with house-smoked bacon, walnut watercress pesto and Parmigiano Reggiano is a foolproof dish that we can not recommend enough.
3 O’Connell Street, Auckland CBD
Every experience at Cassia is memorable. The flavours from this modern Indian restaurant are anything but conventional — it’s no wonder that Cassia is widely considered to be one of Auckland’s best restaurants. Start off with the signature pani puri which will prepare your palate for the culinary journey that lies aheas, which should include the Goan lamb chops, tandoori fish and caramelised duck.
5 Fort Lane, Auckland CBD
From top-notch Italian at Gustro at The Grand to excellent dumplings and Peking duck at Huami, the famous fish sliders at Depot to Masu’s excellent Japanese cuisine (which has recently expanded into the yum cha realm), SkyCity’s Federal Street strip is an all-encompassing favourite for foodies in this town.
Federal Street, Auckland CBD
Located off Queen Street is one of Auckland’s best-kept secrets, Kushi Japanese Kitchen & Bar. This izakaya is ideal for a date night, as well as a boozy night out with friends. The dishes are light and complement the variety of beverages on offer. We suggest you fully embrace Japanese culture and get amongst the sake list, along with its signature dish — the butterfly prawns.
22 Durham Street West, Auckland CBD
Korean restaurants are scattered all through the city, but none of them quite level up to Red Pig on Kitchener Street. This Korean BBQ restaurant uses a charcoal grilling process and quality cuts for a smokier, more flavourful experience. Pork belly is what Red Pig is known for, but the sirloin is also a must-try.
1010/2 Kitchener Street, Auckland CBD
Quench your thirst
Since joining hospitality power duo Kyle Street and Jordan MacDonald‘s stable of eateries last year, Little Culprit has carved out quite the reputation as the place to be for an after-work drink. Chic yet casual, Little Culprit is the perfect place to post up with a miso old-fashioned in one hand, while the other is busy grazing over oysters, corndogs and perhaps an expertly curated platter with local meats and pickles galore.
Corner Wyndham and Queen Street, Auckland CBD
If you’ve never pre-loaded at a Korean bar, you’re seriously missing out. Pocha serves authentic Korean bar food which is in a realm of its own. Instead of kimchi and Korean BBQ, think along the lines of almond cornflake fried chicken, fish roe mixed rice and army stew hot pots. All which are made to be paired with the staple Korean drink, soju.
2A / 48 Courthouse Lane, Chancery Square, Auckland CBD
Situated in Snickel Lane is La Fuente, a cosy, Mexican-inspired bar that serves up tasty tapas. It’s a good place to unwind and let loose while snacking on some guacamole and chips and sipping on some mezcal.
Snickel Lane, 23 Customs Street East, Auckland CBD
Calling out to all the green tea lovers, Tsujiri is a matcha haven that creates the most potent and earthy matcha-flavoured desserts. The parfaits on offer come in two different variations, matcha and hojicha which are both equally divine. The matcha has more of a herbal tea flavour whereas the hojicha tastes almost like black sesame and is elevated by the crunchy toasted buckwheat kernels it’s served with.
10-14 Lorne Street, Auckland CBD
This dessert parlour is renowned for its wide range of decadent petit-gateaux, but let us recommend the crème brûlée and freshly made waffles. Miann’s waffle mixture includes more egg whites than the usual batter which creates a crunchier texture and keeps the waffles from going soggy from the copious amounts of ice cream and fudge sauce piled on top.
57 Fort Street, Auckland CBD
You may remember Aqua S as the ice cream parlour from Australia that went viral on Instagram, then made its way across the ditch to give Aucklanders a taste of its unique treats. Sea salt soft serve might sound strange at first, but salt is actually a key ingredient, as important for enhancing the flavours in sweet treats as it is in savoury food. Aqua S’ flavours change on a fortnightly basis and range from tiramisu to cherry blossom.
287 Queen Street, Auckland CBD