With Auckland’s winter cultural calendar already in full swing, now feels like the perfect time for a date night or long-overdue catch-up. And what better way to do that than with dinner and a show? Here, we’ve compiled a discerning list of the restaurants doing pre-show dinner best — organised by proximity to your designated venue. (For these experiences, we’d recommend booking well in advance and, as a general courtesy, letting staff know if you have a tight turn-around ahead of time.)
Best Restaurants Near…
As Britomart is only a short stroll away, your dinner and drink options before a show at Spark Arena are never limited. That said, we’ve sought out the favourites that foster a certain kind of experience, divine and delicious but never tedious if you’ve got somewhere to be.
Bar Non Solo
Last month, Bar Non Solo unveiled its new Pre-Show Menu — perfect for those on their way to some kind of show (likely at the nearby Spark Arena). Available between 4pm and 7pm, for a mere $30, guests can dine on a selection of plates that includes marinated olives, whipped ricotta, seasonal arancini, cured meats and cheeses, and two delicious pizzas. It’s the perfect way to ensure you are satiated for an exciting night. Bookings for this experience are essential to ensure you arrive at Spark with plenty of time to spare.
In preparation of the upcoming season of lauded musical Hamilton at Spark Arena, Cafe Hanoi (only a quick walk from the venue) is extending its weekend dinner service. Alongside sister venues Ghost Street and Perch (both also in Britomart) the restaurant’s Signature Menu will be available from noon on Saturdays and 4pm on Sundays, allowing diners ample time to indulge ahead of the show.
This iconic restaurant is small but mighty. Offering a curated and concise menu, and an intimate, calm setting, Ortolana is one spot to which we always find ourselves returning for dinner in the Britomart precinct. With a pre-show dinner menu, the service is swift (if needed), and the fresh pasta is always divine.
SkyCity, Aotea Centre, Auckland Town Hall, The Civic & Q Theatre
Auckland’s undeniable hub of live music, theatre, comedy performances, film festivals and more, this mid-town region is home to some of the best venues in the city (and therefore home to some of the best performances, too). Cheap and cheerful options here are abundant, but if you seek a more sophisticated bite to eat, here’s where to go.
Gusto At The Grand
This SkyCity stalwart was made for pre-show dining. Modern and unpretentious, yet undeniably delicious, the dedicated Pre-Show menu here comprises a concise edit of the restaurant’s best dishes. Offering two courses, with two plates each to share, the $49 menu is served between 5pm and 6pm throughout the weekend and evolves with the season.
Culprit’s innovative culinary concept is perfect for a pre-show bite. The ever-changing menu comprises trolleys of snacks to share, warming the palate for the mains to come. We’d suggest letting the restaurant know of your show plans when booking, to ensure you arrive at the theatre on time.
When a matinee performance comes around (is there a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?) set-menu lunches are essential to keep you satiated through the performance. Cassia’s iteration, which marks the restaurant’s new era under the SkyCity banner, is a delicious selection of the restaurant’s most loved dishes. With two starters, a choice of four mains and a sweet sorbet to finish, at $58 a head, this is serious value for money.
ASB Waterfront Theatre
Home to the Auckland Theatre Company and a burgeoning roster of up-and-coming talents, the ASB Waterfront Theatre is a familiar destination for any show-goer. With Viaduct Harbour and several sumptuous hotel restaurants on its doorstep, the hardest part is choosing where to go.
Somm Cellar Door & Bar
This recently-opened Foley Hospitality destination is a wine-focused experience, serving a seriously impressive selection from some of the country’s finest drops. The food here complements its beverage offering, with the Gavin Doyle-designed menu serving cheeses, charcuterie and pillowy pizzas alongside small plates to share; a pre-show dinner that will never leave you too full.
Found in the heart of Viaduct Harbour’s QT Hotel, Esther treats diners to the ultimate theatre-going experience with its Feasting Menu, a culinary concept that serves two- and three-course dinners. Best for larger groups (as you get more to taste that way) Sean Connolly’s menu is Mediterranean-inspired, with subtle nods to comforting, home-cooked fare.
If you find yourself drawn to the theatre in the mid-to-late afternoon, Onemata’s Express Lunch menu is the only way to begin the experience. Two courses here are served for $55 per person, where guests can choose an entree or dessert alongside their main — a beautiful way to sample this restaurant’s exquisite cuisine.
Your Favourite North Shore Theatres
Whether you’re heading to a show at Bruce Mason Theatre, or a more lowkey movie at the North Shore’s lauded boutique cinemas, these tried-and-true destinations always pull through.
Perfect for a quick round of sharing plates (the famous flat noodles are essential) or the more indulgent seasonal house menu, Jason Kim’s Tokki is a masterclass in chic Korean dining. For a pre-show dinner, you’ll want to allow yourself some time for the set menu, so you can savour each bite.
This Birkenhead eatery is a quick five-minute drive from Bridgeway Cinema — the perfect pairing for a cosy night out. Duo’s dinner menu is an elevated take on its popular brunches, with dishes ideally suited for sharing. (The crispy eggplant, with ‘nduja dressing and buffalo curd is a personal favourite.)
The Engine Room
Serving some of the best cuisines on the northern side of the bridge, The Engine Room’s menu is iconic. Refined but unfussy, the vision here is to serve really, really good food and foster a certain kind of ambience to match. Best reserved for those special occasions, we’d recommend allowing yourself a little extra time to take it all in.