There’s something exciting about the experience of going somewhere hidden and under the radar. A place about which no one else knows. Whether it’s out for an indulgent, multi-course dinner, a quick bite to eat, or a few drinks in a hidden, speakeasy-style bar, here’s where to find the best secret bars and restaurants in Auckland.
The Best Secret Restaurants in Auckland
Arguably one of the most well-hidden gems in Auckland, Bar Magda is found literally underground, off Cross Street. The ‘bar’ cognomen is deceiving — here, food is the mainstay, with a focus on modern Filipino cuisine that is refined but still approachable, where the flavours are a symphony unlike we’ve tried before. A Denizen favourite since opening some 18 months ago, it’s our go-to hidden destination for any affair that calls for something delicious and intimate.
25b Cross Street, Auckland CBD
Down a slim and suspicious set of stairs on Queen Street, Tanuki’s Cave is one of the most iconic secret restaurants in Auckland. This underground yakitori restaurant serves Japanese grilled and skewered meats and vegetables alongside all the necessary accompaniments, and the bar stocks all of your favourite Japanese beers, whiskies and sake.
319b Queen Street, Auckland CBD
In the former 1885 basement, Ghost Street offers refined Chinese dining, described by the owners as “a reimagining of the heady hole-in-the-wall eateries along Beijing’s famous food street.” A favourite dish here is the Wok-Seared Eye Fillet with doubanjiang and dried chillies, known to deliver on heat and exceptional flavour.
Basement Level, Tuawhiti Lane, 27 Galway Street, Britomart
Since opening last year, Milenta has swiftly become a favourite for those in the know. But this courtyard-style restaurant is unassumingly tucked away in the Victoria Park Markets, sharing very few secrets with its wood-panelled exterior. The South American-inspired barbeque served here is often a dead giveaway to its exact coordinates, where the smokey, rich smells rising from the kitchen where expert chefs whip up dishes from an everchanging menu are certifiably enticing.
210-218 Victoria Street West, Auckland Central
While this stalwart doesn’t exactly fly under the radar, there’s something about its dark and moody location that makes it feel hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Ponsonby Road, especially when you compare it to the Mission Bay location, which offers a totally different vibe. With the intimate dining experience in mind, we recommend ordering a constant flow of dishes to share, which has to include the famous Volcano Sushi Roll, of course.
26 Ponsonby Road, Grey Lynn
Found behind an unassuming vending machine on Fort Street, Seoul Night offers fun and festive Korean food designed to share, alongside an entire menu based around plum wine, soju and hwayo (a premium distilled soju). Part-bar, part-restaurant, it’s secret, exciting and cool.
Shop 1/16-20 Fort Street, Auckland CBD
Introduced as “culprit’s mischievous younger brother,” Little Culprit is an intimate space that offers oysters and platters to share. Despite its size (it’s easy to walk past this one), the bar here is well-stocked, and the hospitality is second to none.
Corner of Wyndham & 151 Queen Street, Auckland CBD
The Best Secret Bars in Auckland
This New York-style cocktail bar is known for serving some of the most intricate and elaborate concoctions, where bartenders and mixologists are masters of their craft. Hidden away from prying eyes, down a discreet Britomart alleyway, the underground lounge offers custom cocktails and an everchanging set menu.
Downstairs, 40 Customs Street, Britomart
Perched high above Ponsonby Road, this secret bar caused quite a stir when it opened last year. A vision from the team behind The Broken Lantern (which it neighbours) and Viaduct Harbour’s Parasol & Swing, the bar is home to specialty cocktails, plenty of pool tables and even a secret password entry.
Upstairs, 198 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
The Shy Guy
The destination is less hidden than its counterparts, but it’s still one such space that offers a sense of exclusivity and privacy for all sorts of convivial affairs. Since opening, this private members club has hosted some of Auckland’s best parties and can always be relied upon for a rousing good time — if you’re lucky enough to be let in.
210-218 Victoria Street West, Auckland Central
While Candela has undeniably asserted itself as one of the most delicious restaurants in the City, few are familiar with Barcita, the cosy wee bar space that exists out the back of this K’Road address. Here, the vision is a drinking room and cocktail bar, with a small but mighty selection of food from the kitchen to keep you from losing your head. Expect vibey music and the occasional live DJ — it’s an effortlessly epic spot.
155 Karangahape Road, Auckland Central
When we think of Auckland’s secret, speakeasy-inspired bars, this is the blueprint. Even if you’re trying to find Sly, there’s a good chance you’ll still miss it. Located down the Cotto end of K’Road, this bar exists behind an inconspicuous blue door in the bones of a former adult video store. You’ll have to bypass a mannequin and an intentionally confusing wall of art to get in. But when you make it, the offering is brilliant.
354a Karangahape Road, Auckland Central
This mezcal bar was never intended to be hidden, but it is so intimate in its nature (and floorplan) that you could easily stroll by and miss it. It’s garnered somewhat of a cult following, thanks partly to the proud selection of mezcal and its delicious menu. If you’re yet to try it, keep an eye on this space (some really cool things are coming).
Snickel Lane, 23 Commerce Street, Auckland CBD
Originally envisioned as a space for creatives to connect and unwind over a few drinks, Thursday Bar is a tiny little private members’ bar hidden in the basement of the building that now houses sports bar Schapiros. You can only obtain entry through the weekly door code, shared with members, or as a coveted plus-one spot.
224 Symonds Street, Newton