Being based in the centre of Auckland City sure does have its perks. The streets are always full, 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. When I was at uni in the CBD, I can certainly recall spending more time brainstorming where to eat in my breaks than working on my assignments. 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.
Grab a morning cup of Joe from the local coffee roasters on High St, Eighthirty. This place has a strong reputation for brewing some of the best coffee in town and is the go-to spot for the office workers of CBD to get their morning kick.
35 High St, Auckland CBD
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 St, Auckland CBD
Tucked away on High St is this popular cafe which can be quite easy to forget as it’s located off the beaten track. Chuffed is renowned for serving the smoothest flat white and most delicious poached pear crumpets and is easily a favourite in our books. If you’re lucky enough to stretch your time here through to lunchtime, the poached chicken sandwich is a must-try.
43 High St, 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
Lowbrow up on Queen’s Rise is most certainly, one of our go-to lunch and dinner spots. The hot sandwiches, particularly the cornflake-crusted Old Bae and tempura-battered Hot Fush have our mouths watering even just thinking about them. Using premium quality ingredients but creating indulgent, fast-food-style bites is a recipe for success and we can’t seem to get enough.
125 Queen St, 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 and slathered in a slightly sweet and tangy sauce and are nothing short of heavenly.
10-14 Lorne St, 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 St, Auckland CBD
A strong favourite amongst university students, Kai Eatery is the orange container stall 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 St, Auckland CBD
This Vietnamese eatery hasn’t been open for long but it has quickly garnered a loyal base of customers that grows every day. The bánh mì sandwiches are no doubt, the best in Auckland and that’s 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 St, 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 serving the likes of bone marrow, chicken liver parfait doughnuts and venison tartar, 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 the lamb shoulder.
Level 2, 12 Wyndham St
Every experience at Cassia is memorable. The flavours from this modern Indian restaurant are anything but conventional and 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 ahead which should include the Goan lamb chops, tandoori fish and caramelised duck.
5 Fort Lane, Auckland CBD
Translated to ‘Mum Cuisine’ in Hebrew, Ima’s food tastes as if it was cooked at home which works perfectly with the comforting 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. Judging by the busyness, it seems as though everyone in the city is wanting to get a taste of the infamous sabich. This one-of-a-kind dish sees a deep bowl of hummus and tahini, smothered over fried potatoes and eggplants and sprinkled with crunchy chickpeas.
53 Fort St, 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 rabbit pappardelle and the twice-baked parmesan souffle are foolproof dishes that will make anyone leave this restaurant with nothing but words of positivity and we could not recommend it enough.
3 O’Connell St, Auckland CBD
Home to some of Auckland’s finest restaurants, CBD locals should consider themselves lucky to be in such close proximity to the establishments of SkyCity. From Italian to Japanese to contemporary Kiwi cuisine, SkyCity is an all-encompassing favourite for foodies in this town. Here are a few round-ups that we have already crafted, where we cover everything from the must-have signature dishes to the best understated ones which are just as essential for the ultimate experience.
Federal St, Auckland CBD
Located off Queen St 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 the Japanese culture and get amongst the sake list, along with it’s signature dish — the butterfly prawns.
22 Durham St W, Auckland CBD
Korean restaurants are scattered all through the city, but none of them quite level up to Red Pig on Kitchener St. This Korean BBQ restaurant uses a charcoal grilling process for a smokier flavour and boasts a quality of meat that is better than most of the other Korean eateries around town. Pork belly seems to be what Red Pig is most known for, but the sirloin is also a must-try.
1010/2 Kitchener St, Auckland CBD
Quench your thirst
This all-day restaurant and bar is most enjoyable when the sun goes down and the room is dim and candle-lit. Mezze Bar boasts a romantic vibe, making it the perfect bar for an intimate drink and some sharing tapas plates. An Aperol Spritz or one of the many wines on the long list with the house mezze platter will have you all set for a beautiful evening.
9 Durham St East, Auckland CBD
Recently, the CBD was blessed with the highest rooftop bar to ever grace Auckland. Churchill exudes pure elegance from its interior design to the sophisticated menu of drinks, particularly the list of champagne and gins which seem to never end. Tell your mixologist what your ideal drink would include and they will assist you in finding your ultimate tipple.
396 Queen St, 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 karaage chicken, fish roe fried 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 this cosy, Mexican-inspired bar that serves up tasty Mexican tapas. It’s a good place to unwind and let loose while snacking on some guacamole and chips and sip on some mezcal. For those of you who are unfamiliar with mezcal, it’s a Mexican distilled beverage derived from agave and is quite a rare find in Auckland, making La Fuente well worth a visit.
Snickel Lane, 23 Customs St 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 St, 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 St, Auckland CBD
The ice cream parlour from Australia that went viral on Instagram finally made its way to Auckland last year and having tasted it for ourselves, we can guarantee that Aqua S lives up to the hype. 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 St, Auckland CBD
We could not talk about ice cream and not mention the iconic Giapo. This ice cream parlour exceeds all expectations when it comes to the frozen treat by serving the scoops with a variety of different delicacies. This could include hot chips in a cone, Māori fry bread, palmier cookies and Yorkshire pudding, turning a humble scoop into a sensational work of art.
12 Gore St, Auckland CBD