Dominion Road, stretching on for 7.3km from Eden Terrace to Mount Albert, boasts an array of cafes and restaurants. And with so many options available, simply choosing one place to go is an almost impossible task. As such we have rounded up a list of some of our favourites, whether you’re in search of a morning coffee, a lunchtime drop-in or a delicious dinner. Keep in mind, however, that while we’re sure you’ll find something you’ll like at one of the places we recommend, spontaneity and taking chances are two key factors to getting the most out of Dominion Road. So just as we underwent a process of trial and error, if you come across an off-the-beaten-track spot that you want to try, we encourage you to do so. The real beauty of this road is that it contains some of the most delightful hidden gems we’ve ever found.
La Voie Francaise
Although Dominion Road is renowned for its varied options when it comes to Asian cuisine, it’s also home to one of the best French bakeries in Auckland. La Voie Francaise has become a destination spot with punters lining up out the door on weekend mornings just to get their pastry fix. This bakery is also one of the rare ones in town that makes a kouign-amann, which is a croissant that has been coated in sugar and caramelised to provide the ultimate crispy, buttery experience.
875 Dominion Road
Dominion Road locals swear by Forage Cafe because apparently, the baristas at this place brew the best coffee in the neighbourhood. And not only can we confirm that the coffee is good but we can also vouch for the homemade doughnuts. With flavours that change on a regular basis, the doughnuts are available in a number of variations, from the classic jam and cream through to the more jazzy renditions like a Malteser chocolate cheesecake-filled one and offer complement any morning cup of Joe perfectly.
90 Dominion Road
The Midnight Baker
Any true cafe hopper will know about The Midnight Baker, as its signature bread is featured on almost every menu in town. But not many people seem to be aware that beyond the bread, The Midnight Baker has its own cafe on Dominion Road. The entire menu is plant-based — not something often-found on this road — and the food is undeniably tasty. It has recently introduced a number of new dishes to its menu, and we are obsessed with the black rice risotto served with Jerusalem artichoke, pickled pear and creamy almond feta.
218 Dominion Road
Try something different and have a Chinese style breakfast at Bunhut. Rather than falling back on the classic eggs on toast, step out of your comfort zone and opt for a jian bing guo zi. It’s a Chinese savoury crepe made from a light batter and fried egg, slathered with hoisin and chilli sauce and then filled with shredded vegetables and a fried bread stick. If you’re wanting something sweet, however, a simple red bean steamed bun accompanied by a warm glass of soy milk will do the trick.
563 Dominion Road
Upon first glance, you might think that Tasca is just a little cafe. What you don’t see, however, is that this Spanish eatery has an olive garden and spacious courtyard out the back, making it the perfect spot for a long lunch. In terms of food, while all of its dishes boast mouth-watering flavours, be sure to order the calamares — you’ll thank us later.
338 Dominion Road
Noodles are, after all, what most people come to Dominon Road for and Chongqing is one of the best places to get them. The broth of these noodles is less oily than other places we have tried but still contains the same amounts of spice and flavour. The rice noodles with braised beef is a dish you can never go wrong with. The beef is so tender that it melts in your mouth while the chewy texture of the noodles contrasts against the soft, succulent meat.
340 Dominion Road
Sha Xian Snack
Another delicacy that has people driving to Dominion Road is spicy dumplings. Sha Xian Snack’s dumplings are unique because diners are given the option to change their dumpling filling instead of having to settle for predominantly pork. Sha Xian Snack also serves an oyster pie which is a deep-fried morsel packed with pickled vegetables and a juicy oyster — truly a one of a kind dish.
285 Dominion Road
There are dumplings and then there are soup dumplings, otherwise referred to as xiaolongbao. Restaurants that serve this delicacy are hard to find in this city due to the fact that making them requires a high level of skill. Filled with rich meat soup, usually made from pork, the little xiaolongbao pockets from Jolin Shanghai are freshly made to order and boast thicker skins than traditional soup dumplings which imbues them with a chewier texture.
248 Dominion Road
Quench your thirst
Take a break at the casual eatery and bar, Ralph’s. With a variety of Good George beers on tap, a wide selection of Garage Project brews and an impressive snack menu, Ralph’s is the go-to spot for a quick refuel. The jalapeño poppers and curly fries are both absolute must-tries, but if you’re wanting more of a meal, make a beeline for the Easy Cheesy Wagyu beef burger.
225B Dominion Road
Renowned for serving some of the tastiest fried chicken in Auckland alongside unparalleled crispy kumara fries seasoned with plum sugar, General Kai is always a good idea, especially when in search of a small bite and a drink. The beverage menu is endless, and alongside offering bubble tea in all its variations, General Kai also has a Baiju cocktails section, where you’ll find something with more of a kick.
921 Dominion Road
Hot & Spicy Pot
You don’t know what spicy food is until you’ve sampled the highest spice level at Hot & Spicy Pot. At this restaurant, what goes into your dish is all up to you. Just grab a stainless steel bowl, some tongs and get creative. With a variety of vegetables, noodles, meats and seafood on offer, all you need to do is pick and mix your favourites, tell the chefs how spicy you want to go and let them do the rest. Be warned though, that even the medium level of spice at this restaurant has been known to leave people teary-eyed, so you can only imagine what the effect of the top tier might be.
605 Dominion Road
Gogo Music Cafe
Cheap and cheerful is the best way to explain Gogo Music Cafe. Although it has a few branches around Auckland, the one on Dominion Road is the original, the biggest and quite frankly, the best. Take a big group and order a bowl of the spicy chicken casserole with hand-pulled noodles, the $1 lamb skewers and some Tsing Tao beer, you’ll never look back.
559 Dominion Road
The chilli fried boneless chicken served here has made quite a name for itself and after you taste it, you’ll understand the hype. The chicken is seasoned with a copious amount of chilli and is perfectly cooked so that once you sample it for the first time, you’ll be addicted for life (seriously). The fried rice is also an excellent dish and is elevated to new heights when pork hock is added, seeing a thick, tasty sauce poured over the bed of fluffy rice.
557 Dominion Road
Wang Wang Spring Pancake
This place is one of Dominion Road’s hidden gems and one that hasn’t failed us yet. Wang Wang Spring Pancake specialises in pancake wraps, similar to the ones used for Peking duck. But here, diners are given the freedom to order whatever meats and vegetables they want to fill their pancakes with. While everything is delicious, we recommend the cumin lamb and shredded potato as well as the chicken and corn dumplings.
704 Dominion Road
Forget being one of the best restaurants on Dominion Road, Cazador is one of the best spots in Auckland full stop. This restaurant serves unique dishes that showcase ethical ingredients and sustainable cooking principles by making use of all parts of the animal being served, instead of only offering cuts like the breast or belly. The menu changes depending on the availability of ingredients but the charcuterie platter is a staple and for good reason. Combined with its seamless service and lush ambience, Cazador is a must for any Aucklander.
854 Dominion Road
Despite what the name of this bakery might indicate, it is certainly not your run-of-the-mill cake shop. Gateau House specialises in South Korean pastries which include red-bean-filled buns that are topped with cookie crumble alongside a wide variety of delicate cakes. Our favourite is the kumara cake — a light and fluffy sponge layered with whipped cream and sweet potato mousse.
309 Dominion Road
Take a trip to Meet Fresh for a Taiwanese take on dessert. Taiwanese desserts tend to be lighter, less sweet and lean more towards the refreshing side rather than being too sugary. The mango shaved ice is a fruity delight but if you want something more decadent, the freshly made waffles are always a good idea.
533 Dominion Road