As we get closer to the end of the year, work meetings are shifting from planning over cups of coffee at a local café to celebrating grand achievements with flutes of champagne at Auckland’s finest restaurants. The season of long lunches is upon us and we have rounded up our favourite hotspots at which to wine and dine in the lead-up to the end of the year.
Soul Bar & Bistro
In Viaduct Harbour is the vibrant Soul Bar & Bistro — our reader-voted winner of the Best For Long Lunching at the inaugural Denizen Hospo Heroes. Its outdoor deck boasts a beautiful floral ceiling while providing stunning views of Auckland’s waterfront, making this restaurant one of our favourite spots for a long lunch on a sunny day. Open from 11am until the late hours, Soul encourages its patrons to stay for as long as they want. And while ordering a bottle of champagne is inevitable at this restaurant, before you do, we recommend perusing the cocktails on offer — like its infamous espresso martinis. Pair this with Soul’s iconic salt and pepper squid and you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
Saxon + Parole
Commercial Bay’s modern American steakhouse Saxon + Parole might be new, but it certainly has wasted no time in proving itself as the place to be, come lunch o’clock. The triple-height space offers sweeping views of the Waitematā Harbour, ideal for soaking up the magic of the City of Sails, no matter the weather. Sample one of its award-winning burgers with dry-aged beef, harvati and maple bacon and craft a Bloody Mary to your liking from the DIY Bloody Mary bar.
While the cuisine of choice for long lunching can often lean towards Italian-inspired dishes, there’s something to be said about lingering over the punchy, full-bodied flavour of Asian-fusion delights. Enter Hello Beasty, a Viaduct Harbour winner that also happens to be the perfect place to while away an afternoon. Take your pick from potstickers and buns aplenty, plus favourites like KFC (Korean fried chicken) and seared snacks from the hibachi grill. Wash it all down with a Heart + Seoul cocktail with soju, rhubarb shrub, lemon and egg white and you’re on your way to a stellar lunch session.
Nestled in the Seafarer’s building, Ostro Bar and Brasserie boasts prolific views across Auckland Harbour, which makes heading there for lunch a beautiful affair for more reasons than just the food. Once you’ve charged your glasses, look to classics like the infamous lobster, prawn and snapper pie or the smoked kahawai omelette to satisfy your appetite.
Although this stalwart might not have a view of the ocean, SPQR sits proudly on Ponsonby Road and is a go-to lunch spot for many Aucklanders. The combination of delicious Italian food, friendly, personable staff and the people-watching that can be done from its outside tables have us returning to SPQR time and time again. This restaurant’s designed-to-share menu includes endlessly enticing dishes, but our favourite would have to be the scampi tail linguine and the Italian herb and cajun spice chicken pizza. Not to mention, SQPR’s mixologists shake up one of the best espresso martinis in town — just what you need to keep energy high for a long session of lunching.
For the ultimate trifecta of impressive location, exemplary service and unmatchable food, newcomer Ahi ticks all the boxes. Located on level 2 of Commercial Bay, Ahi is helmed by multi-award-winning chef Ben Bayly, who celebrates New Zealand’s food story via a range of creative and innovative dishes. Soaking up the exceptional view with a scampi corndog, bubbles in hand, is a recipe for a successful lunch outing.
Situated on the same road as SPQR and also serving Italian, but providing a whole different experience, is Ponsonby institution Prego. Another winner from this year’s Denizen Hospo Heroes (this time for Best Stalwart), Prego is the place to go for a fun-filled lunch with family and friends. Ever since its doors opened in 1986, Ponsonby locals have formed a strong attachment to the restaurant and, as such, it boasts arguably the most loyal customers of any restaurant in Auckland. A plate of calamari for the table is the only way to start a party at Prego and there seems to be no way to end because nobody ever wants to leave.
Euro Bar & Restaurant
While temporarily closed for a refresh, this waterside establishment has been a favourite for as long as we can remember. There’s nothing quite like taking a seat in Euro Bar & Restaurant’s outdoor area and looking out onto Princes Wharf and the blue waters of the harbour. Not only does this restaurant provide the most gorgeous tableau of the city, but the food and beverage offerings see us regularly head there for a long, luxurious lunch — a tradition we can’t wait to pick up again once it reopens.
Everybody loves dinner at Herne Bay favourite Andiamo. This restaurant only gets better over the warmer months, especially if you’re lucky enough to grab a table outside in the sun. Whether you’re after some antipasti and Aperol or a full feast with never-ending pours of the finest drops, Andiamo has you covered. The beloved local’s lunch offering invites you to lunch like a local, with an entree, main (we’re partial to the spaghetti, prawn and crayfish bolognese) and a glass of wine for just $35. Once the clock strikes 4pm, the soirée really starts to pick up, seeing many of the diners mingling.
If the thought of a lazy lunch with barbecued eggplant, fried prawns and lamb shoulder souvlaki sounds like a little slice of heaven, you’re in luck. Parnell’s Gerome, home of some of Auckland’s best Greek food, is just the place to kick back over a tasty spread and a glass (or two) of something good.
For over two decades, Cibo has consistently proved to be one of Auckland’s top restaurants through its premium food and stellar service. The restaurant enjoys all-day sun, resulting in its space being constantly bathed in natural light. Cibo exudes a feeling of exclusivity and luxury, and when you walk into the restaurant you will feel like you’ve been swept away from reality for a few hours. Pop a bottle of champagne and order the eye fillet and crayfish. This dish sees a juicy steak topped with grilled crayfish and is guaranteed to be the fanciest surf ‘n’ turf you will ever eat. But be sure to leave room for dessert as the salted caramel and peanut brittle pavlova is out of this world.
Non Solo Pizza
Parnell institution NSP is the place to be when the sun’s out and there’s fun to be had. With more than two decades of long lunching experience under its belt, you can trust NSP to deliver when it comes to casual dining with a refined edge. Its recently renovated courtyard is more covetable than ever, with a Paul Izzard designed interior that transports diners to a Tuscan garden. Settle in with an Aperol Spritz or an NSP sour and graze away on the likes of burrata, lobster crostini, pan-fried gnocchi and of course, woodfired pizza.
Come for a seat in the conservatory, stay for the meatballs. Wynyard Quarter’s Baduzzi is a solid favourite with the long lunching set, with tasty food and reliable service that can’t be beaten when you want to sit back, relax and let the good times roll. The handmade pasta is always a treat, and the seasonal spritz never goes amiss.
Freshly-shucked oysters and clams taste the best in the daytime and Depot’s raw bar is one of the best our city has to offer. It might not be the sunniest spot in town, but the laid back and relaxed ambience still has a liveliness which is driven by the casual yet attentive staff. The fish sliders are a must when dining at Depot and make for a great accompaniment to the Malborough Sauvignon Blanc by Wendy Stuckey, which is served on tap. Embrace the fact that you’ll be here for hours, ditch the glass and go for the carafe from the get-go. Slowly sip your way through to the late afternoon as you tuck into Al Brown’s iconic fish belly with eggplant kasundi. Paired with some truffle potato skins, you have yourself an elevated version of the Kiwi classic: fish and chips.