Conventional restaurant booking times are filling up fast, have you considered making an off-peak reservation?

You’ve got to feel for the hospitality and service industries — each time there’s a government announcement, it must be akin to whiplash as they scramble to pivot, pivot, and pivot again.  As the latest ‘traffic light system’ confirmation has resulted in an avalanche of bookings for many restaurants, cafés and bars (for which they are undoubtedly grateful) we see fit to remind you that although we’re all looking forward to a proper Friday night meal out, thinking outside the box for reservations is another great way to support eateries.

It might be a Tuesday after-work dinner, a mid-afternoon high tea on the weekend or an early supper with the children, but spreading the love will help take the pressure off during those peak times and give eateries a steadier schedule to work with.

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From left: Huami; Prego.

For an early supper with the children…

An eternal family favourite, kids can enjoy a bento box with all the beloved Japanese delicacies, all while mum and dad enjoy some delicious fare from the regular menu and soak up the relaxed atmosphere.

Azabu Mission Bay
Swing by this Eastern Beaches beauty on the way home from school, and the kids can tuck into a special menu of sushi, bento boxes, chicken karaage and more. Did we mention a complimentary ice cream scoop for dessert?

SkyCity’s sophisticated Chinese restaurant bridges the traditional and the modern. The expansive menu is sure to have something for everyone and serves dinner from 5:30pm, Wednesday to Saturday.

Get ’em started on the good stuff at a young age with Baduzzi’s kids’ menu. Book for dinner from 5pm for dishes like handmade buttered pasta with herbs and parmesan and organic lamb meatballs braised in tomato sauce.

The Ponsonby Road stalwart is famed for its welcoming attitude to those of all ages. Park up in the late afternoon for an early bite and experience Prego’s much-loved hospitality and Italian fare.

From left: Gochu; Soul Bar & Bistro.

For a tasty weekday lunch…

The innovative Wyndham Street eatery has one of the best weekday lunches in town. Pull up for its Trolley Derby menu, designed to be speedy, seasonal and most of all utterly delicious, or order a la carte.

Open 7 days, 11:30am until late, Gochu is an ideal spot to pull up to if you’re working in town or simply just have a craving for its big-on-flavour modern Korean dishes.

Head down to this elevated Japanese favourite between Tuesday and Friday, and enjoy a midday meal of classic favourites and Bento boxes — or settle in for a longer lounging lunch.

Soul Bar & Bistro
Soul is an excellent choice for lunch, especially on a sunny day with the water sparkling beside. We’ll have the crayfish capellini, thank you — and a glass of something good. Why not, it’s festive season!

The Crab Shack
Head down to Princes Wharf for one of the best lunchtime deals in town — between 12-3pm, the $15 lunch special includes a choice of either ‘Bang Bang’ chicken salad, barbeque prawn tacos or sensational seafood chowder.

Cafe Hanoi
The fresh, flavoursome food at Britomart’s Vietnamese institution Cafe Hanoi is perfect for a weekday lunch when you want to be satisfied but not too weighed down. Book in for lunch Monday to Saturday.

The Engine Room
Nip over the bridge (or down the road if you’re local) Wednesday to Friday and Northcote’s neighbourhood restaurant will have you well taken care of with its beloved bistro fare.

Sid at The French Café
While it’s usually open for dinner Tuesday to Friday and lunch and dinner on a Saturday, the Eden Terrace fine dining favourite is offering lunch on Fridays for the month of December. A great way to see out the week, we think.

Jervois Steak House
The famous Steak Your Claim lunch-for-two offer returns to JSH, boasting two mains, two sides, and two glasses of selected wine for only $90. Now, that’s sure to put a pep in your step for the rest of the day.

From Left: Ahi; Bar Celeste.

For dinner on a Monday or Tuesday…

With Commercial Bay’s eateries open seven days, Ben Bayly’s “truly New Zealand restaurant” Ahi is a fantastic option on a Monday and Tuesday.

The Lodge Bar & Dining
Same goes for The Lodge Bar & Dining, delicious any day of the week but we think its incredible oysters, small plates and mains are a perfect way to end a Monday.

Bar Celeste
The K’ Rd cutie is bound to be booked up on peak nights for December, but why not try your luck on a Tuesday for some of the best French neo-bistro food in town?

Across the road in St Kevins Arcade, the pasta masters at Pici plate up dinner from Tuesday to Sunday, with lunch available Wednesday to Saturday.

Ghost Street
Head downstairs to the cosy and atmospheric Ghost Street, open Monday to Sunday, and dig into its punchy, elevated Chinese dishes.

The Blue Breeze Inn
Open seven days for lunch and dinner, Blue Breeze has us covered whenever we’re craving that pork belly bao. Which is, always.

Described as ‘refined but not fine-dining’, the menu spans the likes of fried chicken with caviar to the fluffiest soufflé we can ever recall sampling, making for the perfect spot to celebrate the festive season on a Monday or Tuesday.

From left: Siso; Bucks Bistro.

For a Sunday family catch-up...

The expansive Remuera restaurant has plenty of room for groups of any size, and its contemporary Mediterranean menu will appeal to all.

We’ve certainly missed Sunday lunches at this Herne Bay neighbourhood stalwart.

Akarana Eatery
Take in one of the best ocean views in Auckland at Akarana, which has plenty of plates for the whole family to enjoy.

Bucks Bistro
Giving its ocean view a hefty amount of competition, this recent addition to Bucklands Beach is open from 8am on Sundays, and its food is excellent.

Non Solo Pizza
Another restaurant sorely missed over lockdown, get everyone together for Non Solo’s family-style long lunches on the weekend.

From left: The Living Room; Hotel Ponsonby.

For a mid-afternoon weekend session…

The Living Room
Enjoy a light meal or indulge in Park Hyatt Auckland’s Afternoon Tea, a journey of discovery served in a playful style where nostalgia and modernity merge.

Book in for high tea, Sundays from 12 to 3pm, and enjoy exquisite savoury and sweet treats washed down with a flute of Veuve Clicquot.

Hotel Ponsonby
While this popular watering hole heaves on a Friday and Saturday night, the vibe on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon is positively wholesome.

Parasol & Swing
Offering an incredible view across the waters of Viaduct Harbour, this rooftop bar is a summertime favourite of ours. Indulge in one of Parasol & Swing’s seasonal cocktails and you’ll be setting yourself up for a perfect afternoon. 

Northcote Tavern
Grab a crew and a brew, and park up in the sundrenched garden for an afternoon at this North Shore gem.

Rooftop at QT
Nab a spot on the balcony at QT’s Rooftop bar, and stick around for the impeccably mixed drinks as well as Mediterranean bites.

Saint Alice
Glorious views and lip-smacking food collide in this enticing spot. Expect to find woodfired delights, ranging from pork spare ribs to pizza, alongside top-notch seafood and refreshing sangria and Pimm’s jugs.


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