The very best new cafes, bakeries & casual bites of 2023

Whether it’s a lazy weekend brunch, a quick but satisfying bite, a tasty takeaway, or a perfectly brewed coffee to kick-start the day, there’s nothing quite like a casual eatery to fill the void. In Auckland, we’re spoilt for choice in this area, and 2023 has seen a host of new openings that only add to the city’s incredible culinary repertoire.

From grab-and-go joints turning out mouthwatering takeout to bakeries that would rival those in France, excellent cafes serving modern reimaginings of the classics, relaxed neighbourhood eateries, cult status pop-ups putting down permanent roots, and much, much more, this year has truly been one for the books.


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Here, in no particular order, we’ve rounded up the very best new spots to grab a casual bite in the city.

CAFES & BAKERIES


Beabea’s Bakery

Beabea’s Bakery

Location: Westmere

Beabea’s, a laid-back bakery in the heart of Westmere, opened it’s doors earlier this month serving an elevated, inventive take on Kiwi classics in an incredibly relaxed setting. Here, you’ll find something unique but familiar, from mortadella and tomato sauce croissants (reminiscent of quintessentially Kiwi luncheon and sauce sandwiches), 90s square pies, and freshly baked bread (albeit not the tin loaves of times gone by, but fresh sourdough loaves and breadsticks instead). It’s all simply sublime.

Holiday

Holiday

Location: Mount Eden

At this cool new Mount Eden spot, you’ll find perfectly brewed coffee and tasty bites served in a laid-back space — the perfect place to park up for a morning brew. The menu is simple, accessible and delicious — a mix of mostly baguettes, sandwiches and scones. At Holiday, they take their coffee very seriously indeed with legendary Woo Hyung Lee (of Camper Coffee) taking the reigns, serving their own specialty roast alongside filter by Norway’s Tim Wendelboe and Korea’s Fritz.

Small Mercies

Small Mercies

Location: Mount Eden

Serving delectable Korean-style doughnuts with a twist, Mount Eden-based Small Mercies is the perfect drop-in for a sweet treat and a coffee. Here, you’ll find Kkwabaegi (a traditional Korean twisted doughnut), reimagined with a variety of delicious ever-rotating toppings — from Chocolate Orange to Tiramisu to Salted Caramel and more, served alongside Chapssal (glutinous rice doughnut balls) and Yakgwa (deliciously sweet, syrup-soaked biscuits), and perfectly-brewed Red Rabbit Coffee or matcha, or a refreshing cup of housemade lemonade.

Wheatz Bakery

Wheatz

Location: CBD & Albany

Wheatz Bakery is the tasty new bakery with outposts in both Albany and the CBD specialising in cute little stuffed croissants, petite and perfect Swiss Rolls and a very glorious croissant-doughnut hybrid that looks like a stack of hot waffles. Here, your pastries can (and should) be washed down with something from the expansive drinks menu — such as bubble tea, fresh fruit tea, drinkable yoghurt and sweet iced lattes, among all the usual caffeinated suspects.

Pilar

Pilar

Location: Ponsonby

Having recently opened on Ponsonby Road, Pilar Cafe & Eatery is a relaxed spot serving perfectly roasted Rocket coffee, friendly service and unique daytime fare that marries Asian-fusion flavours with classic European brunch. The result is a must-try cafe that puts an unexpected twist on those dishes that are perfect for a lazy weekend breakfast or a quick before-work bite — the fluffy blueberry pancake served with bacon and red-wine poached pear is just one example, and a must when visting.

Cafe Perch

Cafe Perch

Location: Freemans Bay

Those who find themselves in need of a caffeine hit like clockwork would do well to discover Cafe Perch, the Freemans Bay cafe catering to all of our workday needs. Conveniently found in an enlarged, foyer-style space on Hargreaves Street, this destination is the perfect addition for anyone in the area, whether for a coffee on the fly, a fresh sandwich for lunch, or a place to perch for a while in the middle of a busy workday. When Denizen visited, the cabinets were stocked with delicious Chicken Caesar Wraps, Korean Chicken Sandos and Veggie Pides, as well as some fresh toasties, frittatas and slices — offering something to suit any taste or need.

Dulcie

Dulcie

Location: Devonport

Devonport’s newest all-day eatery quickly made waves across the harbour. Dulcie brings a touch of Melbourne sophistication to Auckland’s brunch scene, offering a delectable menu designed to be enjoyed all day long, featuring the classics done well. Here, Eggs Benedict is served on a cacio e pepe hash brown with a burnt butter hollandaise, while Pancakes come topped with blueberry compote, elderflower and lemon syrup, coconut whip and pistachio. Serving inventive food in a truly picturesque setting, 15 meters from the sand, Dulcie offers something new to our brunch scene and we can’t get enough.

Everyday Coffee

Everyday Coffee

Location: Sandringham

Sandringham-based neighbourhood coffee spot Everyday Coffee opened its doors back in June and fast became a favourite amongst locals. Here, expertly-brewed coffee currently takes precedence; baristas serve fresh Allpress coffee, and an ever-changing filter brew is always on offer and a favourite amongst regulars. Alongside a counter of Daily Bread pastries and doughnuts, Everyday now offers a full bagel service (and having had a taste ourselves, we can attest to the fact that these are seriously good).

Queenies Caffé & Vino

Queenies Caffé & Vino

Location: Freemans Bay

With new owners, a fresh space and a new evening offering, Queenies returned this year, better than ever before. The Freeman’s Bay institution is now in the exceptional hands of Fran Mazza and her husband Aaron Carson, (responsible for the likes of Sugar at Chelsea Bay, Rude Boy Deli, Winona Forever, and so many more), and after taking a short break from hospitality, the duo is now breathing new life into the eatery — now named Queenies Caffé and Vino. From its verdant exterior to its sun-soaked tables to its intimate vibe, this is about as charming a neighbourhood spot as you could imagine, and as well as beautifully reimagining the daytime menu, the pair has introduced an evening service, transforming the bustling cafe into an elegant wine bar — a perfect spot to park up for an after-work wine or a post-dinner drink and dessert.

Honey Sundays

Honey Sundays

Location: Herne Bay

Having taken over the iconic corner spot on Jervois Road that once housed Jess’ Underground Kitchen, Honey Sundays is a delightful drop-in serving perfectly brewed Allpress coffee and tasty cabinet treats (from local producers), as well as offering a selection of impressive surfboards, surf wax and wetsuit-style swimwear. It is a unique but appealing hybrid — easy brunch spot meets laid-back retail space — with the vision behind Honey Sundays being to not only create a cool, cruisy cafe for locals, but also, to have a place in the City where surfers could find boards and wax without having to venture to a mall (a need she discovered after falling in love for the wave-chasing sport herself). Superb.

Manis

Manis

Location: Ponsonby

Those with a penchant for something sweet have likely already discovered Ponsonby’s Manis, the unique bakery concept where Paris and Bali collide. Manis, translating to ‘sweet’ in the owners’ native Indonesian tongue, is a tasty collision of cultures, offering traditional Balinese pastries like martabak (a sweet pancake) and pie susu (a sweet milk tart) alongside French viennoiserie — including a number of variations on the classic croissant. There are also plenty more savoury pastry options (from pain au pesto and salami croissants to mouthwatering, filled house made rolls) — perfect for anyone seeking a wholesome workday lunch.

The Butcher Baker

The Butcher Baker

Location: Helensville

If you’ve found yourself in Helensville of late, you might have stumbled upon The Butcher Baker — a true farm-to-table style restaurant harnessing the best of locally-grown and foraged produce. Drawing on his tenure at local institutions like Honey Bones and Odettes, as well as his experience in some of the world’s biggest culinary hubs, owner Reginaldo Richard set out to create something of his very own that offers locals and those coming from further afield something unique. Here, the menu centres on the very best seasonal produce, sourced from local suppliers and foraged by Richard himself, cooked in new and innovative ways. The result is some seriously spectacular flavours, served in a laid-back but decidedly cool setting the whole family can enjoy.

CASUAL BITES


Toastie

Toastie

Location: CBD

Brothers Blues and Harry Shim fell in love with Asia’s diverse and varied breakfast culture while living and traveling the continent — their passion inspiring them to draw upon their collective experiences and create a breakfast-inspired spot of their own in Auckland’s CBD. Toastie is a concept that pulls from a variety of unique breakfast offerings across Asia, and the result is a deliciously distinct hole-in-the-wall eatery with a menu featuring a range of mouth-watering toasties that pay homage to different countries, including Kaya Toast, Sweet Travel and Egg Drop Toast.

Baby G Burger

Baby G

Location: Avondale

Known for serving Auckland’s most legendary smash burgers, Baby G finally put down permanent roots and the loyal legions flocked. Baby G founder, American-born Cam Blanchard, is widely credited as serving some of the best burgers in Auckland courtesy of his signature, American-style smash patties (boasting unbelievably crispy edges and a thick, flavoursome centre), sitting between pillowy soft buns, with fuss-free fillings — usually a combination of American cheese, onions, pickles, mustard, mayo and/or hot sauce. You’ll find these, plus a concise edit of Baby G hits on the menu — with something for the veggies too.

Eden Noodles

Eden Noodles

Location: Commercial Bay, CBD

Foodie favourite Eden Noodles set up shop in Commercial Bay this year, bringing its authentic hand-pulled noodles and undeniably delectable dumplings to hungry city-siders. Eden Noodles has long been a household name in Auckland, adored by all, and its enduring menu featuring the famous hand-crafted pork dumplings in spicy sauce and classics such as wide noodles in soup and Dan Dan sauce and fresh cucumber salad, stand as a shining example of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

Brew’d Hawt

Brew’d Hawt

Location: Victoria Park, CBD

Serving epic, free-range fried chicken, Brew’d Hawt is the new spot in the city worthy of your attention. Following the success of a first venue in Manukau, Brew’d Hawt’s Victoria Street outpost offers city-dwellers an eatery where the food is bold, inventive and high quality. Brew’d Hawt promises recipes meticulously tested and crafted to ensure it retains flavour and crunch, even when picked up as a takeaway and eaten 20 minutes later; the menu boasts fried chicken in its myriad forms — from wings to burgers to sides and more, served alongside delectable desserts and a considered selection of drinks.

Broke Boy Taco

Broke Boy Taco

Location: Mount Albert

Known for its epic birria tacos and hugely popular pop-ups, the iconic Broke Boy Taco finally opened a permanent spot this year, and the loyal legions are grateful for it. Here, the space is pared-back and charming with hand-painted signs and virtually no decor, while the menu is similarly fuss-free, with Yarbrough’s signature tacos at the forefront. For those who aren’t familiar with birria, it’s a type of meat stew that is a mainstay of Mexican cuisine, made by marinating beef in adobo sauce before its cooked slowly in broth until mouthwateringly tender and full of flavour — and Yarbrough’s is as good as it gets.

Munch

Munch

Location: Henderson

At Munch, a cool eatery dedicated to serving mouthwatering Korean fried chicken, the motto is delicious food, high-quality ingredients and accessible prices, and it would seem that it delivers on all fronts. There you’ll find an array of Korean fried chicken dishes that play with different flavours, whether you prefer something spicy or something more indulgent. From the O.G. Crispy (Munch’s golden-brown, crispy chicken, encased in the team’s secret blend of herbs and spices) to the gochujang-coated iteration that sees sweet and savoury flavours harmonise perfectly, plus a plethora of inventive dishes and sides, there’s something to satisfy every craving.

Tacoteca

Tacoteca

Location: City Works Depot, CBD

Sitting pretty in the space formerly home to the Food Truck Garage in City Works Depot is Tacoteca, an impressive eatery serving authentic Mexican in house-made tortillas. For taco enthusiasts, this is the place to be, with a concise but perfected selection of handmade blue tortilla tacos featuring fresh, market fish, rich lamb barbacoa and vegan smoky cabbage on offer. Elsewhere on the menu there’s indulgent sharing plates and the all-important margarita list, with many an iteration to make your way through over the summer months.

Hei Hei

Hei Hei

Location: Papakura

Housed in Papakura’s elevated new food court is Hei Hei, a delicious fried chicken spot from the team behind Passa Passa. The offering is simple but undeniably delicious — and fried chicken, unsurprisingly, informs every meal. Hot chicken wings and southern-style sides join a concise burger menu, and with each order, diners choose just how hot their chicken comes, from ‘naked’, for those who are a little timid when it comes to spice, all the way through to ‘flaming hot’. Open for both lunch and dinner, this new South Auckland eatery is the place to head when a craving for comfort food strikes — make sure to add a side of mac and cheese, and thank us later.

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