Summer is finally, officially here, and with it comes a raft of delicious dining experiences that are set to help us slip into the festive season in style. From the city’s best happy hours to exceptional new openings, mouth-watering Christmas feasts, jazz evenings, lunchtime specials, sundown sessions, mental health mornings and more, here we present our definitive December dining guide.
Celebrate Christmas early and in an entirely memorable way with Bar Magda’s communal Kamayan-style feast, inspired by the heartwarming Filipino Noche Buena tradition. On December 10th, the intimate dining room is shining a spotlight on the Kamayan practice of gathering to savour the season’s harvest with your hands, putting on a joyful gathering to celebrate the vibrant flavours of Filipino cuisine, community, and the festive holiday season. The talented chefs behind the eatery’s successful Salo — Salo pop-up, Chino Salazar from Olongapo and Demi Magin-Salazar from Baguio, will be on the tools, so you know to expect something special. For just $90 per person, you can indulge in a full table feast, with delightful sharing cocktails and bottles of wine available on the evening. Book here.
If you’re yet to try modern Korean eatery Swings, let this be your sign to do so. Adding to its progressive, quirky and altogether delicious menu, Swings has debuted a curated selection of burgers just in time for summer, and they’re as delicious as you’d expect. Head to the inner city spot on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 5-9pm and select from a Korean-style smash burger, a delectable, impossibly light prawn iteration or the vegetarian option with handmade tofu — all equally exceptional. Opt for a takeaway and head across the road to Albert Park, or grab a glass and perch at one of the coveted streetside tables. Sublime.
Little Bird has teamed up with Sarah Lindsay of Sala to craft a bespoke Bliss Smoothie — the perfect antidote to the busy days and late nights ahead. Available from now until December 10th, this dreamy, creamy, heart-opening tonic embodies the essence of Sala. With skin and soul-loving ingredients like organic rose, raw cacao, Reishi and hyaluronic acid, the Bliss Smoothie will have you looking and feeling your best as we enter the season of indulgence.
For those seeking an afternoon escape, paradise is found at Somm this summer, with a delicious happy hour running from 3-5pm daily. Sip, savour and soak in the sunshine with a number of $7 drinks to choose from. A considered selection of local wines is available, spanning all of the usual varietals (they are the experts, after all), alongside ice-cold Little Creatures larger, and the infamous Somm Spritz. Santé!
Williams has teamed up with Everyday Solitude and Coffee Supreme to launch Mental Health Mornings, an event series that gives the local Tāmaki Makaurau community a space to come together and connect during the busiest (and often most stressful) time of the year. The events will run weekly on Fridays from 7-8.30am, during which you can head down for a casual conversation over Everyday Solitude’s card game. $1 from every coffee purchase will be donated to the Mental Health Foundation of NZ, so you can give back while doing yourself some good.
Welcome warmer days with an afternoon of live music, good food and flowing drinks at Kingi’s Jazz Afternoon on December 3rd. The Circles Trio will be playing progressive jazz from 1-4pm, creating the perfect ambience for an afternoon of aperitivo. Walk-ins are welcome or secure a table ahead of time to ensure a prime position in the Tuawhiti Laneway. Book here.
SkyCity’s Japanese stalwart has long been a family favourite, and this month the kids can enjoy one of Masu’s delicious new okosama bento boxes, sure to go down well. This December, for $39 the littlies will be treated to a mixed box of maki rolls, karaage chicken, salmon teriyaki, vege tempura and a selection of fresh fruit. Time your visit to coincide with Masu’s newly-instated Happy Hour dinner (5-6pm, Monday-Thursday) and parents can enjoy a delicious mix of sashimi, tempura, king salmon, pork belly, lamb cutlets and more, priced at $70 for a four-course feast.
As summer settles in over the next month, make the most of Bivacco’s Sundown Sessions — running until the end of March next year. The perfect setting for summer satiation, with an ever-rotating lineup of DJs every Friday and Saturday, tasty food and seasonal drinks specials (including a series of summer punches), Bivacco’s delicious and convivial offering is best enjoyed at one of its long tables. Here, as the sun goes down, the volume goes up. To read more about Bivacco’s Sundowner Sessions, see here.
In addition to launching its annual range of festive delights, Bread & Butter Bakery and Café is offering a special something for the children this December with its cookie decorating classes. Kids are invited to harness their creativity, decorating a batch of buttery shortbread cookies to take home. From hearts to snowmen, angels and Christmas trees, all of the festive favourites will feature, with participants learning how to pipe, pattern, and place lollies and sprinkles effectively (very important business), before being sent on their merry way with recipes to recreate the magic at home. The classes, each limited to 10 children aged eight and older, are $60 per child and are scheduled for 12.30pm and 2pm on Saturday, December 2nd and Saturday December 16th. Secure a spot here.
From Monday through Friday between 4-6pm Pōni is offering an impressive happy hour menu where delicious food and epic drinks collide. All summer long, you can settle in to Pōni’s elevated dining room, soak up views of the Waitematā Harbour and indulge in the likes of whipped edamame with pistachio, pickled daikon & shichimi on crispy wonton crackers or sweetcorn croquette dusted with comté cheese, served on a bed of smoked chili ketchu, drink in hand. Wine, beer and cocktails start at a modest $10, while small plates start at $12. Walk-ins are welcome, or book a table here.
Satisfy your festive appetite at the Victoria Park Christmas Night Market on December 1st. A selection of the city’s most delicious food trucks will be in situ, alongside a dedicated beer tent and a series of festive stalls stocking all manner of yuletide favourites. There will also be plenty to keep the kids entertained, from live music to art and face painting, meaning parents can kick back, relax, and usher in summer.
If it’s speedy but satisfying fare you’re after, look no further than Britomart’s Bar Non Solo. This impeccable Italian spot offers up a lunch special Tuesday through Friday that’s hard to beat. For a modest $25, you can choose from a selection of Bar Non Solo’s delightful seasonal pizzas or handmade pasta dishes, paired with either an ice-cold Peroni, Aperol Spritz, a glass of Idle Hands wine or a signature mocktail. For us, Aperol is the obvious choice of libation (given the setting), perfect when paired with the wagyu beef lasagne or a mushroom, truffle, gorgonzola and walnut pizza.
Kick off the festive season in indulgent style at the first ever A Very Tasty Christmas Market; a new food-themed market taking over The Cloud in downtown Auckland on December 2nd and 3rd. Revellers can expect all manner of festive cheer, including pop-up bars and eateries, entertainment, a gift market and fun for all ages. When it comes to the food, there will be something for everyone, from Italian street food to a fresh oyster bar to low & slow barbecue, decadent deserts, and much, much more. Entry is $5 on the doors, and kids under 12 are free.