As we re-emerge from another stint of working from home, there’s no better time to treat yourself and support inner-city businesses the tastiest way we know how: by showing some love at lunchtime. From sandwiches and salads to dumplings and noodles, these are the best places to grab a work lunch in Auckland’s CBD (and surrounding city suburbs). Tools down, forks up.
Obar Snack Bar
Inspired by the lunch bars of Seoul, Chancery Street’s Obar Snack Bar is the perfect midday pit-stop, whether you’re dining solo or as part of a co-worker crew. Specialising in gimbap (Korean-style sushi), Obar Snack Bar’s offering sees it paired in a combo meal with tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), ramen or fried chicken and dumplings. The checklist menu makes ordering a breeze, and with prices starting at under $10 for a combo, this is one delicious lunch deal that will keep your wallet and your tummy happy.
The Humble Canteen
If no-fuss nourishment is what you seek, make a beeline for Wynyard Quarter’s wholesome new offering. The Humble Canteen is on a mission to offer tasty food that nurtures the body and the planet, with a variety of healthful dishes that can be eaten on-site or to-go. Choose from the likes of flatbread wraps, soups, curries and build-a-bowl salads, complete with help yourself ‘flavour bombs’ such as pickled green tomatoes, almond dukkah and crispy shallots.
Located cityside at City Works Depot and Britomart, &Sushi has carved out a reputation for serving some of the most delicious, intricate pieces of sushi around. Build your dream lunch box from the enticing cabinet of sushi, nigiri and inari, or order a bowl of teriyaki chicken donburi or tofu yakisoba. Eat in or take away, &Sushi will have your lunchtime looking good and tasting even better.
Blink and you’ll miss it, this tiny hole-in-the-wall spot on Federal Street has captured our attention for serving some of the tastiest, most authentic tacos in town. With a succinct menu of traditional Mexican favourites, Mr. Taco is a compact operation, perfect for a trio of tacos or a burrito on the go. We highly recommend both the cactus and jackfruit tacos — a flavourful, delightfully spicy choice that will please herbivores and carnivores alike.
Goodlife Superfood Co.
For healthy eating that is enjoyable and delicious in equal measure, try Goodlife Superfood Co. Those looking to refuel for a productive afternoon ahead will be more than pleased with its fresh, imaginative mason jar salads such as jerk mango chicken and red grape, walnut and chicken. With dietary requirements well and truly catered to thanks to vegan, dairy-free, nut-free and gluten-free options, it’s no surprise this Fort Street lunch bar is constantly bustling with customers.
City dwellers rejoice, our favourite sourdough slingers have set up shop in the CBD. Tucked away right next to Saint Patrick’s Square, Daily Bread’s new outpost comes in the form of an architecturally designed kiosk. Serving its signature sandwiches, pastries and pies, you’ll also be able to grab a loaf of bread to take away, ensuring your next homemade office lunch is a lot more impressive than the last.
Hero Sandwich House
Speaking of sensational sandwiches, it would be remiss of us to speak of such things and not mention Hero Sandwich House, which just last year brought its legendary deli-style sandwiches to the CBD. Located inside multi-functional workshop, gallery and workspace The Tuesday Club, a visit would not be complete without the famous Philly Cheese (a brioche bun stuffed with skirt steak, jalapeños, buttered onions, pickles and cheddar), plus you can add on Proper Crisps, extra pickles and a cold drink for only $5.
Bang Bang Kitchen
If dim sum, fried rice and Peking duck are more your speed, be sure to head to Auckland Fish Market’s Bang Bang Kitchen come lunchtime. Inspired by the Hawker markets in Singapore and Malaysia, Bang Bang Kitchen is expert at Asian-fusion flavours. Choose from dishes such as warming laksa, lobster fried rice and prawn har gow, or take advantage of lunch specials like crispy pork or Peking duck on rice.
Don’t be put off by the queues at this Lorne Street hot spot, Sunny Town is just the ticket when you’re in need of some noodles, stat. Once you’ve secured your seat and ordered, food arrives almost instantaneously in the form of soft, pillowy pork and vegetable buns, juicy prawn shao-mai and numbingly good dandan noodles. Eat eagerly and exit with intent, ensuring the next lucky luncher can have their fill.
There’s something to be said about the classics, like having a good old fashioned sandwich for lunch. Drake Street’s Caffetteria Allpress has the sando down pat, with fillings changing daily plus a few favourites like the Reuben and the tuna, egg and mayo gaining mainstay status. We can recommend the chicken sandwich if it’s available — a feat of sandwich engineering combining moist, mayo-y chicken with crunchy salad and sourdough for a fresh, never soggy sandwich.
Situated in the expansive Sky Lobby of Commercial Bay’s impressive PwC Tower, Spectra is a recently-opened daytime eatery providing the perfect space to sit down for a business lunch or grab something on the go. Peruse the array of tasty cabinet treats, or choose something from the thoughtfully refined all-day breakfast or lunch menu. Our pick is the ‘The Plate’, a simple, healthy option where you choose your protein (sirloin, chicken or market fish) and pair it with the salad of the day. Easy as that.
If you’re near Wynyard Quarter, you’ll find delicious Asian-fusion offerings at Paper Crane. The menu showcases many Asian favourites, from steamed baos, to sashimi, donburis, and of course noodles. Our recommendation is the misoyaki salmon on rice. Both takeaway and dine-in-friendly, Paper Crane offers local workers a reliably excellent eatery, and also a great location for meetings.
Vietnamese cuisine is associated with quick, fresh, light, yet very tasty food, which explains Hello Mister’s popularity, with locations on Hardinge Street and Customs Street West in the city. During the hot summertime, we opt for the rice paper rolls, particularly with tofu or Peking duck fillings. If you request them to go, you can take a short stroll and enjoy their succulent flavour in nearby Victoria Park. By contrast, when winter rolls around, it’s the phở that calls us to pull up a chair and dine-in.
Specialising in healthy salads, Toss’ wholesome bowls make it easy to eat your greens. The ‘Post-Workout’ salad is a virtuous choice with or without the aforementioned exercise, combining several varieties of salad greens, free-range chicken, avocado, feta, quarters of perfectly boiled egg and green goddess dressing. With a range of warm bowls, wraps, smoothies, toast and a soup of the day, there’s a lot to love at this Wellesley Street West spot.
Luna Cafe & Eatery
If a lunchtime craving for bánh mì strikes, look no further Luna Cafe in Chancery Square. From the bread to the pâté, everything in this Vietnamese sandwich is made from scratch, making it one of the best bánh mì in Auckland.
Hidden away on Vernon Street, Yume (formerly known as Haru no Yume) provides all manner of fresh and tasty Japanese favourites for inner-city workers. Inviting to dine in and easy to take away, Yume has an irresistible cabinet of sushi and tempura available per piece, plus bento boxes, ramen and udon. We can’t go past the tuna poke bowl with rice, pickles, salad and spicy gochujang sauce.
Food Truck Garage
On days when you’re feeling totally uninspired come lunchtime, trot along to always trusty (and tasty) Food Truck Garage in City Works Depot. Along with the signature burgers and tacos, we rate the Redergize bowl, a virtuous combination of baby spinach, quinoa, beetroot, carrot, flax seeds, cranberry and miso dressing. Add free-range chicken and this health-conscious lunch will see you satiated and ready to spring over that afternoon slump.
Best Ugly Bagels
Typically this New York staple leans on the heavier side of the lunch scales but it’s a different story when it comes to Best Ugly Bagels. Instead of the usual dense Big Apple-style, the bagels here follow the Montreal method with a lighter texture of bread that is topped, rather than filled. The classics are as good as the first day we tried them, with the likes of King Salmon (salmon, cream cheese, red onion, capers) and Yodi (pastrami, habanero mustard, grilled Swiss and an obligatory pickle) remaining forever favourites.
With a florist located right next door, the combination of the warmly-lit cafe and grocery store makes you feel as though you’ve entered a small village when you visit Scarecrow — a charm that is hard to come by in the heart of the city. As a favourite breakfast destination, lunch at Victoria Street East’s Scarecrow shouldn’t be overlooked. Simply yet deliciously executed, the menu spans the likes of fancy toasties (think artisanal cheese and heirloom tomato), pasta, risotto, potato latkes and tomato tarte tatin.