When we went to Auckland we had the very good fortune to strike a run of memorable eating experiences. We ran the scale from cheap eats to more expensive experiences and thought we’d write up a few favourites (in no particular order) so it might be useful to other Auckland visitors.
We each eat the same thing every day for breakfast so took it with us (me: muesli, banana, yoghurt; Tom: porridge) so can’t rate breakfast.
39-41 Elliott St (The Elliott Stables)
It was raining heavily as we scurried our way to El Faro – a small, warm Spanish restaurant in The Elliott Stables. We shared tapas of various meats (order the beef and the chicken), bread, beans and olives and were perfectly content dining by candlelight, watching others in the venue and being waited on by attentive yet not annoying staff. I felt like I was in an entirely other country and far from the hustle and bustle of Auckland. We finished our snug, romantic shared dinner off with a good sherry.
24a Spring Street, Freemans Bay
After we arrived in Auckland we checked into our apartment then walked over to Queenie’s Lunchroom – a place I’ve wanted to eat for years. Queenie’s is a small corner cafe in a residential area. It’s heavily decorated with Queen Elizabeth II memorabilia and retro and has the back wall decked out in a paint-by-numbers.
The coffee was good and the service was great but better than that the food was surprising and memorable. I had kedgeree and Tom had cassoulet, which was served with a side of fantastic bread. Both came in small bowls and were delicious – the perfect food for a rainy day that made you feel satisfied and nourished but not weighed down. If we lived in Auckland I’d come here every week.
Auckland Art Gallery cafe
Cnr Kitchener and Wellesley Streets
This is the kind of cafe you dream about – incredible food, wonderful flavours and good service in a nice environment. They have both cabinet and menu food – Tom and I took ages to choose from the cabinet, which more than satisfied us. Think fantastic sandwiches with interesting fillings, individual bowls of salad (GOOD salad – my potato salad had smoked salmon and green beans) and favourite slices and incredible individual cakes.
Tom got the pink cake that is top in the photo below – it’s called The Yellow Glove and is a food interpretation of James Cowie’s The Yellow Glove painting that was in Degas to Dali when we visited. We probably got a little Amish in the city about this cafe.
75 Queen Street
Before Tom and I took the ferry we stopped in at Pandoro for sandwiches for the trip. What we got was big, delicious, fresh sandwiches with stacks of filling. We ate them at the summit of Rangitoto and they were fantastic and much better than the miserable sandwiches being served most places in Wellington.
319 Queen Street
My art school friend Carol suggested we meet at Tanuki – a Japanese pub-food restaurant. We really like Japanese food but almost always limit ourselves to sushi train so this was a nice change. Tanuki is a relaxed place where you can watch the well-organised chefs work as you eat and where food is shared amongst the table. We ordered a bunch of starters (Carol recommended the beef tanuki and it was fantastic) and Japanese beer and sake and caught up. From there we went for Tanuki’s mixed dinner plates – a set of rice, meat, sushi, surimi, salad and miso. By ordering beef, salmon and chicken we could each share the meats and have a bit of everything.
Carol recommended a dessert (three ice-cream balls wrapped in crepe-like Japanese pastry served with bean paste). One dessert was enough for the three of us to share and was the perfect send to a great night. We spent about two hours at Tanuki – people came and went and we had a relaxed meal without the serving staff ever trying to rush us on.
8 Commerce Street and 183 K-Rd
When I was 16 I lived in USA as an exchange student and therefore had a love of some dodgy American foods (pop tarts, cherry coke, the occasional Starbucks). Sal’s Pizza satisfies my love of American pizza – you can buy it buy the slice (I get pepperoni) and it’s the perfect combination of meaty, salty and cheesy.
Other places we ate and rate
Alleluia Cafe in St. Kevin’s Arcade, K’Rd – always a reliable coffee stop and a great place to write a letter.