Already a neighbourhood favourite for those in the area after consistently delicious, hearty burgers and beer, Ralph's on Auckland's Dominion Road has recently merged with Vinyl Coffee Shop to expand both their hours and repertoire.
With comfortable booths and a sunny courtyard filled with wooden tables perfect for making the most of summer's long hot evenings, Ralph's is just the right amount of relaxed, without compromising on brilliant service. Their new breakfast menu boasts a selection of satisfying dishes, including Pedros Eggs (scrambled eggs, black beans, salsa, avo, jalapenos and chipotle on ciabatta), or the Breakfast of Zeus (spice fried tofu, peppers, red onion, capers, spinach, sweet chilli, basil and hummus on ciabatta). I think a breakfast menu where every option hints at an element of ambition ('Will I ever get to the end of this Breakfast Burrito?!') is definitely a good thing.
While I will be back to tackle one of these options, we visited on one of their first evenings of the year for dinner. From previous experience I knew the burgers were incredibly filling, yet we couldn't help but order a selection of their tempting sides. Buttery Grilled Corn and Peruvian Ceviche, accompanied by a Good George IPA, went down a treat as we waited for the main event. Piles of fried chicken on its way to a neighbouring table didn't pass us by without a longing gaze – I've also heard the Jalapeno Poppers are incredible.
I ordered the cheesiest, sauciest Mushroom Burger I've ever come across with a side of spicy slaw, while my friend took on the Tofu Satay Burger with a generous portion of curly fries. Both were delicious and brimming with flavour. Despite the sides, we both managed to finish our burgers – a testament to their moreishness. For those of you bewildered at the thought of a table of only vegetarian burgers, I've previously visited with a friend/ trusted burger-enthusiast who assures me their Cheeseburger (piled high with a beef pattie, bacon, mustard, kosher pickles and chipotle mayo) isn't to be missed. I'm sure their free-range Pork Belly Burgers (with green apple slaw, apple sauce and chipotle mayo) must already be flying out of the kitchen too.
If you're after great food without the fuss, an after-work drink, or somewhere to settle in for a long brunch or dinner catch-up with friends, Ralph's might just be the place. Simple.
225b Dominion Road, Mt Eden, Auckland
Monday to Sunday: 7 – 12pm