Auckland is now a city inundated with eatery options.
Best: Back-on-the-mainland bite
When one Waiheke-based duo decided it was high-time to extend their juicy offerings to the mainland in December, our summer just got a whole lot tastier. Oysters and gelato may not seem like an obvious pairing – unless, of course, you’re Geoff Tippett and MasterChef New Zealand 2012 runner-up Ana Schwarz. From their humble beginnings selling gelato out of a container on the island, an expansion city-side was soon inevitable. When a space in the historic ferry building came up for lease, it seemed like the stars were aligned. The fact it was big enough to accommodate two enterprises side-by-side made it even more opportune to grow the business in a new and exciting direction. Shucker Brothers and Island Gelato – an interconnected eatery at Auckland’s downtown wharf that allows you to flex your culinary creativity and satisfy all your summer cravings under the same roof.
Best: Grazing destination with friends/date night locale
When we heard the duo behind the beloved Maldito Mendez were bringing their flavour and flair to Parnell's long-forgotten The Strand, we knew we were in for a tasty surprise. The result? Portuguese eatery Barulho. Here, Sarah Ginella and Nico Mendez have created a thriving little hub of gastronomic proportions. Upon entry, the warm buzz and ambient fairy lights have you dreaming of balmy Spanish summers. The menu reads like your favourite European holiday, offering a beautifully curated selection of tapas and Spanish classics. It's little wonder why Barulho has become a fast-favourite.
Best: Shared plates
Auckland’s been crying out for some Greek goodness on the food scene – and while Gerome restaurant may not be strictly traditional, the menu is a wonderful modern interpretation that speaks to some of the best of Hellenic flavours. Housed in what used to be the much-awarded Iguacu restaurant, restaurateur Ramiz Malik has lofty ambitions to make his latest eatery, Gerome, an icon in itself. And no detail has been spared in the pursuit.
These days, The Hunting Lodge aims to cater to everyone, not just the wandering wine crowd. There's an activity lawn boasting giant Jenga and pétanque, plenty to keep the kids occupied. The grounds alone boast a number of different venues and strikingly different spaces, with The Barn still dressed in white florals from the wedding that took place the night prior. The attitude here is refreshing – let the wines showcase themselves and keep the menu refined, fresh and seasonal. For lunch, we graze on a Spanish-style platter of tapas, a selection of Mahoe Blue cheeses and marinated mushrooms, olives and artichokes, accompanied by a fresh baguette and deliciously dry glass of albarino, the lesser-known cousin to riesling.
5. Alibi Brewer's Lounge, Onetangi, Waiheke Island
Best: Alternative to winery-hopping when on Waiheke
If you love Waiheke Island, chances are that you've heard of Tantalus Estate. It's hard not to be captivated by the Onetangi Valley vista – sprawling vineyard panoramas and wide-open spaces flooded with light, lead out to a courtyard dotted with clean and classic features and bountiful Côtes du Rhône-style grape varieties. What's perhaps a little lesser-known, is what's brewing beneath it all. Alibi Brewer's Lounge is a post-prohibition style speakeasy that oozes old-school charm, while establishing a relaxed and laid-back vibe for the thirsty.
Inside the proudly New Zealand-made 'brewhaus', Alibi brewery produces an impressive variety of seasonal beers, making full use of the flavours, flora and fauna sourced on Tantalus Estate grounds. The beer-ageing process is carried out in wine barrels, further intensifying the beers' flavour profiles.
Best: Sunset cocktails in the suburbs
Sitting quaintly on St Heliers Bay Road, you'll discover a bar and eatery that boasts one of the Eastern Suburb's best seaside vistas. On a Friday night, Porch, occupying the grand old dame that was once a famous Auckland hotel, is busy and bustling with thirsty punters.
While growing pains are to be expected with new eateries, the team here have had a good few months to find their footing – and it shows. On arrival, the impressive cocktail list is the perfect accompaniment to the candy pink sunset peeking out behind Rangitoto Island, while the Salmon Tartare and Crème Fraîche Cornets, adorned with edible flowers and nestled in a bed of sea salt, are pretty enough to get you excited about the menu to follow.
Best: Tapas menu or drinks with friends
Ponsonby's Three Lamps is home to our favourite new local. Annabel's is the brainchild of Rochfort Rees wonder-kid Oliver Scutts and local hospo innovator Henry Temple. This charming, stripped-back space is the perfect little nook to swing by after work and enjoy a killer cocktail, the kind of place you'd "call in to on the way to wherever it is you're going."
We love the fact the team here are doing Spanish tapas authentically, offering traditional bites in a no-nonsense kind of way.
Best: Dinner with a twist
Fittingly named after the ancient Incan sun god, Inti is an inspired new eatery occupying one of the best heritage buildings in the city. What once stood as Meat Fish Wine, is now a contemporary Spanish establishment spearheaded by executive chef Javier Carmona, previously of the Mouthful Group – think Orleans, Ortolana and Beirut – boasting a spacious brass-clad bar, multiple private dining tables and a menu the solar deity would be proud of.
Best: Sunday brunch
Every bit as vibrant and nostalgic as the name might suggest, Winona is singlehandedly reeling back in Auckland's brunch crowd for seconds. The brain child of hospitality heroine Fran Mazza –the acclaimed pastry chef at the helm of Hello Friends and Allies and the newly minted Little Sister – the menu here is plentiful, to say the least. Sweetly dusted pastries and flaky filo treats adorn the front cabinet, competing for your attention, while the copper-toned fixtures and open-plan interior beckons those wandering up Parnell Rise. There's the Beetroot-cured Salmon, White Fish Crème Fraîche and Salmon Caviar to appease to those with a taste for savoury, while the Eton Mess Brioche French Toast, topped with Piped Meringues and Raspberry Gin Compote is very nearly too pretty to eat, glittering with cinnamon dust, puffed up with fresh cream and dripping with fresh, juicy raspberries.
Best: Sandwich, ever.
Snake up New North Road and you'll be pleasantly surprised to discover this scrumptious sandwich spot. Boasting a crisp and minimal interior that mirrors that of a contemporary gallery space, Hero's menu is refreshingly simple. Bountiful, soft baguettes are fittingly named after prolific Kiwi artists – there's the Barry, the Rita, the Ralph, the Dick, the Cotton, to name but a few. The stark lack of good sandwiches on the Auckland culinary landscape is exactly what Hero Sandwich House has set out to rectify.