Explore the best of Auckland's food & wine

New Zealand's biggest city has a huge reputation for exceptional restaurants, bars and cellar doors. Here's a quick guide to some of the best.

Auckland is simmering with culinary creativity that stems from its many cultures and its nationally-recognised competitive streak. Within its boundaries - Bombay Hills in the south and Matakana in the north - the region accounts for nearly 40% of the entire country's eating-out spend. In other words, it's a rich hunting ground for visitors who love food, wine and all the other things that come with an exceptional dining experience.  

Discover some of the best restaurants in Auckland

As in any urban food scene, Auckland's restaurants come and go, but there's a solid core of top performers that are in for the long haul. While you're exploring Auckland, check out these perennial favourites:

  • Cassia, one of Sid and Chand Sahrawat's establishments, creates exceptional food experiences based on Indian flavour profiles. You'll find it in Fort Lane in Auckland's CBD
  • The Hunting Lodge in Kumeu has set menus and a 'trust the chef' option that eliminates the need to choose. There's a cellar door and bar too, for wine and beer tasting
  • White + Wong's on the city waterfront is a master of Asian street food; they also win awards for their beef and lamb dishes
  • Orphan's Kitchen is an award-winning Ponsonby restaurant that's loved for inventive dishes that showcase New Zealand's best ingredients
  • Woodpecker Hill in Parnell delivers the wood-smoked flavours of American barbecue with an Asian twist - the best of east meets west

This list of the best Auckland restaurants is just the tip of the iceberg. Other award-winning establishments are covered under the location headings below.

Eat fish and chips at the Auckland Fish Market

Often described as 'the best place to eat fish and chips in Auckland', the Auckland Fish Market in Wynyard Quarter is part shop, part restaurant, part cooking school. Managed by Sanford and Sons, one of New Zealand's largest fishing companies, it's a multi-purpose venue where food from the sea gets top priority.

There are many options for eating at the Auckland Fish Market, from Lobster & Tap for all things Lobster, Azabu for Japanese and Mar & Tierra for Latin fusion to Market Galley for old favourites, such as fish and chips. You can also learn how to cook fish like a master at the Seafood School, then buy the ingredients required to whip up something wonderful back at your accommodation.

Enjoy the best wineries in Auckland

Auckland's semi-subtropical climate is well-suited to several classical grape varieties, including syrah, chardonnay, pinot gris, cabernet and merlot. Within the region, there are three distinct sub-regions - Waiheke Island, West Auckland and Matakana.

Waiheke Island has numerous wineries, which make the most of the island's warm, dry climate. The best cellar doors to visit include Cable Bay, Passage Rock, Te Whau, Man O' War, Mudbrick, Obsidian, Stonyridge and Tantalus. Most of them have a café or restaurant. Getting around the vineyards is easy if you book with a local operator, like Enjoi, Waiheke Wine Tours or Ananda.

West Auckland is the traditional home of winemaking in the Auckland region. Some of the wineries are still family-owned, such as Soljans, Babich, Mazurans and Kumeu River. To visit a few of the cellar doors, you can hire a car and elect a sober driver or get an Auckland wine tour operator to zoom you around.

Matakana, about an hour north of central Auckland, offers several cellar doors in close proximity. A highlight is Brick Bay Wines, which has a fabulous contemporary sculpture trail featuring the work of 100+ artists. Other vineyards that do tastings include Omaha Bay, Matakana Estate, Heron's Flight and Ascension.

Auckland wine tours

The easy way to discover some of Auckland's best cellar doors is with a wine tour operator. Even if you're not usually a group tour person, these guided trips are famously fun because you don't have to worry about transport, driving under the influence or getting lost. You also get the back story of every vineyard you visit, which makes the wine tasting experience more interesting.

Grazing the best Ponsonby restaurants

Ponsonby Road is nearly two kilometres long and there are fantastic restaurants from one end to the other. If you're ever confused about where to go for great food in Auckland, a taxi ride to Ponsonby will soon have you sorted. There are too many eating places in for a comprehensive list, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Azabu, at the K Road end of Ponsonby, where Japan meets Peru for food you'll never forget
  • Ponsonby Road Bistro, where the menu changes every three weeks
  • Prego, for traditional Italian food that never goes out of style
  • Sidart, Sid Sahrawat's original restaurant, which is famous for its discovery menu
  • Mekong Baby, for South East Asian food that makes it hard to stop eating
  • Miss Moonshine's, for finger-licking slow-cooked smoky dishes from the deep south
  • Ponsonby Central, where there is too much choice and something yummy for everyone
  • Blue Breeze Inn, a popular favourite showcasing Kiwi innovation fusing with delicious Chinese flavours
  • ELMOS, a bold pizza joint with the ultimate wow-factor

Exploring Britomart restaurants

The renewed Britomart area above Auckland's underground train station has become a hub for outstanding food experiences, especially if you like to stay up late. If you find yourself drifting around Takutai Square or Britomart Place, watch for these names:

  • Ostro Brasserie & Bar, a Josh Emmett creation within the old Seafarer's Building.
  • Café Hanoi, a legendary restaurant that consistently serves up divine Vietnamese food
  • Ortolana, for garden-to-table dining surrounded by greenery
  • Eat My Lunch, a grab-and-go place for take outs that gives some its profits away as lunches for deprived kids
  • Xuxu Dumplings, where you can slurp the ultimate Asian comfort food

Takapuna restaurants you should try

When you find yourself on the northern side of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the urban seaside suburb of Takapuna is ready to roll out the welcome carpet. There are numerous excellent eating and drinking places here, such as:

  • Tok Tok, which fuses Filipino, Singaporean, Thai and Vietnamese traditions
  • Otto's Mediterranean Kitchen, open all day with food from the eastern end of the Med
  • Regatta Bar and Eatery, a nautically-themed seafood venue
  • Takapuna Beach Café, a relaxed place for breakfast, brunch or lunch with a water view
  • Madam Woo, for Asian fusion food designed by Josh Emmett
  • Ramen Lab, one of the best ramen composers in all of Auckland

Wynyard Quarter restaurants by the sea

Wynyard Quarter is downtown Auckland's newest dining area. The area was historically used by the timber and petro-chemical industries, so it has an appealing industrial-chic look and plenty of shoreline for sea views.

You'll find a good mix of places for breakfast, lunch or dinner, including:

  • The Conservatory, a relaxed venue with hanging chairs, an outdoor fire and exceptional pizza
  • Baduzzi, for contemporary Italian food orchestrated by one of NZ's most-admired chefs
  • Miss Clawdy, for soul food that's made to share
  • Feriza's, for delectable mezze cuisine from Turkey and Greece
  • The Good Luck Coconut, with sharing plates of Pacific and Asian deliciousness
  • Wynyard Pavillion Bay & Eatery, a place for any occasion

Focusing on fun at Viaduct restaurants

Created as a hub of bars and restaurants for the 1995 America's Cup, Viaduct Harbour is the buzziest place in the Auckland CBD area. Whether you're looking for breakfast at the harbour's edge or a swept-up Auckland dining and bar-hopping experience that lasts until the wee hours, the Viaduct is fully-loaded with places to see and be seen. Here's an across-the-board sample:

  • Soul Bar & Bistro, one of the Viaduct's originals and it gets better with every year
  • Giraffe, local legend Simon Gault's new place. His food is famously creative and delectable, but also healthy
  • Industry Zen, for some of the best innovative Japanese food in Auckland
  • Oyster & Chop, a steak-focused chargrill restaurant that really knows what it's doing
  • Hello Beasty, for the ultimate sharing plates of New Zealand fusion cuisine

Wet your whistle at the best bars in Auckland

When you're on the hunt for a watering hole, there are specific parts of Auckland to aim for. Here's a quick location-based introduction to some of the best.

Down at Viaduct Harbour, Dr Rudi's is legendary for a craft brew with a view. Another Viaduct favourite is the Parasol & Swing Company and Saint Alice. Alternatively, combine your sipping with putting at Holey Moley, Auckland's crazy mini-golf bar.

In Ponsonby you can't go wrong with the Vodka Room, which comes complete with a Russian-flavoured food menu. Chapel is always pumping, as is the Ponsonby Social Club. For a classy cocktail, head for Clipper.

Around the CBD you can check out the Glass Goose in Federal Street, which has a menu that's as exciting as its drinks lineup and Housebar in High Street, for contemporary cocktails.

Keep exploring Auckland

Wynyard Quarter image courtesy of Todd Eyre; Fish markets image courtesy of ATEED; Wine and platter image courtesy of Brick Bay; Ponsonby image courtesy of Chris McLennan; Dr Rudi's image courtesy of ATEED; Waitematā Harbour image courtesy of ATEED; Ohinemutu Village image courtesy of Paul Michael; Te Henga Beach image courtesy of ATEED; Auckland Art Gallery image courtesy of ATEED; Hauraki Gulf harbour cruise image courtesy of Fullers360