Megan Wood finds some of the best kid-friendly family eateries in the Auckland region
Knowing where to eat when you are in unknown territory can be challenging, even more so when you are travelling with kids of various ages with degrees of fussiness. Take the guesswork out of family dining in Auckland with these stand-out eateries chosen by locals with kids, who know just what you need when hunger hits.
Burger joints meets Korean spice in this fun, casual eatery in the trendy central Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn. The menu include K-fries (the K is for kimchee), bibimbap slaw and the much-lauded kimcheese burger, but there are plenty of non-spicy options too. The kids' menu is simple but effective, with several burger and non-burger options and the chance for two scoops of icecream. For the parents, there are lots of burgers, including multiple options for vegetarians, as well as some very grown-up cocktails, plus beer and wine. With a friendly and casual atmosphere, this is quick and cheerful dining, although at a slightly higher price point than you might expect when you think "burger joint".
549 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Tuesday to Thursday 5-9pm; Fridays 12-10pm; Saturday and Sunday 12-9pm. tigerburger.co.nz
Wild on Waiheke
Part-winery, part-brewery, part-playground, Wild on Waiheke is a fun day out for families visiting the famous Auckland island. Large, sunny al fresco dining (and drinking) tables overlook the well-equipped kids' playground and trampoline. To occupy the teens there is petanque, giant chess, and a volleyball net, and for adventurous adults there is archery and laser claybird shooting. Wild Estate Vineyard Restaurant has some great options for groups, especially their sharing plates which are perfect for lazy afternoon grazing. The kids' menu isn't extensive but the large pizza menu nicely fills that gap.
82 Onetangi Rd, Waiheke Island, Auckland. Thursday 12-7pm, Friday and Saturday 12-9pm, Sunday 12-5pm. wildonwaiheke.co.nz
Hallertau Brewery & Biergarten
Roughly half an hour's drive from central Auckland, Hallertau Brewery & Biergarten is a virtual wonderland for kids and a much-needed chill space for parents. With a stunning outdoor area, including a large and impressive kids' playground and live music on weekends, this craft-beer favourite has something for everyone. The venue has great food – the beef burger is particularly memorable – including a well-planned kids' menu. Experience the wide range of beer on tap (they offer tasting paddles) while sitting in the sunny beer garden, content in the knowledge that the kids are happy in the completely self-contained playground.
Hallertau Brewery, 1171 Coatesville Riverhead Hwy, Riverhead, Auckland. Monday and Tuesday 12–9pm and Wednesday to Sunday 11am–10pm. hallertau.co.nz
In an unassuming spot on Great North Rd, Avondale, you will find Barbarino's Spaghetteria. What you see is what you get at Barbarino's - one of several successful eateries across Auckland run by husband and wife team Fran Mazza and Aaron Carson – this is pasta, served pronto. Pitched at families and unpretentious eaters, Barbarino's is perfect for when you are trying to feed hungry kids, fast. You order and pay at the counter, making your choice of pasta type (pappardelle, spaghetti, rigatoni, orecchiette) and sauce (from arrabbiata to gorgonzola, the list is comprehensive), and paying up front ensures you can leave before the spaghetti hits the floor and the tired tears start to roll.
1790 Great North Rd, Avondale, Auckland. Wednesday to Sunday 5-10pm and lunch Saturdays from 11.30am. barbarinos.co.nz
As you peruse The Grounds' impressive menu crafted by chefs Ben Bayly and Mike Shatura, kids can roam the woven wonderland playground that's arguably the most unique in Auckland. The kids' menu is good, with options like meatballs in homemade pasta sauce or Asian-style dumplings. Parents will be spoiled for choice, with menu choices ranging from gourmet burgers to slow-roasted beef cheeks and fresh market fish.
8/14 Henderson Valley Rd, Henderson, Auckland. Wednesday to Sunday 9am–late.
Quite the attention grabber, it is hard not to be lured in by the bright lights of Love Exposure. The cuisine offered within the neon kitsch interior is Vietnamese, although, like its decor, much of it has a twist (grilled pork shoulder with lettuce cups or Vietnamese beef bourguignon). The dishes are mainly aimed to be shared, which lends itself well to hungry family groups. The whole experience is vivid and fast - from the food to the trinkets and decorations that give the room its character (keep an eye out for the fake jellyfish aquarium). The food here is cheap and good, which also makes it very busy, so if you are planning a visit, call ahead or book online.
191 Dominion Rd, Mount Eden, Auckland. Sunday to Thursday 5-9pm and to 9:30 on Fridays and Saturdays. loveexposure.com
Brother's Brewery & Juke Joint
Another brewery that caters perfectly for families, Brother's is set up in an old warehouse, giving an inner-city vibe and being heavily geared towards families with younger kids. Get stuck into the share-friendly menu dominated by American-style barbecue with must-try options like the pulled pork, brisket and chicken wings and don't forget to get a round of tater tots for the kids. Sink into a comfy couch and take your time with a beer-tasting paddle while the littlest among you play busily in the sandpit. All ages will love pretending to drive the cool old Mini wagon parked within. Dogs are also welcome.
5 Akiraho St, Mount Eden. Open: Tuesday to Saturday 11:30am–10pm and Sunday 11.30am–8pm. Closed Mondays. brothersbeer.co.nz
Edgy and urban, yet relaxed and friendly, Nomad is in the trendy beachside suburb of Point Chevalier. Older teens will be impressed with the buzz and aesthetic, while the younger crew will feel at ease in the restaurant's roomy interior. Most importantly, Nomad offers the one thing that is guaranteed to bring a family together – pizza. There is also a wonderful kids' menu that features, among other things, a well-balanced bento box, perfect for slow grazers. Nomad is also open for breakfast and lunch and is fully licenced.
5 Pt Chevalier Rd, Pt Chevalier, Auckland. Monday to Friday 7am-Late, Saturday and Sunday 8am-Late. nomadrestaurant.co.nz
If you are sushi lovers, definitely consider a trip to Banzai. Nestled at the foodie end of Dominion Rd in Balmoral, Banzai does delightful fresh sushi, sashimi, gyoza and more, but what sets it apart is the giant Lego head full of toys (including Lego, beloved by small children the world over) and the oh-so-fun kids' sushi platter. Best suited to children under the age of 10 who still love Lego and get a kick out of receiving their own special sushi plate with the pieces artfully arranged in a smiley face, Banzai is licensed for the grown-ups, well-priced and the service is exceptional.
583 Dominion Rd, Balmoral, Auckland. Tuesday to Sunday 5-9pm and Friday and Saturday for lunch 12-2:30pm.
If you want to get out of the city, this quaint, kid-friendly cafe in Coatesville, 30 minutes northwest of the Auckland CBD, is a little gem. Kids can pick their own pizza toppings and you can enjoy great coffee and an array of sweet treats catering to vegan, gluten- and dairy-free diets. Sit by the playground surrounded by trees and the calm of Coatesville's rural setting.
302 Coatesville Riverhead Highway, Coatesville, Auckland. Monday to Thursday, 7.30am–4pm, Friday and Saturday, 7.30am–11pm and Sunday, 7.30am–5pm. fernieleacafe.com
Hawthorn Dene Historic Country Cafe
Referred to by locals as Auckland's best-kept secret, Hawthorn Dene is a rustic country house cafe that is refreshingly unique, charming and unpretentious. The menu gets straight to the point with the usual salads, burgers and fish and chips, but it is all very palatable due to both the quality and the very reasonable prices. The best thing about this cafe is the outdoor area. What is essentially a large backyard has been decked out with tables, not to mention a clubhouse, playground and sandpit for the kids. This is a great family spot for a lazy lunch or afternoon tea.
280 Botany Rd, Botany Downs, East Auckland. Tuesday to Sunday, 9am-3pm. facebook.com/hawthorndene
This new eatery in South Auckland, right near the airport, is a real treat. The menu is familiar, offering a lot of the usual cafe eats but with a focus on fresh, New Zealand produce. The big drawcard here is the location and the playground. The bright, roomy and ultra-modern building that Percy calls home is perched on the edge of Oruarangi Creek, a charming and unexpected spot of nature in an otherwise highly industrialised area. The outdoor playground overlooking the creek, not to mention the well-priced, high-quality meals, make Percy a must-visit for families who find themselves near Auckland Airport, feeling peckish.
2 Te Kapua Drive, Māngere, Auckland. Monday to Friday 7am-3pm. Saturday and Sunday 8am to 3pm. percycafe.co.nz
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