KINGSLAND

Just over the bridge from the park are the most popular pre- and post-watering spots, but you can happily escape inebriated crowds and find great food at several restaurants. At Farang Cafe, the tagline is "sweet, salty, sour, hot" — the mantra that forms the ethos of Thai cuisine. Share smaller and larger portions like sweetie boy buns (filled with sticky pork and pickled cabbage) and lemongrass and kaffir leaf-infused green fish curry, and finish off with a roti stack enriched with chocolate sauce, condensed milk and seasonal fruit.

At Petra Shawarma you can't order booze and you won't need it. A deep sense of contentment shall be yours in the delightful service and food by the Jordanian-born Omar sisters. Fill up on a selection of starters and larger servings like the nut-spiked, spiced mandi rice, and grilled meat or falafel rolled up in thin pita (fresh salad and hummus are served on the side here, as they should be). Wash it down with the Jordanian sage tea and the advantage of going into the game clear-headed is yours.

Icco is Japanese for "one house", so named because the owners wanted to promote a cosy, homely vibe at this sake bar and eatery next to Flight 605 in Morningside. On the menu are smaller to larger dishes, cold and hot, to share or be selfish with. Sashimi, maki rolls and nigiri, donburi and noodles and main dishes such as the lip-smacking miso-glazed grilled King salmon. And of course, there's a decent selection of sake.

Keep things classy (there's plenty of time for watery beer in plastic cups in the stadium) and call into Flight 605 to sample from its wide range of craft beer and wine. The place has an eclectic, aeronautical vibe which makes sense: the owners left a combined nearly 60 years' experience as flight attendants to open up shop, and you can bet on pro service here.

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DOMINION RD

Start the fire burning with the ma-la mouth-tingling spiciness of Sichuan cuisine: ChongQing noodles, or a steaming bowl of bun bo hue (sia spicy beef noodle soup) at Viet Kitchen. Sha Xian Snack, at the end of Bellwood Rd, is perfect for a group gathering — share bamboo baskets of steamed pork and cabbage dumplings, Chinese pita burgers and dainty skewers of cumin-spiked grilled lamb.

The burgers are epic and so is the game-day anticipation at Ralph's, only a couple of minutes stroll up from the stadium at the end of Walters Rd. Burgers come with slaw or curly fries and getting a side of jalapeno poppers is a wise call.

On the corner of busy Dominion Rd and pretty, villa-lined Burnley Terrace, A'Meza has gathered a loyal bunch of fans since it opened not so long ago. Fusion seems a dirty word these days so let's say at A'Meza, the chef takes the best things culinary from his Filipino food background and introduces clever touches from other Asian and European cuisines, as well as some native New Zealand ingredients (as in this dish: DoenJang sirloin, with kawa kawa pesto, pommes boulangere and PX sherry jus). Whatever you like to call it, it tastes delicious.

The Dominion is the closest pub up this way, fans spilling out to make the five-minute walk down to the park. You can still find a quietish place to perch yourself on the upper level — order pizzas or hearty mains like potted beef pie, or share a ploughman's platter.

SANDRINGHAM

In the shops that cluster about a 10-minute walk up from the park, you could enjoy a leisurely pre-game dinner at neighbourhood bistro Petit Bocal, where the evening specials include classics like steak frites, or you may fall for the carb hit that is "pommes pizza": thin-crust pizza with creme fraiche, duck fat potatoes, red onion, pesto and brie.

Across the street, The Fish & Chip Shop is perhaps prosaically named as a snub to all those fishy puns, and things are a tad fancier here — you can opt to get your fish panko-crumbed. But don't worry, they still flog pineapple fritters and sauce-doused hot dogs.

A bit further down the road but still only a 20-minute walk, or a two-minute cab ride, to Auckland's Little India, where you could carry on the celebration at Satya Chai Lounge, home to excellent South Indian street food and a seriously impressive selection of craft beer in a cosy, rustically decorated space.

AND ... if you're in the middle of the action and feeling a bit peckish, your options are better than you may expect.

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The chips may still be soggy, but the pie situation at Eden Park is now as good as it gets, with a range of I Love Pies selections on offer (the founders are Mt Eden locals and big rugby fans, too). To start with, there is Angus Beef & Rosemary and Free Range Butter Chicken. The selection will increase as the season continues.

With their famously rich sour-cream pastry and quality ingredients, there's no shame in snaffling one or two of these.