10 Great Places To Eat In West Auckland, According To A Local

By Alexia Santamaria
Aryeh in Piha is one west Auckland eatery that shouldn't be missed. Photo / Babiche Martens

Travel and food writer Alexia Santamaria of Westie Eats makes a case for West Auckland being best when it comes to food.

Poor West Auckland. It’s always taken a bit of a ribbing on the culinary front.

In fact, a University of Auckland article back in September

As a food writer, this has always been a challenge; living in West Auckland for the past two decades it’s been pretty slim pickings, selecting from a few decent places to eat when I didn’t feel like schleping into town. But all that has changed in recent years and now at least once a week I have a craving for something that central city dwellers could access only by hitting State Highway 16. In fact, sometimes it’s tough to choose.

Here are some worth checking out.

The Nepali Thali set at Timmur Nepalese restaurant in Avondale. Photo / Alexia Santamaria
The Nepali Thali set at Timmur Nepalese restaurant in Avondale. Photo / Alexia Santamaria

Timmur Nepalese and Indian Cuisine

Timmur is a relative newcomer to Avondale, opening in the latter part of last year in a reasonably unremarkable set of shops on Great North Rd (if you were fans of Flourishing Cafe you’ll recognise the spot). It’s not fancy but definitely charming with its faux-brick walls, cute booths and twinkly pops in the decor; and the food is the type you’ll be thinking about for a long time after. The offering is a mix of Nepalese and Indian and is huge — to the point of almost overwhelming — included on the menu are more than 30 types of Momo. Both the Indian and Nepalese food has a home-cooked quality that’s really rare in a commercial restaurant, and if you need help navigating the menu the friendly, enthusiastic staff are only too happy to give great recommendations. The Nepali Thali set is a great way to taste a few things — a curry of your choice (the goat is particularly outstanding), rice, comforting Nepalese-style dhal, spinach, pickles, papadum, cut veges and a dessert. It’s also a wonderful option if you like a little drama with your meal — as they pour hot ghee on your dhal and rice. You’ll never want unadorned basmati again.

Address: 4/1784 Great North Rd, Avondale

Contact: (09) 948 0807

The winter mezze platter from Neil Cafe in Te Atatū Peninsula. Photo / Alexia Santamaria
The winter mezze platter from Neil Cafe in Te Atatū Peninsula. Photo / Alexia Santamaria

Neil Cafe

Neil is everything you could want in a neighbourhood cafe and Te Atatū Peninsula locals are very lucky to have it in their hood. Run by Ella Mizrahi and Oliver Driver, well-known faces in the theatre, events and TV scene, it’s low-key, cute and with a small-but-confident menu. Open Tuesday to Sunday until 2pm, they also serve an evening menu on Thursday and Friday. Ella’s Mediterranean heritage is evident in the winter mezze platter with house-made pickles, fasolia beans and feta with simmit-style flatbread. All your brunch dreams come true here — especially the fresh, spongey perfect-for-mopping bread made to her grandma’s recipe. Cabinet food is a mix of Daily Bread specials and their own in house baking (the almond croissant filling they make provides one of the best pastry-to-paste ratios in town). Coffee is Flight.

Address: 2/29 Neil Avenue, Te Atatū Peninsula

Contact: Neilcafe.co.nz

Bunga Raya co-owner Rita Lai.  Photo / Jason Oxenham
Bunga Raya co-owner Rita Lai. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Bunga Raya

Bunga Raya is not exactly a new kid on the block, far from it in fact, but you definitely can’t talk about exceptional food in West Auckland without mentioning it. The fresh, expertly cooked Chinese Malaysian dishes that fly out of that kitchen were largely masterminded by Aunty Lim - who sadly recently passed away — but her spirit is still very strong in this New Lynn institution. Their luscious Nyonya Fish Head curry, XO Squid, Char Kway Teow (with wok hei that will make you feel like you’re in a hawker centre in KL) are all legendary, but it’s one of those places where you really can’t order a bad plate. One of the best things about this place is Rita, who runs the restaurant with her husband, John. Such is her desire for everyone to have a great time she won’t hesitate to tell you if you’ve got your order ‘wrong’ — two dishes with too similar flavour, too much food for your table, not a good combination — whatever it might be. And while this might seem affronting if you haven’t experienced it before, definitely trust her, she’s bang on every time.

Address: 2A/3062 Great North Rd, New Lynn

Contact: (09) 827 8666

Baby G Burger

Obviously, smash burgers are everywhere right now, making us all question why we haven’t eaten these fully loaded versions of our fast food favourite forever. Cam Blanchard gained a huge following with his burger pop-ups, and much to the delight of locals, opened up a permanent spot late last year in Avondale. Baby G’s ‘Oklahoma Dreaming’ burger is a sweet and spicy masterpiece with two perfectly lacey crispy-edged patties, ‘smashed’ with thinner-than-thin onions (for maximum caramelisation) and layered with mustard mayo, bread and butter pickles and fresh onions. Just before closing it off with the top bun, the magic hot sauce and maple syrup combo is applied. To be fair, the cheeseburger is also not one to be missed, so go with the kind of friend who will swap you halfway through. On the subject of smash burgers, we’ve been told that Kane’s Burger Club (formerly of Te Atatū South, soon opening in Henderson) is also a must-try.

Address: 1879 Great North Rd, Avondale

Novelty Sweets and Restaurant

Indian Street food is always such a symphony of flavours and textures — the crunch of sev or crispy fried puri, creamy yoghurt, sweet spicy tamarind, the green freshness of coriander and coconut chutney. If you can’t afford to experience the flavours of India on holiday, Lincoln Road vegetarian newcomer Novelty, might be your next best bet; they even have a cart where they sometimes do “live cooking” street styles outside the front door. This is seriously good chaat in a cute cafe-style environment — they also have snacks, north Indian curries, indo-chinese and sweets in their extensive menu. Again if you’re overwhelmed, a thali meal is always a great way to get a bit of everything but the Pani Puri, Sev Puri, Amritsari Kulcha and Dahi Puri are some personal favourites if you’re looking for recommendations. They also have branches in Botany and Christchurch and more to come. All their ingredients are super fresh — they even make their own paneer. Don’t let the surroundings fool you; Pak n Save across the road, KFC and Dunkin Donuts a few shops down don’t exactly create an exotic vibe, but this is definitely the real deal.

Address: 192/198 Universal Drive, Henderson

Contact: (09) 666 3100

Burnt Butter Diner's crumpet. Photo / Alexia Santamaria
Burnt Butter Diner's crumpet. Photo / Alexia Santamaria

Burnt Butter Diner

Small but perfectly formed, Burnt Butter Diner is many different kinds of fabulous. The owners previously worked at Auckland favourite Gemmayze Street, which gives you an idea of the calibre of the food — but this is totally their own style and vibe. A daytime-only joint, they serve up cabinet food and a creative menu of dishes like chilli fried eggs, pork and prawn omelette, cake for breakfast (try it to understand) and the wonderful house-made crumpet topped with smoked kahawai, soft-boiled egg, red onion pickle and sumac labneh. The home baking is off the charts and they also do cakes to order.

Address: 62 Rosebank Rd, Avondale

Contact: Burntbutterdiner.co.nz

Mr Lobster

When MasterChef and cookbook author Sam Low says he rates somewhere it’s always worth checking out, and Yum Cha at Mr Lobster definitely won’t disappoint. The dumplings, rice rolls, crispy squid, siu mai, egg tarts steamed buns and other classic faves are all first rate and there are plenty of lesser-known and modern quirky options too. Those who love a food gram will be pleased (if you can hold people off enough to take pics) — some of the offerings are very camera-worthy. Of course, they do serve Lobster — and plenty of other skillfully executed tasty dishes in the evening too.

Address: 4/301 Lincoln Rd, Henderson

Contact: (09) 218 8180

Soft shell crab with som tum from Sa-On Thai. Photo / Alexia Santamaria
Soft shell crab with som tum from Sa-On Thai. Photo / Alexia Santamaria

Sa-on Thai

This has to be one of the best Thai restaurants in Auckland. The decor possibly won’t win awards, but the food is truly sensational. It’s E-sarn cuisine which is more northeastern than most of what we see in other Tāmaki Makaurau Thai eateries, and it would be almost impossible to order a bad dish from this (enormous) menu — it’s much more extensive than what you see on the website. The soft shell crab served with a zesty, fresh som tum is incredible, as is the tender, comforting Northern Thai Pork Belly curry — and if you like prawns you have to start your meal with the dainty Mieng Goon (roasted prawns topped with a combination of toasted coconut, shallots, ginger, peanuts blended with chilli paste served on betel leaf) So much choice and every dish packed with big bold flavour. You’ll be planning your return visit before you’ve even finished your meal.

Address: 401 Great North Rd, Henderson

Contact: 022 493 6988

The taco napoles (tender cactus) and sopes from Mexican eatery Cielito Lindo. Photo / Supplied
The taco napoles (tender cactus) and sopes from Mexican eatery Cielito Lindo. Photo / Supplied

Cielito Lindo

Never has there been a better reason to visit the rubbish tip and the Concourse in Henderson is the unlikely location for some of Auckland’s best Mexican food. Possibly not a first-date venue — unless your date is really into great food and doesn’t mind a fairly basic interior — but totally worth a visit. Everything is truly authentic Mexican here, including taco fillings like cactus, not found in too many other places. Corn chips are cooked fresh, sopes are made from scratch, quesadillas of different fillings are delicious with cheese, sour cream and pico de gallo and there are also burritos (while more on the Tex Mex side you’ve got to wonder whether this might be to cater to the tradies working in this largely industrial area who troop in daily for lunch). You may visit for the first time while dumping your rubbish, but it’s guaranteed you’ll go back without the trailer many times after that.

Address: 14 The Concourse, Henderson

Aryeh's outdoor covered area. Photo / Babiche Martens
Aryeh's outdoor covered area. Photo / Babiche Martens


It always feels like Auckland is a bit short on true destination dining — places that combine great food with the stunning vistas we have available. With its sweeping views of Piha Beach, Aryeh has definitely filled a gap, and while they are on a reduced menu and restricted days over winter you can still experience some of what they do until they reopen full-time next summer. Sometimes Piha local, and celebrated chef Peter Gordon says “It has been great having something a bit upmarket in among the really cool and tasty simpler Piha offerings. A place to sit down and have a lovely bottle of wine, casual but also a little slick.” With dreamy beach views, the smaller current menu contains options like slow-cooked 55-day aged organic beef rump, Pukekohe tallow fried potatoes black garlic mayo, kawakawa salt and honey panna cotta, poached apple with almond crumble and sorbet.

Address: 20 Seaview Road, Piha

Contact: 0274 117 046

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