Auckland’s food scene is constantly evolving and it never fails to surprise us how many new openings continue to crop up in our city. If the calibre of this round-up is anything to go by, we say keep ‘em coming. From wine bars to relocated restaurants, cafes to bakeries, 2023
There’s lots to love about Tacoteca. Its spot in City Works Depot is perfectly positioned to bask in all-day sun, so if you’re blessed with a fine Auckland day, a visit to Tacoteca basically feels like a holiday. It has an excellent margarita menu and great edit of Mexican dishes, plus the staff are dedicated and efficient. Tacoteca is from Edmundo Ferrera of La Fuente, his partner Anna and chef Jean Brito, who have transformed what was once The Food Truck Garage into an authentic Mexican restaurant. Viva paid a visit recently and can recommend the Malinche margarita (a combination of Toowe, fresh lime, black lime and habanero salt), and the beef suadero taco, and the smoky cabbage taco, which are served on either blue and yellow corn tortillas made in-house. For the story behind Tacoteca and its team, read Viva’s dining-out editor’s take on Tacoteca here.
Address: 1/90 Wellesley St West, central city.
Plant-based restaurant Forest recently relocated from Symonds St to a freshly renovated space at 243 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden, with room for a garden. While the essence of the original Forest remains the same, the space feels more intentional, says chef/owner Plabita Florence. The new premises has a purpose-built kitchen that speaks to the spirit of Forest. “My brother and I pretty much built everything with what we had [in the old space], on a very minimal budget. I feel now that Forest is at the point where it’s ready to grow a bit, and to have a bit more of a specific space for what it needs. Forest was always intended to be an unpretentious example of comforting, interesting, and delicious food that just happens to be mostly made from plants. It’s a space that feels a bit like a friend’s living room, and that’s a feeling we hope to bring with us,” she says. The menu is an edited selection of snacks and three mains that changes often. On offer recently was a pickled potato fritter with rhubarb ketchup as a snack, and roasted kūmara with rosemary and “Marmite cream”. Forest also has an exemplary drinks list, with special cocktails like hibiscus negroni and pickled pink beetroot lemonade.
Address: 243 Dominion Rd, Mount Eden.
In the space formerly occupied by Clay, and then Alta, comes Flor, a Karangahape Rd wine bar serving inventive plates dreamed up by head chef Tushar Grover (ex-Pasture, Huka Lodge) and sous chef Josh Letele. Everyday Wine’s Dan Gillet has curated the wine list (he was also responsible for the wine at Clay and Alta), which heroes natural, biodynamic and funky styles by the glass and bottle. Flor is a long, compact space a couple of doors down from Coco’s Cantina with a sun-soaked courtyard out the back. The interior hasn’t changed much from its Alta days, with tables lining one wall, wine fridges down the other and Clay’s groovy tile-work floor still in place. To eat, there is an ever-changing menu of sharing plates like Te Matuku oysters with mignonette; fried chicken with pickles; edamame congee and grilled lamb ‘tacos’. Viva’s dining-out editor Jesse Mulligan recently paid a visit and said “it becomes clear very quickly that this is not a bar kitchen, but a fully operational, highly aspirational team of proper chefs. The menu is a long list of goodies but I strongly recommend you choose the ‘feed me’ option and leave things in the hands of the chefs.”
Address: 366 Karangahape Rd, central city.
We were all sad to see Peach Pit close its doors, a Karangahape stalwart serving great food and drinks for nearly a decade. But new restaurant Tempero is a worthy replacement. This Latin eatery from chef Fabio Bernardini and his partner Tiffany Low has transformed the bar into a dining room with crisp blue-and-white walls and intimate tables down both sides of the long space. Fabio has cooked all over the world, working as executive sous chef at Pujol in Mexico City, Saison in San Francisco and D.O.M in Brazil. At Tempero, he’s channelling his passion for South American food on the menu with dishes like octopus, pipian and pico de gallo; Brazilian baked beans with pork crackling and tamal of potatoes with green salsa and bean salsa. Our dining out editor noted Tempero is very vegetarian and vegan friendly, highlighting a dish called arcaraje, “a ball of pureed black-eyed beans, deep-fried then split in half and filled with vegetarian delights: a paste of okra, onion and toasted cashews, a crispy palm heart vinaigrette”. Tempero is open Tuesday to Saturday.
Address: 352 Karangahape Rd, Auckland CBD.
Ponsonby brunch stalwart Orphans Kitchen, opened by friends Tom Hishon and Josh Helm in 2013 (who went on to launch Daily Bread), is back open for dinner and we’re happy to hear it. The aim remains the same: to highlight local flavours and reflect New Zealand’s unique food identity. Rather than billing itself as a restaurant, Orphans is calling itself a wine bar, with an extensive drinks list of wines on tap, available by the carafe, and local and international drops. To eat, there are shared plates like smoked kahawai and ‘nduja with kawakawa mayo; parmesan truffle fries and bowls of warm olives. Viva’s dining out editor says Orphans’ night-time menu has one of Auckland’s dishes of the year: the southern bluefin tuna with whipped egg and boquerones (white anchovy), which he describes as “six blushing pink sheets of the finest cut of bluefin, marinated in olive oil” that you roll up and dip into a pickled egg mayo. Orphans’ evening sessions run from Wednesday to Sunday, from 4pm until late.
Address: 118 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby.
Bar Beluga is a new cocktail bar in the Rose Alley development on Rose Rd, a co-op food, drink and office space a stone’s throw from Ponsonby Rd, where the Vodka Room once was. Bar Beluga is operated by Paddy Dillon, who has worked in Auckland’s bar scene for 13 years across Savor Group and Britomart Hospitality. Paddy, a passionate mixologist, serves seasonal twists on classics such as the tamarillo cocktail with tequila, mezcal, tamarillo and orange blossom (this one is Viva approved); and playful options such as School Camp, a spiced rum cocktail topped with Raro foam. There’s also a thoughtful curation of beer (like Sawmill on tap) and natural wines, and simple snacks such as tater tots with Calabrian chilli aioli; baby carrots with ricotta, hot honey and pistachio; and toasties served with crisps and mustard.
At Rose Alley you’ll also find woodfired pizza from Pizza Monkey — try the miso mushroom with charred onions and miso cream; or the buffalo chicken, topped with ranch, spring onions and jalapenos — and Ponsonby’s first bubble tea shop, Twentea, where the team use freshly brewed tea and Malaysian ingredients for an elevated version of the popular drink, such as jasmine tea and orange, or durian latte. More tenancies are coming soon, with a coffee spot planned for the front entrance to the arcade — stay tuned.
Address: 5 Rose Rd, Ponsonby.
Duclie is a new cafe that’s taken shape in an historic building on Devonport’s King Edward Parade, offering sea views and a brunch and lunch menu heroing local produce. Opened by Scott Kennedy, who has returned to Auckland after a long stint in Melbourne, Dulcie is open every day until 3pm and serves breakfast classics like scones, porridge and pancakes but elevated with seasonal ingredients — its winter porridge is steel-cut oats with rhubarb, apple sheep’s milk, coconut crumble and candied thyme, for example — and a bistro-style lunch menu spanning clam linguine, braised lamb shoulder and fish and chips. The fit-out is impressive, with the high ceilinged space punctuated by polished wood floors, rimu-topped tables and frosted glass windows. Dulcie’s drinks list favours local wine and beer, and coffee is from Atomic Coffee Roasters.
Address: 33 King Edward Parade, Devonport.
Wine bar and cellar door Somm, located on Princes Wharf in Auckland’s central city, has been designed as a showcase for a stable of well-known New Zealand wineries under the Foley wines portfolio, including Church Road, Martinborough Vineyard, Te Kairanga, Vavasour and Mt Difficulty. Somm acts as an “urban cellar door” with wines by the glass, bottle and tasting flight. There are also “guest wineries” on the drinks menu from Waiheke and Canterbury, local beers on tap, cocktails and Champagne.
The food menu has been designed by Soul Bar & Bistro’s executive chef Gavin Doyle to complement the wine. “Just like the winemakers are showcasing their craft from all different regions of the country, we wanted to represent that on the food menu as well,” says Gavin. “There’s olive oil from Martinborough, the sheep’s milk cheese is from Masterton, and Carol from Hawke’s Bay makes the quince paste by sourcing crab apples straight from the orchard.” Don’t miss the fried chicken. The fit-out is noteworthy too, designed by Nott Architects, who have married exposed concrete with warm walnut and oak timber. There are tables in the courtyard outside that look out over the water of Princes Wharf, providing a sunny spot for an afternoon wine, but it’s also a sleek space when the sun goes down.
Address: Shed 22, Princes Wharf.
Daily Bread, Britomart
Daily Bread’s newest and largest outpost is a 300-square-metre space in a heritage-listed building between Galway and Customs St, opposite Britomart train station. The new bakery fits 116 indoors with extra seating outside in Galway St. It’s been a long time coming, says Daily Bread’s Jess Wilson, and a “true labour of love” and the team “couldn’t be more proud”. This is now the flagship for Daily Bread, which has seen its outposts across Auckland flourish since it launched in 2018 in Point Chev. The interiors have been renovated by Peddlethorp Architects, with exposed brick, wooden floors, high ceilings and plenty of natural light. The concrete-coloured tabletops, banquettes and chairs that fill the space have been custom-designed by Sgurr. A huge counter displays Daily Bread’s freshly made pastries and bread, but there is also an a la carte menu for dining in — items like scrambled eggs on toast, toasted bagels, thick-cut fries and salads, and a selection of wine, beer and cocktails (yes, this Daily Bread is licensed!). Open every day from 7am until 3pm.
Address: 13 Galway St, Britomart.
Viva Top 50 Auckland Restaurant Cassia’s relocated from its Fort Lane location to Federal St earlier this year after two flooding events made it untenable to keep operating there. Owners Sid and Chand Sahrawat have retained their original team at the new location, which is in the SkyCity precinct where The Grill once was. Chand says: “It was an incredibly tough decision to close Fort Lane, but we felt we had no choice. When we saw the new site at SkyCity we knew straight away it had the bones to recreate the Cassia vibe and was perfect for our charcoal-powered tandoors, which are essential to producing authentic flavours.” The Viva team took the new restaurant for a spin and can confirm the menu is as great as ever, including the Goan lamb chops and roasted carrots with vindaloo and cashews. The interior has some hallmarks of the Fort St space, including those hanging globe-shaped lights and hints of teal.
Address: 90 Federal St, central city.
Italian-style restaurant Semola has opened in Ōrewa on Auckland’s North Shore. The fit-out looks impressive, with plush green booths, gold-accented details and a floor-to-ceiling tiled bar area. Semola is a new restaurant from the team that brought us Tok Tok, Le Viet and Xooong in Mt Eden. The menu is an Italian affair this time, with homemade pasta and risotto, wood-fired meat and seafood and shared plates like long-line fish crudo, burrata and fried squid.
Address: 350 Hibiscus Coast Highway, Ōrewa.
Burger Burger, Torbay
Burger Burger has two new locations, one in Auckland’s Torbay, and the other in Hamilton’s MADE development, set to open early November. That means eight locations for Burger Burger, which began as a 40-seat restaurant in Ponsonby Central in 2014. Restaurateur and owner Mimi Gilmour Buckley created Burger Burger with a mission of serving great burgers made with premium local ingredients, which was a rarity 10 years ago, and served alongside a drinks menu of craft beer, cocktails and even Champagne if that’s your thing.
The Torbay location in Waiake Beach Reserve is a 100-square-metre space that can seat 120 diners. The interior continues Burger Buger’s signature retro feel with vintage-inspired posters, neon lights, booths and custom artwork by Hayley Brown. Best of all, your burgers are served up with a sea view.
As well as Burger Burger, Tuckshop by Burger Burger has also opened at the Torbay location, selling Supreme Coffee, Wild Wheat pastries, Bowl & Arrow smoothies, Two Islands sodas, Fix & Fogg toasts, and more.
Address: 934 Beach Rd, Waiake.
Everybody Eats, Glen Innes
Everybody Eats has opened a new restaurant in Glen Innes following its other permanent locations in Onehunga and Wellington. Everybody Eats is a community-minded restaurant with the aim of reducing food waste, food poverty, and social isolation. It offers diners a three-course meal, created by skilled chefs, with a pay-as-you-feel model. Its new space, Tātou, is a unique shared space owned by Tāmaki Regeneration that also houses Soulfood & Friends and Line Road Cafe.
General manager Amy Tew says, “At Everybody Eats, we believe that everyone deserves to spend an evening with others, eating delicious chef-prepared food served by friendly faces. We also know that the cost of this can be prohibitive for many people. However, our unique charitable model brings this wonderful experience of sharing quality kai together into everyone’s reach. By transforming perfectly good surplus food into restaurant quality meals, Everybody Eats is able to offer a different three-course set menu every night, served with aroha at a cost that you, the diner, can decide.” Everybody Eats at Tātou is open Sunday to Thursday, 6pm to 8pm.
Address: 133 Line Rd, Glen Innes.
Taking shape in the ex-Pasture site in Parnell is Tala, a contemporary Samoan restaurant from chef Henry Onesemo and his wife Debby. The pair have bold plans for the restaurant, which is due to open in late October, enlisting the help of design studio Seear-Budd Ross to undertake an impressive reimagining of the space into a moody, cave-like dining room, where the Tala team will transport you with their tasting menus inspired by the food of Henry’s childhood in Samoa, cooked over an open fire and delivered with panache to your table. There are also plans to convert a covered verandah into a separate bar area called Inu (meaning drink in Samoan), serving cocktails and small plates from the Tala kitchen. “We want it to be a unique experience for guests from start to finish. I want people to be able to shut the world off for a few hours and to let us take care of you,” says Debby. Read Viva’s exclusive story about this bold new opening here.
Address: 235 Parnell Rd, Parnell.
A new restaurant is in the works from Josh and Helen Emett in Auckland’s O’Connell St this October. The owners of Onslow and The Oyster Inn say Gilt Brasserie will offer a “relaxed continental European dining experience” inspired by their favourite restaurants in Europe and New York. If the word “gilt” makes you think of gold then you’re not far off the vibe of Gilt Brasserie, which Josh and Helen say is a play on “gilt edge sophistication” and guilty pleasures like long lunches and decadent overindulging. The pair have rounded up a strong design team for the project — local designer Rufus Knight and Australia-based Studio Round — who are hard at work transforming the Chancery Chambers space (in the Auckland District Law Society building, which means lawyers ahoy) ahead of the restaurant’s opening later next month. Follow @Giltbrasserie for updates.
Address: Cnr of Chancery St and O’Connell St, central city.
Acclaimed chef Michael Meredith is set to open his new Pacific Island-style restaurant Metita in the SkyCity precinct in October. Named after Michael’s mother, Metita will pull influences from Michael’s upbringing in Samoa, as well as being an ode to his mother’s cooking. “Metita will be a representation of what Pacifica food can be,” says Michael. “I grew up in Samoa, in my mother’s pancake stall at the market — I want to use those memories, those staples, but elevate them by using modern techniques, and adding in that hint of spice or acid that will add layers and bring these Pacifica dishes to a new level,” he says of the menu, which is still taking shape.
The restaurant will occupy the space once held by Gusto at the Grand, with interior design studio CTRL Space working on the fit-out. The interiors will nod to Pacific design and craft, with a range of design features that “tell stories of Pacific culture”. The concept drawings are a real departure from Gusto, depicting a contemporary and textural dining room rendered in a palette of deep blues, greys, cool neutrals and soft whites in homage to the ocean and sky. Woven materials are set to be incorporated in wall coverings and banquette seating, with timber tables, stone surfaces and layers of texture in soft furnishings. The centrepiece will be a cluster of woven objects hanging from the ceiling inspired by traditional Pacific fishing baskets.
“Metita will be quite dynamic, exciting, new, I hope people walk away having had a memorable experience,” says Michael. “I always wanted to name a restaurant after my mum, heroing her, and the influence she had on my life, so it’s great to be partnering with SkyCity to bring that to life.”
Address: 90 Federal St, central city.
Butter Baby, the much-loved West Auckland-based doughnut business, is set to open its first store for takeaways on September 30. The flavours in Butter Baby’s lush cabinets are largely inspired by childhood snacks and regional specialties. They’re popular within the local food scene — their pandan and sago variety was listed among Auckland’s top 100 iconic eats last year. Founder and baker Matilda Lee says the West Auckland opening is an exciting moment for the growing bakery. “I am excited to be a part of its exciting food scene and to provide a culinary experience that introduces nostalgic new flavours with a contemporary twist.” The small kitchen will be serving up their usual treats, along with takeaway coffees from Wellington-based brewers Flight Coffee and adorable tote bags donned with the flagship storefront. Matilda has also promised some spooky doughnuts for the upcoming Halloween season, dressed with tiny eyes, ghosts, bones and melded with a gothic-coloured dough. For more great Auckland doughnuts and comprehensive tasting notes of Butter Baby’s doughnuts, read our guide to the city’s best doughnuts.
Address: Unit 70, 11 Northside Drive in Westgate, West Auckland.