Where To Find The Best Inner-City Work Lunches In Auckland

By Johanna Thornton
East restaurant’s lotus root xiao long bao. Photo / @Easteatsnz

This round-up is not for those who have hours to spend on a leisurely weekday lunch with clients or friends — these suggestions are for time-strapped 9-5ers looking for a reliable lunch on a busy workday. It might be a quick takeaway sandwich, a salad you can order ahead, or


You may not have the time to sit down to a long lunch but you can still get a taste of Amano’s Italian-inspired fare at its bakery counter, which is stacked with pastries, pizzas, slices and freshly made loaves to takeaway. Jostling for attention among the meatball and prosciutto sandwiches is a sexy little spirit lifter, a spicy fried chicken sandwich made with housemade sourdough buns, pickled red onion and a little greenery to lull you into thinking this was a well-rounded lunch choice. What’s Italian about that? Beauty in simplicity.

Address: 66-68 Tyler St, Britomart Place.


A hop and a lunge from Les Mills on Victoria St West, this salad bar is mecca for the lycra-clad gym crowd, which caters to their #fitspo needs with made-to-order salads like the aptly named Post Workout salad, featuring a holy combination of greens — romaine, rocket, kale, baby spinach — with free range chicken and green goddess dressing, all locally sourced. Office attire is welcome here too though and CBD dwellers will find that the salads, while on the pricier side, make for a delicious and substantial (for a salad) work lunch, best enjoyed under a tree in nearby Victoria Park in summer. Toss also makes warm bowls (essentially a salad with warm elements) and wraps, like the beef brisket with black beans, feta, cabbage and jalapeno lime dressing. While you’re here, do not miss the chocolate chip cookies which are made with tahini for a dense, slightly chewy biscuit that’s one of the best in the CBD. Toss is a favourite with the Viva office because you can skip the queues by ordering online for pick up or delivery at a time that suits you.

Address: 1/143 Wellesley St West, central city.

Website: Toss.co.nz

East, located on the ground floor of the Sudima hotel, offers vegan-vegetarian fare. Photo / Babiche Martens
East, located on the ground floor of the Sudima hotel, offers vegan-vegetarian fare. Photo / Babiche Martens


Vegan-vegetarian and Viva Top 50 Auckland Restaurant East specialises in modern Asian flavours with delicious dishes running the gamut from Thai to Chinese and Korean. The menu is plant-based, with 75 per cent of its dishes vegan, ranging from light bites to small plates, rice noodles and salads. Viva loves the larb in cos lettuce wraps with Thai basil and prik nam pla, and the pad Thai with tofu, egg, mung beans, peanuts and chilli. Ideally, you have some time to dine in here, as the ground floor restaurant of the Sudima Hotel is a lovely space to spend a lunchtime, but if not East also offers takeaways — so you could call ahead for a Penang curry or some spicy eggplant.

Address: 63-67 Nelson St, central city.

Dumplings & Bao

Find Dumplings & Bao on the corner of Vicki Lane and Victoria St West, just up the road from Les Mills, where the friendliest team serve incredible dumplings, bao, noodle soups and roti while R ‘n’ B blasts from the speakers. Everything here is good, but some Viva favourites include the filled roti and the noodle soups and the laksa. The roti is freshly made and deliciously crispy and filled with either a fragrant chicken curry, pulled pork, fried tofu or beef brisket, plus lettuce, cucumber, and pickled carrot. Whichever you choose, be sure to top it with their housemade green chilli sauce. The noodle soup is a deep and flavourful broth with rice or egg noodles to which you can add chicken curry, pulled pork or tofu, and comes with 2-3 dumplings of your choice floating in the soup and crispy prawn crackers and herbs for the top.

Address: 151 Victoria Street West, city.

Hello Mister

Hello Mister used to be the kind of place you’d field well-meaning questions about how your day has been every time you ordered, and now that its touch screen system has been installed, we kind of miss the banter. Hello Mister is still the place to go for a regular serving of Vietnamese-style street food though. Its short menu champions pho, bun cha noodle salads and banh mi, all of which are packed with fresh vegetables and herbs and come with condiments of your choice — soy, sriracha and fresh chilli. The lines here can be long, but the numbered ordering system is fast and efficient. Order-in to avoid the excess serveware that comes with takeaway orders.

Address: Various locations.

The soba noodle salad from &Sushi. Photo / Supplied
The soba noodle salad from &Sushi. Photo / Supplied


The sushi at the City Work’s Depot outlet of &Sushi is streets ahead of other sushi. Each piece is a work of art and there’s an extensive selection to choose from, as long as you arrive in time (it can get dire after 1.30pm). If you’re not feeling like sushi, there are some excellent made-to-order options. If you’re after something virtuous, the fresh tofu soba salad is a masterwork. This noodle bowl features soba, fresh tofu, mixed green salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado and a vinaigrette with soy, rice vinegar and mirin. The edible flowers sitting on top add the final flourish. As well as looking beautiful, this is a light, fresh and healthy lunch that will ensure optimal output when you’re back at your desk. If you’re veering towards something comforting, the fried yakisoba noodles are unmissable.

Address: City Works Depot, 90 Wellesley St West.

Swansons Sandwich Bar

Whether it’s a quick bite and a coffee or catering for a business lunch, sometimes you can’t beat a simple sandwich done right. Swansons is an inner-city mainstay and serves up an array of delicious sandwich fillings including two of the Viva team’s favourites, the Grey Lynn sandwich — made with eggplant, feta, capsicum, baby spinach and aioli; and a classic roast beef sandwich made with horseradish, mushrooms, caramelised onion, baby spinach and aioli. It was the go-to spot when the NZ Herald building was previously located on Albert St, and continues to be a firm favourite today. You can also find other classic lunch bar items done right like a ham and egg sammy and sausage rolls.

Address: 12 Swanson St, Cnr Mills Lane & Swanson St, central city.

A selection of tacos from Mexican restaurant Tacoteca in City Works Depot. Photo / Babiche Martens
A selection of tacos from Mexican restaurant Tacoteca in City Works Depot. Photo / Babiche Martens


Not far from &Sushi is Tacoteca (where The Food Truck Garage used to be), a “taqueria, cantina and tortilleria” serving tacos that Viva’s dining out editor Jesse Mulligan describes as “a work of art”, and at $9 a pop, make an affordable workday lunch option. From the team behind Le Fuente, Tacoteca takes the details seriously, with an in-house tortilla machine churning out masa (corn flour) tortillas and toppings lovingly applied by chef Jean Brito and team. Try the cabbage taco with pickled radish and salsa macha, or the fish taco with avocado and coriander mayo. Tacoteca has an excellent margarita menu but as this is a serious-work-lunch round-up, you’ll have to visit on your day off to experience one of these.

Address: City Works Depot, 1/90 Wellesley St West.

Hobson Indian

A favourite of city workers of all vocations, this takeaway-focused spot serves up delicious and very reasonably priced curries, as well as a swathe of tasty street food and rather good lassis. Our recommendation however, and one with a fan following, is the incredible samosa chaat (a steal at $9 for a double serve), which is crispy samosa laden with tamarind and other tasty accoutrements.

Address: 4/11 Beach Rd, central city.


Popular for their hand-pulled noodles, Xian has multiple locations across Auckland, including one in the city centre on Anzac Ave. While the noodles are delicious (try the hand-pulled noodles with cumin lamb), if you don’t have time to tackle a bowl of slippery noodles, or if you’re on the run, pick up one of the Chinese burgers, which feature braised pork or lamb inside a fluffy white bun.

Address: 11 Anzac Ave, central city.

Paname Social is a gorgeous all-day restaurant in the style of a Parisian bistro. Photo / Supplied
Paname Social is a gorgeous all-day restaurant in the style of a Parisian bistro. Photo / Supplied

Paname Social

Paname Social is an all-day eatery on Lorne St in the style of a Parisian bistro, from the team that brought us Atelier, Wander and Ambler. Paname Social brings a bit of Parisian flair and European style to the central city, with a menu of French favourites, available all day. “Our aim is to showcase French hospitality, and bring a real French bistro to Aucklanders, whether it’s for a croissant and coffee on the sidewalk tables or a quick business lunch with colleagues,” owner Matthieu Gosset told Viva when it first opened earlier this year. An express lunch might take the form of Oeufs cocotte with champagne ham, crème fraîche, gruyère and soldiers, or a roast beetroot salad with grilled French goat cheese on toast, candied walnut and balsamic dressing.

Address: 3 Lorne St, Auckland City.

The Store

The service might seem brusque, but the military-style system at The Store’s takeaway outlet (the cafe is on the other side) is heaven for a harried downtown worker looking for a quick lunch. Don’t be put off by the queue at this popular Britomart eatery, because it moves fast. Take the opportunity to choose what you want from the cabinet selection of salads, soups, sandwiches and baked goods while you wait. Order, then pay while it’s quickly bagged up. We recommend the falafel wrap, which combines crispy yet soft-in-the-centre falafel with red cabbage and tzatziki inside a pillowy Lebanese-style wrap. Disclaimer: the cabinet selection changes from week to week.

Address: 5B Gore St, City.

One of many Daily Bread sandwiches. Photo / @Dailybreadnz
One of many Daily Bread sandwiches. Photo / @Dailybreadnz

Daily Bread

Daily Bread has a kiosk in Federal Square with a good edit of the bakery’s best sandwiches and pastries. You can pick up a ham and cheese baguette or wait a few minutes for a freshly toasted toastie, or opt for one of Daily Bread’s range of pies or sweet treats and eat it on the walk back to the office. There are also loaves of bread (a certain Viva staffer is known to pick up a daily baguette), and coffee by Supreme to take away. This option gets extra points because Federal Square is a lovely place to enjoy a quick lunch on a sunny day.

Address: 33 Federal St, CBD.

Le Petite Fourchette

A sunny little spot in Britomart (there’s another location in Daldy St in Wynard Quarter), this cafe does some French fare for those in a hurry — including an excellent ham and cheese baguette and perfect croissants. If you have time to dine in, there’s a menu of breakfasty mains like omelettes, brioche French toast and l’avocat — smashed avocado on five-grain bread with a poached egg. We advise buying a canele for a sweet treat to round out your lunch.

Address: 9 Britomart Place, Britomart.


Recently opened on Shortland St in a characterful kiosk-style spot with sheltered seating, the bánh mì at Vie are excellent, with crusty bread, plentiful greens and a generous spread of the all-important pate element. The menu also features pho, curry and salad. Vie has top-notch Vietnamese coffee too, which makes a suitable weekday pick-me-up.

Address: 28 Shortland St, central city.

Federal Delicatessen, on Federal St, is nothing if not consistent. Photo / David Rowland
Federal Delicatessen, on Federal St, is nothing if not consistent. Photo / David Rowland

The Fed

Perch on one of the swiveling stools lining the open kitchen at Federal Delicatessen for a midweek lunch with a difference. There’s usually a free spot here on the busiest of days, and in winter it’s the place to be, with the chicken’s rotisserie behind the counter providing a warm glow. For a work lunch, order a Kahawai Hoagie and a cup of bottomless Supreme coffee for an epicurean’s solution to the Monday blues. Encased in a soft white hotdog-style bun is a fillet of lightly battered kahawai, with creamy slaw and a liberal dousing of Beaver’s Coney Island tangy mustard. The Fed is nothing if not consistent, which means other work lunch classics are always on the menu to soothe the soul. Try the chicken salad sandwich (toasted) or the reuben for a transportive experience, which Viva waxed lyrical about in this sandwich story.

Address: 86 Federal St, City.

Website: Thefed.co.nz

Pita Pit

Hear us out on this one. Sometimes you need to ease into the working week with the familiarity of a make-it-your-own Pita Pit pita or salad bowl. Despite the garish branding, PP is on the pulse with some of its menu offerings, like vegan kūmara lentil rostis, for example; or panko quinoa chicken with tomato kasundi, toasted seeds and a lemony Dijon dressing — gourmet, no? We’re partial to the Chicken Fala bowl or wrap (admittedly a terrible name), which combines chicken and falafel with locally sourced fresh salad of your choice and about 100 tried-and-true sauce options. If you’re feeling dusty, some Pita Pits offer their Egg’d breakfast menu, which is a range of fluffy brioche buns sandwiching breakfast-friendly fillings like eggs, bacon and halloumi, and The Classic, with its fluffy scrambled egg, free farmed bacon, cheese, chilli jam and aioli is actually bloody good.

Address: Various locations.

Website: Pitapit.co.nz

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