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T+L's Definitive Guide to Auckland

201311-a-auckland

Photo: Kieran Scott

Eat

Haute cuisine? Kiwi comfort food? Traditional French dishes? Here, six of Auckland’s top tables.

Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar: Don’t let the offbeat location in the shadow of the SkyCity Casino deter you—Al Brown’s temple to dude food is the buzziest spot in town. If there’s a wait for a table, the friendly servers will set you up outside with a quartino of Sauvignon Blanc; inside, it’s all about the seasonal small plates: lamb with mini Yorkshire puddings, carnitas tacos, and snapper sliders with a killer lemon mayo. $$$

Ebisu: The dimly lit converted warehouse in up-and-coming Britomart turns out contemporary Japanese dishes—the seared duck breast and soft-shell crab with wasabi tartare and orange ponzu are standouts—accompanied by a formidable cocktail list. Try the Sakura daiquiri. $$$

Engine Room Eatery: Owners Natalia Schamroth and Carl Koppenhagen opened their bistro seven years ago. But mouthwatering dishes such as the signature twice-baked goat-cheese soufflé and Thai pork salad with green mango—along with unusually personal service (Schamroth herself works the floor most days)—have kept it perennially packed. $$$

Everybody’s Izakaya: Concrete and raw brick, filament lights and exposed pipes set the backdrop at Everybody’s Izakaya. The food ranges from Asian-inflected raw-bar offerings to maverick takes on sharing plates like mirin-braised ribs with curry and tiger prawns with pork belly, bok choy, and yuzu miso. $$

French Café: Locals swear by this award-winning temple to gastronomy for the city’s most elegant dining experience. You’ll find contemporary French cuisine with innovative twists on classic roasts (the quail with bacon, chestnuts, and croissant sauce is unbeatable). The addition last summer of the 30-seat chef’s table, the French Kitchen, only adds to the allure. $$$$

SPQR: Is the food at SPQR among the best in Auckland? We’re not sure it matters. Ponsonby’s unofficial social epicenter is all about air-kissing, flowing Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris, and a hilarious, campy waitstaff. For the best people-watching, snag a table on the terrace and order the cockle linguine or thin-crust pizza with smoked salmon and watercress. $$$

Restaurant Pricing Key
$ Less than $25
$$ $25 to $75
$$$ $75 to $150
$$$$ More than $150

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