New Zealand cuisine is often difficult to define. A melting pot of flavours and cultures, there are thousands of places to eat in Auckland. While most focus on traditional dining or a specific ethnicity, my favourites tend to be the more unique restaurants in Auckland.
While the typical kiwi dinner is a meat and two vegetables, dining out is more adventurous. Here, you will find the quirkiest, coolest, and best restaurants in Auckland, updated for 2021.
Now that we are focusing our travel locally, we have plenty of opportunities to discover the best new restaurants in Auckland 2021.
To simplify your selection, we have included addresses and phone numbers and identified which also feature gluten-free dining.
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Can we start by tempting you with a video of our favourite meals:
Unique restaurants in Auckland: CBD (central business district)
86 Federal Street, Auckland CBD
*Federal Delicatessen does not take bookings
New Zealand’s version of an old-school New York City Jewish deli, with a Canadian Deli twist (as evident by the poutine on the menu). It’s a great choice for lunch or dinner with classic meals, sandwiches, soups, milkshakes, and desserts.
The portions are large, the food outstanding, and it’s the only place in Auckland CBD that we know of with coffee refills. If you visit for Sunday brunch and can tear yourself away from a traditional deli favourite, my recommendation is the halloumi salad.
If you have dietary restrictions, notify the hostess when you are seated and they will give you a special menu that identifies which items are coeliac safe, and which are gluten-free but may contain traces.
90 Federal Street, Auckland CBD
An elegant Japanese restaurant in Auckland with meals made for sharing. There are a few sushi items on the menu and even a sushi bar that you can sit at, but my recommendation is to try a little bit of everything. With meals made for sharing, this is easy. One of the most unique things at Masu is the ability for customers to create their own shoju.
Masu caters to a coeliac diet and even has a separate gluten-free menu. Although the food is shared, we found that the wait staff clearly identifies which plates contained gluten.
9 Durham Street East, Auckland CBD
A new favourite for our family, Mezze bar is espresso, tapas, and wine in a casual setting. Mediterranean food served in shared plates, the authentic flavours take us overseas in our minds. Generous portions and so many wonderful options, it’s often difficult to choose. Separate gluten-free or vegetarian/vegan menus are available.
67 Victoria Street West, Auckland CBD
Home to what we believe is the best American style Mexican food in Auckland. This is the place to get your burrito or chimichanga fix. If you like Latin music and dancing, head here on a Friday night (beginning at 10.30 pm) when they convert to a salsa dance club.
Auckland harbour dinner cruise
Auckland Viaduct Harbour
If you ask me, there is nothing better than dinner and sailing on the Waitematā Harbour. The Explore group makes this possible with a 2.5-hour Auckland harbour dinner cruise. Welcome drinks, canapés, and your choice (in advance) of a main including gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian options. Remember to bring a jacket, flat shoes, and to dress for the weather conditions. Bookings are essential and often available at a discount with this link*.
*This is an affiliate partnership. We receive a small compensation when you make a purchase using this link; however, depending on the day chosen, it can save you up to 70%.
12 Gore Street, Auckland CBD
*Giapo does not take bookings
Possibly the world’s best handmade ice cream creations. Giapo is my favourite culinary destination in Auckland, and if you are looking for something sweet, Giapo is the answer for where to eat in Auckland.
To many people’s surprise, everything at Giapo is gluten-free, and there are also dairy-free and vegan options available. The staff is super attentive to allergies and can cater to just about anybody.
Sugar Club or Orbit
72 Victoria Street West, Sky Tower, Auckland CBD
Sugar Club: 09-363 6365
Orbit: 09-363 6000
Located on level 53, near the top of the Auckland Sky Tower, the Sugar Club offers an impressive, high-end dinner. One floor below, Orbit is New Zealand’s only rotating restaurant, allowing diners an opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of Auckland while they dine.
Both restaurants have gluten-free and vegan options available.
Mellow Coffee and Dessert
42B High Street, Auckland CBD
*Mellow does not take bookings
If you are dreaming of cheesecake, macaroons, or a giant flavoured shaved ice, then head to Mellow. You will be drawn in by the relaxed, mellow atmosphere, but the desserts and coffee are what will keep you coming back. As big as they look in the photo, you will want to arrive hungry to Mellow, but you won’t leave that way!
Caluzzi Bar and Cabaret
461 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD
While Caluzzi can cater to gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, or other dietary requirements, they request that you inform them when you make your booking.
Cool restaurants in Auckland: Britomart
27 Galway Street, Britomart
They call it street-inspired Vietnamese dishes. We just call it fantastic. One of our favourite places to eat in Auckland, the majority of Cafe Hanoi’s menu can be made coeliac safe. The menu is filled with gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and vegan options intermixed with a bit of everything Vietnamese.
A restaurant with dishes made for sharing, come prepared to enjoy a feast.
XuXu Dumpling Bar
Galway Street & Commerce Street, Britomart
Delicious plates of steamed dumplings, wine, or cocktails at a more intimate table setting are perfect to start or end your evening. Be warned, the atmosphere is lively, and the music is often loud, but not too loud to enjoy a conversation.
23 Britomart Place, Britomart
An atmospheric spicy treat with finger food made for sharing. If you are headed to any of the Ponsonby restaurants, Mexico is worth a visit just to see the artwork and decor.
Other Mexico locations:
Ponsonby: 64 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
Britomart: 23 Britomart Place, Auckland CBD
Ellerslie: Corner Ladies Mile &, Main Highway, Ellerslie
Sylvia Park: shop 67/286 Mount Wellington Highway, Mount Wellington
Silverdale: 61 Silverdale Street, Silverdale
Takapuna: 4 The Strand, Takapuna
Vegan and gluten-free options are identified on the menu.
Unique restaurants in Auckland neighbourhoods
El Sizzling Chorizo
136/138 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby Central, Ponsonby
An Argentinian barbecue with flavours so authentic a South American friend refers to it as “heaven”. Called Asado, the style of slow-cooked barbecue produces meat so tender and delicious, it is no surprise that El Sizzling Chorizo is often crowded.
Located inside Ponsonby Central, it sits alongside 14 restaurants in this small up-market mall. Undercover, it offers a variety of international options alongside a few specialty retail shops. Therefore, it’s a perfect destination for any weather, and one that does gluten-free well.
Blue Breeze Inn
146 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby Central, Ponsonby
Modern Pacific Thai food with surprisingly large portions made for sharing. The mix of delicate flavours and spices have resulted in Blue Breeze Inn moving up my list as one of my favourite Auckland restaurants. The menu identifies spicy, hot spicy, gluten-free, and longer prep time.
Located at a corner of Ponsonby Central, it has an exterior entrance.
434 Mount Eden Rd, Mount Eden
While this local Mount Eden eatery is super popular for breakfast and lunch, we tend to love it at dinner time. Personally, it’s the paleo chicken salad that keeps me coming back, but there are plenty of options ranging from small shared plates to beautifully prepared fish, meats, and pasta.
Just remember to save room for dessert, which includes some NZ classics and even a vegan cashew and vanilla “cheesecake.”
They are open for breakfast and lunch every day, and Tuesday to Saturday for dinner. There are gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan options available, and if you ask, they can make a meal coeliac safe.
Olaf’s Artisan Bakery Cafe
1 Stokes Road, Mount Eden
*Olaf’s does not take bookings
The winner of the Best Cafe in Mount Eden since it opened in 2011, there is no question that Olaf’s is great. Featuring artisan European bread made from scratch, they also have a full menu ranging from eggs to sandwiches, salads to pasta.
Their bread is not only available with meals but also in takeaway loaves, as well as being supplied to several other local restaurants.
Personally, I like their eclectic selection of salads, and on my last visit, I had a sampler with three different varieties, along with a glass of their homemade ice tea.
They offer a selection of vegetarian items along with a dedicated coeliac safe area of the kitchen for preparing many of their menu selections.
25 Nuffield Street, Newmarket
Taking me to the back-street tapas bars we enjoyed during our long term home exchange in Costa Brava, Tasca is a winner. Offering a mix of tapas for sharing or individual meals, the Spanish theme runs throughout.
I recommend saving room for dessert, as they have alfajores, a personal favourite since our visit to Argentina. Filled with dulce de leche, a caramel filling, they are fabulous. However, it’s just one of many scrumptios dessert options.
With separate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menus, they offer something for everyone.
Tasca now has three locations in Auckland, Newmarket plus:
Mount Eden: 338 Dominion Road
Orewa: 316 Hibiscus Coast Highway
12 Jellicoe Street, Wynyard Quarter
*Sal’s does not take bookings
If you are looking for an American style pizza, no one in New Zealand does it better than Sal’s. This is New York-style pizza outside of the US at its best. Even the large pizza size reminds us more of American pizza than what we typically find in New Zealand. They now have several locations throughout the city in CBD, K-Road, Mission Bay, Mount Eden, Mount Wellington, New Lynn, Parnell, Remuera, Royal Oak, and Wynyard Quarter. Plus several over the bridge in Birkenhead, Browns Bay, Silverdale, and Takapuna.
10-26 Jellicoe Street, North Wharf, Wynyard Quarter
Italian perfection. With meals made for sharing, you can enjoy traditional flavours as well as new ones. Be sure to try one of their meatball dishes (Baduzzi means meatball in Italian), and they can help you pair it with the right wine if that is your desire. And, save room for dessert; the non-traditional tiramisu (seen in the image) is a real treat.
There are lots of vegetarian options on the main menu, plus, there is a gluten-free menu that we have not yet tried.
3 Brown Road, Onetangi, Waiheke Island, Auckland
Another Spanish and Mediterranian inspired Auckland restaurant, Casita Miro is on beautiful Waiheke Island. The combination of shared tapas plates, flowing wine, and Spanish influence keeps the entire experience both tasty and fun.
With much of their base ingredients produced locally, you know it’s fresh. And, the menu identifies vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy free items, along with those that contain nuts.
Casita Miro is on the Miro vineyard. It’s one of several amazing options for a day of wine tasting on Waiheke. The incredible views and well-paired wine is part of the attention to every detail seen clearly in the Gaudi and Dali influenced mosaics alongside the steps to the tasting area.
How to get dining deals in Auckland
If it’s a deal you’re looking for, start here for discounts on heaps of cool Auckland restaurants. This page of dining deals will have something for everyone.
Gluten-free restaurants in Auckland
With one member of our family having coeliac disease, and myself who is strictly gluten and dairy-free, knowing where we can eat safely is essential. It seems that the majority of restaurants in Auckland can offer at least one gluten-free option, but there are plenty that also feature coeliac safe dining.
We identified several significantly gluten-free restaurants in Auckland above. These include:
- Blue Breeze Inn
- Cafe Hanoi
- Casita Miro
- El Sizzling Chorizo
- Federal Street Deli
- Mezze Bar
- Olaf’s Artisan Bakery Cafe
- Sugar Club or Orbit
Practical information for dining in Auckland
- In New Zealand, as in many other parts of the world, the meal is the evening’s activity. People linger, enjoying the time with friends and the food without feeling rushed.
- Auckland’s trendy restaurants will often reserve tables for those who have booked in advance and will turn away customers rather than start a waiting list even when there appear to be empty tables.
- It’s not uncommon to be given an opportunity to order drinks even before getting the food menu.
- An entrée is an appetizer; the main is your meal.
- When you are ready to leave the restaurant, you will need to ask for a bill. It will not be brought to the table otherwise.
- Tipping in restaurants, (or in hotels, spas, and taxicabs) is not customary in New Zealand. Waitstaff are paid a living wage. Some restaurants add a “tip” line on the bill. Locals ignore it.
- A “cafe” generally serves breakfast and lunch and closes by 4 pm in Auckland (2 pm in much of the rest of the country).
Don’t feel like going out – check out UberEats!
Click here if you don’t already have an account
Planning tips for Auckland
We often have affiliate partnerships with companies that we trust and recommend. We receive a small compensation if you make a purchase using these links. In some cases, the links can save you up to 70%.
First-time visitors start here: New Zealand travel guide or with our favourite New Zealand road trips.
Rental Vehicles: For cars, we always use RentalCars.com, a rental car search engine with no hidden costs. For campervans (and larger cars), note that Spaceships Rentals NZ offers free one-way drop-off between Auckland and Christchurch.
**Albom Adventures readers can check for discounts off Spaceships campervans.**
Accommodations: We typically stay in 4-star accommodations. We live in Auckland and recommend either Hotel DeBrett or Cordis (if you’re on a tight budget, check out the backpacker options on Tripadvisor)
Activity Discounts: We use Bookme.co.nz to find discounts on entry tickets and tours in New Zealand.
Travel Insurance: We purchase insurance that covers medical and travel emergencies when we head overseas. We start with Travel Insurance Master, an aggregator that gives us a free and easy-to-read comparison of the inclusions of each policy.
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**Find more money-saving resources on our Travel Resources page.
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Disclaimer: To write a proper review, we need to experience the event. Therefore, we frequently have complimentary entrances, meals, or sample items. However, the opinions expressed here are strictly our own.