It’s the loveliest living room in Auckland, occupying one end of historic St. Kevins Arcade and overlooking Myers Park and the office towers of Auckland’s central business district. The mall, built in 1924, feels like a Victorian conservatory: Light filters from the glasshouse roof to the checkered floor and its multitude of indoor plants. Linger over one of the cafe’s flat whites (our go-to coffee order) with a book, watch people from Auckland’s creative industries take meetings at the long table, and stop by one of the vintage stores on your way out.
BTW: The short-but-sweet menu features a posh take on pineapple lumps, an iconic but divisive New Zealand candy. (You’ll either love them or hate them.)
Bestie Cafe, St. Kevins Arcade, 183 Karangahape Rd., Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Little & Friday
The panic of indecision is liable to strike anyone who lines up in front of the cabinets here. The raspberry doughnut? The petite quiche? The pinwheel bun? The pear tart? The chocolate cake shaped like a miniature volcano? Every neighborhood in Auckland has its humble corner bakery, but Little & Friday founder Kim Evans has lifted hers to new heights. (It’s not so little anymore; there’s another location in Belmont.) It’s all equally delicious, so choose at random, get it to go, walk around the corner and picnic in one of the city’s best parks, the Domain.
BTW: The most Kiwi breakfast you can get here is a mince-and-cheese pie. The jam-and-custard doughnuts are legendary, but do not attempt one alone.
Little & Friday, 11 McColl St., Newmarket, Auckland 1023, New Zealand
At the heart of Britomart, the waterfront area of downtown Auckland, Italian restaurant Amano serves lunch with a view: businesspeople at the bar attempting to impress, well-dressed diners lunching at leisure in the window, staff in the open kitchen preparing the evening service from scratch, raviolo by raviolo. The best part, though, is Amano’s adjoining bakery, where you can pick up a pastry, piadina or pizza slice to go, plus loaves of house sourdough. Once a week, usually Fridays, the pastry cabinet includes Auckland’s best custard slice, a corner-bakery staple.
BTW: Grab a takeout lunch and head for Takutai Square, at the other end of Tyler Street: On sunny days there will be beanbags on the grass, street furniture on the pavement and kids playing in the fountain.
Amano, 66-68 Tyler St., Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Little Bird Kitchen
Plant-based cuisine was elevated in Auckland with the arrival of Little Bird, and Megan May’s mostly raw menu continues to lead the way almost a decade later. Little Bird’s flagship cafe is a go-to for those on restricted diets — gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan — without compromising on imagination or flavor. Lunch features the best menu of the day: Order the Vietnamese pancake (a take on banh xeo) or the kimchi burger. If you’re daunted by the extensive list of teas, ask for advice. A small shop area sells plant-based products, including Little Bird’s own granola, crackers and macaroons.
BTW: Leave room for dessert: There’s a cabinet packed with cakes, and the ginger slice is a raw vegan take on a Kiwi classic.
Little Bird Kitchen, Summer Street and Ponsonby Road, Auckland 1011, New Zealand
It’s difficult to define New Zealand cuisine, but chef Al Brown has made the best effort at doing so, roaming the country’s North and South islands for artisanal, unique-to-here ingredients and assigning them starring roles on the menu at Depot. That’s why you’ll see the provenance of many ingredients listed, like a culinary map of the country. Start with freshly shucked oysters and proceed to charcuterie, lamb ribs, potato skins, a side of kahawai and wine by the carafe, rather than the glass. If there’s crumble on the dessert menu, order it — it’s a touch of home-style cooking on an otherwise upscale menu.
BTW: Depot doesn’t take reservations, so if the wait is long, pop next door to the Federal Delicatessen (another Al Brown-helmed eatery) for a craft beer.
Depot, 86 Federal St., Auckland 1010, New Zealand
It started as a food truck in 2014, but Tiger Burger became so popular that two years later it put down roots in an eclectic cluster of shops in Grey Lynn, rubbing shoulders with the local bakery, doctor’s office and fish-and-chip shop. Tiger Burger’s points of pride are sourcing environmentally responsible products, such as its sustainably farmed Taupo beef, and introducing Korean flavors to American classics. The Kimcheese burger is a must-order; you might blink at the kimchi-and-aged-cheddar combo, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
BTW: If the restaurant is busy, get your burgers to go and walk a third of a mile down Williamson Avenue to Grey Lynn Park. There are picnic tables at the Williamson Avenue end.
Tiger Burger, 549 Great North Rd., Grey Lynn, Auckland 1021, New Zealand
Satya Chai Lounge
No. 271 looks like a derelict shopfront, the window full of stacked chairs and empty beer cans, but it’s a bluff: Surprisingly, the door opens into a narrow, dimly lit bar. Low wooden tables are surrounded by stools made from recycled timber and burlap sacks. The look is part amateur DIY, part shabby chic, and the craft beer list is cracking, with the small plates even better: Order the dahi puri and the “kurryaage chicken,” a fusion of Japanese and South Indian flavors.
BTW: Too hungry for small plates? Just around the corner, at 17 Great North Rd., is one of this bar’s parent restaurants, also called Satya.
271 Karangahape Rd., Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Giapo Ice Cream
There are queues outside Giapo in the middle of the afternoon, at dinnertime and late at night, and with good reason. Owner Gianpaolo Grazioli is a mad scientist of ice cream, and at his downtown cafe, you can get an ice cream creation shaped like a colossal squid, or like the Sky Tower, or one with a photo frame made of chocolate for selfies, or five little ice cream cones that you wear on your fingertips to eat. Or how about an ice cream sandwich made with paraoa parai (Maori fried bread)? Don’t be shy in sampling flavors — that’s partly why the line is so long.
BTW: The menu changes with the seasons but usually features the classic New Zealand flavor hokey pokey: vanilla with crunchy lumps of honeycomb toffee.
Giapo Ice Cream, 12 Gore St., Auckland 1010, New Zealand