Auckland’s is officially the worlds most liveable city 2021. There are many things that make Auckland great, but we think that the most irrefutable reason is the sheer number of different and exciting food spots to try, with over 1500 cafe’s and restaurants in Auckland alone, our team definitely had its work cut out to chew our way down to our top five. We’ve instead opted to pick our favourite eatery that corresponded best with five varied budget options, with costs from low to high, ranging from $ at approximately $15 per person to $$$$ at around $100 per person.
1. Mali Thai
When our team get the usual hankering for Thai food, we’re extremely thankful that we have Mali Thai just around the corner from The Attic Backpackers.
Found just off Elliot Street, about 2 minutes away from our downtown Hostel. Mali Thai may not look like anything special from the restaurant frontage. However what they lack in decor, they make up for in amazing, authentic Thai dishes and the wonderfully cheery service that you would expect to find throughout Thailand.
If you’re eating in, this open-air restaurant can get a little chilly during Winter, but have enough seating to comfortably accommodate 20 people. Their menu, found here, is extensive, and as with any Thai place, expect their chef to crank up the heat and throw down those fiery chilis! So if you’re a big chili-wuss (like me) then absolutely let their team know your preferences when placing an order.
Whether you’re in the mood for the classic Pad Thai, Tom Yum fried rice, Peek gai tod (deep fried marinated chicken wings) or Thai green curry, there are so many options to choose from! Once you’ve decided on the mains (and it may take you a while to decide!) then you absolutely have to throw on a side of spring rolls and a freshly baked roti – which is a large slice of buttery heaven.
Mali Thai is a BYO restaurant, with no alcohol served on site so don’t expect to wash down that delicious Thai Green curry with a Chang or a Singha (unless you’re bringing your own from the nearby countdown metro)
Price range: $
A meal for two here is probably going to cost around $40 all in, which always leaves us with leftovers for lunch the next day, So all-inall it’s great value for some of Aucklands best and most authentic Thai food.
2. Burger Burger
Launched here in Auckland back in 2014, owners Mimi and Adrien have just opened their sixth Burger Burger restaurant in the flashy new Commerical Bay food-court, found just a short 10 minute walk towards the Harbour from The Attic Backpackers.
Mosey on into any Burger Burger from Auckland to Christchurch and you’ll instantly get those Aloha vibes. Every restaurant features bright, colourful and beach-feel furnishings combined with a real laid back atmosphere. The team here do seem purposely hands-off, but only in a good way.
Burger Burger could be just another one of many great Auckland burger joints – and they do make some fantastic burgers, which I’ll cover shortly. But, the reason they make our list comes down to their fully fleshed out menu. Balancing out the burgers you’ll find Chargrilled Brocolli. Yep you read that right, broccoli, and it’s banging! ‘Bunnace’ burgers, which are essentially no-bun burgers. And, last but not least, their utterly delicious milkshakes. All made with Duck Island ice cream! and for you vegans out there, they have dairy free options! Burger Burger’s shakes deserve a visit just on their own).
Burger-wise, whatever your preference is, the BB team have you covered with 14 burger combinations to try including 4 Vegan options. We absolutely love their Kiwi classic, with locally sourced grass-fed beef patty, bacon, aged cheddar, pickles, cos lettuce, tomato, fried egg, beetroot, tomato jam, mustard, mayo. Sooooo good!
The Burger Burger team also do great drink specials with Wednesdays being ‘Wine Not’ $5 wines, beers and tequila shots! They also offer great value jugs, cocktails and spritzs any day of the week. So even if you’re not hungry for burgers, you’re in for good times.
Price range: $$
A meal for two at any of their Auckland restaurants, including a drink, is going to set you back about $70. Milkshakes are $12 – don’t miss out!
3. Federal Delicatessen
Ever wanted to walk in the shoes of a New Yorker and grab a hot meaty reuben from your neighbourhood favorite deli? Well, you can! Auckland has it’s own spin on ‘old-school NYC Jewish delicatessen’ in Federal Delicatessen (affectionately known as “The Fed”). These guys are found 4 minutes away from The Attic backpackers in the SkyCity complex, on the aptly named Federal Street.
The Fed’s menu is fabulous. Think big deli sandwiches, bagels, mustard, milk-fed schnitzel, salmon latkes and real Montreal Poutine. Oh and make sure you save space for dessert; pumpkin pie, NY cheesecake, banoffee pie, lemon meringue pie and choc cherry pie. All are utterly fantastic.
Also, our team love the décor! Art on the walls, ‘Federal’ bottomless mugs filled with filter coffee, the waitresses’ pastel outfits, the odd knick knacks when you look up, the red lined chef’s hats and one of the coolest bar back walls I have seen around Auckland. The place just oozes friendly downtown New York vibes but not in the contrived sense that you would expect.
Highly recommend you start by ordering a serving of ‘schticks’, which are croquettes filled with peas and pastrami. inside which you’ll find the most beautiful green colour inside! For mains, their house pastrami is tender, oh so flavourful and served with a side of McClures pickles. To round out your main, go big with a Montreal Poutine which are beef-fat fried fries – crunch heaven, generously covered in gravy and cheese curds. Finish this mammoth meal off with a ‘Three-way’ for a smorgsabord of Lemon Meringue, Banana & Toffee and Pecan pies served with creams, and caramels.
Plates empty and all we’re left asking is; how do they make their cream so perfectly wavy? And how do they get their banana looking so fresh? The Fed is is a must for travellers on all budgets, Fill up and then roll back to The Attic backpackers, just a stone’s throw away.
Price range: $$$
Two courses and a drink for two is approximately $100, which we think is great value. Alternatively head over to The Fed for lunch and grab a sandwich or bagel for around $15-$20 for a great bite-sized experience.
Here’s where our list starts getting a little bit bougie.
If your party is eager for some excellent quality food that is sourced sustainably, presented and plated in a beautiful manner and attentively served by high standard wait staff, then amble on down to Amano. Frequently ranked as Auckland’s best restaurant be sure to head in for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Housed in the historic Altrans and Quay heritage buildings near Britomart Station, Amano is an easy 10 minute walk from The Attic backpackers. Using the aged framework, exposed bricks and high ceilings of the original port building, Amano provides a beautiful, spacious dining experience in a rustic and mature setting. The kitchen is open which allows you to watch the Amanos chefs at different stations working their magic. The addition of bowls of fresh produce and fruit strategically placed around the restaurant is a great touch and only adds to reinforce the notion of high quality, sustainability and care going into every dish.
Food-wise, every dish from Amano is centered around rich flavours and warmth. Amano leans on it’s Italian origins in many of its offerings such as its famous handmade pastas and raviolis. Though be warned, no two experiences will be the same: Amano frequently updates their offering. The changing of seasons brings new ingredients for their chefs to experiment with. Only their best dishes are then permanently pressed into their menu.
On our last visit, our team had the pleasure to share a slow roasted Hawke’s Bay romney bone-in lamb shoulder. It came with yoghurt, chilli dressing & piadinas. It was simply divine, easily one of the best pieces of lamb that I personally had ever eaten. Tender, and perfectly paired with the small piadina wraps and daikon slices.
Price range: $$$$
A standard meal for two, including drinks will usually fall around the $150 mark. Though you could easily spend significantly more, given Amanos extensive wine list, amazing cocktails, fresh desserts and other small dishes to tempt the purse strings.
5. The Sugar Club
Easily the best placed restaurant in the city. Sitting as the crown jewel atop of Auckland’s internationally famous SkyTower, a dizzing 53 floors or nearly 200 metres up, The Sugar Club offers majestic views of the Hurakai gulf and entire Auckland area. If you thought the Skytower was just about the spectacular view, then you’re in for a treat from first bite to last sip.
Just a quick 4 minute walk from The Attic Backpackers and you’ll reach the Skytower’s entrance via the Skycity’s Grand Foyer. Take the rapid lift up to level 53 and step out into vintage movie set vibes with soft, warm tones and contemporary yet glamorous furnishings that evoke the 1930s Art Deco style that is so quintessentially New Zealand. Everything about The Sugar Club shouts class, sophistication and being at the tippety top. It makes the perfect date spot or venue to toast to whatever you’re celebrating in absolute style.
The Sugar Club is all about the multi-course experience and offers diners a choice of 2/3 course à la carte options or to indulge on a 5 course set tasting menu. Allow yourself approximately 2-3 hours for the full culinary adventure to enjoy exquisite food that is carefully and elegantly served. Each course will be explained by the friendly and attentive wait staff as it is brought out. This gives diners a real appreciation for what they’re eating as they explain the high quality, sustainable ingredients journeys, from farm to floor.
On top of The Sugar Clubs sublime food, slick service and vivacious views they also have a fantastic cocktail bar open until late. If you’re not in the mood for, or budget doesn’t allow a full dining experience, then take advantage of their cocktail happy hours between 5-7pm & 9-11pm they have a select range of premium drinks available at ground floor prices.
Price Range: $$$$$
Experiences start from $79 for a 2 course meal (main and dessert) and top out at $145 per person for a 5-course tasting menu. Drink pairings are priced additionally. All-in, you’re looking at a minimum spend of around $180 for two, including drinks.