A culinary crawl of Auckland Central: a foodie's guide

By , February 5, 2016

You’ve arrived in Auckland and found your perfect hotel. Now what? The foodie in you (or rather, your stomach) is hungry for the city’s varied cuisine, of course. About 40 per cent of Aucklanders were born overseas, making it a melting pot of cultures – and naturally, of food as well. Auckland Central may feel small, but its culinary scene is wide and the city is densely populated with cafes and restaurants. As a foodie, you want to make your nutrition allowance permit as many wonderful culinary experiences as possible.

We could go on forever, but first, let us get you acquainted with one of our favourite gastronomical cities of the world: Auckland.


Located in Britomart, Ortolana, meaning ‘market gardener’, serves light and fresh European-style food in classic, low-key surroundings: think organic linens, natural stone flooring, exposed brick walls and polished copper pots. The pavilion-style venue is great for enjoying the restaurant’s locally-sourced cuisine and eco-conscious diners will be proud to know that ingredients such as citrus, pecans and figs are sourced from nearby Kumeu.

Ortolana - dish

Feeling sluggish? Don’t pass up an opportunity to try the Market fish, garden harvest ($28) – filling but refreshing, the zesty flavours and well-cooked fish are perfect for jetlagged travellers.


Depot kitchen

[caption id="attachment_3266" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Depot Photos by Kieran Scott[/caption]

Depot is fast, fun and fresh – full of flavour, but without the posh-ness which you might expect from fine-dining. Al Brown’s restaurant stays true to its philosophy, serving only good food, which is in season (often featuring lesser known cuts and ingredients), beautifully cooked and aimed to be enjoyed with friends. Drop in for a quick brekkie and an amazing double-shot flat white, or order a round of small platters to share among friends for dinner. There may be a bit of a wait-time but don’t worry, as tables frequently turn over!

Top tip: the oysters at Depot are some of the freshest you’ll ever have, so don’t skip them!

Best Ugly

Best Ugly - bagels in oven

Hipster at its best, Best Ugly does bagels like you’ve never had them before. The Montreal-style bagels are punched, rolled, boiled and fired in an open kitchen by staff who aren’t afraid to be rough with their creations. And after all that manhandling, you wouldn’t expect them to be pretty either – hence the name, Best Ugly. They’re not perfect circles but they’re pretty damn tasty.

[caption id="attachment_3268" align="aligncenter" width="551"]Best Ugly (c) Dacia Thai Photo by author[/caption]

We love the rustic veggie options – the T.A.B: Tomato, avo, basil & lemon fennel olive oil ($9) is great with a drop of Fire Dragon Chili Sauce.

Ponsonby Central

Where do we even start with Ponsonby Central? It’s a foodie’s dream converged into one place: there are local markets and retail stalls as well as a bevy of restaurants and cafes to try.

From retro-style drinks to lamb and beetroot burgers and generous handmade pies and cakes, you won’t leave hungry – just don’t forget to bring home some fresh produce afterwards with a stop at Ceres Fresh Market.

Canton Café

Canton Café is legit – when it comes to authentic Cantonese fare, expect humble restaurant décor but flavoursome food. All you need is a group of friends to share the dishes with! The classic Cantonese Peking Duck ($27) leaves little to be desired, but don’t stop there – go all out with fried egg-noodles ($22), taro with braised pork ($26) and the universal crowd-pleaser, salt and pepper squid ($27).

Canton Café isn’t a place for airs and graces but we promise it’s 100% dedicated to food and drink – service is quick, BYO is welcome and guests let loose in loud and rowdy conversation. It’s perfect for beginning your night out in town.

The Imperial Lane

Imperial Lane Cafe 2

Drop by Imperial Lane for a spot of brekkie or a healthy bite. Taking inspiration from Melbourne and New York, Imperial Lane is one of Auckland’s first shared spaces. While away your morning in this 19th century warehouse-style building, characterised by its raw bricks, cobblestone floors and concrete tables.

Imperial Lane table

Famous for its quality coffee and a variety of breakfast options, The Imperial Lane is great for a leisurely morning. Indulge in a classic Eggs Benedict ($16) or start your day with a healthy brown rice and quinoa porridge ($9).


The first thing that’ll catch your eye upon entering Mexico is the décor, reminiscent of a scene straight out of Frida (2002). Bright colours, dripping candles and heavily-framed walls with cultural and religious motifs greet the hungry visitor.

Mexico - interior

Generous carafes of Sangria and flavoured Margaritas are among some of our favourites at Mexico; we highly recommend the Black Plum and Cinnamon concoction.

The food is fresh and authentic, perfect for a full meal or a snack. For an evening snack, choose a mix of flavours from the soft shell tacos ($7) and don’t forget the Free Range Mexico Fried Chicken ($15).


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Where’s your favourite place for a bite in Auckland? Let us know below!