Miami chowhound visiting Auckland
I'm an Auckland native so hopefully can help out! (All these within walking distance of your hotel or a short taxi ride away.
Italian: Gina's on Symonds St - amazing atmosphere, good prices, authentic food and hot chefs in the open kitchen! Someone suggested Portofino but honestly, I wouldn't bother. It's a chain now and the quality is neglible. For Italian inspired with an NZ twist, go to Rocco on Ponsonby Rd. Great food and service. Further down the road is Magnum, by the same owners, which is brand new, serving classic bistro food with a twist.
Japanese: For yakitori - Tanuki's Cave on Queen St. It's downstairs, and very cave like - great food and beer. Upstairs is the more sophisticated Kura for beautiful Japanese food. Or you could try Soto, on St Mary's Bay Rd, for chic dining and gorgeous presentation. NZ has great Japanese food. Up on Karangahape Rd you could also try Ken Yakitori for good skewer food, prepared right in front of you at the bar. Or Sake Bar Rikka at Victoria Park. Cheaper than Kura or Soto but still fantastic presentation.
Pacific/NZ: The best Auckland restaurant is The French Cafe on Upper Symonds St. The food is simply amazing, but it's not cheap, and you will have to book in advance. It's not French food, don't be fooled by the name. You also might want to try the Jervois Steak House on Jervois Rd for fantastic steaks and seafood - this is an upmarket steakhouse so prices reflect that, but aren't out of reach. Clooney opened on Sale St last year and while the food can be variable, sometimes great, sometimes okay, it's worth going even for lunch or a glass of wine, just to see the space as it's divine. SPQR, as mentioned, is incredibly popular and good for a casual meal - the service is brilliant and if you knew what I looked like, you would probably see me and my dog out the front!
Richmond Rd Cafe, Season (Ponsonby Rd) and the Garnet Rd Foodstore (a bit out of your way) are all great for breakfast or lunch.
If you have any other types of cuisine you're keen on, just ask and I can recommend.
My husband and I were there for four days last March, winding up a four week holiday after traveling up through the South and North Islands. A beautiful country for traveling and exploring, but I digress.
Ponsonby Road is easy to get to by bus (the bus we took runs up Victora Street W, College Hill, Ponsonby Road). We got off the bus at the start of Ponsonby and walked to get a feel for the neighborhood.
Stopped for drinks and a bite at "The Living Room" on Ponsonby Road. It would have been nicer if the music videos they were playing weren't so loud. We shared an Antipasto plate (chef's selection) and thought it was okay.
We had a lovely dinner at Estasi. Between the venison and lamb we thought that the food was well prepared and the prices were very reasonable. Service was also quite good.
If you have the chance, take the (Fuller) Ferry over to Devonport. The ferry departs every 30 minutes on either end, and is about a 15 minute ride. Round trip fare is $9NZ. We explored (easy walking) and found lots of cafes on Victoria Road and Church Street but we settled for lunch at the Devonport Stone Oven Bakery and Cafe. Great casual atmosphere, the smell of fresh baked bread is hard to resist!
The Living Room
222 Ponsonby Road
Devonport Stone Oven Bakery and Cafe
5 Clarence Street, Devonport
ok, there are some excellent restaurants down at the Viaduct basin, which is a little bit of a hike down Queen Street but there are buses, or a taxi. I like Kermadec, which has great fish, there's also Soul, which is a good example of modern Pacific Rim cuisine. I think Portofinos is still down there, and they do good modern Italian, and nice thin crusted crispy pizza. On the corner of the Ferry Building on Quay Street, not too far away, is Cin Cin, also nice, and if you can make it to Parnell, which is a short bus trip away there are great restaurants there from cheapish but excellent Thai food at Thai Friends to Antoines, which is fine French Dining. Ponsonby is another area to check out as it has some very nice places including SPQR which is always busy, and Rice in the city has also been getting great reviews. When you are there buy a copy of Cuisine magazine which is NZs premier cooking magazine to get an idea of what's happening cooking wise, and you can also go onto their website www.cuisine.co.nz as I think there are restaurant reviews there. Why I asked you when you would be there is because on Saturdays there is a fantastic farmers market at La Cigale on George Street in Parnell which I always go to when I am there. If you want to know anything else I'm happy to assist :)