While most of the time cheap and cheerful is great, sometimes you just need to prove to your non-Aucklander friends that living in the City of Sails really is the best. And so, to help you on your way, we’ve found the absolute crème de la crème of fine dining restaurants to really impress those guests. Here are our top picks that we think showcase Auckland in all its glory.
Ostro Brasserie and Bar
Time and time again Ostro has won us over with their warm ambience, friendly staff, and divine menu from Josh Emett. With the spectacular views over the Waitemata Harbour, your out-of-town mates will be oo-ing and ah-ing in appreciation. The menu stars fresh seafood dishes, and plates to share—including a slow-baked lamb shoulder with minted yoghurt. Ostro’s fresh seasonal ingredients and casual city atmosphere is Auckland through and through.
St Mary’s Bay
Once the historical Ponsonby post office, Augustus brings a French chic vibe to Auckland. The huge white pillars at the entrance lead into the elegance of the black and white dressed dining room. Matching the décor, the menu consists of dishes fit for a Queen—think fresh oysters, scallop gratin, parmesan soufflé, steak tartare, and duck confit. Augustus will knock the socks off your guests and leave them with a brand new appreciation of Auckland.
Located down at St. Patrick’s Square, The Grove’s outdoor seating allows you to marvel at the beauty of Auckland City while dining on some of the best dishes in in town. The hardwood floors and luxuriously dressed tables are a treat for the eyes and the attentive staff make you feel extremely well looked after. With MKR chef Ben Bayly at the helm, you know your taste buds are in for a treat. The degustation menu stars ingredients like roasted John dory, wild rabbit, and wagyu steak.
You haven’t really visited Auckland until you’ve ventured on a quick ferry trip to Waiheke Island to indulge in fine wines and sublime foods. Mudbrick is the perfect place to spend an afternoon wandering the sunny gardens, tasting wines, and sitting down for a meal of pure beauty. Your friends, whether they’re wine enthusiasts or not, will be thoroughly impressed and leave raving about Waiheke’s Mudbrick.
The Sugar Club
Get a full 360 view of Auckland from SKYCITY’s highest fine-dining restaurat The Sugar Club. Coming from the mastermind that is renowned chef Peter Gordon, it’s an obvious choice when it comes to spoiling your out-of-town mates and showcasing Auckland at its finest. The food is as good as the view—day-boat sashimi, peanut butter parfait, and Cloudy Bay clams. You’ll be able to sit for hours and point out all the best spots in the city while feasting on award-winning dishes.
You simply can’t beat a classic and Cibo is definitely the most classic and classy restaurant along the Parnell strip. The sun draped courtyard and spacious inside immediately welcomes you and your guests as you step through the door. We say try the venison tartare, pastrami-rubbed lamb and salted caramel or tiramisu pavlovas to really blow your guests away. After being open for nearly 20 years, you can be sure Cibo knows what they’re doing!
Gusto At The Grand
Working with only the freshest and simplest ingredients, Gusto At The Grand serves up some of the best Italian food in Auckland. From the a la carte made-to-order menu to indulgent buffets to share, Gusto delivers fresh, simple ingredients made with passion. This SKYCITY gem will showcase Auckland’s diverse restaurant scene and leave a lasting impression on your guests.
We know Giapo is not technically a restaurant but any trip to Auckland is never complete without a stop-off at the best gelato spot in town. Giapo’s epic ice cream creations feature blow-torched marshmallow, gourmet doughnuts, and afghan coated cones just to name a few. So once you’ve visited one of the delightful diners above, head down to Giapo for the perfect after dinner treat.
While you're at it, here's how to impress your out-of-town mates with things to do around Auckland.
Image Credit: Lydia Arnold at Cibo