Our pretty city is bursting at the seams with delish places to eat. From cute cafes to buzzing cheap restaurants and fancy pants eateries, anyone who says we’re lacking on the food front in Auckland is, well, wrong.
Occasionally though, you just wanna get the hell out of town. Luckily, there are a handful of restaurants on the outskirts of Auckland that are 100 per cent worth the drive. We’re talkin’ vineyard eateries, casual bistros and restaurants with views so damn good, you literally won’t want to leave.
Without further ado, here are eight of Auckland’s best destination restaurants to flock to this summer.
The Oyster Inn
Situated in the beachy village of Oneroa on stunning Waiheke Island, The Oyster Inn takes destination dining to a whole new level of relaxing. With an honest, simple menu showcasing local produce and freshly caught seafood, this is the kinda place you could easily spend an entire afternoon. Grab a table on the verandah and tuck into oysters, beetroot-cured salmon or king prawn linguine paired with a vino from one of the neighbouring vineyards. Don’t want to leave? You don’t have to! The Oyster Inn has three boutique hotel rooms.
If you’re a city slicker but your heart is in the country (we feel ya), Bracu is the destination restaurant for you. This legendary venue sits within the beautiful Simunovich Olive Estate and is guaranteed to be a dining experience like you’ve never had before. Get amongst the tasty a la carte menu or go the full shebang and opt for the seasonal degustation. What’s more, there’s some seriously badass activities—think clay bird and air rifle shooting, knife throwing AND archery. Bracu has the potential to be one heck of a day out!
The Tasting Shed
When it comes to outdoor eating spots in Auckland, The Tasting Shed is a standout. Find a sunny spot on the grass and sip some vino, or choose from one of the four dining areas. There’s the rustic living room, the cosy grotto, the al fresco living table and the cabana, which offers epic indoor-outdoor flow! Food wise, you’ll be treated to scrumptious seasonal dishes such as miso pork belly and market ceviche—all made for sharing with your crew. The Tasting Shed’s cocktails are also something to rave about. They are a modern twist on the classics but made using a Slow Drip Infuser to extract flavours from fruit, herbs and spices. Our pick is the Kumeu Mexican Standoff made with tequila, ground coffee beans and mucavado sugar. Yum!
Matakana Market Kitchen
Instead of gorging yourself at the Matakana Markets, save some room and settle in for a long lunch at Matakana Market Kitchen. This country-style café and restaurant sits along the tranquil river and uses herbs from their garden and produce from local suppliers to create tasty dishes. You can feast on everything from oysters to sticky pork ribs, confit duck and whole-baked camembert! They even have a dedicated gluten-free menu.
Waihi Beach Hotel
Keen to go further afield? Waihi Beach Hotel Pub and Eatery is just a two-hour cruise from A-town and once you arrive, you’ll kick yourself for not discovering it sooner! This beautiful bistro sources produce from local growers and farmers and transforms it into dishes such as smoke market fish, soft herbs and caper omelette, Katikati lamb shoulder, beetroot salad and a mean pulled shorthorn burger. If you’re after something a bit naughty, go straight for the macadamia liqueur, house made gelato, espresso and salted caramel affogato. We’d travel to Waihi Beach just for it.
Another Matakana spot totally worth the drive is Plume Restaurant. Located within a vineyard, it is everything you could want out of a destination restaurant. Splash out on the six-course summer tasting menu designed to be enjoyed by the whole table, taking a minimum of two hours (hellooo long lunch) or nibble on the Plume Vineyard Platter featuring beef carpaccio, mushroom croquet, venison terrine, cheese, homemade dips and fresh artisan bread.
A sucker for views? Cable Bay’s are an absolute treat. Lounge on the vineyard’s lawns and soak up the rays or stay cool in the verandah while sampling the exceptional wines. When the hunger hits, there’s monkfish sliders, woodfired pizzas, mezze platters and cured meat boards to feast on. The cellar door is also open daily for tastings!
The Refreshment Room
Drive five minutes from Titirangi Village and you’ll find yourself at The Refreshment Room. It’s located on an old winery and boasts some of the most breath-taking restaurant views in Auckland. If the sun’s out, be sure to nab a table on the large, sunny deck and order up a storm! Their menu changes weekly but you can expect top-notch food every single time.
Who’s down for a winery lunch? Say adios to the city for a day at Artisan Wines. Perch at a large outdoor table and soak in the rural atmosphere with tasty platters of cheese, cured meats, fresh bread, paired with Artisan’s refreshing wine. It’s winner.
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Image credit: Plume Restaurant