A pint, a steak, and some chips. It’s the little things in life innit? Classic pubs are really a central part of Auckland history, even if they’re now few and far between. Long before share plates and Asian fusion, the city’s pubs were about it when it came to eating out and getting sloshed. Back when old AKL was home to a mere 13,000 people, there were 91 pubs helping to entertain the masses (or lack of) with free-flowing ales, great chat and the promise of lovely ladies. Fast forward to 2017 and it’s all a bit the same really, just a whole heap more of us. Long may the tradition continue at these classic pubs.
Right in the middle of town, The Shakespeare Hotel and Brewery is a favourite watering hole of the suits and media types who work nearby. Established in the century before last (it’s home to New Zealand’s first ever brewery in a pub), this place has some serious history behind it it, not to mention the slightly famous historical namesake. The Shakespeare is the perfect venue to enjoy a pint and a bite to eat. The menu is a refreshing change from the oft-pretentious gastro pub wankiness, with a range of pizzas, burgers and a saussie of the week, made on site.
Another oldie, but certainly a goodie, The Albion is central Auckland with a sprinkle of English countryside. With big bottles of Lion Red and Waikato Draught as solid crowd favourites, this is a no fuss pub with only a couple of frills. Again, there’s betting facilities should you fancy a flutter, but the star of the show is the BBQ ribs available by the half or full kilo. Cooked for three hours and smothered in a Jack Daniels sauce it’d be rude not to take the second option wouldn’t it?!
The Empire Tavern
We dare you to find another spot where a tenner gets you a scotch fillet. Accompanied by fries and slaw no less. It’s available with any drink purchase but half (or maybe 3/4s) of the reason you’re here anyway. You can buy beersies by the half litre, jug or even by the keg; you’ll want your stretchy pants on for this spot. With a week full of activities there’s never a dull moment here, from Songwriter sessions to infamous quiz nights and sing-alongs with the infamous Arches who pack the place out every time. Without a doubt, The Empire is the spot to sink some serious piss and talk shit. Even if it is only Tuesday.
The beauty of this north-of-bridge spot is the sunny outside area where the rays beam down and keep the till churning by maintaining maximum thirst levels. It’s a classic through and through and we love the old fireplace and tartan carpet which does wonders to mask the century of spilt jugs. Pretention is thrown out the window at this paired back watering hole, complete with draught beers (not a craft in sight), pokie machines and walls covered in bizarre objects. We definitely recommend using the Northcote Point ferry as your scenic sober driver.
The Puhoi Pub & Hotel
Bikies and locals flock to this classic spot, which can make nabbing one of the outside picnic tables harder than it is to get a table at a Ponsonby restaurant at 7pm on a Friday. The quaint, historical architecture with its long white terraces is nothing short of charming, and the downstairs bistro is the place to enjoy what we all came here for. The beer is cold, far from craft, and best enjoyed by the jugful. The food is classic pub grub with a Kiwi twist—old faves like mussel fritters and burgers with the requisite slice of tinned beetroot.
Galbraith’s Alehouse is the home of the eponymous beer label, which is craft without the pretention. It’s been an independent brewery and pub since ’95 and looks firmly set to stay that way. Drawing on traditions from beer brewing cultures beyond the now familiar American or Indian pale ales, Galbraith’s does a stellar Munich style lager, a Czech style pilsner, a Belgian Trappist ale and a Russian Imperial stout. We dare you to take a world tour, courtesy of Galbraith’s taps, with uber on standby of course.
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Image credit: Andrew Wilson