Parnell has been on a rollercoaster of coolness over the years. It went from being a hip and happening ’burb to a slightly tired area and back again. These days, you’ll find some of Auckland’s best eateries, freakshake hubs, talented florists, gyms and of course, the prettiest rose gardens in town.
Here are our picks of everything you should be eating, drinking, buying and doing in Parnell. Let’s go!
Sitting along Parnell Road, this trendy restaurant is a self-proclaimed ‘Oriental Smokehouse and Whiskey Works’ and is responsible for producing some stand-out East meets West cuisine. The menu consists of bold dishes such as 14-hour smoked beef brisket, smokey pork stir-fry and fermented crispy chicken next to the fresh flavours of green papaya salad, kingfish and black tiger prawn. Slurp it all up alongside a whisky cocktail and end the meal with the coconut dumplings. They’re bright green on the inside and 100 per cent compulsory.
Non Solo Pizza
Non Solo Pizza has been around for yonks, churning out exceptional Italian fare in an oh-so beautiful setting—think sun-drenched courtyard and tranquil water features. Kick things off with a selection of nibbly bits (antipasto) and vino before progressing to the main. Their pizzas are a must-try, as are their pastas and lamb ossobuco. Just make sure you leave room for the espresso crème brulee. You’ll walk out full but totally satisfied.
Casa Del Gelato
Freakshakes, they’re a thing. And Casa Del Gelato creates some of the most spectacular in Auckland. It’s a wee dessert parlour tucked away down a brick lane and will have you #cheatmeal-ing on everything from waffles to ice cream and their famous shakes. New flavours pop up on the reg so you’ll just have to make it a regular spot.
Express lunches don’t get much better than Cibo. This Parnell institution is as pretty as a picture and makes some truly delicious fare. We’re talkin’ free-range pork belly, beetroot salad, crispy skinned fish and their legendary pavlova. Choose between the Louise cake creation or the salted caramel, toffee brittle and chocolate dust version. It’s a delight.
Spicing things up on the Parnell dining scene is Oh Calcutta, an Indian restaurant with a knack for producing mind-blowingly good curries and other tasty fare. Rock up with your squad, order a bunch of curries and get stuck in. The chilli naan is off the charts and the tandoori salmon is a welcomed changed to chook.
This gorgeous café sits on a corner in Parnell, where it keeps bellies happy with a range of innovative and seasonal plates—think smoked fish omelette, open sammies and chicken cotoletta, plus a to-die-for salted caramel hot chocolate. Come sun down, Rosie morphs into a sophisticated restaurant to enjoy a glass of vino and a shared plate or two.
Long + Short
Hole-in-the-walls don’t get much dinkier than Long + Short. The Atomic espresso bar is ideal for those looking for a quick caffeine hit with a shot of friendly service. There also are goodies from Atomic’s Kingsland HQ in case you’re peckish.
Another purveyor of excellent coffee is Espresso Workshop, who brew everything from your silky flat white to filter, iced coffee and cold brew. Let them educate you on the wonderful world of coffee—you won’t find more knowledgeable baristas in the area.
46 & York
It might be the local bar but 46 & York oozes sophistication and is home to one killer cocktail menu. Start your weekend off with a bang via an espresso martini or glass of bubbly or get stuck into the food menu. From chicken wings to sliders and ceviche, you’ll be full and happy before you know it.
The Chocolate Boutique
Home to all things chocolate-y in Auckland, The Chocolate Boutique is where you need to go for an Italian hot chocolate session. They are known for their ‘denso’ drinks (meaning ‘thick’ in Italian) but their peanut butter mochas, French vanilla lattes and submarinos (hot milk with a whole lotta choc) are also a sweet lover’s dream.
If you’re a sucker for freshly cut blooms, a trip to Blush Flowers is in order. This stunning boutique is an elegant, gram-worthy spot where they make hand-tied bouquets, luxe rose boxes and unique bunches to order.
You haven’t really done Auckland until you’ve hit up La Cigale Markets on the weekend. The French-style farmers’ market will have you feeling like you’ve set foot in Paris with the scent of fresh pastries, crepes, fresh produce and other goodies. La Cigale are also open on evenings from Wednesday to Friday if your French food cravings can’t wait ‘til the weekend.
Lad’s style isn’t always easy to nail but Working Style can help you sort out your fash. Whether you’re in the market for a tailor-made suit, a snazzy tie or some casual street wear, Working Style in Parnell is your one-stop shop for all things trendy in the men’s fashion world.
Leah Light is one of the most-loved nail artists in Auckland and you can get your nails ‘did’ by her in Parnell. Everyone knows that you feel 174x better when claws look good and Leah Light strives to create nail magic with every hand she touches. Opt for an elegant style or go for something bold. Whatever you go for, you can be sure your nails will end up looking fab.
Parnell Rose Gardens
Parnell Rose Gardens are beautiful at any time of year and a must-visit for every Aucklander. Pack a picnic and dine amongst the roses or go for a stroll through the lush surroundings before settling in for brunch at Rosie.
The Exercise Room
If you struggle to self-motivate and get your A into G, a trip to The Exercise Room is probably in order. Here, you’ll be given one-on-one sessions to figure out what type of training works best for you and your lifestyle—no matter how hectic it may be. If that wasn’t enough, there are also fancy individual bathroom suites, undercover parking and 24/7 access.
Another beautiful-as-can-be spot in Parnell is the Auckland Domain’s Wintergardens. This slice of Auckland paradise was designed in the early 1900s and showcases a variety of blooms and plants. The heated greenhouse is home to lush tropical plants—you won’t find anywhere in Auckland like it.
Want more of the ‘burbs? Check out all there is to do in Newmarket.
Image credit: Andrew Wilson & Woodpecker Hill