So Alert Level 2 is here, bringing with it a whole lot of newfound freedom (remember that word?). Naturally, one of the most exciting parts about this for us Urban Listers is the chance to eat out again. Of course, there are a few new rules we'll need to get our heads around, like the fact that we can't get together with more than 9 of our mates, but that's a small price to pay when you consider the alternative (bye bye, home cooking).
Here are some of the Auckland eateries we've been missing that will be welcoming diners with open arms—metaphorically, of course—from Thursday 14 May.
The Federal Delicatessen
Unlike many other restaurants, The Federal Delicatessen haven't been doing takeaway, so they're top of our hit list when it comes to eating out come Thursday. Whether you've been craving their signature Reuben sammie, a slice of authentic American pie, or a plate of some of the best poutine in town, Al Brown's nod to the New York delis of old definitely won't disappoint. If the weather's fine, may we suggest opting for a table outside; where you can soak up the twinkling lights of Federal Street, cocktail in hand (do yourself a favour and order the popcorn old fashioned—you won't regret it). Head along for dinner from 5pm on Thursday, with breakfast and lunch service resuming the following day. Click here for more info.
ELMOS have done a stellar job on the takeaway front throughout Level 3 and even created their own DIY pizza and pasta kits, however nothing can quite compare to dining in at this luxurious pizza joint on Ponsonby Road. We miss those chandeliers, we miss that marble bar, and we miss drinking cocktails out of those fabulously novel glasses. Plus, their burrata has been haunting our foodie dreams since the day lockdown landed. These guys will be open from 4:30pm on Thursday, with walk-ins welcome for groups of under 6. Click here for more info.
It's no secret we're big fans of Bar Céleste. The home of good times and good vibes, this swish French-inspired bistro/bar is saying au revoir to its takeaway service and returning to a flavour-packed dine-in menu from Thursday. There's not a snail shell or frog leg in sight, rather mouthwatering seasonal dishes made with ingredients sourced from small local suppliers, paired with a suitably delish wine list. As for shucked oysters at 2am (a totally legit request here pre-COVID), that one may have to wait until Level 1. Click here for more info.
The Kimchi Project
We've always had a bit of a soft spot for The Kimchi Project. With that in mind, we'll be hitting up their Insta-worthy courtyard for a feast of drool-worthy Korean fare stat, starting of course with their famous kimchi waffle fries. However we'd be doing ourselves an incredible disservice not to sample some of their other dishes while we're there, so bao buns and Korean fried chicken will also be on the menu. Finally, we'll wash it all down with a tasty cocktail, and in doing so make lockdown all but a distant memory... Head along from Thursday (time TBC). Click here for more info.
Prego is a Ponsonby icon—having been on the scene since 1986—so we're glad to see they've made it through the COVID crisis unscathed. Trust us when we say you'll want to order one of just about everything here, from their crowd-pleasing pizza and pasta dishes, through to their classic caesar salad, risotto, and surf and turf-style steak. Oh, and they also have a dedicated vegan menu up for grabs (yusss). These guys will be open from midday on Thursday, with walk-ins accepted (though as with all situations where this is the case, please be prepared to wait). Click here for more info.
XuXu Dumpling Bar
Dumplings are the ultimate comfort food, so it makes sense that after the trauma of Levels 3 and 4, we'd head straight for the spot that does them best. We're talking about XuXu Dumpling Bar, the magnificent Britomart eatery that you'll have likely heard us mention many times before. Their steamed chocolate buns and banoffee dumplings are reason enough for a visit, but make no mistake, their savoury options—and beautiful cocktails—are also well worth a look-in. Get yourself there from midday on Thursday. Click here for more info.
Wynyard Pavilion is blessed with one of the best views in Auckland, as well as a fab all-day menu, super service, and a killer cocktail list (all things we've really missed these last few weeks). Treat your post-iso self to pizza and pinot noir, fried chicken and beer, oysters and champagne, or perhaps even all three (you know we'd never judge). Here's hoping the sun comes out to play, so you can nab yourself a spot by the water's edge. Head along from 4pm on Thursday. Click here for more info.
Have questions over the new rules? Here's everything you can and can't do at Alert Level 2.
Image credit: Burrata at ELMOS by Wono Kim