The chilly weather brings the perfect excuse to hunker down at Auckland’s vibrant restaurants, bars and eateries while seeking comfort in innovative dishes and drinks. The last little while has seen trying times for many of our favourite locals, so we’ve teamed up with Tātaki Auckland Unlimited to shine a little light and love onto the restaurants warming our bellies and souls this winter. And who better to ask to help us uncover some of the city’s best menus this season than our food-loving audience. We put a call out for your top picks for Auckland's tastiest winter feeds, and you did not disappoint. From Korean and Indian to Italian and Lebanese, your Tāmaki Makaurau favourites offer something for every vibe and every palate. In no particular order, here are the tastiest menus in Auckland this winter according to you—dig in!
Ponsonby & Mission Bay
Whether you're a Ponsonby or Mission Bay local, be sure to dine at Azabu. The restaurants showcase a unique marriage of contemporary Japanese cuisine with a Peruvian influence. Kaimoana features through the menu with a ceviche-tasting platter, yuzu pepper grilled octopus, and soft shell crab steamed buns with spicy-yet-creamy wasabi tartar. Their signature tostadas are a must-try with our pick being the seared beef paired with truffle sesame dressing and shiitake mushrooms.
Tucked away in a small restaurant on Symonds Street, Forest challenges preconceived expectations of plant-based dining. Here they serve a three-course set menu, with additional sides if you so desire, that changes weekly. Chef Plabita Florence prepares fresh produce in unexpected ways. Case in point: pickled leek and seaweed nuggets, sticky kūmara with Marmite cream, silverbeet-encased risotto, and Negroni jelly with hazelnut cream. Carnivores, vegans and everyone in between will be wowed at this conveniently located Auckland gem.
Cosy up at Bar Céleste this winter. This neo-bistro and wine bar is equal parts modern and sleek yet charming and quirky. With a welcoming neighbourhood feel, the French-inspired menu showcases seasonal dishes designed to be shared. You’ll also discover a carefully curated wine list featuring local organic wines and interesting drops from around the world. Our advice? Lock in Bar Céleste for a memorable local date night. The exquisite flavours, intimate ambience, and exceptional service are guaranteed to impress.
Located in Commercial Bay, Gochu is famed for elevated Korean classics alongside inventive dishes with a Kiwi twist. The extensive menu leaves you spoilt for choice with gochujang charred octopus, crispy eggplant with a doenjang glaze, and milk buns loaded with spicy pork and kimchi. Save yourself from decision fatigue and opt for the ‘trust the chef’ menu to experience the best of the best. For a night worth getting out of the house for, Gochu has gotchu.
Soul Bar & Bistro
Whatever the season and whatever the occasion, Soul Bar & Bistro has been a go-to for two decades. The Auckland institution prides itself on being all things to all people. Whether you’re after a relaxed afternoon of cocktails, a romantic dinner for two, or a place to groove into the small hours, Soul is your one-stop venue. This winter, warm up with dishes including a Hawke’s Bay lamb rack, harissa chicken, and—our pick—roast hāpuku paired with cauliflower, almond, raisin and curry mayo.
St Kevin’s Arcade
There’s nothing more comforting than a plate of pasta—it’s like a hug for your taste buds. No one knows this better than Pici in St Kevin’s Arcade. The intimate Italian hotspot is known and loved for its handcrafted pasta and Pici’s winter menu turns things up a notch. Choose between the likes of pappardelle with a slow-cooked lamb ragu or fettuccine tossed with creamy mascarpone and fiery nduja. Stick around for dessert because their famed cheesecake drizzled with olive oil makes a continued appearance this season.
Further proving that Italians are the masters of comforting winter dishes is Amano in Britomart. The restaurant is led by an ethos to use seasonal and sustainable produce from local growers and farmers. The result? An ever-changing menu that showcases Aotearoa’s finest ingredients with an Italian flair. Dig into cappelletti filled with mushrooms from Southern Auckland and gnocchi made with Dargaville kūmara. No visit is complete without a cannolo pastry—this winter they’ve got a pumpkin and orange ricotta number.
St Kevin’s Arcade
Magically transport your tastebuds to Lebanon at Gemmayze Street. The bustling St Kevin’s Arcade restaurant serves sophisticated yet honest dishes brimming with flavour and spice. Pick and choose dishes from their Mezza menu or opt for the four-course jeeb for the ultimate food coma. Whatever you decide, don’t leave without experiencing Gemmayze’s iconic hummus. The unmissable dish has earned a cult following for being gorgeously smooth and oh-so moreish. We guarantee, supporting your local never tasted this smooth.
Jump aboard a journey to Mumbai via V.T. Station. The restaurant takes its name from the historic Mumbai Victoria Terminus train station where vendors travel far and wide across India to serve their signature dishes from street food stalls. The Newmarket eatery takes foodies on a similar culinary adventure, without the long commute. Spanning small sharing plates, tandoori grills and flavoursome curries, this menu is sure to warm you through to your core. The cocktails are equally impressive showcasing housemade syrups, speciality teas, and—keeping in theme with the train station—the enchanting cocktails are often served with smoke.
At the helm of Ahi, you’ll find award-winning chef Ben Bayly and front-of-house extraordinaire Chris Martin. You’re in expert hands as they serve sophisticated dishes in a laid-back restaurant housed in Commercial Bay. The menu celebrates seasonal produce sourced from all corners of Aotearoa and brought straight to your proverbial doorstep. This winter, feast on kingfish with pickled clams, wild venison with coal-baked beetroot, or paua boil-up with a creative interpretation of ‘two-minute noodles’. Trust us, this is a dining experience that will have you visiting again and again.
Smokin Cole BBQ
Capturing the hearts of meat-lovers and vegetable fans alike, Smokin Cole BBQ has fostered a strong following of local fans. And it's no surprise. This smokehouse is a choose-your-own-culinary-adventure. Sure to warm up even the coldest of bones, the menu pulls no punches when it comes to flavour. Unashamedly American dishes like Memphis dry rub pork ribs and loaded waffle fries sit alongside nods to the eatery's home turf, such as Kiwi collards. We recommend attending with an appetite.
Discover the best of winter dining this season and discover Tāmaki Makaurau’s diverse and vibrant food and drink scene. Head over here for more winter menu hotspots.
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