Can we just start by saying what an incredible year of eating (and drinking) it's been? While the effects of Covid are certainly still being seen within the hospo industry (we've said goodbye to far too many great spots), we've seen some amazing new ventures pop up over the last 12 months, embracing everything from fine French dining to upmarket toasties and unauthentic tacos.
So after much deliberation, a few too many cocktails and a food coma or 10, here is our list of Auckland's best new bars and restaurants for 2022.
The latest venture from the incredible Sid and Chand Sahrawat, KOL was a shoo-in for this list. Find it in the old Scandal/MooChowChow spot, dishing out prawn toast, vindaloo fries and other dishes primarily cooked over fire, alongside world-class cocktails (a Sahrawat trademark).
Vic Road Wine Bar & Cellar
There's a lot more to Vic Road Wine Bar & Cellar than just wine, though they defo have plenty of that (read: their walls are covered in the stuff, which you can actually buy to take home). This cosy spot is also home to some tasty European-style tapas, and a hidden courtyard to enjoy them in.
Aka the highest rooftop bar in the country. Bar Albert certainly takes the idea of drinking to a whole new level (38 levels above ground, to be precise) with yummy tipples, cleverly named after local streets, served alongside delicious bites, and even more delicious views.
Pizza from the crew behind beloved Karangahape Road pasta joint, Pici? Oh hell yes. And that's exactly what you'll find at Ooh-Fa, a cosy pizza and wine bar on Dominion Road where balls of 70-hour-proofed sourdough are woodfired to perfection before being finished with toppings like nduja, ricotta, mozzarella, and garlic honey.
For the most 'unauthentic' (albeit delicious) tacos in all the land, you need to visit Ragtag. This Westmere newbie is a total vibe and will have you returning time and time again for their tasty spin on this Mexican fave, along with raw fish tostada, beef 'nuggets', and chocolate mousse smothered in olive oil (you'll never eat the normal kind again).
K' Road fave, Candela, has spawned its very own bar—the cute-as-a-button Barcita. And you don't have to go far to find it—it's located right at the back of Candela, where its very own booze and tapas menu, and outdoor balcony with views of the Sky Tower awaits.
Fat Puku's Smashed Burgers
There ain't nothing we'd rather stuff our face with than a big ol' burger, hbu? Especially a smash burger from Fat Puku's, where retro vibes and delicious eats collide in the heart of the CBD. Definitely one for the cool cats (IYKYK).
Formerly beloved Mount Eden watering hole, The Dominion, The Bridgman has given this old girl a new lease on life and we LOVE it. Think swanky interiors and gorgeous food, with a warm and welcoming vibe that's just as good for catching up after a game, as it is for catching up with family and friends.
French cuisine is in fine form at Atelier. Found in the old Karangahape Road post office, this chic spot is hitting all the right notes with dishes like their impeccable mille-feuille (main article image above), along with gorgeous cocktails and a wine list longer than your arm. There's only one word for it: magnifique.
Also cashing in on the retro vibes is Sunset—a gorge, '70s style rooftop bar located atop the Sudima Hotel. Head on up for your fill of epic views, sweet tunes, bespoke cocktails, incredible wines, local beers.... and masala waffle fries (yummm).
No one knows how to do food quite like the Italians—and no one knows how to do Italian food quite like BOSSI. This is one seriously chic eatery, dishing up cannoli, culurgiones, and limoncello-soaked sponge cake against a glorious backdrop of marble, chandeliers and Michelangelo-level artwork.
Jason Kim of Gochu fame has to be one of the nicest chefs around, but more importantly (well, when considering this list anyway)—his food is next-level insane. Tokki is his first solo project and guys, it's worth the hype—think prawn and mushroom-stuffed chicken wings, melona s'mores, and metre-long noodles. Ooof.
Take a ride through the streets of Mumbai without lifting a single finger (except to stuff your face with food and drink, of course) when you visit Ponsonby Road treasure, Mumbaiwala. The fit-out is low-key incredible and provides the perfect backdrop for downing dishes like dahi puri and chocolate naan (yes people, CHOCOLATE NAAN).
BANZIHA Korean Bar And Restaurant
If you wanna experience K-food at its finest, check out BANZIHA. This funky spot is home to all things cheesy, spicy and fried, which you'll want to wash down with their refreshingly fruity soju slushies (available by the jug, we might add).
So you wanna wine and dine by the water? We got you. Or rather, the team at Bivacco—a stylish Italian bar and eatery that's just opened in the old Headquarters spot—does. Dishing up pizza, pasta and more tasty tipples than you could possibly get through in one sitting, it's like Auckland's very own slice of the Amalfi Coast.
Technically Nanny's Eatery opened in late 2021, but we reckon that's close enough to make the cut. The home of authentic Jamaican and Mexican-infused food and bev (and good times to boot), this vibrant addition to Kingsland will set your tastebuds alight.
Hidden above The Broken Lantern (aka one of Auckland's coolest bars) lies ACS—a plush den serving up naughty drinks, rad tunes, and its very own pool room and movie theatre (say what?) The only catch is, you need to know the password to enter (hint: you'll find it disguised on their Instagram).
Jo Bro's Burgers
The Jo Bro's boys sure know how to make a good burger, so it was only a matter of time before their first eatery at StreetFeast became a second—this rad spot in Point Chev. The premise for Jo Bro's Burgers is simple: deliciously good burgers, that don't mess with tradition. Sure sounds good to us.
Schapiro's Sports Bar
As far as sports bars go, Schapiro's is knocking it outta the park. Sink drinks and gorge on smash burgers, fried chicken wings and soft serve, while taking in a game (or not?) as you're surrounded by more sports memorabilia than you can poke a league table at.
Mexican fare is the name of the game at Mount Eden local, De Nada—think nachos, churros, and tacos, only with a fresh and fabulous spin (case in point: the tuna sashimi nachos. Who would have thought?). Wash it all down with a lychee and raspberry margarita, and life is looking gooood.
Jordan MacDonald of Culprit and Lowbrow fame brings a slice of culinary genius to Birkenhead, together with his wife Sarah, at Duo. Expect laidback wine bar vibes, with sophisticated share plates in the form of crispy eggplant, burrata, and anchovies with freshly baked sourdough and wakame butter. Drool.
An institution in its hometown of Melbourne, MoVida's first New Zealand eatery is an absolute must-visit. Found in the old Ostro spot, you'll be treated to an exquisite tapas menu including their signature number—a crouton-like cracker topped with anchovy and smoked tomato sorbet—from award-winning chef, Frank Camorra and team.
Ask us what we'd want for our last supper, and there's a good chance we'd say smash burgers. We're particularly fond of the Burgernaut variety, which you can smash back in the heart of Urbanaut's brewery, while presumably downing a cold one (or 10!). Shoutout to their epic vegan burgers, which in our opinion, are as good as the real deal.
A joint where everything costs just $8, including the cocktails? If it sounds too good to be true—it's not. Lucky 8 is the spot in question, and you'll find it slinging Asian-inspired tapas from a neon-lit, Shanghai-style loft, hidden away above Ponsonby Road.
Prepare to be impressed by Origine—the latest (and in our opinion, greatest) Auckland venture from top chef, Ben Bayly. This French bistro is an absolute treat, serving up seafood towers, rhubarb and hibiscus souffle and other jaw-dropping dishes in a setting that's second to none—think huge glass pendant lights and a glass-brick wall/staircase, overlooking the waterfront.
So you want gourmet cheese toasties topped with potato chips and espresso martinis on tap? Duh, of course you do. Well have we got good news for you—you'll find both at Inwards Goods, a super-trendy spot from the team behind Everybody's and the Roxy nightclub, tucked away on Imperial Lane in the CBD (plus coffee proper during the day, FYI).
We have nothing but heart eyes for Palmer, an inner-city escape located at 1 Albert Street. Come for the rooftop views and Palm Springs vibes, and stay for the epic libations and scrummy food (think manuka martinis, savoury Italian doughnuts, and mille-feuille).
Fans of INCA's flagship eatery in Newmarket will already be well acquainted with their second and newest eatery, located in Ponsonby Central. Dishing up colourful South American vibes, show-stopping cocktails and the scrumptious Peruvian-style fare you've come to know and love, there's not a bad word to be said about INCA Ponsonby.
Want more food and booze goodness? Get the scoop on everything you need to eat and drink, right here.
Image credit: Atelier by Wono Kim, Ragtag by Eric Jang, Sunset Bar, BANZIHA by Jamin Drupsteen, ACS, De Nada by Veronika Sola, Lucky 8 by Kathryn Steane, INCA.