It’s no secret that we’re fans of the occasional night out in the big smoke here at Urban List, after all, what’s better than catching up with friends after work and checking out a vibing hotspot?
As we’re celebrating 10 years of Urban List (and five of Urban List in NZ) we asked 10 top Auckland city bartenders where they like to go after they finish serving us next-level cocktails and libations, and their answers may surprise you.
So without further ado here are some hot recommendations if you find yourself out past the witching hour from those in the know.
Ghost Street, Cafe Hanoi, Saan & Xuxu
My personal preference in terms of late-night after-parties is dependent on where I finish my shift. If it happens to be Saan restaurant I love to visit old good Deadshot on Ponsonby, they are very established at personalising the service and they remember fellow hospo. And if it happens that I finish at Cafe Hanoi, Ghost St or Xuxu, I usually 'swing' by Parasol (Parasol and Swing Co), amazing atmosphere and beautiful Jalapeno Poppers are the thing!
Freddy & Julia
When we finish up at a reasonable time, we’ll often pop across the road to Acho’s whose Japanese tapas game is strong. Alternatively, we’ll head to the Little Turkish Café also on Karangahape Road… they use a next-level marinade on their chicken which is always a firm fave, along with their moussaka.
If we finish up at the bar super late and don’t want to face the madness that is K’ Road in the small hours we’ll head to our secret spot - The BP Service station in Newmarket! Seriously, this is the fanciest petrol station we’ve ever seen… they serve really nice toasties, coffee, fresh pasta, cured meats, cheeses—including brie and camembert—fresh bread, and of course, Krispy Kreme. It’s a pretty chill spot for a late-night romantic dinner at 3 am and is also a hangout spot for local cops and paramedics, which makes a nice low key change from the high energy of K’ Road, that’s for sure!
Atelier, Wander & Ambler
For me, it depends on how my night went at work. If it was super busy making cocktails all night I dream about my turn to enjoy one of those on the other side of the bar. When we finish late (after midnight) and I want something quieter and to treat myself to a good cocktail ( because I deserve it) I go to Deadshot. It’s the place to go if you feel like going out but don’t want to party all night.
Bozo Bar also is easy access for us being just across the road and has a good “bar vibe” for good after-work drinks with your colleagues. Bar Magda closes quite late as well and is a pretty intimate bar so is perfect for a sleepy mood and preparing to go to bed.
If I finish a bit earlier I go to Candela for a glass of wine and some tapas and to keep enjoying the good work dynamic.
Alternatively, on my way back home I stop in at new venue The Broken Lantern (guys from Parasol and Swing) If you work in hospitality you know those guys! Their cocktails are pretty good and they successfully managed to create a really nice atmosphere in their new space. I haven’t had the chance to go to Madame George lately but it was one of my favourite places for a while after work. The staff are really friendly and it’s an “easy place“.
When I finish at the bar it kind of depends on my mood as to where I’ll go. Sometimes i'll head a few doors and go to the Gyoza Bar on Ponsonby Road—their beef tataki is an absolute game-changer. But after being in a bar all evening I just want to hang out with some mates, eat and chat. In that case, we’ll head to Dominion Road for some late-night dumplings. New Flavour is always the go-to as it can fit bigger groups upstairs if a few of us are catching up. My go order is their next level cucumber & tofu salad made from dried tofu with pickled cucumber and covered in chilli oil. I’ll always get the beef and celery steamed dumplings and a bunch of dishes to share, the chicken fried pancakes are a MUST! plus, always get some spring onion pancakes.
Flavour House across the street is awesome for smaller groups and their General Tso’s chicken is pretty epic and makes good dumplings too. When I finish early midweek The Ponsonby Food Court is on my way home so I’ll often stop off for some Japanese, Korean or Thai—the Thai slings, hands down—the best pad Thai in town. If I’m heading for a drink after work, The Tinted Rose for a glass of wine or Bedford Soda for a drink is my go-to both great spots, Late night Grand Central is a standard stop off. Before work, I have to give a shout out to Archie Cafe on Ponsonby Road. I head there three to four times a week. Epic coffee and food. The Chicken Melt is so good!
There are a few options around our spot, but Acho’s absolutely needs a mention—they get a great late crowd post 11 pm. Cheap and easy Japanese tapas go down a treat. The Takoyaki and Octopus Ceviche are mean.
Donair Kebab is a handy spot for a feed, and although it’s a long way from gourmet the chicken and chips are delightful after 10 beers.
The Grill & Depot
I love the speakeasy places around Auckland! If it’s for food I’d have to say Tanuki’s Cave on Queen Street. It’s an underground yakitori and kushiage bar with great skewers and sake. Drinks and service at my favourite, Caretaker, is the best—if you haven’t been it’s a must for any Aucklander. There are no menus, just knowledge and engagement from the staff to deliver what you didn’t know you were looking for! Last but not least has to be The Fiddler! Classic Irish pub, not much of an explanation needed there. Cheap drinks, great staff and a cosy environment for after-work beers or whiskeys.
The best late-night spot for us to go to is Deadshot for cocktails or Grand Central for beer as they are the only ones we know that open late apart from us.
Food-wise, we are open pretty late with most of our bar menu available till 1 am which are not your usual deep-fried snacks. But after that Deng Deng off High Street is one that goes pretty late. The hot pot situation is definitely one to perk you up and balance off the alcohol you have consumed all evening. Friendly staff too. Other than that The White lady or Better Burger is always good for a classic grub.
The Sugar Club
I usually enjoy going to Gogo Music Café on Dominion Road, it’s a Chinese BBQ restaurant and they serve amazing skewers and noodle pots. The problem is they stop serving alcohol at 1 am sharp so the goal is to order as many beer bottles and soju right on the clock and usually, they let you get away with it.
Otherwise, most of the Korean hot pots on High Street are still open, their outside area is great and food is usually cheap and very good if you share it with your workmates.
Ghost Street, Cafe Hanoi, Saan & Xuxu
Here are the late-night eats that I go to after work in Auckland CBD. For starters, I go to Ichiban Ramen on Albert street. It’s a small operation that is quite literally a hole in the wall but they open until 1-2 am and they do fantastic Japanese ramen in their own style.
Seoul Night on Fort lane is a semi-underground-ish Korean eatery right across the road from the famous Cassia. Their deco matches the style of the laneway that looks a lot like the side street bars in Seoul, South Korea. They have an awesome late-night menu which is a great choice if you’re after drinks and snacks. WongKok Cafe is right across the road from the Sky Tower and is a CBD staple that’s been around for a long time. Hidden in plain sight but they make (for me personally) THE BEST Chinese food in town. Whatever my friends and I choose, it never fails to impress. I always recommend those three places to my friends in the industry to check out.
I can add Acho’s on K road. It’s a small Japanese bar serving Japanese food and drink until late. They have a good Japanese whiskey list, too.
When you finish late, such as past 1 am, only Acho’s or a few Korean restaurants on High Street like Twelve or Deng Deng are open for food and drinks in Auckland CBD. Deng Deng always closes at 4 am so I often end up there.
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Image credit: Acho's, Ghost Street, Sly K Road, Clipper, Atelier, Darren Rafferty, Wono Kim for Bar Magda, Sugar Club, MASU.