A simple fried egg on supermarket-white toast just doesn’t cut it anymore. As the café scene continues to grow and thrive in New Zealand, the offerings just keep getting better and better—and so it is with Tauranga and The Mount. Think Turkish eggs, fried eggplant, labne and spiced sausage to granola with saffron-poached pear, seeds, seasonal fruit and coconut yogurt. The coffee and food in this harbour city and beach town are seriously good—here’s where you should head to next.
Elizabeth Café and Larder
It’s a big call, but Elizabeth Café and Larder may very well have the best eggs benny in town. Served with a potato hash, the yolks are a bright yellow and the hollandaise creamy—we like it served with bacon. Midweek this cafe heaves with office workers and friends catch up here at the weekends. As well as the eggs benny, try the French cinnamon brioche toast with salted caramel and for lunch, the open brisket sandwich with chimichurri and fresh greens. For those wanting to keep it healthy, there are lots of keto options, such as the crispy pork belly, cauliflower and pea risotto and broccolini. Elizabeth is situated on busy Cameron Road, so you’ll need to head around the back of the ANZ building to find parking.
Outside of Alimento Eatery, a café that’s found its home in the historic former Masonic lodge, is a menu that states, “All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.” We couldn’t agree more. Choose from the mushrooms with miso butter, kale and a poached egg or the big breakfast with bacon, sausages and black pudding. Afterwards, order a cinnamon bun—one of the owners is a pastry chef so you won’t be disappointed. It’s nice to see coffee sourced from different places around New Zealand—they use beans from Underground Coffee Roasters in the South Island. On a warm day, sit outside under the canopy of the Karaka tree and indulge in a little people watching.
George Café has a laid-back and beachy vibe—you can walk in barefoot and still feel welcomed at this café in Omanu, located just outside of the Mount. Claire and Luke are the owners of George, and most of the vegetables you’ll see come from their own garden and the eggs are from a local chicken farm. The menu is mostly vegan (or plant based) with a few exceptions including a really good grilled omelet with broccoli and cheese. For lunch, try the pho with homemade veggie stock, Asian herbs and noodles or the nachos with a jackfruit salsa. For coffee, it’s Allpress organic roast. We love the hanging bananas, also.
The Nourished Eatery
The owner of The Nourished Eatery, Sharna, says most of their customers are not vegan. Which may be surprising seeing as though this café in Tauranga is completely so. We like the Mexican brekkie tacos, with beans, tofu and salad and the veggie Buddha bowl with brown rice, beetroot hummus and a sesame dressing. The smoothies are all delicious, but the one with banana, passionfruit, feijoa and house-made coconut yogurt is our pick. For a treat you won’t feel guilty about, opt for a strawberry and custard donut. And if you would like to cook some healthy and vegan meals at home, you can even purchase The Nourished Eatery’s cookbook in the café, too.
You may feel like you’re walking into your grandmother’s house at Grindz Café, with the antique mirrors, ornaments and couches. You’ll be greeted warmly too, by one of the wait staff or owners—it’s a family operated business. Grindz is the kind of place where you could sit for a few hours and read the paper, or scroll through Instagram, undisturbed. All the food is made on site and there are lots of vegetarian and vegan options, including a raspberry chocolate brownie. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a turmeric or beetroot latte. Plus, you can pick up some organic honey on your way out—the owners are also beekeepers.
After a morning swim in the ocean, stroll to brunch at the award-winning café, The General, located on Pacific Avenue in Mount Maunganui. It’s the locals that keep this place busy and open seven days a week, coming back for the avocado on toast with feta and cherry tomatoes and the Turkish eggs with Aleppo pepper butter and fried zucchini. For lunch, go for the chicken and camembert cheese on a seeded roll. The General use their own mix of roasted beans for coffee—with the result being smooth and well-balanced—so you won’t be able to try it anywhere else. The service is warm and friendly and the décor is coastal chic.
You’ll find Elspeth Bakery on Maunganui Road—a half café and half bakery that’s seldom quiet. Beautiful food on Instagram rarely lives up to its hype, though in this case, it certainly does. The banana waffles with caramelised pineapple and mandarin and the baked eggs with sweet corn, bacon and tomato jam are some of our favourites. If it’s a little later in the day, choose the Japanese friend chicken burger with kimchi mayo and coriander slaw. Then from Elspeth, take away a golden and buttery almond croissant or a loaf of freshly baked focaccia with garlic and herbs and your weekend is sorted.
Just a short walk from The Strand is Little Long, a café with a high ceiling, white walls and lots of lush indoor plants. To eat, there’s a green brekkie bowl with quinoa, spinach, pesto and a poached egg and an acai bowl with granola, nuts and chia seeds. We also like the bagels—salmon and cream cheese with capers is a winner. Little Long is open Monday to Friday, so it’s a place for a mid-week catch up for a drink—the beans are Coffee Supreme—or a relaxed lunch while you’re walking around Tauranga.
Café Eighty Eight
Café Eighty Eight is everything you could want in a café. Delicious coffee, generous portions and meals for when you’re after something healthy, like a chia seed pudding and fresh fruit, and bubble and squeak with bacon and poached eggs when you’ve had one too many the night before. They do freshly squeezed juices, too. An array of cakes and slices, like the lolly cake and caramel slice, gleam at you from the counter, and there are lots of vegan and gluten free options—such as the raw blueberry and orange cake. After you’ve ordered, head out the back in the courtyard to enjoy your meal.
Tay Street Beach Café
For breakfast and coffee with a sea breeze—Tay Street Beach Café have got you covered. The menu is fresh and seasonal, and a lot the produce is sourced from the local market. For breakfast, enjoy their scrambled eggs with chilli and spring onions or asparagus with avocado and radish. The beer-battered market fish served with a green salad, fries and roast garlic aioli is our choice for lunch. There’s indoor and outdoor seating at this café that’s right across from the well-known Tay Street surfing break—just remember to wait 30 minutes after your meal if you decide to head out for a wave.
Now you're feeling full, find out what else there is to do in Tauranga and The Mount.
Image credit: Elizabeth, George, Grindz, Eddies And Elspeth, Cafe Eighty Eight