We South Aucklanders have heard every Tom, Dick and Harry rave on about going to Ponsonby, Takapuna and every other foodie hotspot that would require us to sit through 1.75 hours of traffic. And, while travelling that far for good food is completely justified, you shouldn’t have to fill your gas tank twice to fill your belly once. Our own backyard is home to some of the tastiest, most scenic and most unique eateries this city has to offer, so it’s time we say goodbye to traffic congestion and hello to delicious food digestion. Non-South Aucklanders, we urge you to resist locking your doors and winding your windows up. Read on and get some south-side education.
When it comes to fine dining, Bracu is the jewel of South Auckland. Devour some fancy cheese from their menu and sit out on the veranda amongst a vast olive grove. Follow with a meal of duck breast, venison or line-caught fresh fish, paired with your choice of vino from their Wine Library, and enjoy the scenery of the Bombay Hills (pinkies out).
Peach's Hot Chicken
South Auckland, you lucky thing—you're also home to one of the city's best fried chicken joints aka Peach's Hot Chicken. Kick up your feet and prepare to have your socks knocked off (if you order anything hotter than the mild, that is) at this cool food-truck-turned-restaurant that's decked-out like an American diner, and specialises in Nashville's famously spicy version of the treat. We highly recommend the Baller Sandwich, followed by a bowl of banana pudding—holy cluck that's some good grub.
Red Shed Palazzo
Red Shed Palazzo has a special place in the hearts of every South Aucklander. Not surprisingly, the cafe is a big red shed adorned with works by local artists which opens up into a relaxed garden area that’s so beautiful you might consider getting married there. The menu boasts a selection of ‘something-differents’ including a Mexican Breakfast and a myriad of Karaka’s best cabinet food. We love you, Red Shed Palazzo.
The Corner Kitchen & Bar
The Corner Kitchen & Bar will convince any city slicker that dining out is done best when it’s rural. Set in the heart of the agricultural Clevedon Village, The Corner uses ingredients sourced practically from their own backyard to create dishes that sheep farmers and marketing executives alike are sure to drool over. Not to mention, The Corner is one of the few places in Auckland you can get sweet-style baos for brekky, complete with coconut yoghurt, mango compote and macadamia crumbs.
St Margaret’s Cafe
All year round, St Margaret’s Cafe is the locals’ cafe of choice. In the warmer months, enjoy the watermelon and cashew salad in the sun amongst green grass and lush gardens, and in the colder months opt for a seat next to the roaring fire in the cottage as you chow down on free-range pork belly with kumara purée, seasonal greens, and red wine jus. You won’t get that in the ol’ CBD.
If you thought South Auckland was missing out on the cafe scene of Central Auckland, you thought wrong. Canopius ticks all the boxes. It’s unexpected, cosy, modern and, although it’s located on the busiest road in South Auckland, it’s more inviting than a bean bag chair. On top of that, they’re leading the South-side movement towards conscious eating by serving unprocessed, free-range and locally sourced menu items. They could give any big-city cafe a run for their money when it comes to coffee, by the way.
Venture South to Poco Loco next time you’re in the mood for some Mediterranean tapas. This Pukekohe treasure is everyone’s fav when they’re after a big range of dinner options—you’ll need to scrape up on your Year Nine Spanish, so get them r’s rolling because variety is the spice of South Auckland.
Castaways Restaurant & Bar
South Auckland is home to one of the most unique and memorable dining destinations around—we’re talking about Castaways Restaurant & Bar. With an impressive menu, including stone grill dishes, and a cliff top setting overlooking Kariotahi Beach, a meal here is an experience you won’t be able to find anywhere else in Auckland.
Friend of the Farmer
If you walk through Kings Plant Barn in Takanini, you’ll see the rows of market stalls and, beyond them, you’ll see some Kunekune piggies, rabbits, chickens and a cockatoo. And, beyond them you’ll see the gorgeous terrace of Friend of the Farmer. This local favourite has a constantly evolving menu, friendly staff and an atmosphere so relaxed you’ll never want to go back to your Remuera villa.
Manukau and KARAKA
Urban Soul have the restaurant game made, boasting two Insta-worthy eateries that are well worth the drive if you're not lucky enough to be a local. Think loaded omelettes for brekkie, burgers and fried chicken waffles for lunch, and gourmet pizzas for dinner, washed down with a cocktail or two if you visit their Karaka branch; which operates late into the evening. Add to that a beautiful yet unpretentious fit-out at both spots, and we reckon you may have just found yourself a new fave cafe (or cafes!).
With an open, light-filled, modern setting, Yakety Yak serves up some quality grub in style. With cosy seating next to big windows, you can watch the bustling little South Auckland town through the trees while you sip on a highly revered coffee. There’s nothing quite like urban-rural dining.
Just a hop, skip and a jump away check out everything you need to eat, see and do in Catalina Bay.
Image credit: Bracu, Red Shed Palazzo, Canopius, Castaways, Urban Soul