It's that time of year again, Auckland—when the CBD's eateries bust out their most tasty, creative and excellent value-for-money menus for the month of August, in honour of Restaurant Month.
The 2022 event is an absolute treat, with more than 80 incredible options to choose from ranging from epic sharing platters through to full-blown six-course feasts, across three price points: $25, $40, and $55. You'll also see the return of the popular Social Hour, where you can nab two drinks and a sharing plate for two people for just $45, every Tuesday–Thursday between 4pm and 6:30pm. Score.
So without further ado, here's our pick of the best menus available in each category throughout Restaurant Month 2022.
Queen Street (inside Commercial Bay)
We're tipping our sombreros in honour of Ghost Donkey's delicious $25 two-course dinner, which you'll enjoy inside their eclectic, neon-lit den at Commercial Bay. Get the party started with an entrée of tortilla chips and guacamole, followed by two mouthwatering tacos stuffed with your choice of crumbed market fish, al pastor (pork), slow-cooked beef brisket, Mexican fried chicken, braised lamb birria, or chipotle jackfruit. Throw in an extra bit of coin and you can even get a marg to match.
Burgers and beers are always a good time, especially when you can grab both for $25 from Park Hyatt Auckland's epic daytime eatery, The Pantry. In keeping with their incredible menu, this burger is anything but average and features a mouthwatering togarashi-spiced grass-fed patty stacked with bacon and Kikorangi blue cheese, which you'll enjoy with an ice cold glass of Hallertau #9 (but only after tucking into an entrée of shoestring fries of course). The downside? It's a lunch-only affair.
We're definitely feeling the love when it comes to That's Amore's mouthwatering dinner deal for Restaurant Month. Head on over to their hidden spot on Courthouse Lane and prepare to gorge on two courses of authentic Italian cuisine—we're opting for the bianca alla romana rustica pizza (made in the Napoletana style), pistachio gelato, and a bottle of San Pellegrino soft drink to wash it all down.
Customs Street West
We'd never want to be caught up in a real monsoon, of course, but we're totally cool with being swept away by Viaduct fave Monsoon Poon for an evening, especially when this haven of South-East Asian fusion is bringing us a sweet two-course lunch or dinner with a drink for just $25. Take your pick of Indonesian beef rendang, Thai yellow chicken curry or dhal (all served with roti and jasmine rice), washed down with a glass of crisp Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc and finished off with a delightfully refreshing Malaysian sago pudding with coconut cream and palm sugar syrup. Yes, please.
The Kimchi Project
$40 seems like a pretty price to pay for a three-course sharing-style dinner with a drink, wouldn't you agree? Especially when said menu features the likes of grilled gochujang chicken, Korean BBQ pork and chargrilled tiger prawns from the legends at The Kimchi Project. Their famous waffle fries will also be making an appearance, along with a glass of their house wine (choose from white or red) or a soft drink.
Oh, how we love us some authentic French food—even better, authentic French food that doesn't break the bank. That's where Le Chef comes in, with an indulgent yet extremely affordable three-course lunch or dinner that'll set you back just $40. Cosy up inside this charming French spot on O'Connell Street and indulge in an entrée, main, AND dessert—we'll take the gravlax de saumon, bavette sauce au bleu and frites (that's beef flank served with blue cheese sauce and fries), and the classic French crème brûlée *chef's kiss*.
We know which direction we're heading in this Restaurant Month: East. This wildly popular plant-based eatery, which resides inside the Sudima Auckland City hotel, is leading us on a two-course veggie-loving voyage this August, which you'll christen with a complimentary glass of Hunky Dory sav. Think shiitake mushrooms with pepper and Thai holy basil for starters, followed by Nasi goreng fried rice with tofu, egg, bean sprouts and sambal oelek, available for both lunch and dinner.
The Lula Inn
Like us, you're probably well acquainted with The Lula Inn's bottomless brunch (world famous in Auckland, to be sure). However here to prove they're no one trick pony, the team have put together a mouthwatering three-course dinner for Restaurant Month. You'll start with a shared spread of fry bread, shredded brisket and other delicious goodies, followed by your choice of 'not a fish pie' (with market fish, mussels, prawns, crème fraîche, jalapeño and macadamia crumb) or Lula's homemade gnocchi with mushrooms, mascarpone and chives. Finish your night on a sugar high with their caramelised afghan chocolate pot, featuring chocolate cremeux, walnut Afghan crunch and salted chocolate ganache.
Queen Street (inside Commercial Bay)
We'd never need an excuse to visit Gochu, but if we DID, a six-course lunch or dinner for just $75 would definitely do it. Yup, in what is one of THE best value menus this Restaurant Month comes half a dozen dishes of the best freakin' Korean you'll ever eat, period. Head on over to Gochu's stylish spot inside Commercial Bay and prepare for a feast of cured kingfish with apple and anchovy consomme, chilli, shallots and crispy seaweed—a fried chicken slider with Gochu mayo and Korean pickles—and crispy eggplant with doenjang glaze, tofu cream and sesame, amongst other deliciousness. You might even consider splashing out on their wine matches for the evening, starting from $39.
How do you like the sound of digging into an exotic five-course feed designed especially for Restaurant Month by the one and only Sid Sahrawat? We likey, we likey A LOT. For the very special price of $90, you'll be treated to an epic Cassia tasting menu featuring roasted carrots with vindaloo, macadamia tandoori fish with leeks and saffron, lamb chops with lentils and buffalo curd, beef short rib with mushrooms and spinach, and the pièce de résistance—a salt-baked pineapple with honeycomb and pistachio. Oof.
If you feel like getting a little fancy this Restaurant Month, may we suggest making a rendezvous with La Marée. One of the Viaduct's most refined eateries (and the signature eatery at Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour), they are serving up a deluxe four-course lunch or dinner for just $75 and it is beyond dreamy. Think sunchoke and Te Puke truffle soup and poached Te Matuku oysters for starters, followed by either Eastherbrook Farm duck leg confit with celeriac puree and red wine jus, or South Island King Salmon with wintergreens, salmon caviar and crayfish bisque. Again, special mention needs to be made of the dessert—a chocolate gateau with coffee butter crème, chocolate ganache, cappuccino foam, chocolate namelaka, and espresso ice cream.
Soul Bar & Bistro
Customs Street West
The only way we can think to describe Soul Bar & Bistro's Restaurant Month deal is that it's good for the soul (sorry, not sorry). Hear us out—it's three courses of lunch or dinner goodness from one of the Viaduct's most iconic eateries, all for the very tidy sum of $65. And that's not all—there are three choices for both entrée and main (we'll be opting for the burrata with orange and fennel and chervil sourdough, and the beef short rib ragu with pappardelle, chilli, and torched raclette), rounded out with a lush pineapple cake paired with rum caramel and cinnamon ice cream.
Featuring two drinks and a sharing plate for two for $45. Available Tuesdays to Thursdays between 4-6:30 pm in August.Rooftop At QT
Viaduct Harbour Avenue
We're taking it to the roof, literally, with this Social Hour, hosted by one of Auckland's hottest rooftop bars—Rooftop at QT. Harbour views aside, these guys are known for their exceptional cocktails—choose from their fragrant Conchord Fizz, laced with Dancing Sands Sauvignon Blanc Gin, wild mint, thyme, citrus and ginger beer, or the Penicillin, featuring Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky, smoky whisky, ginger, honey and lemon. Part of what makes Social Hour so epic is the inclusion of snacks, which on this occasion comes in the form of open lamb gyros or Turkish fried chicken.
The Sugar Club
Federal Street (inside SkyCity)
Another venue bringing together views and booze this Restaurant Month is The Sugar Club, aka Auckland's highest bar. Located atop the Sky Tower, this is certainly a fine spot to sink a drink—visit them during Social Hour and you can nab yourself one of the city's best whisky sours or their whisky-laced Manzanito, whilst gorging yourself on olives, bread and hummus.
1947 Eatery is renowned for its cocktails so, naturally, this should be one of your top picks for Social Hour. However, you'll have a serious battle on your hands when it comes to deciding which of their two gorgeous cocktails to order. For a sip that's equal parts sweet and sour, The Red Carpet with Elephant Gin will see your right, while their Cover Me In The Sunshine cocktail will both refresh you, and revive you thanks to its hit of Monte Alban Mezcal and tequila. The only thing left to do is soak it all up with your choice of okra fries, or chilli chicken bar bites.
Everybody's has consistently featured on our list of best espresso martinis, and guess what? A special version of this delicious tipple, featuring Sailor Jerry's rum, is one of two drinks you'll be able to partake of during their Social Hour this Restaurant Month. And if (God forbid) espresso martinis aren't your poison, you can always opt for their classic Old Fashioned—both of which you'll enjoy alongside their drool-worthy Tokyo fried chicken.
Want more of the good stuff? Check out Restaurant Month's full list of menus here.
Image credit: The Kimchi Project, Ghost Donkey, Park Hyatt Auckland, Monsoon Poon, The Kimchi Project, East, Gochu, La Maree, QT Auckland.