Best cafes 2018

In an ever-evolv­ing cafe scene, our com­pre­hen­sive guide salutes the places that rise above the com­pe­ti­tion.


AMPERSAND Ōrākei Bay Vil­lage, 228 Ōrākei Rd, Ōrākei

Part of an east­ern sub­urbs re­tail com­plex that opened last year, Ampersand seems to hum at all times of the day, and it’s not hard to see why. While the large space can feel a tad cold and cav­ernous at night, the ve­randa over­look­ing Hob­son Bay is hard to beat on a sunny lunchtime. Break­fast and brunch of­fer­ings in­clude dev­illed lambs’ kid­neys and ra­men along­side more-stan­dard fare, while bistro-style dishes — steak frites, pasta, crêpes — take cen­tre stage at lunchtime. A plant-based menu is pre­sented along­side the reg­u­lar one with­out com­ment, and luck­ily — be­cause it’s the sort of place where it feels wrong not to or­der an al­co­holic bev­er­age — the drinks list is great. Go for— Watch­ing the world go by over a long brunch or lunch. Es­presso Work­shop cof­fee ● ● ● ●

ARK COF­FEE COM­PANY Shop 6, 461-467 Lake Rd, Taka­puna

Take a seat near the in­dus­trial cof­fee roaster, which, while phys­i­cally dom­i­nant, gen­tly heats the space, and be re­minded of what it feels like to re­lax. Time seems to move slowly here, and the sense of calm is en­hanced by softly spo­ken li­nen-clad staff and the slow process of grind­ing beans and metic­u­lously heat­ing wa­ter to ex­act tem­per­a­tures for each batch-brew, sin­gle-ori­gin cof­fee. Be­fit­ting the own­ers’ ori­gins, Ark draws in­spi­ra­tion from Ja­pan’s third-wave cof­fee scene with a mod­est of­fer­ing: house-roasted spe­cialty beans and brews, a se­lec­tion of dainty club sand­wiches, and spe­cials such as rich beef lasagne or ap­ple pie. Go for— A batch brew with a cof­feeob­sessed friend. Ark cof­fee ●

ATOMIC ROASTERY 420C New North Rd, Kings­land

Housed within a work­ing roastery, this high-ceilinged in­dus­trial space is lively, loud and vi­brant. The cof­fee is the main draw­card, with a menu al­most as long as the food one. It in­cludes sin­gle-ori­gin beans and blends, all ac­com­pa­nied by tast­ing notes — we love the Ve­loce with hints of cin­na­mon, choco­late and stone fruit. Cafe clas­sics ac­com­pany the brews — avo­cado toast fresh­ened up with kale and pick­led cu­cum­ber, and toasties ooz­ing with melted cheese — as well as chunky slices and cook-

ies tempt­ing you at the counter. There are low, shared con­crete ta­bles where you can meet with friends or linger on your lap­top; bar lean­ers for gaz­ing out the win­dow if you are just look­ing to slam an es­presso; and out­door seat­ing.

Go for— The tast­ing tray of Atomic cof­fees, which in­cludes an es­presso, a cold brew and a pic­colo. Atomic cof­fee ● ● ●

BABY 67B France St, Eden Ter­race

This year, Bestie got a sib­ling cafe in Baby, which is much smaller than its big sis­ter, with only a com­mu­nal ta­ble and win­dow seat­ing in­side. There’s still a vibe, thanks to ex­cel­lent playlists — run­ning from 2005 Kayne, to G Unit, and Ne­sian Mys­tik — a well-cu­rated stack of glossy mags, cook­books, and the staff ’s nat­u­ral cheer. If it’s on (the food changes of­ten), get the eg­g­plant parmi­giana sand­wich — all toma­toes, parme­san-crusted eg­g­plant and melty cheese. Wash it down with an old-fash­ioned lemon­ade; it’s got just the right amount of tang. Go for— The tunes, stay for the san­gas.

eighthirty cof­fee ● ● ● ●

BAMBINA 268 Pon­sonby Rd, Pon­sonby

New­bies take note, be­cause Peter and Sarah Wren have been set­ting the tone for great cafes in this city since 1996 and ev­ery­thing they’re do­ing is still bloody ex­cel­lent: switched-on, pro­fes­sional ser­vice from staff who seem to gen­uinely en­joy look­ing af­ter peo­ple, a menu that un­der-promises and over-de­liv­ers, and cof­fee that takes more than 10 sec­onds to hit the ta­ble, be­cause it’s made care­fully to be creamy and smooth ev­ery time. That’s the thing about Bambina — ev­ery­one cares enough about what they’re

do­ing to do a good job. It’s not the fan­ci­est joint in town, or the trendi­est. They’re just do­ing what they’ve al­ways done, and do­ing it damn well. Go for— The slick­est ser­vice in town. All­press cof­fee ● ●

BEST UGLY BAGELS City Works De­pot, 90 Welles­ley St, cen­tral city

The yelling wears a bit thin — es­pe­cially if you’ve been on the sher­bets the night be­fore — but Al Brown’s Best Ugly pumps out the best bagels in Auck­land by a coun­try mile. Hand-rolled, gen­tly poached in honey wa­ter, then wood-fired; im­i­ta­tors bow down. And the top­pings, so sim­ple, but their con­sis­tency means they al­ways hit the spot: sal­mon and cream cheese with a lit­tle bit of red onion and a smat­ter­ing of ca­pers; house pas­trami, stringy cheese and hot mus­tard; avo­cado, tomato and basil with le­mon oil. Brown’s not rein­vent­ing the wheel — these are tried and tested flavour com­bi­na­tions for a rea­son. En­joy one fire­side, with a strong Ha­vana cof­fee. Go for— A bagel, duh. Ha­vana cof­fee ● ●

BESTIE St Kevins Ar­cade, 183 Karanga­hape Rd, K’ Rd Precinct

The cool thing about Bestie is that own­ers Tane Wil­liams and Emma Lyell have cre­ated an artsy-cool at­mos­phere with­out mak­ing the place feel in­tim­i­dat­ing. The con­tents of the heav­ing cabi­net are shipped in from sib­ling cafe Baby each morn­ing and are al­ways worth a look — think jazzed-up old-school bakes like Louise slice, gooey choco­late brown­ies, or a gi­ant wodge of cake. The à la carte menu fea­tures re­fined ver­sions of clever, com­fort­ing com­bi­na­tions such as flat­bread with spicy chorizo, pick­les and lab­neh, the per­fect Sun­day-af­ter­noon cheese toastie, and peanut-but­ter dough­nuts. Go for— A Bum­ble date.

eighthirty cof­fee ● ● ●

BILLY 79 Carl­ton Gore Rd, New­mar­ket

Perched over­look­ing the tree­tops on the cusp of the Do­main, this min­i­mal­ist set-up is a worth­while pit stop. If you’ve got a dog in tow, it will be of­fered a snack from a tub of dog bis­cuits by the smi­ley staff. The cof­fee is Supreme, in qual­ity and brand, and the menu brims with big rich flavours and twists on the clas­sics — eggs bene­dict is served with ba­con hock, miso hol­landaise, kale, pick­led fen­nel and sour­dough. There’s also old-school milk­shakes and fat burg­ers stacked with crisp onion rings, fried chicken, pick­les and cheese — wor­thy of an­other lap around the park. Go for— Stacked burg­ers served with crin­kle-cut chips. Cof­fee Supreme ● ● ●

BLACK & GOLD EATERY 1/33 Tri­ton Drive, Rosedale

In a less-than-glam­orous set­ting at the back of a strip mall, Black & Gold is a haven of cof­fee cul­ture in semi-in­dus­trial Al­bany. Un­sur­pris­ingly, given the dearth of de­cent cafes in these parts, it’s al­ways crank­ing, but ser­vice is smooth and swift. And as is to be ex­pected when a pair of baris­tas are run­ning the show, the cof­fee is top-notch. Own­ers David Huang and Kayoko Naka­mura set up their own roastery, So­ci­ety Cof­fee, here last year, and it’s soon to move to their new Browns Bay cafe, A-Block. The Black & Gold menu fea­tures cafe clas­sics made new — think eggs bene­dict on house-made crum­pets — as well as Asian-in­flu­enced dishes such as chilli pork baos and “Nip­pon pan­cakes” with pump­kin-cran­berry purée, sticky sesame balls, berry ic­ing, meringues, or­ange jelly and can­died wal­nuts. Go for— A brunch break in the ’burbs. So­ci­ety cof­fee ● ● ● ●

CAFFETTERI­A ALL­PRESS 8 Drake St, Free­mans Bay

Some­times you don’t want lunch to be an hours-long, à la carte af­fair. Per­haps you just want to nip out of the of­fice for a half-hour breather or catch-up with a mate. En­ter Caffetteri­a All­press, with its sand­wich cabi­net, soup, and mixed-plate of­fer­ings. No one’s try­ing too hard — the vibe’s counter-ser­vice ca­sual — but staff will quickly sense if you’ve never been here be­fore and guide you through the day’s sand­wich spe­cials with­out mak­ing you feel like a dork. Af­ter­wards, take a stroll around All­press gallery next door, where up-and-com­ing Auck­land artists are on high ro­ta­tion. Go for— A quick mid­week catch-up. All­press cof­fee ● ●

CA­TROUX 129 West End Rd, West­mere

Prov­ing the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” for the best part of a decade Ca­troux has con­tin­ued its suc­cess­ful for­mula of gen­er­ously pro­por­tioned menu and cabi­net op­tions. We love that you can sit down to a

cou­ple of choices of sal­ads, with a bit of ex­tra pro­tein on the side, and still have change from a twenty. Don’t for­get cof­fee; they get it just right here. From the menu, the fit­ness bowl, packed with greens, hal­loumi and avo­cado and topped with a poached egg, shows up a lot of other more-re­cent bowl of­fer­ings around town that too of­ten leave us feel­ing un­der­fed.

Go for— Prawn kofta, with co­conut and turmeric, served with nuoc cham dip­ping sauce. Add a salad for the per­fect meal. eighthirty cof­fee

CHUFFED 43 High St, cen­tral city

Sand­wiches have been a bit of a thing again this year, and that’s no ex­cep­tion at Chuffed, where the short sand­wich of­fer­ing is the star — both the Reuben and the poached-chicken op­tions are ex­cel­lent. That said, we re­ally like the rest of the menu, which runs from jammy-yolked poached eggs on your choice of toast to slow-cooked lamb shoul­der with burnt gar­lic and feta, or cauliflowe­r salad — the veg­etable of the mo­ment. Chuffed is small, and ex­tremely pop­u­lar, but they run an ef­fi­cient wait­list and of­fer take­away pre-or­ders on­line. How’s that for ser­vice? Go for— Al fresco din­ing. Chuffed blend ● ●

COF­FEE PEN 6 Basque Rd, Eden Ter­race

There’s barely enough room in­side to swing a cat, and only a few ta­bles out­side, but this Ja­panese-in­spired spe­cialty cof­fee shop’s close prox­im­ity to Basque Park means if you ar­rive and they’re full, all you have to do is or­der take­away and head down the hill for an al fresco lunch. As the name sug­gests, cof­fee’s the fo­cus — soft brew or es­presso — but there’s also cabi­net food, in­clud­ing hot, of­ten pasta-based spe­cials such as sloppy, belly-warm­ing lasagne, or mac and cheese. Then there’s the best toasted sand­wich we’ve had this year: poached chicken on rye with smashed peas and gooey cheese all the way to the edges. Closed Sun­days. Go for— A chicken sand­wich and a slice of banof­fee pie. Be Spe­cialty cof­fee ● ●

DIZENGOFF 256 Pon­sonby Rd, Pon­sonby

Why change a good thing? In a city awash with new play­ers, it’s a bit easy to over­look Dizengoff. Don’t. The things that have made it a main­stay of Pon­sonby Rd for nearly two decades are the rea­son it’s still great: that lovely airy room, those big win­dows, the beaten-up wooden floors, the breezy ser­vice and the Jewish-in­flu­enced menu — we still can’t go past the chicken salad. It’s also — and we don’t say this lightly — an ex­cel­lent place to be alone. The long blacks come in a glass with a side of hot wa­ter with­out you ask­ing, which is ex­actly as it should be. Go for— Jewish-in­flu­enced clas­sics. All­press cof­fee ●

DRIPS & DOUGH 991 Do­min­ion Rd, Mt Roskill

The south­ern end of Do­min­ion Rd has a whole lot go­ing for it food-wise, but good cof­fee has thus far been elu­sive. So when Drips & Dough opened this year, serv­ing per­fectly ex­tracted cups of the good stuff, lo­cals re­joiced. Even bet­ter, there’s a se­lec­tion of bánh mì made to or­der, with all the es­sen­tial com­po­nents in place: a crisp and light baguette, pâté and grilled meat or tofu (all pre­pared on­site), lots of salad and a de­cent show­ing of herbs. Bún cha (ver­mi­celli noo­dles with top­pings) and sum­mer rolls com­plete the Viet­namese side of things, but don’t snob the pie-warmer; it’s home to some righ­teously good ex­am­ples. Go for— Some of the best and most rea­son­ably priced bánh mì in town. Cof­fee Supreme ● ● ●

FAB­RIC 8/3 Bound­ary Rd, Hob­sonville Point

Tak­ing cafe din­ing next level, Fab­ric is a so­phis­ti­cated all-day des­ti­na­tion on the edge of Catalina Bay, where the view across to Green­hithe’s moody, pōhutukawa-clad fringe never gets bor­ing. Ser­vice is smart and the break­fast and brunch menus mostly fol­low clas­sic cafe lines, while lunch as well as din­ner see dishes split into en­trées, mains, desserts and sides; come ex­pect­ing to open your wal­let a lit­tle wider than you might nor­mally. This is an es­pe­cially good spot for fam­i­lies: once the kids have wolfed down their food, they can have a hoon along the board­walk while you sit awhile with a glass of wine or beer.

Go for— The view (both out­side and the Walker Mitchell-de­signed in­te­rior), and se­ri­ously good crisp roast po­ta­toes in place of fries. L’af­fare cof­fee ● ● ●

FED­ERAL DEL­I­CATESSEN 86 Fed­eral St, cen­tral city

The Fed is the sort of place most Auck­land cafes wish they were: fast, friendly, with a con­stant buzz, and sling­ing some of the sim­plest but best ex­e­cuted food in the city.

All that, plus you could take nearly any­one there and they’d feel com­fort­able; it seems like the staff’s per­sonal mis­sion is for you to leave smil­ing and well fed (we’ve said yes to pie on an al­ready full stom­ach far more times than we care to ad­mit). This is also one of the best places in the city to dine solo — park up at the counter with a piece of sugar pie, a book, and a cup of fil­ter cof­fee (bot­tom­less). Go for— A hang­over or heart­break cure. Ha­vana or Cof­fee Supreme ● ●

FLORETTE 297 Do­min­ion Rd, Bal­moral

Stick­ing to their knit­ting, Freddy Brignone and Ju­lia Wil­lis, the cou­ple who run this pe­tite spot, com­bine his French her­itage with her love of bak­ing. Which means lunch here might look like a big fat omelette with Swiss cheese et jam­bon, fol­lowed by a wicked dark choco­late tart and a ro­bust cof­fee. Change it up each time you go: there’s a strong list of omelettes, filled baguettes and crêpes, and the bak­ing cabi­net boasts reg­u­lar treats and spe­cial-edi­tion cre­ations by Wil­lis. Go for— The croque mon­sieur. Atomic cof­fee ● ●

FORT GREENE AR­TI­SAN BAK­ERY 327 Karanga­hape Rd, K’ Rd Precinct

Liam Fox and An­drea Muhlhausen moved the con­tents of their St Kevins Ar­cade cafe 100-odd me­tres down K’ Rd this year to a big­ger space. They had to, to keep up with the de­mand for their posh sand­wiches and re­tail loaves. Bak­ing is an ob­ses­sion for Fox, who tweaks his recipes al­most daily in the pur­suit of bread nir­vana — light, crackly, sour, smoky, his sour­dough is one of the best ex­am­ples in town. Try as we might, we never seem to make it past the fish sand­wich: del­i­cate, house-made ka­hawai fish fin­gers, smashed peas and tartare sauce be­tween two slices of that won­der­ful sour­dough bread. It’ll be great with a beer once their li­cence comes through. Go for— The fish-fin­ger sand­wich. Peo­ples cof­fee ● ●

FU­SION CAFE 32 Jer­vois Rd, Herne Bay

This old charmer with its roar­ing fire­place, slightly slop­ing floor and kitsch wooden in­te­rior is named for the type of food it serves — a fu­sion of Viet­namese and New Zealand cuisines. So do your­self a favour and or­der the bánh mì, which is burst­ing with pick­led vegeta­bles, chilli and ten­der meat bound to­gether with a thick swipe of pâté on one side of a crunchy baguette and mayo on the other. It’s a sim­ple plea­sure, no mat­ter the time of day. Ser­vice, led by af­fa­ble owner Nam Do, is ex­em­plary. Pun­ters stream­ing in the door on week­day morn­ings all stop to chat and he makes time for ev­ery one of them, even when run­ning the show solo. Go for— A break­fast bánh mì. All­press cof­fee ● ● ● ●

GOOD DAY 3/78 Coates Ave, Ōrākei

This is what a cafe should be. You walk in and feel wel­come, there’s not an ounce of pre­ten­sion and the cof­fee, food and ser­vice are on point. Ser­vice is friendly and ef­fi­cient and the food doesn’t try too hard, with com­fort­ing, well-ex­e­cuted brunch fare like ba­con butties (the ba­con served here comes from Chris the butcher next door), sar­dines on toast and house-made baked beans on sour­dough. The counter food is

top-notch, too, with a ro­tat­ing se­lec­tion of sand­wiches, sal­ads and baked treats. Keep an eye out for their evening pop-ups with burger out­fit Bearded Clam. Go for— Great cof­fee, great food and friendly neigh­bour­hood vibes. Cof­fee Supreme and ro­tat­ing guest fil­ter brews ● ● ● ●

HARE AND THE TUR­TLE 1/63 New Wind­sor Rd, New Wind­sor

Sub­ur­ban New Wind­sor is lucky to have such a spot-on lo­cal, a wee slip of a cafe on an evoca­tively retro cor­ner site. We love that their menu is con­cise and to the point: a cou­ple of all-day break­fast dishes cooked to or­der, rounded out with a list of sand­wiches (toasted or not) and glo­ri­ous home bak­ing. Three staff work the tiny open kitchen and man­age the busy lunch rush with smiles and easy ban­ter. Do not miss the $5 cin­na­mon buns.

Go for— The hot eg­g­plant parm in a bun: crumbed and fried eg­g­plant with prov­elone, tomato, basil and mayo. Cof­fee Supreme ● ●

HOMESTEAD 72 Hills­bor­ough Rd, Hills­bor­ough

With its eclec­tic art col­lec­tion and man­i­cured grounds, grace­ful Pah Homestead se­duces from the mo­ment you ar­rive, and we love that you can make an af­ter­noon of it with a meal or snack at Sam Man­ner­ing’s Homestead cafe. Crum­pets are the star, either sweet or savoury — try the smoked-fish-and-ca­per-but­ter ver­sion with a poached egg — but if you just want cake and a cuppa, the full-to­burst­ing cabi­net de­liv­ers on that front, too. Later in the day (they’re open un­til 5pm on week­ends), share an an­tipasti plat­ter with a tap beer or glass of wine on the wrap­around deck and watch the sun sink be­low the trees. Go for— A ses­sion with your gran. Flight cof­fee ● ● ●

HONEY BONES 480 Rich­mond Rd, Grey Lynn

Steeped in morn­ing sun on a cor­ner in the West Lynn shops, Honey Bones — with its perky staff and strong, ex­pertly made cof­fee — will lighten any moody morn­ing. The cabi­net of­fers great break­fast sand­wiches if you’re in a rush, but it’s the bright and zingy plates of food com­ing out of the wee kitchen that are worth stick­ing around for. Park up at an out­door ta­ble for thought­fully pre­pared dishes such as smoked sar­dines on sour­dough with whipped manchego cheese, sliv­ers of radish and a flurry of fresh herbs; break­fast bowls bright as rain­bows; and vir­tu­ous smooth­ies — we love the West Lynn with ca­cao, ba­nana, date, co­conut and al­mond.

Go for— Chilli lab­neh eggs with smoked pep­pers, cherry tomato, dill and sour­dough. Cof­fee Supreme ● ●

HUGO’S BISTRO 67 Short­land St, cen­tral city

Yes, Hugo’s is a damn good spot for din­ner and a cou­ple of wines af­ter work — it’s the best bistro in the in­ner-city, af­ter all — but it’s no slouch in the day­time either. Whether you want to nurse a per­fectly made cof­fee at the bar while pe­rus­ing the pa­per, grab a chicken-schnitzel sand­wich for lunch or opt for some­thing more sub­stan­tial over a bev­er­age or three, Hugo’s has it sorted. The ex­press lunch menu ($40, or $49 with a glass of wine) is an ex­cel­lent op­tion if you fancy some­thing a bit spe­cial but don’t have all day to spare, but to be hon­est, we could sub­sist hap­pily on the $3 hunk of bread with porcini but­ter. Go for— A grown-up cafe ex­pe­ri­ence. Hugo’s blend ● ● ●

IMA 53 Fort St, cen­tral city

The shared space of Fort St is all con­crete grey and spar­tan, so step­ping in­side Ima is like be­ing wel­comed into a par­al­lel di­men­sion: all warm-hued, bustling with smil­ing staff and per­fumed with the mag­i­cal smell of bak­ing. Do not leave here with­out try­ing, or tak­ing away with you, a piece: owner Yael Shochat has worked hard to per­fect pas­tries and cakes of all kinds, in­clud­ing Ashke­nazi wal­nut-laced rugelach, kouign-amanns and gen­er­ously sliced layer cakes. When you’re re­ally hun­gry, Ima’s big break­fast, fea­tur­ing Shochat’s own mer­guez sausage, shall pro­vide, or for some­thing lighter we rec­om­mend the dukkah and olive-oiled

avo­cado on toasted home­made sour­dough.

Go for— The Ye­menite dish malawach: a puff-pas­try pan­cake served with egg, toma­toes and zingy fresh green chilli. Be Spe­cialty cof­fee ● ● ●

KŌKAKO CAFE 537 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn

There’s some­thing spe­cial about a cafe that stays as con­sis­tently good and busy as it’s al­ways been, even af­ter a change of hands. That’s cer­tainly been the case here. We re­ally like the semi-in­dus­trial space, and the sub­tle, fruity cof­fees owner Troy Men­tor con­tin­ues to serve, but the re­ally great thing about Kōkako is you can visit with your most veg­etable-averse friend and chef Plabita Florence’s skill at cook­ing with plants will im­press. From black gar­lic mush­rooms and leek on sour­dough, to ku­mara waf­fles with poached pears, we’re yet to have a dud dish. Her spo­radic evening pop-ups fol­low the same vegeta­bles-are-the-hero phi­los­o­phy as the day menu. Go for— A vege­tar­ian brunch where you won’t miss the meat. Kōkako Or­ganic cof­fee ● ● ● ●

L’ATE­LIER DU FRO­MAGE 5 Mc­Coll St, New­mar­ket

On a breezy day we reckon you can smell this place from down the street, which is how it should be for what’s es­sen­tially a shrine to cheese. The air at this bustling hy­brid cafe, take­away, deli, bak­ery and wine-tast­ing room is thick with the French ac­cents of staff and cus­tomers alike. Chef Gilles Papst’s menu con­tin­ues the theme, with out­ra­geously in­dul­gent and mor­eish dishes such as bavette de boeuf wagyu — thick strips of an­gus skirt steakscat­tered­with­mush­room­sand­crowned with slabs of mouth-tin­gling truf­fle-stuffed brie that melts into the meat and the pud­dle of Bur­gundy jus be­neath. If it’s all too much, there’s oo­dles of counter and cabi­net op­tions — quiches, cro­ques, baguettes, tarts and mille-feuille. Fran­cophile heaven. Go for— All things cheese. All­press cof­fee ●

LIT­TLE & FRI­DAY 43 Ever­sleigh Rd, Bel­mont

Your eyes will al­ways be big­ger than your stom­ach here, where the im­pos­si­bly deca­dent cabi­net boasts huge sand­wiches stuffed full of ham and brie; a pump­kin-and-ba­con quiche whose sweet­ness is punc­tu­ated by a

stri­dent hit of salty feta; and cheesy brioche with sun­dried toma­toes and spinach. What we can never go past, how­ever, are Kim Evans’ rasp­berry and fresh cream “di­plo­mat” dough­nuts — each ic­ing-sugar-coated bite burst­ing with messy fill­ing — and her old-school cone-shaped lam­ing­tons, like lit­tle brown Christ­mas trees rolled in co­conut snow. Go for— A treat the size of your head. eighthirty cof­fee ● ●

LIT­TLE BIRD UNBAKERY 1A Sum­mer St, Pon­sonby

When you’ve had enough of ba­con, eggs and mys­tery-meat sausages, one of Megan May’s plant-based meals should re­vi­talise. Ev­ery­thing on the sea­sonal spe­cials board is good, and we rec­om­mend shar­ing two dishes to get ul­ti­mate bang for your raw ve­gan buck. The dosa wrap, filled with masala-spiced cauliflowe­r and broc­coli, is enor­mous and way more ex­cit­ing than you’d imag­ine a veg­etable wrap to be, the nour­ish­ing smooth­ies are thicker than a Mac­cas shake, and the cheese­cakes — with their sub­tle co­conut un­der­tones and creamy rich­ness — are a not-so-guilty plea­sure. Go for— A guilt-free break­fast. Kōkako Or­ganic cof­fee ● ●

L'OEUF 4A Ōwairaka Ave, Mt Al­bert

Hooray! You don’t have to walk through the kitchen to get to the toi­let here any more, and the plants and ta­bles are look­ing much ti­dier. In the past year, L’Oeuf’s new own­ers have smartened the place up to be­come, once again, a lovely lit­tle spot for break­fast. The best dishes have a broadly Asian bent — try Lit­tle Kim, which fea­tures kim­chi baked beans, ba­con lar­dons, stringy cheese and a soft-boiled egg. The yolk oozes through the bowl, adding a pleas­ing rich­ness, and it’s per­fect for scoop­ing onto the ac­com­pa­ny­ing toast. Or how about The Nest — two pump­kin-seed-crumbed eggs in pas­try with salad and beet­root ketchup? One of Auck­land’s most pho­tographed break­fasts since 2013. Go for— Eggs.

Atomic cof­fee ● ● ● ●

THE LUNCHROOM Level 1, 45 Queen St, cen­tral city

All the usual cabi­net sus­pects are here, of course, but or­der off the menu for mor­ein­ven­tive fare. For lunch, try fenu­greek po­ta­toes, a flavour bomb of co­rian­der, chilli feta, smoked sal­mon and crème fraîche, or a weight­less crêpe with a soft poached egg tucked in­side. Up the es­ca­la­tors and a world away from Queen St, The Lunchroom’s smart, ex­pan­sive space pro­vides a hushed and wel­come respite from the cor­po­rate hus­tle. Go for— A qual­ity lunch away from the crowds. Kōkako Or­ganic cof­fee ● ●

THE MID­NIGHT BAKER 218 Do­min­ion Rd, Bal­moral

Af­ter strug­gling for years with di­etary is­sues, Yeshe Dawa, aka The Mid­night Baker, said no to gluten, dairy, al­co­hol and re­fined sugar. It changed her life and in­spired her to open a dairy- and gluten-free vege­tar­ian cafe on dumpling-rich but cafe-poor Do­min­ion Rd. The hearty dishes here sur­prise with their com­plex­ity as Dawa show­cases what can be cre­ated just with plants (though there’s the choice to add eggs to some dishes if you wish). The best part? Ev­ery­thing’s huge and very fill­ing. A pile of house-made baked beans is so high it de­fies grav­ity, pulled jack­fruit ta­cos are enough to feed two hun­gry peo­ple, and Dawa’s sig­na­ture gluten-free “free­dom” loaf, which forms the base of sev­eral dishes, is dense and sa­ti­at­ing. Open week­ends only. Go for— Break­fast with a coeliac or ve­gan friend. eighthirty cof­fee ● ●

MI­MOSA 460 Lake Rd, Taka­puna

Re­turn­ing to the Top 50 af­ter a two-year ab­sence, this low-key Shore-side charmer serves healthy all-day break­fasts and half a dozen lunch op­tions. For break­fast, try gin­ger­bread waf­fles with poached pear, and for lunch, the mi­mosa bowl, a tasty pro­tein-packed pile of beans in a tomato sauce with olives, avo­cado, brown rice and lentils. A pleas­ant spot for solo eaters; choose from the pile of pa­pers and mag­a­zines, then claim a seat at the com­mu­nal ta­ble up­front, a stool near the back or a spot out­side and set­tle in. Go for— Healthy Ja­panese-in­flu­enced food. Kōkako Or­ganic cof­fee ● ●

MISTERS 12 Wyn­d­ham St, cen­tral city

Dish­ing up healthy fast food to hordes of hun­gry of­fice work­ers, this week­day hotspot can be crowded, noisy and smoky — but it works. Join the fast-mov­ing queue to or­der lunch at the till, where help­ful staff guide new­bies. It’s a sim­ple idea, done well: you choose a “bowl” — op­tions cur­rently in­clude Bali, Moroc­can, Thai and Nordic — which have dif­fer­ent bases such as noo­dles, rice, quinoa. Then add pro­tein, per­haps silken tofu, chicken breast or slow-cooked lamb. There’s no dairy, gluten or re­fined sugar, and no com­pro­mise on flavour, either. A small cabi­net has tarts and slices, and there’s cof­fee, of course, but the bowls are the stars of this show. Go for— Healthy, tasty fast food.

Misters blend ● ●

ODETTES City Works De­pot, 90 Welles­ley St West, cen­tral city

We’ve been fans of this all-day eatery for a while now — since Clare and Joost van den Berg opened the place back in 2014, in fact — and, hap­pily, they’re still nail­ing it. There’s some­thing to suit all tastes at break­fast (roasted car­rots, any­one?) but we come for brunch or lunch, when gen­er­ous shared dishes such as a wild mush­room brown rice crêpe have their chance to shine, the earthy flavours of the mush­rooms al­lowed to take cen­tre stage by the light­est of crêpes. If you’ve the ap­petite for it, there’s an ex­press lunch op­tion which, at $40 ($49 with a glass of bub­bles), is ex­cel­lent value. Go for— Cof­fee in the sun, or lunch with friends. Odettes blend ● ●


Loaves of next-level bread line the shelves be­hind the counter, and what with the sam­ples by the till, it’s dif­fi­cult to leave this Mt Eden stal­wart with­out one. Bak­ers Olaf Blanke and Nigel Ri­ley spe­cialise in Ger­man-style bread-mak­ing, pro­duc­ing loaves that are hard to find else­where in the city, like vol­lkorn, a whole­grain Ger­man seed bread, all nutty and whole­some. It’s lovely toasted then sim­ply spread with but­ter and honey. The glossy fruit tarts — made by Ri­ley’s wife, Maria dos An­jos — gen­er­ous sand­wiches and piz­zas all flex, too, and where else in the city can you get a cof­fee this good af­ter 3pm? Go for— A late-af­ter­noon cof­fee and a sneaky treat. Cof­fee Supreme ● ● ●

OR­PHANS KITCHEN 118 Pon­sonby Rd, Pon­sonby

The beauty of Or­phans by day comes down to two things: the light, which streams in through that big front win­dow all morn­ing long, and the fact they take a sim­i­lar ap­proach to day­time eat­ing as to evening — stripped-back plates of food that have man­aged to de­fine a New Zealand cui­sine. There are no cafe stand­bys here; the clos­est they come to a main­stay is sour­dough with le­mon curd, an­chovy and a poached egg — sweet, salty, sour and savoury — and cake­like crum­pets with honey from their rooftop hives. The con­stantly evolv­ing menu is at once com­fort­ing and chal­leng­ing: for the long­est time we were fond of the rye gnoc­chi with a for­est floor’s worth of mush­rooms, and a slow-poached egg. Go for— A menu both com­fort­ing and chal­leng­ing. Cof­fee Supreme ● ● ●

ORTOLANA 33 Tyler St, Brit­o­mart

Ev­ery­thing is pitched just right at this small, warm place, all happy mur­murs, stylishly ca­sual and smooth. Staff are un- fail­ingly po­lite, the sun seems to dance in the con­ser­va­tory-like space, even the sand-coloured ban­quettes are the right level of squishy. There’s a break­fast menu and then an all-day one that takes in lunch and din­ner. We like to come for lunch and eat like kings, per­haps or­der­ing the cray­fish ravi­oli — three large firm pouches crammed with fresh flesh, swim­ming in a lemony but­tery sauce and show­ered in dill crumbs and fen­nel. Rich, cer­tainly, but never too heavy. Go for— Next-level food, and peo­ple­watch­ing. All­press cof­fee ●

QUEENIES LUNCH ROOM 24–26 Spring St, Free­mans Bay

Even in win­ter, with­out the al­lure of dark, waxy leaves tum­bling down the side of the build­ing and over the door like they do in sum­mer, Queenies charms. Those who squawk that it’s not as good as it used to be have for­got­ten the sim­ple joy of a bowl of kedgeree brim­ming with smoked fish and topped with a runny egg; or the toma­toey shak­shuka with chilli but­ter and crunchy toast for dip­ping. The ge­nial staff seem to sub­tly pre-empt your needs, notic­ing when you need a spoon to scoop the last sauce from a bowl, or for­go­ing their break-time read­ing ma­te­rial to en­sure a solo cus­tomer has the news­pa­per for com­pany. Go for— The chill vibes. Cof­fee Supreme ●

RE­VOLVER St Kevins Ar­cade, 183 Karanga­hape Rd, K’ Rd Precinct

Oli Brad­ford’s bright and breezy cafe may be brand new but his recipes are not. The menu of hop­pers — Sri Lankan fer­mented pan­cakes filled with var­i­ous, mostly egg-based things — is in­spired by the food Brad­ford’s mum taught him to cook. Ev­ery­thing’s vege­tar­ian. We love the egg hop­per, its chewy base topped with co­conut chut­ney and a runny fried egg, then driz­zled with sour yo­ghurt and a pi­quant chilli sauce; a scat­ter­ing of crunchy savoury shal­lots fin­ishes the dish. While the food looks to South Asia, the vibe and fitout are in­spired by Welling­ton’s chilled-out cafe cul­ture — there’s a re­laxed, al­most bo­hemian at­mos­phere, and quirky, arty things like tum­blers made in In­done­sia from re­cy­cled wine bot­tles. They’re open un­til 4pm. Go for— A Sri Lankan break­fast. Ha­vana cof­fee ● ● ● ●

ROSE­BANK COF­FEE & KITCHEN 1/2 Jo­mac Place, Avon­dale

While de­cent cafes are pop­ping up all over West Auck­land, Rose­bank, which is un­der new own­er­ship, re­mains worth a visit. On first glance the set­ting, a semi-in­dus­trial block of shops just off Rose­bank Rd, doesn’t hold much prom­ise, but the light and airy glass-walled cafe, with its min­i­mal­ist decor and hang­ing greenery, pro­vides a very pleas­ant spot to while away an hour or two. The menu has plenty of in­no­va­tive of­fer­ings — think gnoc­chi with parsnip purée, red cab­bage, pear, manchego and kawakawa — and tempt­ing sweet op­tions fill the cabi­net. There’s also a kids’ menu, Brother’s beer on tap, a thought­fully com­piled wine list and a few cock­tails, and it stays open into the evening on Fri­day for pizza nights. Go for— A classy lunch out west. Atomic cof­fee ● ● ● ●

ROSIE 82 Glad­stone Rd, Par­nell

There’s some­thing about this all-dayer by the Par­nell Rose Gar­dens — the way the staff wel­come you like friends, the ef­fort­lessly el­e­gant food, the re­ally nice carafes of wine — that makes it feel both very smart and a very easy place to be. Ev­ery­one who works here is a nat­u­ral host, and seems to know ex­actly what you need be­fore you know you need it; “an­other cof­fee?” they’ll ask, and the an­swer will in­evitably be yes. Food isn’t un­like what you’ll find at other Hip­group joints and the menu cham­pi­ons the same farm-to-ta­ble, root-to-pe­tal ap­proach, in­clud­ing dishes like po­lenta por­ridge with rhubarb, or scampi folded egg with fen­nel salad, but the at­mos­phere here is dis­tinctly per­son­able and we love Rosie for that. Go for— Mother’s Day. All­press cof­fee ●

SCARE­CROW 33 Vic­to­ria St East, cen­tral city

Scare­crow of­fers a slice of clean coun­try liv­ing amid the big city smoke, serv­ing food beau­ti­ful in its sim­plic­ity, where you can also fill your bas­ket with hand-picked or­ganic pro­duce and ar­ti­sanal prod­ucts from around the coun­try. Fit­tingly, the cof­fee is fair-trade from Kōkako, the cabi­net is a bounty of sal­ads and sand­wiches, and the spe­cials — such as chicken, leek and mush­room pot pie paired with a Haller­tau beer — cel­e­brate sea­sonal cook­ing. Wooden bent­wood chairs and an­tique scales com­plete the mar­ket­place vibe, while jazz tin­kles from the speak­ers, invit­ing you to stay for some­thing sweet. Try a spiced ap­ple frangi­pane tart, blue­berry crum­ble, or miso brownie, all served warm with a dol­lop of cream.

Go for— A toasted bagel with chunky pump­kin-and-hazel­nut pesto, whipped feta and de­light­ful green salad. Kōkako Or­ganic cof­fee ● ● ● ●

SEABREEZE 184 Gar­net Rd, West­mere

Splashed in vary­ing shades of deep sea blue, and with a peek of the ocean on the hori­zon, this sub­ur­ban cafe has an easy hol­i­day vibe, with laid­back ser­vice led by owner Brodie McDon­ald, who makes a mean cof­fee. They

don’t shy away from punchy flavours in the AM at Seabreeze, with an ex­otic menu that in­cludes kitchari, a daal and bas­mati dish with peas, pome­gran­ate and yo­ghurt; duck and prawn laksa; and the dreamy bharta eggs — two poached eggs atop cumin-spiked eg­g­plant purée and yo­ghurt, swim­ming in a vi­brant pool of chilli but­ter for dunk­ing your sour­dough in. Come af­ter­noon, when the cor­ner soaks up ev­ery last ray of sun, there’s Sawmill beers to ac­com­pany the hearty bone-mar­row burger served with the crispi­est po­ta­toes; and fiery Ghana­ian fried chicken with lime aioli, co­rian­der and jalapeño salsa and flat breads. Go for— Sea views, good vibes and food with a bit of spice. Cof­fee Supreme ● ● ●

SI­MON & LEE 115 St Ge­orges Bay Rd, Par­nell

Oliver Si­mon, who co-owns this place with David Lee, must be one of the most charm­ing peo­ple in Auck­land hos­pi­tal­ity right now. He’s warm with­out over­do­ing it, run­ning the floor with friendly ef­fi­ciency, and you can just tell he loves the work. Food is Korean-ish, cooked to a level that matches the ser­vice, with high­lights that in­clude break­fast fried chicken; a saucy, gamey duck salad with a rich dress­ing you’ll want to drink from the bowl (se­ri­ously); and crunchy, spicy dol­sot bibim­baps. The per­fect stop af­ter scop­ing out the vegeta­bles, and the dogs, at La Ci­gale. Go for— All-day fried chicken, some of the best in town. Flight cof­fee and ro­tat­ing sin­gle-ori­gin fil­ter cof­fees ● ● ● ●

SU­PER 130 Quay St, Brit­o­mart

Su­per is re­ally an up­date of Oaken, the all-day eatery with the nice oaky fitout and the big win­dows. Oaken was very pleas­ant, but Su­per is bet­ter, mainly thanks to some fab­u­lously Ja­panese-ish black bul­bous win­dows that make the place feel big­ger and pacier: it’s a wel­come up­date to a 1930s build­ing. The food is great — sea­sonal and fresh, well bal­anced with plenty of crunch and bite. Think cauliflowe­r frit­ters with beet­root and chèvre, or harissa-baked eg­g­plant with beet­root hum­mus, dukkah and cu­cum­ber. There’s a short, direc­tive wine list, and there’s great peo­ple-watch­ing from those win­dows. A wel­come ad­di­tion to Brit­o­mart. Go for— Well-made stan­dards. Cof­fee Supreme ● ●

TAKA­PUNA BEACH CAFE 22 The Prom­e­nade, Taka­puna

The set­ting has it all, re­ally: that sweet beachy view, cab­bage trees and pōhutukawa, grass out front for kids and dogs, the screech of seag­ulls, sea salt and hot oil on the breeze. Hell, it even had Shane Cortese on our last visit ( Crikey – Ed.). As for the cafe it­self, the el­e­gant in­te­rior thrums with cus­tomers, who queue up and spill out to the plen­ti­ful seat­ing out­side, but this is a

well-oiled ma­chine: ser­vice is af­fa­ble and food ar­rives promptly. Agria rosti with toma­toey slow-cooked lamb and a runny poached egg on top is the ideal brunch dish. Save room for a home­made gelato — wicked­ness on a stick. Go for— The whole ap­peal­ing pack­age. All­press cof­fee ● ●

WEL­COME EATERY 181 Grafton Rd, Grafton

Just off Khy­ber Pass Rd, this week­day lunch stal­wart, now un­der the com­mand of new man­ager Do­minic Asi­ata, is as de­light­ful as ever. Writ large on the back wall, “fast, fresh and friendly” is their mantra, and Wel­come is all that. Staff are jovial, the cabi­net is burst­ing with sal­ads and baked treats — most made on-site — and the menu spans boiled eggs with toasted brioche sol­diers and smoked chilli and lime but­ter for break­fast, and a gen­er­ous and lovely Mediter­ranean salad at lunch. There are no short-cuts with the salad, a happy jum­ble of lightly dressed greens, chick­peas, lentils, feta and mint. Go for— An es­cape from the of­fice. Cof­fee Supreme ●

WIL­LIAMS EATERY G03/85 Daldy St, Wyn­yard Quar­ter

Is this the new Auck­land? Wil­liams Eatery oc­cu­pies a quiet cor­ner of Wyn­yard Quar­ter, a pedes­trian laneway on one side, plant­ing on the other. It’s very calm in the Nordic way — blond tim­ber, raw con­crete — and the staff tend to short-hemmed pants, caps and orthopaedi­c sneak­ers. The ser­vice is ex­cel­lent, there’s al­ways fil­ter cof­fee and the food is bril­liant: thought­ful and in­ven­tive, and not very meaty. Hur­rah! At break­fast, even that mil­len­nial standby of smashed avo­cado on toast comes with “de­hy­drated olive” and green herbs. The rest of the menu is short and de­lib­er­ate, with faintly Asian over­tones that we like very much. Equally, though, it’s a fine place for a quiet cof­fee dur­ing the week, when there’s room to chat or linger with a book. We like that, too. Go for— Respite and calm. Flight cof­fee ● ● ● ● ●

LEFT— Co-owner Emma Lyell loads the grinder at Baby, where the cabi­net is full of cakes, pas­tries, sand­wiches and sal­ads made on site.

OP­PO­SITE PAGE— Crum­pet with smoked fish, ca­per beurre blanc, pars­ley and a poached egg, at Homestead. RIGHT— Out­door seat­ing at Fed Deli on Fed­eral St.

ABOVE— Wil­liams Eatery, Wy­nard Quar­ter. OP­PO­SITE PAGE— Pas­trami with le­mon cab­bage, slow cooked egg, whipped car­away, and dill, from Wil­liams Eatery.

LEFT— Ortolana’s con­ser­va­tory-like space.

ABOVE— Toasted reuben (pas­trami on rye with Swiss, sauer­kraut, mus­tard and Rus­sian dress­ing) andMon­treal pou­tine(fries with cheese curd and gravy) at Fed Deli.

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