My top 10 restaurants in Auckland right now

We don't go out to eat very often, so when we do, we choose to go somewhere that is a huge treat for all the senses. Beautiful restaurants that serve food that you dream about forever after - that's what we look for. I find the enjoyment of food is something that is such an immediate joy and a real living-in-the-moment kind of experience that it's sometimes worth splurging a bit to make some great life memories. 

So on that note, here's a list of my 10 favourite Auckland restaurants - should you be looking for a recommendation for a lunch with friends or a special night out with your partner. These probably aren't kiddie kinds of restaurants, however, we have taken our kids to a few of these. (Having said that, my daughter and her boyfriend recently went to Ebisu on a date night!)

In no particular order:

1. Tok Tok is probably our favourite restaurant on the North Shore, at the moment. This popular Asian fusion restaurant lives on the corner of two well-known streets in Takapuna and serves delicious food that never disappoints. 

Some of our favourite small meals there are the popping prawns, the fresh catch tacos and the venison dumplings. These small meals are perfect for a light lunch and we always order a few options and share - so that everyone gets to experience all the different tastes on offer.

Two weekends ago we went with another couple and shared four main meals - the pork, prawn, squid pad thai; the pork cheek red curry; the crispy Hapuka (a fish) dry red curry and the crispy half duck - and all of those flavours complimented each other so well. We ended the evening sharing a 5 spice pannacotta and rolled out of there very satisfied. Yum.

Tip: I always ask for a glass instead of the tin cups they have on the tables for water because those tin cups remind me too much of camping!

They also do some crazy delicious cocktails:

2. Another old favourite is Jervois Steak House which, in our opinion, has THE BEST steaks in Auckland, and very attentive, knowledgeable wait staff. Situated on Jervois Road in Ponsonby (hence the name), the restaurant is housed in a cosy double story villa with a great bar downstairs. Any meal here is fabulous (especially the Wagyu cuts), but Grant favours the rib eye on the bone and always looks very happy with himself when his meal arrives! Don't miss out on any of the sides either - they're all good. We have had desserts here (see below), but most of the time we're too full to contemplate that final sweet dish.

3. Grant introduced me to Beirut restaurant in the city and I've been smitten ever since. This unassuming, slightly obscure, Middle Eastern restaurant has some spectacularly tasty meals on their menu. We took Jess there on her 18th birthday and really had to assure her that she would enjoy the food there (she wasn't convinced initially) - and I'm pleased to say that she did enjoy most of it. Kids!

I remember loving the Afghan bread (with burnt butter, pistachio and rose petal jam), the slow braised goat, the Fattoush (melon, beetroot, cucumber, orange blossom, parsley - I mean, how is that combination?!) and the Arabic doughnuts (with black cumin syrup and fennel ice-cream). Mmmmm. All so good.

4. Then there's Depot - an unpretentious, excellent, little restaurant very close to Sky Tower in Auckland City. This is the chef, Al Brown's restaurant and he serves up fresh, fun and flavorful food in this casual environment in the city. Ordering small meals is what I like to do here. My favourite meal: Turbot sliders, oysters and a glass of Chardonnay. Absolute perfection.

5. Oh my goodness, Ebisu. This place! The people-watching is so good here. So stylish. But besides checking out the hip-and-happening patrons who eat here, the food is sensational. We always start with the edamame while sipping a glass of crisp white wine and contemplate the menu.

More often than not, we have the Rainbow Rolls, sashimi and dumplings, but their menu is extensive and impressive. A very pleasant evening down on the waterfront in the city.

My Top 10 Restaurants in Auckland
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6. I've only ever been to the Japanese restaurant, Masu, once, but it was so good that it's left a lasting impression. A chap was chiselling away at a large block of ice (and I mean large) behind a bar when we were there and that was all kinds of fascinating to watch (shaved ice for presenting fresh sushi, obvi). Anyway, I don't remember what we ate there, except that it was a-m-a-zing. I do remember that we tried a variety of dishes that night, one of which was from the Robata grill (a method of cooking similar to barbecue). The sushi and sashimi were still my favourites, though. This restaurant is a few up from Depot, near to Sky Tower in the city.

7. You don't get too many good Italian restaurants here in Auckland (my opinion), but, damn, Baduzzi is so good. Bellissima. (Sorry.) You have to try their Polpette - handcrafted meatballs. Yes, so good.

8. And then there's Cibo (Italian sounding, but not strictly an Italian restaurant). We've been to two birthday functions here (and dinner) and the food was phenomenal every time. Always a good time. Recommend.

9. Azabu is a fabulous restaurant in Ponsonby Road, in Grey Lynn. And hey, I now realise just how much we love our Japanese/Asian fusion type of food! Haha. We went here for the first time, right before going to a Coldplay concert and that night now ranks as one of my best all-around experiences. Good food and good music - a match made in heaven. Order any of the sushi/sashimi dishes - such great taste combinations.

And 10. Okay, The French Cafe is a real spoil. And I've only been once - with Grant's company. But, wow, that was a total treat. Seriously. Special occasion stuff. Do it at least once, I reckon.

And then I've got one last special mention/added extra: Cassia - a modern Indian restaurant that my husband has been to and rates highly. I have yet to go (that's why it didn't make my top 10), but I reckon it's on my list of restaurants I want to try. 

So those are my faves. As I said, mostly Japanese and Asian fusion, but there's also something on that list for the meat lover, curry connoisseur, Italian enthusiast and seafood fanatic. Light, small meals or big, main meals - there's something for everyone. Auckland has some world-class restaurants and I love going out in this friendly city, to sample all it has to offer.

Got any others to add to my list? Leave me a comment, I'd love to discover more treasures.

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