Didas Wine Lounge – Located across the street from our hotel, this wine bar made an easy spot for our first dinner in Auckland. For round 1 we couldn’t skip the Spanish classics of patatas bravas and arancini, which went well with an Akarua Pinot Noir rose for Leandra and the Rockburn Pinot Gris (tart and white peach) for Eric. For round 2 Leandra ordered the Brookfields Backblock Syrah while Eric tried the Waipara Hills Equinox Riesling (Tahitian lime, nice tartness, yum). We liked the general atmosphere of this place and the food and wine were well-priced and tasty.
After dinner we decided to walk over to Brothers Beer to try some NZ craft beers. On our downhill walk we had a lovely view of the Auckland Sky tower.
Nick was our bartender and very helpful – pointing out must-try beers and honest about gimmicky or over-priced options. We wound up with a flanders red and a smoked ale for the first round and then splitting an 8 Wired imperial stout when we weren’t quite ready to head back.
The evening was cool so we sat outside and enjoyed the scene. Just after last call the owner/brewers of Yeastie Boys showed up (Stu and Sam)! We said hello and chatted for a bit before starting our ~1 mile uphill return to our room… not as easy after a couple high gravity beers!
Eric searched a bit online for breakfast options and we decided on Cafe Cezanne for brunch. The cafe is a long, narrow space with the kitchen in the back and tables from the middle out onto the sidewalk. Leandra ordered the (enormous) cheese scone and a side of smoked salmon (naturally) and had enough to take the leftovers home for Saturday. Eric went for the classic eggs on toast. They also had some nice desserts, and we picked up a cookie for later.
After our day-long excursion we parked at our hotel and walked down to Mekong Baby for dinner. The restaurant had a cool vibe, with lots of color and quite an ‘it’ crowd on one side of the bar.
Eric ordered the Massaman duck, while Leandra ordered the beef tartare (“Beef Tartare, Nashi, Yuzu Mayo, Dashi Salt, Bantam Yolk”) and beef skewers (really kind of a sandwich with a delicious mango/papaya slaw). Everything was delicious!
We did have two issues: Leandra found a bit of plastic in her appetizer, and then her main was given to another table (!); however, our server fixed the issue quickly, and proactively removed both items off the bill.
We had read about a popular weekend brunch spot, Dear Jervois, so we decided to try it before the weekend crowds. Well, it seems to be popular everyday, and for good reason. Leandra ordered the classic flat white and half salmon benedict with a side of hashbrowns. Eric went for the hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows, then the eggs on toast. The people watching at this bustling cafe was good, and we learned that a fluffy was a term for extra foam with chocolate powder and marshmallows (for kids).
After another day of exploring, we decided to head back to Brothers Beer again. Leandra ordered us “Big Smoke” from 8 Wired while Eric wandered down to the neighboring Food Truck Garage to pick us up a a spicy chicken sandwich. We grabbed a PS Analgam to go and stopped at the grocery store on the way home for a few beers and chocolate to bring back to the US with us, plus some liver pate for Saturday breakfast!
We needed to get on the road quickly, so we opted for a take-away breakfast from Dida’s Food Store across the street. Eric went for the bacon and egg pie, which was quite tasty and filling but would have been better with a scrambled egg. Leandra simply got toast for her liver pate and a take away flat white.
After the late snack in Hamilton we weren’t ready for a full dinner, so for our final evening in Auckland we went across the street for a glass of wine and snacks at Dida’s again. Our bartender, Steven, was great (originally from Liverpool) and introduced us to several new wines from the area and good conversation.
It was a rainy walk to breakfast at Dear Jervois again. This time we had the window area with a great view of the street. Leandra like the salmon eggs benedict so much the first time that she ordered it again; when it first arrived it was missing avocado, but a quick ask and a plate of avocado arrived garnished with micro greens! Eric switched it up and ordered the French toast, which came with roasted peaches and beets, a surprisingly tasty combo.
We had good luck with food in Auckland and there were places for every type of palate. Our location in the Ponsonby neighborhood was perfect for us.