Alma. Photo / Supplied

This Must Be The Place: The Local Cafes, Bars & Restaurants We'll Be Frequenting These Holidays

Neighbourhood favourites, secret spots and small businesses that the Viva team will be enjoying this summer

After the frenetic energy of 2021 we all need a holiday, the chance to catch up with friends, indulge a little and thoroughly enjoy ourselves. Holidays also, hopefully, offer a wealth of free time to while away at hospitality spots around town - businesses that have had a hard year. With this in mind, we wanted to share some of our favourites places to eat, drink and relax; here's where you might find the Viva team over the next few weeks.

359 Dominion Road, Mount Eden, Auckland

There's a handful of things I have missed during lockdown, and Omni is one of them. The clean, simple, uncomplicated food served at Omni has been missed. Specifically, its deep-fried eggplant, Scotch eggs and chicken katsu sando, accompanied by its precise menu of natural wines. Ordering is really easy here. — Dan Ahwa, creative and fashion director

130 Quay Street, Auckland CBD

The last time I had lunch at Alma, it was one of the best meals of the year, with the best waiter of the year. I sat at the impressive tiled and marble counter near the crackling open fire (which much of the food is cooked on) and sampled some of chef Jo Pearson and her team’s Andalusian-style dishes like pork pinchitos, which are strips of charcoal-kissed pork threaded onto skewers, served with flatbread and a stone fruit salsa. The fit-out of the restaurant is beautiful, and you can see flashes of the ocean from its corner Britomart site, making it the next best thing to a holiday in Spain. — Johanna Thornton, deputy editor

READ: Auckland's Top 50 Restaurants For 2021

46 Victoria Road, Devonport, Auckland

Devonport’s corner cafe is frequently teaming, owing in part to its great food and in part to its warm atmosphere (expect a delightful assortment of furniture). It is of little secret that its cheesecake topped with a simple berry coulis is one of the best in Tamaki Makaurau, and the thing I can’t go without ordering. — Julia Gessler, digital producer

Four Shells Kava Lounge
Victoria Park Market, 12/210 Victoria Street West, Auckland CBD

Our local, we can spend hours at this relaxed and welcoming spot. They serve kava, kombucha and snacks, and the vibes are always chill. It’s a great place for relaxation, conversation and meeting new people; co-owners Todd and Anau can talk you through kava if you’re new to it. Inside is dark and intimate — park up at the bar and chat to Todd, who is there most days — but I love sitting outside in the balmy summer air letting time slip away. A family business with regular clientele, it’s my favourite spot in town. — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

Groove Bar & Eatery
487 New North Road, Kingsland, Auckland

This is a new Maori-owned spot in Kingsland taking you back to the 90s. I’m looking forward to summer nights here sipping on some craft beers and chowing down on their crispy fried banana blossom bao all while jamming out to some old school R&B. Not to mention the awesome fit-out! — Clare Timmins, commercial projects manager

265 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland

Beau’s cosy courtyard is calling my name this summer. I’ll order a glass of orange wine, some sourdough with cultured butter, burrata, kingfish krudo and maybe some fried chicken (owners Diva and Logan were the duo behind Freaky before they opened Beau, where their fried chicken was legendary). I like how the drinks list is always evolving at this Ponsonby Rd wine bar, and the staff are always happy to talk through the options. — Johanna Thornton, deputy editor

READ: What The Viva Team Are Eating Now

I can’t wait to park up with friends at a long table at Beau on Ponsonby Rd, order a crisp Chenin Blanc and a bowl of olives (they do the fattest and juiciest), followed by a delicious plate of flavoursome tuna ceviche with avocado and Tigermilk (the latter is a refreshingly light IPA that’s also on the menu). — Rebecca Barry Hill, contributor

The Corner
143 Picton St, Howick, Auckland

I've had a gift voucher for The Corner bar burning a hole in my pocket since the middle of the year, and now that hospo has reopened I cannot wait to pop to this popular East Auckland watering hole to spend it. It's so busy, in fact, that you'll be hard-pressed to find a table free on a Friday or Saturday night, with patrons spilling out the door to the outside bar leaners. The staff are always friendly and helpful, and know their way around the cocktail menu well. The small plates and late-night bites are simple yet flavoursome, with options including goat cheese croquettes and truffle-spiked mac 'n' cheese. Before lockdown, Sam (my husband) and I were in a good routine of scheduling in monthly date nights. Needless to say, we're so excited to bring them back once more! — Ashleigh Cometti, beauty editor

Williams Eatery
G03/85 Daldy St, Auckland CBD

I’m heading straight to Williams Eatery in Wynyard Quarter to sit at a sunny outdoor table and ordering the falafel with tabbouleh, baba ganoush and pickle. Chef Eli Assaf’s mezze-style plates are brimming with flavours, colours and textures — I ordered a couple to take away over lockdown and they really made my day. I’ll probably get some shoestrings and a glass of NV Koyama riesling methode traditionelle on the side, because why not. — Johanna Thornton, deputy editor

19A Queen St, Otahuhu, Auckland

There are too many great eateries in South Auckland that deserve our attention, but one institution remains and that is Pinati's, which has been in Otahuhu for over two decades serving up Pacific soul food. Its keke pua'a is its most popular drawcard a flavourful take on a classic Chinese pork bun with a twist and worth a visit. They also make delicious pani popo (coconut buns best served hot out of the oven) German buns and cinnamon sticks to satisfy any sweet tooth. — Dan Ahwa, fashion and creative director

Pinati's. Photo / Supplied

Cafe Hanoi
Stanbeth House, 27 Galway St, Britomart, Auckland CBD

I cannot wait to be reunited for a long, boozy lunch with one of my best friends who has spent the entirety of level 3 and 4 with family in Hamilton. She's back in town and loves the relaxed vibe and Vietnamese street eats at Cafe Hanoi as much as I do. — Ashleigh Cometti, beauty editor

Cafe Hanoi. Photo / Supplied

Eggplant Boys
These guys may not have a permanent posted up spot (yet) but these passionate food enthusiasts will be holding pop up collabs all summer long (don’t even get me started on the Pina Colada fish burger creation). Past link-ups have included Doe Donuts and Hero Sandwich, where they always provide delicious food and all-round good vibes! I love keeping an eye on their Instagram (@Eggplantboys_) for what is on their menu and heard they will be posting some tutorials over summer for your favourite kai. — Clare Timmins, commercial projects manager

READ: Where To Find Auckland's Best Pizza

535 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham

This charming little spot in Sandringham serves up the most wonderful South Indian food, something I’ve been craving recently. The walls are lime green and tables are coloured in plastic lace tablecloths (details I love) and the meals are incredible. They do idly, vada and dosa — all great in summer, and best enjoyed with a lassi – and their special combo meals are excellent for dinner. — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

Venky's. Photo / Supplied

Little Culprit
Cnr Wyndham St & 151 Queen St, Auckland CBD

The small sibling offering to restaurant Culprit reopens in late January, when I’ll be ordering an admittedly child-like combination of mini corn dogs with salash nduja and malt vinegar ketchup, and its Milk Punch cocktail, brimful of pineapple, white noise tea, and fruit loops. — Julia Gessler, digital producer

READ: All The Cookbooks We Actually Use

Coffee Pen
6 Basque Rd, Eden Terrace, Auckland

Sitting under a tree with a coffee is one of my favourite things to do, and Coffee Pen is a great place for it. Yas and Fumi's secluded central location is an oasis from the buzz of the city — though you inevitably always bump into someone you know. I’ll be ordering a long black and their delicious tiramisu tart. — Emma Gleason, commercial editor

The Farmers Daughter
329 Omaha Flats Rd, Point Wells, Omaha

This is a stunning spot in Omaha overlooking their veggie gardens and out to the Omaha Estuary. Brunch here is amazing (they will be reopening for brunch soon) but you can’t go past their summer cocktail specials! They also do a summer farm-to-fork evening menu with locally harvested seafood and local craft beers. Seriously the food and views are not to be missed. — Clare Timmins, commercial projects manager

The Apothecary Licensed Eatery
27 Picton St, Howick, Auckland

Come for the coffee, stay for the ambience" should be the mantra at this popular East Auckland eatery, which somehow manages to successfully switch between being a cafe, bar, restaurant and antique emporium without feeling at all overwhelming. The fit-out pays homage to the former 1950s continental apothecary which once stood in its place — with trophy-sized animal heads and precious artefacts from days gone by lining the walls. Under the command of a new chef, the menu has been revised to include a summer-ready housemade granola, topped with seasonal fruit, coconut yoghurt and chia seeds, and a Middle-Eastern-inspired Shakshuka, which is both keto and gluten-free (but can also be tailored to vegetarians and vegans). — Ashleigh Cometti, beauty editor

The Apothecary. Photo / Supplied

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