Viva's Best New Openings of 2016

Here, in no particular order, are the Viva team’s favourite cafe, restaurant and bar openings of 2016

Tok Tok in Takapuna is one of Viva's favourite new openings of 2016. Picture / Babiche Martens

Outside of Viva eating out editor Jesse Mulligan’s top-rated restaurants of the year, here are our favourite cafe, restaurant and bar openings of 2016.

Tok Tok, Takapuna
Asian fusion restaurant Tok Tok was a welcome addition to the Takapuna dining scene. The food - mostly Thai - arrives hot, fast and fresh and there is enough on the menu to satisfy any particular craving you might arrive with.

Plants and other partial screens have been employed to break up the room, birdcages and other curiosities hang from the ceiling and, most impressively, the building’s former carpark has been turned into a semi-outdoor deck area which would feel just like Southeast Asia if it wasn’t for the Gulf breeze ripping around the clear plastic walls.

A must-order is the crispy hapuka red curry ($29) which just won best dish at Taste of Auckland in November; also very very good are the beef brisket steamed buns ($11)— the current best of their kind in Auckland, in our opinion.
1/129 Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna

Bestie, K Rd
Owned by Napier couple Emma Lyell and Tane Williams, Bestie serves up freshly baked scones, Eighthirty coffee and heavenly homemade fudge (for just $1.50) made using Emma’s mother’s recipe. Also on the menu are the likes of sweet items such as ricotta doughnuts ($10.50) and Courtney’s fluffy hotcakes with homemade toffee apple icecream, sugared pecans and apple syrup ($14); and there are plenty of savoury delights too (Towpath cheese toastie with aged cheddar, spring onion and quince jelly, $12.50).

The cafe operates from the old Alleluya space in St Kevin’s Arcade and respects the space’s history, and it remains one of the loveliest spots in Auckland to enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat.
St Kevins Arcade, 183 K Rd

Gypsy Caravan
Located between Golden Dawn and Miss Moonshine’s, this space was once home to The Street Food Collective, but has been operating as pop-up eatery Gypsy Caravan since August. Fusing Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours, its menu is a mixture of street and restaurant food and sweets (we’re particular fans of the pan-fried ouzo cheese with lemon, sourdough, seeds and honey ($17) which is dramatically set on fire right before you).

Summer’s a good time to visit if you haven’t been already, or even if you have - the retractable roof will be peeled back, and the courtyard will be one of the best places to hang out in Ponsonby on a sunny afternoon or balmy evening.
Lot 3, 130 Ponsonby Rd

The Archive, Waiheke Island
There’s no better place on Waiheke to watch the sun set than at the The Archive, a new bar and bistro that sits alongside Mudbrick Vineyard’s cellar door and fine-dining restaurant, offering a more relaxed environment.

Share plates include freshly baked focaccia bread and lavosh served with whipped feta and babaganoush ($14), or chicken liver parfait with warm brioche, Pedro Ximenez jelly and prunes ($16); while the main menu features a Silver Fern Farms beef short rib with fennel and celeriac remoulade, radish, celeriac puree and salsa verde ($38), and desserts such as buffalo yoghurt panna cotta with pistachio biscotti, rhubarb and strawberry ($15).
Church Bay Rd, Oneroa, Waiheke Island

Caretaker's Heather Garland and Alastair Walker. Picture / Babiche Martens

Caretaker, Britomart
Britomart welcomed this New York-style cocktail bar late this year, run by husband and wife team Heather Garland and Alastair Walker who count master mixologist Michael Madrusan as one of their mentors. Caretaker is located down a dark stairwell on Roukai Ln; once inside you’ll find a welcoming space with comfy leather couches, two huge convex mirrors (old street corner mirrors from Prague), and low, warm lighting.

The tabletops are all made from doors from a 100-year-old house that was recently pulled down, and the ceiling is formed by 1000 broom handles. Service is table only, and while there is a drinks list, the bar staff prefer to chat to you to find out what you like, then make you a bespoke drink. Most cocktails are $19.
Roukai Lane, Auckland Central

Madame George, K Rd
This excellent cocktail bar at the Ponsonby end of K Rd is a great spot for a quiet after-work drink where you can sit down and have a conversation over a selection of small plates (think prawn rolls, $5, or potato crackling with manchego, $9.50) or relax over dinner of pork, fish or beef $22-$24). Formerly the home of gay nightclub Urge, Madam George is our pick for bar of the summer - we are major fans of its epic playlist featuring our favourite old-school jams. You should go there at once.
490 K Rd

REC, Britomart
Another new bar at Britomart led by creative directors Connor Nestor (Ceremony and Homestead) and Sam Harmony (Friendly Potential) operates as vinyl store Recreation Records from 10am-5pm, and transforms into music venue REC at night. DJs and bands provide the entertainment from Thursday to Saturday, the varied beer list offers a range from Waikato Draught and Carlsberg through to New Zealand’s best craft beers, and there’s a tidy wine and cocktail list. A small food menu offers a range of $10 sandwiches.

Until the end of the year, basketball fans can watch Steven Adams’ Oklahoma City Thunder team play in the US NBA competition during the day (free).
38 Customs St East, Auckland Central

Tantalus Estate, Waiheke Island
The food and wine at Waiheke winery Tantalus Estate is reportedly as beautiful and well-crafted as its premises renovated by Cheshire Architects. The 8.4ha Onetangi estate produces small batch Bordeaux and Rhone-style blends which appear on its menu alongside craft ales from the onsite Alibi Brewing Co.

Food-wise, locally sourced products are featured, including the estate’s own olive oil (served with Franco’s and Ringawera bread, $11) and New Zealand scallops ($33), and the caramelised potato gnocchi comes with a medley of Waiheke mushrooms ($31).
70-72 Onetangi Rd, Waiheke Island

Homestead, Hillsborough
Connor Nestor, one of the clever people behind REC (see above), launched a second cafe this year with his Ceremony partner Charles Williams at historic Pah Homestead in Hillsborough, bringing in food writer Sam Mannering to look after the menu. The 1870s heritage property, which house the James Wallace Arts Trust collection - the largest privately held collection of contemporary New Zealand art - has been given new life thanks to Homestead, hosting dining and music events.

The menu covers brunch, lunch and desserts - think homemade crumpets with fresh and seasonal toppings (from $10), kingfish ceviche ($21), pork ribs ($19/$24). For drinks, choose from New Zealand craft beer and wines, and cabinet food is inspired by Sam’s grandmother’s baking.
72 Hillsborough Rd, Hillsborough

Seabreeze, Westmere
The latest addition to the Westmere dining scene, Seabreeze is a fully licensed cafe located on in the former premises of Meola Kitchen and the hair salon next door. The eatery, which took 13 months to open, is the new baby of Brodie McDonald (of Johnny Feedback), who has paid particular attention to the stylish interior design - there are no white walls in sight. On a recent visit we loved the "schmashed" avo toast with sprouts and edamame and housemade sauerkraut ($14) and the ham hock has ($18); next time we might shoot for the bone marrow burger ($18) or the tea smoked salmon bage ($15). We can also highly recommend the yummy cold pressed juices (green red or orange, $8), and the smoothies look good too.
184 Garnet Rd, Westmere

Kiss Kiss, Balmoral
The sister restaurant of Owairaka’s Chinoiserie, housed in a former drum shop, keeps getting better and better, in our humble opinion. Kiss Kiss is lively and buzzy, reasonably priced, and we love the walls painted with bold characters, the bright floral tablecloths on the communal tables, the cocktail menus delivered via Viewmaster slides, and the scenes projected on the wall across the street.

In terms of food, the (Thai) menu ranges from pork belly buns ($8.50) and traditional dishes such as phad si ew and larb (both $16) through to our fave, the whole deep fried snapper with tamarind, garlic and chilli sauce ($21.50).
1 Rocklands Ave, Balmoral

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