Amano's fried chicken sandwich. Photo / Babiche Martens

Where To Find The Best Inner-City Work Lunches In Auckland

Stuck at work? Find solace in these 10 CBD lunches that will brighten the darkest of corporate blowouts

By now most of us are back at work, dutifully partaking in post-holiday small talk and staring wistfully out the window at the roadworks. It might be bleak, but there’s a shining light midway through the working day. It’s called lunchtime. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to compile a list of inner-city lunches that will brighten the darkest of corporate blowouts.

1. Post Workout Salad from Toss
A hop and a lunge from Les Mills on Victoria St, this newish salad bar is mecca for the lycra-clad fitness crowd, which caters to their #fitspo needs with made-to-order salads like the aptly named Post Workout salad, featuring a holy combination of greens — romaine, rocket, kale, baby spinach — with free range chicken, tomato, avocado, free range egg, feta and green goddess dressing, all locally sourced. Office attire is welcome here too though and CBD dwellers will find that the salads, while on the pricier side, make for a delicious and substantial (for a salad) work lunch, best enjoyed under a tree in nearby Victoria Park. While you're here, do not miss the chocolate chip cookies which are made with tahini for a dense, slightly chewy biscuit that's one of the best in the CBD. 1/143 Wellesley St West, City 

The Fed is just the place to post up for lunch. Photo / David Rowland - Getty Images

2. Kahawai Hoagie from The Fed
Perch on one of the swiveling stools lining the open kitchen at Federal Delicatessen and order a Kahawai Hoagie and a cup of bottomless Supreme coffee for an epicurean’s solution to the Monday blues. Encased in a soft white hotdog-style bun is a fillet of lightly battered Kahawai, with creamy slaw and a liberal dousing of Beaver’s Coney Island tangy mustard. The Fed is nothing if not consistent, which means other work lunch classics are always on the menu to sooth the soul — try the chicken salad sandwich (toasted) or the Reuben for a transportive experience. 86 Federal St, City

3. Mixed plate from Allpress Roastery
Newcomers to Caffetteria Allpress can often be found squinting quizzically at the sparing black and white menu board, which, regulars can attest, is light on detail and rarely changes. The Auckland roastery and adjoining studio space has been around for 20 years serving coffee, breakfast plates, sandwiches, and salads. The mysteriously named Mixed Plate is a delightful offering of three slices of toast (your choice between sourdough, rye or Vogel's), with butter, wafer-thin cheese, a boiled egg, avocado and sliced tomato with a wedge of lemon on the side. Call it Auckland’s answer to a European-style breakfast. 8 Drake St, Freemans Bay

4. Falafel wrap from The Store
The service might seem brusque, but the military-style system at The Store’s takeaway outlet (the cafe is on the other side) is heaven for a harried downtown worker looking for a quick lunch. Don’t be put off by the queue at this popular Britomart eatery, because it moves fast. Take the opportunity to choose what you want from the cabinet selection of salads, soups, sandwiches and baked goods while you wait. Order, then pay while it’s quickly bagged up. We recommend the falafel wrap, which combines crispy yet soft-in-the-centre falafel with red cabbage and tzaziki inside a pillowy Lebanese-style wrap. Disclaimer: the cabinet selection changes from week to week. 5B Gore St, City

5. Fried chicken sandwich from Amano
You may not have the time to sit down to a long lunch (and admittedly it’s too soon in the week, or even the year, to be getting away with that kind of carry-on) but you can still get a taste of Amano’s Italian-inspired fare at its bakery counter, which is stacked with pastries, pizzas, slices and freshly made loaves to takeaway. Jostling for attention among the meatball and prosciutto sandwiches is this sexy little spirit lifter, a spicy fried chicken sandwich made with housemade sourdough buns, pickled red onion and a little greenery to lull you into thinking this was a well-rounded lunch choice. What’s Italian about that? Beauty in simplicity. 66-68 Tyler St, Britomart Place

6. Pho from Hello Mister
If you're the kind of person who doesn't mind fielding well-meaning questions about how your day has been every time you order, you’ll find Hello Mister is a great spot for a regular serving of Vietnamese-style street food. Its short, excellent menu champions pho, bun cha noodle salads and banh mi, all of which are packed with fresh vegetables and herbs and come with free-flowing condiments — soy, sriracha and fresh chilli. The lines here can be long, but the numbered ordering system is fast and efficient. Order-in to avoid the excess plastic servewear that comes with takeaway orders. Various locations

7. Roti from Dumplings & Bao
Find Dumplings & Bao on the corner of Vicki Lane and Victoria St, just up the road from Les Mills, where the friendliest team serve incredible dumplings, bao, noodle soups and roti while R&B blasts from the speakers. Everything here is good, but some Viva favourites include the filled roti and the noodle soups. The roti is freshly made and deliciously crispy and filled with either chicken curry, pulled pork, fried tofu or beef brisket, plus lettuce, cucumber, and pickled carrot. Whichever you choose, be sure to top it with their housemade green chilli sauce. The noodle soup is a deep and flavourful broth with rice or egg noodles to which you can add chicken curry, pulled pork or tofu, and comes with 2-3 dumplings of your choice floating in the soup and crispy prawn crackers for the top. 151 Victoria Street West, City

8. Fresh Tofu Soba Salad from &Sushi
If the sushi at the City Work’s Depot outlet of &Sushi is a work of art, then the fresh tofu soba salad is a masterwork. This virtuous noodle bowl features soba, fresh tofu, mixed green salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado and a chilli wafu dressing, a vinaigrette with soy, rice vinegar, mirin and vegetable oil. The edible flowers sitting on top add the final flourish. As well as looking beautiful, this is a light, fresh and healthy lunch that will ensure optimal output when you’re back at your desk. City Works Depot, 90 Wellesley St West

9. Chicken Fala Pita from Pita Pit
Hear us out on this one (we can sense some of you yelling ‘a global chain! How could they!’ at your screens). Sometimes you need to ease into the working week with the familiarity of a make-it-your-own Pita Pit pita or salad. Despite the garish branding, PP is on the pulse with some of its menu offerings — vegan kumara lentil rostis, for example; or panko quinoa chicken with tomato kasundi, toasted seeds and a lemony dijon dressing — gourmet, no? We’re partial to the Chicken Fala (admittedly a terrible name), which combines chicken and falafel with locally sourced fresh salad of your choice and about 100 tried-and-true sauce options. You can also ditch the wrap and get it in salad bowl form (in eco-packaging) if that’s your thing. Various locations

10. Mixed salad from Revive
Salad boxes from vegan eatery Revive do just that — revive you from the dreariest working day with a vibrant offering of salad combinations and snacks. Opt for a regular salad and choose a mix of three seasonal salads such as (for summer) beetroot, tofu feta, walnuts and figs; summer black beans with avocado, tomato and corn; and quinoa with lots of good green things, including a green dressing. Revive also does hot takeaway lunches that change daily. 24 Wyndham St & 33 Lorne St

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