When the hustle and bustle of the Auckland CBD becomes too much, take a swift turn and head to Ponsonby precinct instead. The infamous Grey Lynn township is known nationwide! And while some may say Ponsonby is a social status town, we prefer to focus on the one thing it does exceptionally well–And that's the food! From modern Japanese and wagyu cuts of steak to handmade pasta and authentic Asian dining, Ponsonby's food scene has it all! Here are all the best tried and trusted places to eat in Ponsonby.
From pizza and pasta to gelato and tiramisu, Farina is the one-stop-shop to fulfil your Italian cravings. Italian maestro Sergio Maglione had Farina designed and created as a space for him to practice and experiment with authentic street food from his homeland. Sergio's ethos is elementary, food should be fresh and simple. The interior too is simple, allowing you to focus and appreciate the flavours sitting in front of you. Favourites include the burrata with marinated grilled pumpkin, meatballs with pine nuts in Napoli sauce, mixed market seafood risotto, and aged ribeye tagliata. As well as the entire pizza menu (certified as being made with traditional ingredients and techniques) and the simply sweet dessert menu with stars such as the chocolate fondant and pannacotta.
Down an unsuspecting alleyway on Ponsonby Road, you’ll find Miss Moonshine’s, a unique union of American BBQ and Kiwi cuisine. The interior is slick and shiny, intimate tables lined up with a view of the kitchen, allowing you to watch the magic happen. We’ll warn you now, the menu is not vegetarian-friendly. Beef brisket, short rib, pork ribs, house-sausages, and pulled lamb are available “from the pit”, served with two sauces and pickles. Don’t forget to order a round of sides for the table, choosing from the mac & cheese, kumara bread, milk buns, chicken wings, and jalapeno poppers to name a few.
Skip the food court sushi–For authentic Japanese food made with passion, head to Cocoro on Brown Street, Ponsonby. Literally translating to "heart and soul" in Japanese, Cocoro is Japanese grand dining at its finest. The dining room is designed for intimacy and comfort, expect to be seated next to your dinner date for an up-close and personal experience. For dinner, there are three menus to choose between–A la carte, sushi and sashimi, and the degustation course. If you're wanting to try a bit of everything, we suggest the degustation menu (available with a sake and wine pairing too!). From tofu, sashimi, and salmon caviar, to fish and chips and lamb racks, Cocoro does new style Japanese like you've never tried.
Freeman & Grey
Returning with a makeover in early 2019, Freeman & Grey is bigger and better than ever. The indoor brick walls and hanging greenery are loft-like, with plenty of private nooks to chat and graze. Thankfully, the beloved hand-crafter pizzas didn’t get left behind in the renovations, and are still humbly priced at $5 off-peak in a range of fabulous flavours. Also on the menu are sharing platters and smaller sharing plates like arancini balls, spicy fried chicken, and lamb and rosemary meatballs. Aside from a great menu, Freeman & Grey also has a vibrant nightlife, full bar, and live music throughout the week.
The husband and wife team behind Cassia and The French Cafe, Sid and Chand Sahrawat, are heroes in the Auckland dining scene. With their Ponsonby location, SidArt, adding to their legacy. The fine dining institution incorporates contemporary Indian flavours with locally sourced New Zealand produce. Working with ingredients from their very own garden, the couple were inspired by the freshest, seasonal produce available, as well as importing authentic Indian spices. The menu reflects the efforts and creativity put in by Chand and Sid, with dishes such as prawn vindaloo tart, smoked eel cigar, and beef laal maas. If you’re riddled with indecision, experience the chef’s table sitting, or the degustation for a flavoursome journey.
The Blue Breeze Inn
The always breezy Blue Breeze Inn is a refreshing wave of relaxation along the busy high street. Serving up modern Chinese in a Pacific island setting, the Blue Breeze Inn is a rush of culture. Start with the famous steamed buns and dumplings from head chef Che Barrington, the mastermind behind the iconic MooChowChow. Throughout the menu, you’ll spot flavours like Sichuan and black pepper, as well as more adventurous dishes like the wild boar and steamed tuatua. Go out with a bang by trying one of the decadent sweet treats, or split a milk chocolate slab (it’s exactly like how it sounds).
One of the top Japanese spots in Auckland, Azabu is a next level dining experience. Executive chef Yukio Ozeki combines Peruvian Japanese Nikkei flavours with more traditional Tokyo-style dishes to create modern Asian fusion cuisine. The slim setting is tucked away at 26 Ponsonby Road, with an oblong array of tables ending with Roji (Azabu’s sake and cocktail bar) at the rear. Plates are created for sharing, or choose a set menu if you’re wanting to try it all. Every dish is a stand-out at Azabu, with particular focus on the raw sushi bar, tostadas, fried dumplings, and wagyu beef. Pair it with a saké of your choice, or one of Roji Bar’s house cocktails.
A culinary classic in the historic suburb of Ponsonby, Prego has an untouchable reputation. The Italian grand dining establishment is widely known throughout the city which has been occupying 226 Ponsonby Road since 1986. The dark grey walls, various seating areas, and attentive wait-staff make for a luxurious personal experience. Opt for a cosy table inside, or a sunny spot in the courtyard and let your waiter handle the wine choice. The Italian menu features classics such as mozzarella Caprese, sage butter gnocchi, market fish and herbed risotto, arancini with date mayonnaise, and some more modern twists like the divine Prego pie.
Cult favourite Mexico has made its mark on Ponsonby Road, with its themed restaurant and refreshing seasonal menus. Although a franchised restaurant, Mexico is the go-to spot when your Mexican cravings come creeping up. The menu changes with the seasons, offering locally sourced street-food-inspired dishes. The plates are all shareable, with favourites such as potato croquetas, various soft shell tacos, chimichangas, quesadillas, and the famous Mexican Fried Chicken with jalapeno and chipotle mayo. Try your hand with one of Frida’s margaritas made with Blue Agave tequila (available in ten different flavours), or opt for a seasonal sangria (available in five).
Bird On A Wire
If there’s one thing Bird On A Wire knows how to do well, it’s chicken. For a more health-conscious outing, head to Ponsonby Central and grab a seat at the urban-fitted indoor eatery. Completely free-range and completely delicious, you can try chicken in every possible form. Whether you’re after a juicy rotisserie cooked chook or raw salad, baguette or burger, deep-fried thigh or schnitzel crumbed breast, Bird On A Wire has got it covered. Additionally, if meat isn’t your thing, swap any chicken item on the menu for organic tofu. The diner is casual, relaxed, and the perfect place to grab a delicious bite to eat with your favourite company.
Jervois Steak House
While Ponsonby is a blend of wonderful and delicious cuisines, sometimes you may just want (or need) a well-cooked steak. Enter Jervois Steak House. Just round the corner from Ponsonby Road sits the infamous brick building and mounted bull and horns of the restaurant. There's both lamb and beef cuts available, cooked to your liking, with speciality steaks like the King and Queen cuts of ocean beef from Rakaia Gorge, and the wagyu Zen-noh from Miyazaki, Japan. All steaks come with a red wine jus and a sauce of your choice. Select some sides to complete your dish (the truffle mac 'n' cheese and baked candied kumara are next-level) and you've got yourself one of the best meals you'll ever try. Jervois also has a full bar and cocktail menu to complement your cut.
Experience the height of luxury in Ponsonby, SPQR! Senatus Populusque Romanus, meaning a place for everyone in ancient Rome, is unmissable with their white pergolas overhanging their iconic outdoor tables. Meanwhile, the interior is more mysterious, with stone walls and darker lighting than the sunny strip outside. As for the menu, pick from the prawn graviax, seared scallops, or pork belly confit share plates, or indulge in one of SPQR’s famous pizzas, pasta, and secondi dishes. SPQR now also specialise in rosé weekend bottomless lunches, including a three-course lunch and bottomless rosé!
Go Go Daddy Thai Canteen
Showcasing their take on rustic Thai street food is Go Go Daddy Thai Canteen. Their food is as delectable as their name is long. The Go Go Daddy team have been introducing more traditional Thai ingredients to Kiwi tables, such as green papaya, galangal spice, and lemongrass. The food comes out as soon as it’s cooked, encouraging sharing around the table and conversational dining. The entire menu is a must-try, but the bok choy, Thai fried chicken wings, and Ms Moo’s caramelised pork hock are extra exquisite. Sit back while sipping back a Thailand iced Nescafe to pretend you’re in a slightly balmier climate at Go Go Daddy Thai Canteen.
Looking for Thai in Ponsonby? Dish Cult has found the best. Po Brothers resides just outside the hustle and bustle of Ponsonby Central, allowing for a slightly quieter dining setting. The black walls and dimmed lighting create an intimate experience, coupled up with an extensive categorised menu. Start your session with fresh blossom rolls with sesame sauce, and some traditional Korean chicken wings while you peruse over the mains. Between the pad thai, satay peanut sauce, and tom yum soup, we guarantee there will be something to please everybody. Po Brothers is also a licensed BYO, so don’t forget to bring your favourite bottle of white or red.
For a quick and tasty bite to eat, head to Fatima's at 240 Ponsonby Road. The cheap and cheerful eatery serves up Mediterranean cuisine in an urban setting. Take a seat at one of the bar stools while you watch your order cooking away, and take in all the authentic aromas filling the diner. On the menu you'll find classics from mezze dip to start, Harissa chicken, pitas, chawarmas in an abundance of flavours, and baklava and Turkish Delight to finish. On a sunnier day, enjoy a banana or strawberry smoothie at one of the outdoor tables and watch the world go by. PS–Fatima's also caters to the gluten-free, vegan, and have a special kids menu!
Hoppers Garden Bar
Take things from day to night at Hoppers, Ponsonby’s friendly local bar! Boasting a large focus on craft beer, the team at Hoppers really know their stuff with more than eighteen craft beers on tap rotating daily. However, if beer isn’t your thing peruse their Encyclopedia Gintonica Menu with distilled mixes from all across the globe. As for food, the menu is on par with the wide selection of beverages. Bao buns, Korean fried chicken, jalapeno poppers, and sizzling cheese dips are on offer. With a winning combination of great drinks and great food, Hoppers makes for an ideal spot to mix, mingle, and socialise.
Bedford Soda & Liquor
Bringing a taste of New York, New York to little old Auckland, Bedford Soda & Liquor serves up an interesting trio of housemade sodas, cocktails, and meatballs. The bar is tucked into Ponsonby Central, with a rustic theme and long wooden tables to accommodate larger social groups. The cocktails are phenomenal, both aesthetically and in taste, with catchy names such as The Pineapple Express, Gin’s and Roses, and the Gold Fashioned. However, the meatballs are the star of the show, available in almost any meat (with vegetarian options too) served on your choice of pasta, mash, risotto, or polenta, finished with one of the eight special sauces.