Ponsonby patrons are often spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out, so we’ve curated a list of 8 of our favourite spots to try.
Bought to you by the culinary masterminds behind Café Hanoi and Xuxu Dumplings, Saan is yet another East-Asian culinary delight. The dishes are vibrant and flavorsome – and designed to be shared making Saan a great place to enjoy a lunch or a dinner in a large group. The more the merrier, as trust me – you’ll want to try everything. The menu serves up a thoughtful mix of authentic cuisine from the Lanna and Isaan regions of Thailand. The menu is concise, and the larger plates section is comprised of only four dishes – the lamb Massaman is sure to be a winner for patrons with even the most novice Asian palate.
2. Dantes Pizza – Ponsonby Central
If you’re after a more casual eatery, Ponsonby Central’s pizza joint Dantes is just the place. The bases are cooked fresh daily – and you can tell. This, along with the fresh and high-quality toppings make this a cheese lover’s dream dinner spot. If you’re like me and can’t go past a classic, the Margherita is exceptional.
You would be hard pressed to find an Aucklander who hasn’t at some point dined at this Ponsonby establishment. Serving up non-complicated, comforting Italian food for 32 years – this is an Auckland rite of passage. In a city whose dining scene has become dominated by a tidal wave of ‘new opening’s’ you must respect the Prego’s that have stood the test of the time. Not only have they survived, their popularity is unwavering – a reflection of their sustained quality. If you’ve been – you’ve likely been a few times and know what you like, if you haven’t – try the roast duck risotto, or anything, it’s hard to go wrong!
4. Go Go Daddy
Mark Wallbank has been a stalwart in New Zealand hospitality scene for more than two decades, opening many a successful restaurant, most notably Ponsonby’s MooChowChow. Now, the restauranteur is back on Ponsonby’s strip with his new Thai offering; Go Go Daddy, located in Ponsonby Central. Like the name, Go Go Daddy is a fun and easy restaurant designed for quick and delicious dining with a menu that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Chef Che Barrington has lived, cooked, and eaten his away around Thailand so the menu is a diverse culmination of the Muslims in the far South to the Chinese and Burmese to the north. Plan a visit, and when you do – the Duck Fried Rice is a must-try.
5. Orphans Kitchen
Since opening Orphans Kitchen has established itself as a Ponsonby dining institution. Best known for its breakfast offerings, it’s also an exceptional all-day eatery. Its character filled Victorian style interior makes this a warm and welcoming place to enjoy a morning coffee or an intimate dinner. The menu is refined and balanced, an eclectic mix of classics with slight tweaks – you’ll be spoilt for choice, but the slow cooked poached eggs served with anchovy and Mayer lemon is a standout.
Following in the footsteps of its exceptional Britomart predecessor ‘The Caretaker’ was always going to be difficult. However, hospitality duo Heather Garland and Alastair Walker’s second venture met, and then exceeded my expectations. Similarly to The Caretaker, there is no menu here – a member of staff will sit down with you and ask you about your taste and preferences and then make you a bespoke cocktail based on your answers. ‘Deadshot’ is Old-Western slang for hard liquor and it lives up to its name, so – don’t drive.
After searching for a Ponsonby site for around a year, Rob Hill and Oliver Scutts jumped when the location of former MooChowChow became available. Teddy’s offers clean, simple fare that New Zealander’s can relate to. Ben the chef has a diverse cooking background, being trained in both French and Asian cuisines – which made him flexible when the menu was being conceputalised. The result is a mix of food that they all enjoy; steak and schnitzel for example, with a few more adventurous dishes like a contemporary take on a Panzenella salad. The bar was designed with summer in mind – while the dining area is great for winter, making Teddy’s a spot to enjoy all year round.
8. Augustus Bistro
Serving up traditional French cuisine in a traditional setting (think white table clothes with dark wood accents) – Augustus is a great place to take your mum for lunch. If you love French food, you’ll appreciate Augustus very much – with all the classics being represented here. Escargots and Croque Madame’s are on offer, alongside some dishes more repurposed for the quintessential Kiwi diner. If you love seafood, I highly recommend the Scallop Gratin, served in the shells - this dish is as pretty as it is delicious. The crisp aesthetic paired with perfectly cooked food makes Augustus a quality performer, and seriously – your mum will love it.