As temperatures hit zero in Auckland (well, it feels like it), there's no better time to indulge in some comfort food that warms the cockles.
Luckily there's an endless range of mouth-watering dishes heating things up in the heart of the city - whether you're visiting the Viaduct, Lorne Street, Fort Street or beyond, there's something to satisfy the taste buds of everyone visiting or living in the city centre.
It was a tough job, but we've narrowed it down to five ultimate winter-warming dishes to tick off in the city centre - no matter what precinct you happen to be in.
Kimchi Jjigae, Faro, 5 Lorne Street
This classic kimchi soup is hot in both temperature and spice level! Served piping hot with assorted vegetables, slow cooked pork, tofu and a generous helping of chilli, it's made to be eaten slow and steady. Available from Faro on Lorne Street, this wee spicy dish is accompanied by seven side salads and rice, so you won't leave hungry.
Grilled toastie, Chuffed, 43 High Street
In our eyes, if winter was a food, it would be a grilled toastie. Simple yet extremely satisfying, there's no occasion that doesn't warrant a grilled toastie. However, Chuffed's version takes your classic toastie to the next level - sliced sourdough is topped with aged cheddar, provolone, and homemade piccalilli, making it a pretty fancy for a sandwich. Swing by High Street for this perfect little lunch to enjoy while you're hitting the shops over the weekend or a quick snack before a visit to Auckland Art Gallery.
12 Hour oxtail tagliatelle, Williams Eatery, G03/85 Daldy Street
A hearty pasta goes down a treat during the chilly season, and Williams Eatery's 12 hour oxtail tagliatelle, with tomato ragu, pangritata and lashings of parmesan, fits the bill perfectly. What's more, this relaxed city centre eatery is currently offering a glass of organic pinot noir or sauvignon blanc with its pasta dishes, all for $23. Vegetarians are well catered for too, with leek maltagliati with parmesan, chilli and free range egg yolk, and buttercup agnolotti with garlic labneh, roasted walnut, and date also on the menu. No wonder this gem is always buzzing! Follow by a walk along the water at near-by Wynyard Quarter for an afternoon in the city with your loved one - just don't forget your scarf!
Rajasthani beef short rib, Cassia, 5 Fort Lane
Setting aside the food for a moment; the moody, underground setting of modern Indian restaurant Cassia, tucked away down Fort Lane, was practically made as a winter hideaway. But then there is the food - with a whole menu to choose from that could have made this list. The Rajasthani beef short rib with cashew and daikon is packed with flavoursome spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon, and couldn't be more perfect for a stormy mid-week evening in the city after a pop into Britomart shops.
Macaroni cheese, Soul Bar & Bistro, Viaduct Harbour
No list of winter comfort foods would be complete without a classic macaroni and cheese. Yes, this is the second cheese-based dish on the list, but you're quite simply lying to yourself if mac and cheese isn't on your top five favourite foods. Soul's is famous for good reason; creamy, cheesy and decadent, complemented by ham off the bone and a parmesan crust, it's just too good to share. Wrap up warm and sit outside on the balcony on a sunny winter's day, or admire the twinkling lights of the Viaduct as you indulge.
Ticked these off already? August is just around the corner and marks Heart of the City's Restaurant Month, which will see over 100 city centre restaurants offering new and innovative menus and special $25, $40, and $55+. With stalwart restaurants like Euro, Depot and Cafe Hanoi taking part, as well as newcomers such as Hello Beasty, it's even more of an excuse to revisit old favourites and tick off some new hotspots while exploring Auckland city centre.