We all have our tried-and-tested favourite restaurants and cafes - the ones you've always headed to when you just want something that's familiar and filling. But in Auckland, we're sitting on a goldmine of mouth-watering secret foodie hotspots, all brought to life by some seriously talented producers, chefs and restaurateurs.
Have you tried a new cuisine lately? What about venturing into a new neighbourhood for a bite to eat? If not, perhaps it's time to get out and explore.
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Appetite for Auckland is a growing gastronomic content hub which tells the stories of the people behind our diverse culinary scene. It's just been launched by Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED) and is packed with dining inspo.
From Ethiopian food served from the window of a little red food truck to gourmet chocolate bonbons in picturesque Matakana; here are four foodie gems to add to your summer adventure list:
Mesob, New Lynn
Ever eaten Ethiopian food? We're guessing the answer might be no, because Mesob is one of only two spots in Auckland serving up traditional Ethiopian dishes. Sisters Genet and Eden came to Auckland from their hometown of Mek'ele, and now share their cuisine from a red food truck parked up outside New Lynn Mall.
The pair learnt to cook flavoursome dishes like spicy chicken doro wot and fresh injera, a soft fermented bread, from their grandmother, who began passing on her cooking wisdom when the girls were just four years old. Now, the pair proudly employ their family cooking secrets to create Mesob's menu; which, on Wednesdays and Fridays, is fully vegan, in accordance with Ethiopian tradition. Drinks-wise, the coffee is prepared for each customer by hand roasting, grinding and brewing fresh green coffee beans, and served black with a side of popcorn. The tea is brewed with orange, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and clove, making for a warming and fragrant cuppa. And with the nostalgic scent of Mesob's well-stocked incense dish, visiting this food truck is a complete sensory experience.
Mr T's Bakery & Cafe, Onehunga
This Onehunga eatery combines classic bakery treats with a Vietnamese breakfast and lunch menu, paying homage to Mr T and his wife Mrs T's heritage. The husband and wife duo made Auckland their home in the 1970s after leaving war-torn Vietnam, with Mr T making baking his trade after arriving on Aotearoa's shores. His bakery cabinet is stocked with almond croissants, matcha eclairs, bulging cream buns and flaky apple strudel that should appease any sweet tooth.
Then there are Mr T's golden loaves of traditional and kumara sourdough, which are said to be among the best in Auckland thanks to a 16-year-old sourdough starter and a tireless schedule - T apparently heads home at 3am and returns at 5.30am each day to ensure his bread is perfect.
Meanwhile, Mrs T's Vietnamese specialities are a labour of love; her tangy, salty bún bò huế broth is tended for eight hours before it's ladled into huge bowls generously topped with pork, thick rice noodles, fresh mint, sprouts and lemon; her sauces are made from scratch and her spring rolls prepared with authentic Vietnamese rice paper.
Honest Chocolat, Matakana
Summer weekends go hand in hand with road trips, and what better place to head than up north to beautiful Matakana? If you do, the list of flavours at Honest Chocolat is definitely worth a visit. Bonbons come in decadent Espresso Martini, Gin and Tonic, Toasted Fennel Seed, and Kaffir Lime and Coconut, while the tablets and chocolate bars feature distinct local ingredients; think a Limited Edition 72 percent kawakawa chocolate bar, and a 72 percent cacao Manuka Honey filled tablet.
French-UK couple Nico and Emily Bonnaud started the business from their Snell's Beach garage after meeting in Northland - pastry chef Nico having been drawn to Aotearoa by a love of rugby, and Emily by backpacking OE. Now the pair craft their chocolate in the heart of Matakana Village. Their organic cacao is ethically sourced, no palm oil is used, and cream or butter use is rare, making many of their offerings vegan.
The Māori Kitchen, Queen's Wharf
Rewi Spraggon and Ganesh Raj are the pair behind The Māori Kitchen, the first spot in the country to offer commercial hangi pits on Auckland's very own Queen's Wharf. The pits are fired up at 4am each day, and the stones heated to 700C before the food is covered with dirt to cook for up to three hours.
With his hearty kai, Rewi hopes to preserve the ancient traditions of Māori cooking, and make hangi accessible; allowing people to taste our cultural history first-hand. Most people go for 'The Works' - a selection of pork, chicken, kumara, potato, pumpkin, cabbage, stuffing and watercress salad - but there are also vegetarian options, like the hāngi sandwich served with hāngi potato mash, granny smith apple, watercress and beetroot salad with Rewi's secret Asian sauce. The menu also offers gourmet burgers, hāngi pies, and breakfast rolls.
Read more about these eateries and keep an eye out for more Appetite for Auckland stories here.