My vacations are all about food. In fact, I have a hard time recounting vacation memories that aren’t tethered to a specific meal or snack or restaurant. With that, let me tell you what you’ve absolutely got to eat in Auckland, New Zealand.
Because my blood is 30% Big Mac Special Sauce, I made it my immediate mission to locate the best local burger joint I could find and was not at all disappointed to discover Burger Fuel. A gourmet burger restaurant with the best veggie burger I’ve ever had and a signature aioli dip that I would chug like water if it were socially acceptable. They’ve also invented these amazing burger holders called "Doofers," which keep the sandwich structurally sound and your hands free from gobs of wily aioli.
Eliot Stables downtown provides certainly the most unique dining experience in the city. Best described as a "hip" food court, the property is literally an old horse stable converted into a large, atmospheric dining room with a cobblestone floor and large wood planks criss-crossing the peaked ceiling. You can order from any of the restaurants inside: every variety of crepe, spicy polish sausage, pasta, even sushi. And once you’re ready to gorge again, seek out the nearby Kapiti Coast ice cream parlour for dessert.
Heading toward Albert Park from there for a look at some of Auckland’s famous trees, you might notice a massive swell of people at the corner of Lorne and Wellesley. Don’t worry; it’s not a car crash or an alien landing. It’s people waiting for their piping hot Korean pancakes. A great snack between snacking, dough is stuffed with the innards of your choice, and then fried in front of you on a flat grill. The man who runs it is an absolute delight and if he ever notices that you’ve been waiting too long for a pancake, it’s on the house!
Sal’s Pizza is the best pizza establishment in town, hands down. Massive, greasy slices modeled after New York-style pizza, it tastes the way I always imagined the pizza in "Ninja Turtles" cartoons to taste. Of course, you’re not in Auckland to eat the food you could get at home, but if you’re feeling like pizza one night, this is the place to go.
The rotating restaurant in the Skytower is as gimmicky as it is genuinely delicious, and not at all nauseating as the motion-sick nerd in me worried it might be. If you like gorgeous views and seafood you should definitely make your way up. And later in the night when your stomach is grumbling again, potato wedges with sour cream and sweet chili sauce are the standard pub fare, gobbled alongside pints of Tui or Speight’s.
Great restaurants are everywhere in Auckland -- hit the posh ones while shopping in upscale Parnell, the greasy spoons while vintage hunting on K Road, and the hip ones in Ponsonby where everyone was the "first" to wear skinny jeans. Each area is connected via The Link, which is Auckland’s frequently looping bus route, so you can hit all the culinary hot spots with ease.