150 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby. Ph 360-1710, spqrnz.co.nz
Lunch & dinner 7 days. $$
Once upon a time, when Ponsonby wasn’t really Ponsonby like we know it today, SPQR came along and shocked everyone: a smart, modern, brazenly big-haired celebration of social pizzazz, complete with a pavement row of tables where customers lined up to see and be seen. And how they flocked, to do both. SPQR defined not just the Ponsonby Strip but a whole way of being an Aucklander — and it’s still there, still doing the business, barely changed in all these years. Not because it lacks competition (Britomart, Federal St and other places on the Strip have seen to that), but because it’s really good. Whip-smart service, gorgeous food, an excellent wine list, all available by the glass. And if you’re looking for a late-night pizza or dish of pasta, it’s still very hard to beat for that too. Bloody good cocktails, of course.
A favourite dish: Saffron risotto with sautéed prawns, snowpeas, chilli and garlic.
Shared-plate options / Fixed-price meals / Good for vegetarians / Free-range chicken and/or pork / Good seating outside / Takes large groups / Bar / Craft beer selection