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Metro Top 50 Cafes 2021

The best places in Auckland to start your morning (or afternoon)

Metro Top 50 Cafes 2021

Aug 12, 2021 Cafes

Auckland has long prided itself on the strength of its coffee culture (probably a few years longer than it deserved to when the term was describing just Cafe Cezanne and DKDs). But, since the late-90s, it seems as though cafes, from barely functioning to great, have popped up at various times on every piece of available real estate in the city and its environs.

In romantic imagination, cafes are sites of cultural revolution — packed with plotting post-Impressionists, communists, social activists and free marketeers — but in practice they are places where nothing in particular happens. Nor is it expected to happen. Rather, they are places for Aucklanders to do nothing when they are pretending to be doing something else, to make plans and take meetings, to catch up with friends and to do that rarest of things in New Zealand, socialise without the lubrication of alcohol (mimosas and Bloody Marys aside).

But cafes are part of all of our daily rituals — whether that’s a quick takeaway coffee in the morning (bring your reusable cup!) or a long, leisurely lunch — so our Top 50 Cafes list is our way of showing how much we love them and appreciate just what they do for the city. They all make Auckland a bloody great place to live.

And to those that missed out: Every year, the Top 50 Cafes judging process starts with the worry we won’t be able to find 50 that stand out from the rest, yet always seems to end in bitter dispute and cruel recriminations as cafes are cut. This year was no exception, and at least one afternoon at the Metro office was spent in complete silence as the owners of conflicting opinions seethed at their desks. So, apologies to those on the cusp — you were seen, noted and argued about at length. We’re looking forward to seeing, noting and arguing about you for years to come.

Metro’s Top 10

Blue Rose
Bestie
Coffee Pen
Daily Daily
Fort Greene
Hare and the Turtle
Hugo’s Bistro
The Candy Shop
Ozone Coffee Roasters
Williams Eatery

Best Coffee —
THE CANDY SHOP
Woohyung Lee sources and roasts his own coffee under the name Camper Coffee, so the beans you’ll find bagged up on The Candy Shop’s shelves are regularly changing. You can take them home to try, or have a cup in-house, expertly made through all the many methods on offer. Keep an eye out for Camper’s charming mascot, Gregory the Bear, chilling out on a rustic log with a pipe in his mouth.

Best Counter Food —
MIZU BREAD
It’s always a good sign when you find yourself wanting to eat everything your eyes can see, which is definitely some- thing that happens at Mizu Bread. Whether it’s the pretty tiramisu, yeastless sourdough bread, espresso cream doughnuts, cheesecake or melon pan, you won’t be able to leave without spending a small fortune.

Best New —
HOMELAND
In November last year, just as the summer days were starting to creep into Auckland, Peter Gordon’s new “food embassy”, Homeland, opened. He and partner Alastair Carruthers took over a huge, sprawling venue, splitting it into several multi-purpose spaces, one of which is a dining room open from morning to night.

Best Service —
BESTIE
Attentive but chill, efficient but full of personality, Bestie’s front-of-house staff are masters at balancing all the many facets of service that ensure a good time is had by all. Despite the many tables filling the sizable floor space in St Kevins Arcade, you’ll be well looked after.

Best Menu Dish —
EGGPLANT PARM AT HARE AND THE TURTLE
On a list heaving with places that specialise in sandwiches (think Hero, Mizu, Young George), we think it’s only right to pay tribute to what we believe is the best in the city. The eggplant parm at Hare and the Turtle is held together by a glistening house-made tomato sauce and provolone, while the eggplant patty is crispy and delicious. Vegetarian! Only $13! It’s a win, win, win.

SUPREME WINNER —
COFFEE PEN
Yas and Fumi Hisai have created something really special for their community. Coffee Pen is open, warm and welcoming, with excellent tarts, cakes and sandwiches that come in and out of rotation, so you can always try something new, but also return to a beloved favourite. We haven’t brought anyone here who hasn’t immediately been infatuated with this place in some way, which speaks to its universal appeal. Coffee Pen’s recently released cookbook, now sold out, is also a quiet, humble gem.

Jump down to top 50 by suburb

 

Crumb

The Top 50

A

AMANO
66-68 Tyler St, Britomart
Allpress Coffee

Although recently sold to mammoth hospitality group Savor, there’s still nothing quite like Amano — and, hey, Savor did promise that they wouldn’t be changing a thing. It’s open from 7am, seven days a week, breakfast cocktails take centre stage on its menu, and you can have pasta to start the day. Breakfast pasta includes a mushroomy tagliatelle topped with a poached egg, or a comforting bolognese. If you’re not in the mood for all that heaviness, an almond croissant from the on-site bakery will do you just fine.

ARK COFFEE COMPANY
461-467 Lake Rd, Takapuna
Ark Coffee

There’s an unmistakable smell of freshly roasted coffee when you make your way down an alleyway off Takapuna’s Lake Rd leading straight towards this bright and thoughtful cafe/roastery. It’s the best place to be if you like a slow brew, or if you like to brew slowly at home — Ark stocks a wide range of pour-over and immersion kits, coffee paraphernalia and mugs. In the hot weather, treat yourself to some cold coffee jelly on the bric-a-brac seats in the parking lot out the back.

B

BANDUNG
119 Parnell Rd, Parnell
Espresso Workshop Coffee

A fairly new cafe on the main strip of Parnell, Bandung takes inspiration from Bali and Java in Indonesia, the cultural background of its owners. Usual brunch fare is trumped by the Indo specialties, like the dry curry rendang padang, so moreish we couldn’t stop eating it, and the fresh gado gado drenched in that tasty peanut sauce. Inside is small and cosy, but a cute semi-covered courtyard out back will get cracking use in the summer.

BENEDICT’S
1/30 St Benedicts St, Eden Terrace
Be Specialty Coffee

This place has seen many cafes go through (Benediction and Rabbit, to name a couple), but the whole show has been recently renovated by hospitality design group Mille, with soothing terracotta tones interrupted by dusty pinks and pops of blue. Coffee is Be Speciality (Benedict’s own blend) and a brunchy all-day menu is somewhat Korean-inspired and forays into the comfort-food end of things; a lot of eggs, a kimchi pancake, or a bulgogi beef bowl. For something lighter, we recommend the Earl Grey granola, which is delightfully fragrant.

BESTIE
St Kevins Arcade, 179-183 Karangahape Rd, K’ Rd Precinct
Eighthirty Coffee

The spot on Karangahape Rd to see and be seen during the day. Politicians, artists, musicians, and a few grandmothers idling away the days can be found at Bestie in the north end of St Kevins Arcade. Under its impressive windows looking out over Myers Park, the staff are welcoming and chatty (when not run off their feet), the coffee and food (both cabinet and short order) are consistently tasty and filling, and the lush, leafy surrounds seem designed to tempt you into whiling away the days here working on your screenplay when you should really be wherever you should be.

BLUE ROSE
414 Sandringham Rd, Sandringham
Vivace Coffee

There isn’t a chance in the world that you’ll miss Blue Rose’s striking blue storefront, a vibrance that sets the tone for the rest of the cafe. We love the busy, warm vibe that permeates the un- fussy space as people rotate in and out to drop by for a pie or two — flaky goodness that encases fillings such as bacon bones and watercress (the boil-up pie), or corned beef, taro leaves, coconut cream, onion and chilli (the palusami pie). For dessert, get the caramel slice.

C

CATROUX
129 West End Rd, Westmere
Allpress Coffee

Catroux is an excellent example of what a neighbourhood cafe should be — locals coming and going at all times, friendly staff, and an absolutely banging carrot cake. The inside is sunny and minimal, and the compact menu runs in the line of well-executed classics; expect mushroom medley and truffle potato gratin, or avocado on sourdough toast. We particularly like the lamb sausage and eggs, with fresh pops of yoghurt and cucumber.

CAZADOR DELI
854 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden
Eighthirty Coffee

Opened between last year’s lockdowns, Cazador Deli quickly became notorious throughout the near western suburbs for their insanely delicious pies and the maple bacon croissants. The staff are friendly and helpful as you attempt to navigate the various cheeses and items of charcuterie in the packed display case. Cazador becomes, with this listing, probably, the first overall establishment to be named in all three of our Top 50 Restaurants, Bars and Cafes issues. Congrats!

CHUFFED
43 High St, central city
Rocket Coffee

It’s always somewhat surprising how hard it is to stumble across a decent cafe when you find yourself in the inner-city, which is mostly geared for business types wanting to conduct meetings somewhere generic. Thank God for Chuffed, with its serene sheltered courtyard hidden out the back, heated up snug during the winter so you can catch your breath in the middle of a busy workday. True to its location, there are quick lunch options in the cheese toastie vein, but we like the house-made crumpets if you have a little longer.

COFFEE PEN
6 Basque Rd, Eden Terrace
Be Specialty Coffee

Coffee Pen is cradled at the bottom of Basque Rd’s slope in a compact space that manages to squeeze in all the essentials, including a generous cabinet where whole cakes and tarts are in various stages of segmentation, sold by the slice. Luckily, the party spills over to an out- side area; shaded tables allow people to linger for longer over a piece of matcha cheesecake. Owners Yasuji and Fumi Hisai are usually behind the counter, with Yas slinging the espresso, and if you go on a weekend day, you might run into a community market or a set of live music.

CORNWALL PARK CAFE
Cornwall Park, Pōhutukawa Dr, Epsom
Allpress Coffee

Really, it starts with the picturesque drive. Once you make your way through the lush trees and sun-dappled pathways, you’ll find the Cornwall Park Cafe, nestled against all that beautiful green. The white Izzard-designed interiors are appropriately neutral, with open glass doors on either side to take full advantage of the lush, expansive park outside. Families with young kids will have a ball here, and the extended opening hours (until 5pm) mean it can be an ideal after-school destination to chill out with a hot chocolate.

CRUMB
37 Ariki St, Grey Lynn
Flight Coffee

We love our third places: neighbourhood hang-out spots where people can while their Sunday away, bumping into friends, dogs, family, and whoever else is around. Crumb is exactly that. Beanbags get dragged out onto the lawn on sunny days for easy lounging with mugs of Flight coffee, art exhibitions and activations pop up all the time (with parties at night to celebrate them) and you can grab some cute Crumb or local-band merch.

D

DAILY BREAD
1210 Great North Rd, Pt Chevalier
Coffee Supreme

The Daily Bread empire shows no sign of slowing down, with outposts popping up all over the city. Things are mostly stripped down to the basics here, focusing on fabulous bread, high-quality ingredients and useful take-home deli products, which make it a great everyday stop. Though the new places are well appointed to serve their respective neighbourhoods (one of them is the old Little & Friday space in Belmont), we still hold great fondness for the original iteration in Pt Chevalier, which is housed in the best, grandest building of all.

DAILY DAILY
452 Karangahape Rd, K’ Rd Precinct
Coffee Supreme with rotating guest filter brews

This brew bar on Karangahape Rd approaches coffee with a respectful reverence — there’s even almost always a blanket hush when you walk in. While most people come here and are happy enough with the usual flat white, look beyond the machine to see what beans they have on offer for a pour-over (filter). There will be bags of mostly single  origin varieties from small local roasters and bigger overseas brands, so you can point and choose or leave it up to the barista. The experience, overall, is just slow, meditative and lovely.

F

FABRIC
8 Boundary Rd, Hobsonville Pt
L’affare Coffee

At Fabric, brunch comes with an exceedingly lovely view. Try to nab a table on the deck, which has seating adjacent to the Hobsonville Pt ferry wharf (so when we say it’s nearly right on the water, we mean it). But the inside isn’t too shabby, either, fitted out by designers Walker Mitchell in lovely natural tones and subtle accents to create somewhere cosy. With the Catalina Bay Farmers Market bringing in a pleasantly chaotic hustle on the weekends, it’s a hard location to beat, sunny day or otherwise.

FORT GREENE
327 Karangahape Rd, K’ Rd Precinct
Peoples Coffee

Now completely settled into its new home amid the never-ending noisy Karangahape averagification programme, regulars to Fort Greene ride the emotional waves of operators Liam Fox and Andrea Mulhausen as they chat with diners about navigating the annoyances and joys of running the business. The relaxed familial atmosphere extends to the food, with — as far as we can tell — every ingredient that needs cooking, baking or curing made by Fox himself. If you’re just looking for something to take away, the croissants are unrivalled in the city.

FRASERS
434 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden
Allpress Coffee

A shining beacon of hope in the otherwise so-so Mt Eden shops, Frasers has a pleasingly lush aesthetic working off a rich colour palette and sensually satisfying seating, tableware and lighting. The staff look smart as hell and they are, as far as we can tell (there seems to be a lot of them), all professional and friendly. There’s an expanded menu on the weekends, and it’s worth working through as much of it as you can — definitely get the cheesecake, which is famous for a reason.

FUSION
32 Jervois Rd, Ponsonby
Allpress Coffee

Fusion has been on Jervois Rd for 24 years now, which beats most (maybe all) of the other cafes on this list by a country mile. We’re a big fan of the food here, which, true to the cafe’s name, is a fusion of cultures, mostly Western and Vietnamese. Chef’s specials such as bánh mì and pho are fresh and sharply priced, and you can also get a Vietnamese iced coffee with a dollop of condensed milk to sweeten everything up. With that snug warm-in cosiness inside, a visit to Fusion feels like a familiar hug.

G

GOOD DAY
3/78 Coates Ave, Ōrākei
Coffee Supreme with rotating guest filter brews

Good Day is an aptly named suburban cafe on a sunny street in Ōrākei. The interior is simple and sweet, but we come here for the charming neighbourhood vibe, where people gather with their dogs outside after a walk on the beach and the staff know your regular order. While stop- ping by for a quick coffee is never a bad idea — there’s usually something interesting on filter — the menu is littered with things that sound easy and delicious to eat, like a basic bacon buttie or sardines in toast.

H

HANDPICKED COFFEE ROASTERS
918 New North Rd, Mt Albert
Handpicked Coffee

Handpicked is a labour of love from owners Nara Lee and Han Sol Kim, whose passion for coffee is obvious in every part of this compact Mt Albert cafe. It’s located on the busy main street — spot it by the collection of tables and chairs outside — but inside it’s calm, quiet and homely, encouraging patrons to slow down over a real vanilla latte (one of their “signatures”) and a plate of creamy mushrooms. Take home some of the beans they roast in-house.

HARE AND THE TURTLE
1/63 New Windsor Rd, New Windsor
Coffee Supreme

If you don’t live in the neighbourhood, Hare and the Turtle is something of a destination drive (there’s only an electrician and laundromat in the same block of shops) and you have to be strategic about the timing, too, as it’s perpetually busy but somehow never hectic, thanks to the welcoming vibe of its laidback staff and space. All the hearty sandwiches (which look like burgers, with soft brioche buns) are priced at $15 or under, and if you add a bowl of beer-battered fries, it’ll definitely tide you over until dinner.

HERO SANDWICH HOUSE
42 Airedale St, central city
Allpress Coffee

Located in Airedale’s Tuesday Club building, this sandwich house is owner Huri Neill’s second outpost, after the flagship in Eden Terrace (now closed). It’s lovely and open, and if you’re lucky, nab the cosy corner booth for a business meeting, or to stay over a few mugs of great coffee. Of course, it’s really the sandwiches that are the stars of the show here. They’re generally stuffed, seasoned, and unapologetically indulgent: Philly cheese steak is always a safe go-to, but our favourite is the CBJ, a chicken sandwich with bacon, jam and cheddar.

HOMELAND
11 Westhaven Dr, central city
Allpress Coffee

If you can have only one thing at Homeland, it should be the three-cheese scone, which is quite possibly the best one in Auckland (fighting words). But, honestly, this new food embassy/ cooking school/dining room by the recently returned Peter Gordon is the home of many more delicious things, including those classic Turkish eggs with whipped yoghurt and chilli butter that you know had to be on the menu, and other bright dishes that use produce from Aotearoa and the Pacific. The actual waterside space is vast and open, with seating by the garden.

HONEY BONES
480 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn
Coffee Supreme

In a coveted corner spot that’s minimalist but far from cold — the generous natural sunlight helps, as does the friendly, upbeat service — Honey Bones is an enduring Grey Lynn favourite, bustling with locals and visitors who trekked across town to get the cilbir eggs: poached perfectly with dollops of Greek yoghurt. But it’s hard to go wrong with your order here; most of the dishes are vaguely Middle Eastern influenced — labneh, za’atar, whipped feta and tzatziki all make an appearance — so flavour is definitely on the cards.

HUGO’S BISTRO
67 Shortland St, central city
Hugo’s Blend

Hugo’s Bistro has thrived under current head chef Alfie Ingham, who likes to put his own modern, ingredient-led spin on timeless bistro classics, and Sophie Beaton, who runs front of house like a dream. Come in the morning for the many variations on eggs (the english muffins with brown sauce is an easy choice) or sidle in after midday to treat yourself to a fancy long lunch, where confit duck has a lentil ragu, and a piece of rump cap is dressed in anchoiade, a zingy anchovy dip.

I

IMA
53 Fort St, central city
Be Specialty Coffee

Although it’s undergone an interior refresh since the last time we ran the Top 50 Cafes list, Ima is still the same place we know and love: full of personality, life, and stupidly tasty baking. Dishes spill over and ooze with lick-your-plate sauces, and generous platters for two make it easy for those who suffer from indecision. But the person who really makes Ima Ima is owner Yael Shochat, who regularly uses her platform to advocate for the hospitality industry, as well as sharing recipes with the community (there are even YouTube videos!). Cheers to that.

L

L’AFFARE
22 Melrose St, Newmarket
L’Affare Coffee

If you want somewhere to happily disappear for a few hours, this Newmarket cafe tucked away on Melrose St is the perfect place to do that. There’s plenty of curved benches and little nooks to sink into, and the sun streaming in does a lot to warm up the large, airy space. You expect a cafe that roasts their own coffee to pour a good cup, and they do, so sit back, relax and enjoy. If you get hungry, try the fried chicken and waffles. Yum.

L’ATELIER DU FROMAGE
5 McColl St, Newmarket
Allpress Coffee

There is always something to look at in L’Atelier du Fromage (fromage means cheese in French), because it’s so many things at once: a deli, a cafe, and, once you walk upstairs, a wine cellar. Come here to pick up some fromage, fresh bread and a stuffed baguette for lunch. We also recommend carving out some time to enjoy a long lunch in the cellar upstairs, where small tables are surrounded by bottles. Get a charcuterie board to pick at, and decadent gnocchi with a chestnut sauce.

LITTLE BIRD KITCHEN
Cnr Summer St & Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby
Peoples Coffee

With plenty of plants, light and high ceilings, Little Bird Kitchen exudes a feeling of zen that fills the whole space. Everything here is plant- based, from the flavour-packed meals that come out of the kitchen, to the tasty raw slices in the cabinet, and we like that the drinks list is even longer than the food menu, a rarity in Auckland. Smoothies, cold-pressed juice, kombucha, matcha, coffee, and a wide variety of tea are all on offer, and chances are you can try something you’ve never had before.

L’OEUF
4a Owairaka Ave, Mt Albert
Atomic Coffee

Now a few years past its first blush of newness and novelty, L’Oeuf still satisfies with its beautifully plated breakfasts, infused with pan-Asian flavours and made with care from fresh ingredients. The Nest breakfast is a must-try if you’ve somehow avoided it all these years — two seed-crumbed eggs perched in a nest made of filo pastry and probably still the most Instagram-friendly breakfast in the city. Ace coffee, friendly service.

M

MIMOSA
460 Lake Rd, Takapuna
Kōkako Coffee

You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy this cafe, but if you are, there’s a lot to love here. For starters, nearly everything diced, sliced and plated up in its small narrow kitchen is plant-based — except there is some cream and eggs somewhere — and the menu’s innovations are pretty tasty: think beetroot hollandaise sauce, coconut ice cream and tempeh bacon. We are also a fan of the warm wood-heavy fit-out, which complements Mimosa’s virtuous offerings perfectly.

MIZU BREAD
187 Symonds St, Eden Terrace
Altezano Brothers Coffee

Starting out as a takeaway cabinet in front of fine-dining restaurant Kazuya, Mizu Bread quickly outgrew its humble origins and opened its own digs a little further up Symonds St. We’re partial to the katsu sandwich, pork or chicken: crumbed, juicy, and bookended by two perfectly fluffy pieces of home-made milk bread. There’s also plenty of other breadsticks, doughnuts and treats at the counter; get the curry pan for breakfast, the dough slightly sweet and bouncy, with a savoury Japanese curry filling. So satisfying.

MR T’S
210 Onehunga Mall, Onehunga
Rocket Coffee

To walk into Mr T’s is to surrender yourself to the call of its baking, most of which piles up behind the counter: baguettes for their bánh mì, sourdough, croissants, long logs of apple strudel, eclairs, plus some of the best pies in Auckland (the steak and cheese is particularly tasty). If you’re after something more substantial, the Vietnamese side of the menu is where you’ll want to be, even more so if there’s a special on — watch out for warming seasonal bowls of hu tieu bò kho or pho

O

ODETTES
90 Wellesley St, central city 
Odettes Blend

Tucked away in the City Works Depot precinct, Odettes is one of those spaces that just feels good to be in: all high ceilings, spacious booths, sun-dappled seats, and warm teals. It’s big (how often do you show up at an Auckland cafe, only to be turned away for lack of seating?) and bright, which is also an apt description of their menu, most of which leans towards Mediterranean (but not exclusively; you’ll see influences from all over). The dishes change regularly — what’s a dutch baby pancake may turn into a sweet crepe soon enough — so you’ll always have a reason to come back.

ONE CAFE
306 Onehunga Mall, Onehunga
Kōkako Coffee

There’s just something about ONE that makes it feel so welcoming to the community it serves. It could be that by night it transforms into the pay-as-you-feel restaurant Everybody Eats, or that it has one of the only menus in Auckland we’ve seen with te reo Māori, or that there’s a workspace, Think Space, sharing the premises upstairs. It’s probably a combination of all these things, but what makes it great is the food: we like the aubergine smash, with the eggplant
all charred and smothered with a perfect poached egg.

OPEN
553 Karangahape Rd, K’ Rd Precinct
Eighthirty Coffee

Now into its second year after owner Christy Tennent assumed control of the space from the eighthirty coffee empire, Open has settled into a comfortable existence at the heart of the community that exists around the Ponsonby end of Karangahape Rd. The cabinet food is from the great Cazador Deli in Mt Eden, and the coffee is still supplied by eighthirty. The staff are welcoming, fun and warm. Over lunchtime on Wednesdays, they run a delicious boil-up, which has provided a welcome taste of home for some and a welcome alternative to the usual Newton options for others.

ORPHANS KITCHEN
118 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby
Coffee Supreme

Having closed their dinner service last year, Orphans Kitchen is now a daytime-only affair. Although the menu itself changes often, the style of food at Orphans has always remained more or less the same since it first opened its doors in 2013, so you know to expect the heroing of fresh, high-quality produce dressed simply and delicious every time. Get whatever is with the kūmara tortilla if you’re after something light, and the toastie if you’re not.

OZONE COFFEE ROASTERS
1/18 Westmoreland St West, Grey Lynn
Ozone Coffee

It’s not every day you’re able to order a syphon coffee for your morning brew, but you can here. There’s an impressive selection of methods to enjoy their blends and single-origin beans at the brew bar, and it’s the same story on the food menu, too — that is, it’s impressive. Escaping the confines of traditional brunch food (we always love that), flavours are acidic and fresh (lots of pickles) but also comforting (the famous kedgeree is a prime example). Arrive a bit later, say after 11.45am, and the fried chicken with dashi mayo is always a treat.

P

PASTRAMI & RYE
112 Main Highway, Ellerslie

This deli and eatery in a row of shops in Ellerslie is a little gem of a place, with American-style sandwiches you can watch being assembled in front of you if you sit up at the counter. The fillings are generous and satisfying — often served with a side of chips, which we encourage patrons to layer between the slices of thick bread if your heart desires — and if you’re in a rush, there’s plenty of grab-and-go sandwiches in the glass cabinet. We also love the array of take-home condiments and house-made pickles that line the shelves.

PATCH
108 Sunnybrae Rd, Hillcrest
Kōkako Coffee

Patch is a bright spot in an otherwise industrial neighbourhood, named after the fields of strawberry patches that used to cover the ground there. It stands tall, almost like a greenhouse, with floor-to-ceiling windows and sun beaming down through the skylights. Inside, it’s dressed up, retaining the gritty bones of the warehouse but sweetened with soft blues, reds, and terra- cotta bricks. Plates of food here subscribe to the “eat with our eyes” philosophy, so anything you order will look good as well as taste good, especially the well-named Dream French Toast.

PINK NEON SIGN
Ground floor, 35 High St, central city
Eighthirty Coffee

In what used to be the old eighthirty, Pink Neon Sign beckons cafe-goers in with, you guessed it, a pink neon sign. The food is all vegetarian, so tacos have generous scoops of guacamole and refried black beans, and a slice of toast comes with a spread of tahini and pomegranate seeds. What makes this place really great, though, is the team that runs it; you can tell they’d always be up for a yarn, and greet their regulars with warm enthusiasm, which is exactly the kind of thing that makes people want to become regulars in the first place.

POSTAL SERVICE
537 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn
Kōkako Coffee

Vegetarians, rejoice. With a fully vegetarian menu (and plenty of vegan options), Postal Service celebrates plant-based eating while still keeping to the systems of traditional brunch fare, so what may be mince on toast some- where else is here a miso-glazed eggplant with cauliflower purée and pistachio dukkah, yes, on toast. While no longer the Kōkako flagship cafe (that’s now in Commercial Bay), Postal Service still retains nods to its past life, continuing the legacy of being an excellent cafe with pops of signature blue and, of course, servingnKōkako coffee.

R

RED RABBIT
7 Faraday St, Parnell
Red Rabbit Coffe

Anywhere you can walk in and be immediately enveloped in the smell of freshly roasted coffee is somewhere we like to be. The Red Rabbit in Parnell, behind a warehouse roller door, is busy and bustling on a weekday when the nearby office workers descend onto the place for a coffee, cabinet sandwich, and a salted-caramel cookie from Wellington’s Leed St Bakery. The coffee itself, roasted in-house, is some of the best in Auckland, so make sure you don’t forget to take a bag of beans home.

ROSIE
82 Gladstone Rd, Parnell
Allpress Coffee

Head to the corner of Gladstone and Stanwell to find Rosie, a reliable cafe go-to for when you’re feeling a bit fancy. The menu is lush, with everyday breakfast dishes made even more appetising by ingredients such as white anchovy, charred hazelnut and scampi. Plus, you can have dinner for lunch with big, generous Middle Eatern flavours full of char and herb and spice. If you’re after something a bit more low key, how- ever, the team has opened a younger sibling, Little Rosie, right next door, for more casual coffee catch-ups and takeaway cabinet food.

S

SEABREEZE
184 Garnet Rd, Westmere
Coffee Supreme

Named “Best Fit-Out” in our last Top 50 Cafes list, Seabreeze is a good-looking neighbourhood local, fitted out in dark teal walls, wooden accents and big generous windows that do an excellent job at letting in all that light. Along with the usual brunch fare (is it really a cafe without eggs on toast?), the menu has some unexpected gems up its sleeve, like the pork larb omelette sprinkled with fried shallots, and a version of the Indonesian salad gado-gado.

SIMON & LEE
115 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell
Rocket Coffee

Though no longer owned by Simon & Lee (Oliver Simon and David Lee have moved on to Gochu and Good Dog Bad Dog, among other things), the food here is still heavily Korean-influenced, with a cafe interpretation of traditional fare. Their jjam bbong, usually a brothy bowl of seafood noodle soup, uses fettuccine instead, with a generous helping of clams and prawn; a helping of spicy pork belly is served in a dolsot (stone pot) with satisfying crunchy rice; and spaghetti comes tossed through with a bulgogi sauce. Brunch food at its finest.

T

TAKAPUNA BEACH CAFE
22 The Promenade, Takapuna 
Allpress Coffee

Perfectly placed with the long, sandy Takapuna Beach to its side, this reliable charmer is always buzzing along no matter what time of day you catch it at. Crowds of locals — both of the hu- man and canine variety — linger outside as they wait for a coffee or a scoop of gelato, while din- ers dig into breakfasts that are light and lovely, with fresh punchy flavour. Even better, service is friendly and prompt — impressively so when you notice the constant stream of people coming through the doors.

THE CANDY SHOP
2/8 Osborne St, Newmarket
Camper Coffee

Spread across what are essentially two cafes (though both spaces are considered one), The Candy Shop is known for their a) house-brand coffee, Camper, roasted by one of the owners, Woohyung Lee, b) brunchy Korean-leaning dish- es, and c) a very nice Tokyo matcha cheesecake. We like that it’s tucked away a little down Osborne Lane away from the noise of Newmarket — some of the best seats are right out on that bricked, sunny lane — and right next to Duck Island for a little post-coffee cool-down treat.

W

WILLIAMS EATERY
G03/85 Daldy St, Wynyard Quarter
Flight Coffee

Last year’s Supreme Winner, Williams Eatery continues to hold down the fort at Wynyard Quarter, setting high standards for Auckland’s ever-expanding brunch scene. It’s not always easy to make a place feel special but still universally welcoming; Williams’ friendly staff do a good job at keeping everything moving at a warm hum. With new head chef Elie Assaf on the tools, the thoughtfully concise menu boasts Lebanese influence with various pitas and types of hummus, plus other occasional pop-up nights where he really gets to show off his cooking.

Y

YOUNG GEORGE
86A Hendon Ave, Mt Albert
Atomic Coffee

Young George opened late last year in a small suburban row of shops with an easy sell: good coffee and good sandos. Sticking to exactly that, their menu is simple as, offering up a range of crumbed meats, cheese and vege (katsu) in fluffy bread. Seating is limited — perch up on the bench, communal table or a scattering of places outside — but everything is takeaway friendly anyway. (Hot tip: Keep an eye out on their Instagram to snag one of the cafe’s double-patty cheeseburger specials.)

 

Blue Rose

Top 50 by Suburb

BRITOMART
Amano 66-68 Tyler St

CENTRAL CITY
Chuffed 43 High St
Hero Sandwich House 42 Airedale St
Homeland 11 Westhaven Dr
Hugo’s Bistro 67 Shortland St
Ima 53 Fort St
Odettes 90 Wellesley St
Pink Neon Sign 35 High St

EDEN TERRACE
Benedict’s 1/30 St Benedicts St
Coffee Pen 6 Basque Rd
Mizu Bread 187 Symonds St

ELLERSLIE
Pastrami & Rye 112 Main Highway

EPSOM
Cornwall Park Cafe Cornwall Park, Pōhutukawa Dr

GREY LYNN
Crumb 37 Ariki St
Honey Bones 480 Richmond Rd
Ozone Coffee Roasters 1/18 Westmoreland St West
Postal Service 537 Great North Rd

HOBSONVILLE PT
Fabric 8 Boundary Rd

K’ RD PRECINCT
Bestie St Kevins Arcade, 179-183 Karangahape Rd
Fort Greene 327 Karangahape Rd
Daily Daily 452 Karangahape Rd
Open 553 Karangahape Rd

MT ALBERT
Handpicked Coffee Roasters 918 New North Rd
L’Oeuf 4a Owairaka Ave
Young George 86a Hendon Ave

MT EDEN
Cazador Deli 854 Dominion Rd
Frasers 434 Mt Eden Rd

NEWMARKET
L’affare 22 Melrose St
L’Atelier du Fromage 5 McColl St
The Candy Shop 2/8 Osbourne St

NEW WINDSOR
Hare and the Turtle 1/63 New Windsor Rd

NORTH SHORE
Ark Coffee Company 461-467 Lake Rd, Takapuna
Mimosa 460 Lake Rd, Takapuna
Patch 108 Sunnybrae Rd, Hillcrest
Takapuna Beach Cafe 22 The Promenade, Takapuna

ONEHUNGA
Mr T’s 210 Onehunga Mall
One Cafe 306 Onehunga Mall

ŌRĀKEI
Good Day 3/78 Coates Ave

PARNELL
Bandung 119 Parnell Rd
Red Rabbit 7 Faraday St
Rosie 82 Gladstone Rd
Simon & Lee 115 St Georges Bay Rd

PT CHEVALIER
Daily Bread 1210 Great North Rd

PONSONBY
Fusion 32 Jervois Rd
Little Bird Kitchen Cnr Summer St and Ponsonby Rd
Orphans Kitchen 118 Ponsonby Rd

SANDRINGHAM
Blue Rose 414 Sandringham Rd

WESTMERE
Catroux 129 West End Rd
Seabreeze 184 Garnet Rd

WYNYARD QUARTER
Williams Eatery g03/85 Daldy St

This piece was published in Metro 431 – Available here in print and pdf.

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