Ponsonby may be a small suburb, but it packs a punch with its rich flavours and continuous rush of eclectic cuisines. Ponsonby’s food scene mirrors the city’s vibrant and diverse population. The scene is varied and innovative, bringing together cultural influences from here and worldwide—a perfect blend of old and new, and where the east meets the west. Every palate is catered for in this part of Auckland. Foodies will revel in the variety of exceptional places springing up across the town.
It’s a bit hard to keep up with what’s new and decent so as devoted regulars, we’ve put together all the best new spots so you can deviate from Ponsonby’s OG institution, Prego.
These establishments are representative of some of the best that Auckland offers, ranging from casual neighbourhood joints where you can pop in and be greeted like locals to formal fine dining establishments that deliver technique-driven food with equally excellent service.
Having trouble finding Gaja? Just follow your nose. You’ll find this moody Korean restaurant along Ponsonby Central’s lane, just a short walk from the main road. Gaja is my all-time favourite spot for date night or a group dinner. The menu is constantly changing, but it’s always designed for sharing. Indulge in the not-so-average corn ribs, gochujang-packed pork and intriguing yuzu pumpkin. Attracting diners in the mood for a bit of fun. Gaja’s upbeat and infectious energy from the hosts will have your back for more and more.
Inca has made a name for itself with the notorious Nick Watt attracting eager diners daily. It is one of the most exciting places to eat in Auckland right now, thanks to a bold, punchy menu that draws on a Latin American/Japanese concept Watt fell in love with on a trip to Peru. Salmon cooked in fermented chilli and passionfruit, woodfired butternut pumpkin with pickled oyster mushrooms and pork cheek tacos – all primed for pairing with intrinsic cocktails that are sure to wow. A must try is the rockmelon – you would never have tasted something quite like that before!
Expect to find the very best of dal, Manchurian and tandoor grill. Brimming with delicious Indian cuisine and history, which boasts traditional yet modern lively fare. Mumbaiwala is in Ponsonby’s prime location, so it’s hard to miss! However, as it’s new, you may have been waiting on a fellow foodie to give you the nod of approval – this is it. My personal fave is the paneer karahi which I still think about recreating today, slurping my naan heart out for its thick masala sauce. An excellent spot for families to feast too.
Having recently played host to Sydney’s famous Maybe Sammy, Clipper has established itself as a place to go for a memorable cocktail experience. Their menu is only the beginning of the fun, with its page layouts like a passport and each drink named after a go-to holiday destination. For example, you can order a round of Italian Lemon Basil Spritz or go for a mix of Puerto Rico Watermelon & Aloe with Hawaii’s Vanilla and Passionfruit blend. They’ve gone the whole mile, and you can even have your passport menu stamped as you make your way through the book. So be sure to bring your passport back the next time you go there to satisfyingly fill her up!
You’ll find crowds at Lucky 8 – a hotspot for good food, reasonable prices and good chats. A night out at Lucky 8 is a guaranteed good time. The vibrantly lit, brick-and-mortar walls add romance and nostalgia to the mix, with matte black lucky cats lining the shelves and some of Auckland’s best DJs on duty. The beef cheek is divine, lying on a bed of gravy. Do not forget to order the mushroom fries to soak up the left of the sauce. There’s no shortage of buzzing cocktails and fast dumpling service. It’s perfect for the upcoming silly season as it’s perfect for a group session.
Mr Spicer is an institution — a well-oiled machine in a neon-coated space serving Southeast Asian dishes. You’ll find rogan josh and vegetable jalfrezi with spice-laden dishes like lamb cutlets. The chocolate samosa with ice cream is also a must-try. My group was heavenly satisfied with this finishing dish. Mr Spicer is lively and hosts exciting service.