Karangahape Road has long been legendary for its hip and edgy eateries that draw an abundance of flavours from all corners of the globe.
Once red-light central, Karangahape Road (fondly known as K’Rd) is still a street that doesn’t sleep, but it’s now well versed in hospitality of a different kind. With a lively mix of owner-operated establishments each offering a unique spin on food and drink, this inner-city strip is Auckland’s hippest food precinct.
Madame George sprang up from a pop-up restaurant and is thriving, serving seasonal plates and house-made snacks with some of the best cocktails in town. With its tables spilling out from the petite interior to the covered pavement area, this is a great spot to start the night with a few aperitifs, nibbling on homemade jerky and a plate of Parisian gnocchi before deciding if you’ll move on to explore more. Or perhaps just settle in for the night.
Paving the way for the K’Rd renaissance and sandwiched between bottle shops and bus shelters, Coco’s Cantina opened almost a decade ago. Come here for a cracking good time, Italian-inspired cuisine, friendly punters and an unflappable team run by the owners, sisters Renee and Damaris Coulter. Coco’s proves that great service needn’t be stuffy and that a meal out is more fun with a smile and laugh — especially when you allow yourself to slurp the legendary spaghetti and meatballs!
A few doors down, Apéro is run by French chef Leslie Hottiaux and her partner, Melbournian Mo Koski, at front of house. Apéro has brought the wine bar concept back to life in this city. Let Mo ask a few questions about your vinous preferences and bring you a few tastings. He always hits the spot and the selection is interesting and affordable. Leslie’s cooking is unfussy yet unparalleled — the menu hinges on charcuterie, smaller and larger plates — especially delicious is the way she treats seasonal vegetables. One dish that never leaves the menu is the sausage, which comes by the quarter-metre spiral served with homemade mustard and pickles.
Keep your eyes peeled or you’ll miss Satya Chai Lounge across the road, which would be a shame. The front window gives nothing away — it looks like a vacant space — but open the door and you’re greeted with a candle-lit, tent-like room. The menu features a modern take on South Indian street food — Chicken 65 dotted with crisp curry leaves and redolent with spices; Mushroom Magic, peppery, tempura-coated mushrooms; and more plates of dahi puri than you might think sensible. The little poppadoms topped with yoghurt, tamarind chutney and diced onion are not to be missed. Craft beer and cocktail fans are both in for a treat. Owner Sammy Ahukota is a total beer nerd and stocks an amazingly large selection, while heading up the bar, Roberto Giampaolo mixes a fiendishly strong negroni.
Finishing the night with a drink at Love Bucket is a good idea. Their “peel to pip” approach to mixology means you’ll be sipping on syrups, tinctures and infusions made in-house, enjoying a laid-back friendly vibe and views over the city.