6 Must-Eat Vegan Spots in Auckland
Not only is it a good time to be alive, but it’s also – most definitely – a good time to be vegan. When I took a four-day trip up to Auckland from Queenstown, I finally had the chance to eat at some places I’ve wanted to visit since I became vegan. Plus, my friends in Auckland had been sending me photos and Snapchats of incredible-looking vegan food that I just had to see what all the plant-based fuss was about.
In a bustling city like Auckland, there’s always going to be tons of options. Fortunately for us vegans, the veggie-fied goodness is aplenty. Most restaurants have at least a few vegan options or, alternatively, the chef is often able to whip up some sort of veg & potato combination (love them fries) if you end up at a non-veg restaurant.
From 100% vegan to vegan-friendly restaurants, this list should help you navigate the food landscape of New Zealand’s most-populated city to find nothing less than delicious cuisine sans animal. These are not listed in any particular order.
My first time ever eating vegan sushi did not disappoint. From vegetable sushi rolls to plant-based desserts, Janken has an array of Japanese vegan cuisine that is made with the utmost attention to detail and tastes out of this world.
As a former sushi lover, I was skeptical of the vegan version of my old seafood favorites, but the vegan dishes that Janken presented were absolutely fantastic.
When it came time for dessert, I was stuffed, but I had to persevere after seeing the available assortment; and I was so glad I did. The crème brûlée was rich, but the portion was perfect for the amount of flavor packed in. If you’re vegan and living in or visiting Auckland, this place is an absolute must. The atmosphere was chic and the service was perfect.
2. Little Bird Organics & The Unbakery
The Unbakery is the kind of place that when you ask for coffee as a vegan you don’t have to clarify that you don’t want cow’s milk. Hallelujah! Their only milk options derive from plants and they know how to brew it perfectly for a quality cappuccino. The entire menu is vegan, unprocessed, unpasteurized, unpressurized, and organic. It’s such a treat to go somewhere that you don’t have to worry about what’s in every dish as a meat-free, dairy-free, egg-free person. In fact, you’ll likely get choice overwhelm from so many delicious options.
Adjacent to the ordering counter, you’ll find an assortment of packaged products such as cacao butter, organic granola, nut milks, coffee, and cookbooks. I highly recommend this spot for breakfast or brunch with a mate. Plus, their décor is an Instagrammers paradise for the photographically inclined.
3. Sunflower Vegetarian Café
I’m sorry, did you say fried chicken? Vegan fried chicken? Yup, she did. This intimate, and somewhat clandestine, Thai/Chinese restaurant in central Auckland is one you should consider visiting with friends. I say this because if you go on your own, you’ll want to order at least four different meals and you’ll be rolling out of the place like Violet Beauregarde when she turns into a Wonka-fied blueberry.
If you bring friends along, each of you can order something different and share with each other – aka a self-made vegan sampler platter. The atmosphere is undemanding and simple, but hot damn if their food isn’t tasty. This restaurant is also alcohol-free, so pair your meal with a Thai tea, soda, juice or free table water. I promise you’ll be happy you stopped by.
4. Revive Café
This fast-paced lunch spot seems like a vegan gem most visited during the midday bustle. Though not all the food there is vegan (it’s got some vegetarian options, too), it is plant-based, so you’ll have no problem finding something you like. With a thoughtfully crafted selection of options, the owners put years of work into creating a “fast food” restaurant that won’t give you that post-lunch slump and will leave you feeling healthier without the sacrifice of flavor.
Choose from salads, soups, grains, veggies, curries, and other tasty concoctions to make up a mixed plate for lunch. Grab a table, enjoy the flavors, and be back at work (or on the road) in less than 20 minutes.
5. The Butcher’s Son
I’m pretty sure this place was built out of plants by plant-lovers it’s that vegan. With sustainability and your compassionate taste buds in mind, The Butcher’s Son has harnessed a minimal waste and maximum taste approach to their operation. I loved this place so much that I went to visit these “Hardcore Herbivores” twice during my trip.
QUICK TIP: They don’t serve prepared meals after 3pm except for what’s in their food case (scones, muffins, bars, etc.). Thursdays through Saturdays they are open for dinner, though, so if you’re planning an afternoon food-centered outing, make sure you get the timing right or you’ll be disappointed. Go for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, and/or dessert and enjoy the great energy of the staff buzzing around this family friendly, date-optimal, catch-up-zone, plant-obsessed kinda place.
They do still serve drinks all afternoon, so grab a coffee or a cocktail and do some people watching at their well-positioned sidewalk tables if you’re passing by.
6. Kaiaroha Organic Vegan Café & Deli
Tucked on a side street of the eccentric Parnell neighborhood, this food-magazine-worthy café is what I’d love for my own home to be like. Fresh herbs and natural ingredients are situated at every corner of the kitchen, fresh flowers are speckled throughout the eating area, and quirky details are intentional, only noticed by those who take the time to sip and enjoy a great cup of coffee. The staff is warm and friendly, especially if you ask them more about how they make their food (namely the vegan cheeses).
If you don’t believe vegan cheese can taste as addicting as the “real” cheese you once knew, try a few of their bespoke cashew cheeses carefully made in-house and aged in a massive, glass cheese cave on a regular basis. You can buy a wheel to take with you and serve at a dinner party or to enjoy with a few crackers and a glass of wine at the end of a hard day.
I stopped in for brunch before heading to the airport and drooled for a while at their food case. Without a doubt, I plan to visit Kaiaroha regularly every time I’m in Auckland. I owe a big thank you to the wonderful staff there that took the time to tell me about all of their well-crafted food and handmade cheeses.
There are tons more vegan spots in Auckland I’m dying to get to, but I’m so happy I got to visit the ones that I did. If you’ve ever been to Auckland and found a great vegan meal while you were there, let me know in the comments below what you had and where you enjoyed it!