New Zealand isn’t particularly known for its food. In fact, most travelers flock to New Zealand to explore its diverse natural wonders, enjoy the company of friendly locals and try their hand at some bizarre extreme sports (think rolling down a hill in a human-size hamster ball or bungee jumping at the place that invented it).
While most travelers do not come to New Zealand for the cuisine, eating inevitably accompanies — and enhances — any trip.
The cuisine in New Zealand closely parallels that of its neighbor Australia. Historically, the food involves hearty British settler food, such as meat pies, fish and chips and custard squares with the unique Oceania contribution of pavlova, a merengue fruit dessert inspired by the Russian ballerina’s visit in the early 1900s. The local indigenous Maori also contributed their hangi tradition of cooking using heated rocks in a pit oven. A modern hangi tends to use aluminum foil and wire baskets to cook root vegetables such as kumara (sweet potato), pork, lamb, potato, pumpkin and cabbage. As New Zealand becomes more cosmopolitan, the cuisine is increasingly influenced by Asian, Mediterranean and Pacific Rim traditions.
While vegetarianism isn’t historically common in New Zealand, recent trends have increased meatless options in the country, especially in the multi-cultural capital of Auckland. Whether you’re a resident or a traveler following a vegetarian diet, wanting to make healthy choices or hoping to save some money by avoiding expensive meat, check out these vegetarian and vegan- friendly spots — the best restaurants in Auckland for meat-free eaters.
Mister’s Real Food — one of the best restaurants in Auckland for vegetarians — is passionate about locally farmed, organic whole food, with everything produced in their gluten and dairy free kitchen. The industrial space features charming brick walls, exposed beams and pipes, and wrought iron accents that create a nice ambiance in which to enjoy 100% gluten- and dairy-free breakfast and lunch dishes like organic acai bowls, homemade bread topped with organic free-range eggs and porridge with housemade almond milk. A highlight is also their globally-inspired bowls at lunchtime, like a Jordan Bowl featuring ingredients like hummus, lemon, sumac and braised lamb shoulder, or a Malaysian Bowl with rice noodles, crushed peanuts and a grilled king pawn cutlet.
Misters also sells homemade cold pressed juices, nut milks, coffee, smoothies and organic, vegan sweets like salted peanut butter brownies, orange blossom mini torte with lemon cashew cream and salted caramel cake.
Ground Floor, 12 Wyndham Street, Auckland; Open Monday to Friday, 7 AM-3 PM, Saturday 8 AM-3 PMIt's possible to go #meatfree in #NZ with these tasty #Auckland restaurants! Click To Tweet
2. Revive Café
Revive’s two locations in the Central Business District both serve up a rotating full vegetarian menu with daily vegan specials. They create incredible semi-organic meals out of minimally processed produce, whole grains, and protein sources like beans, chickpeas, lentils tofu and nuts. Each day they serve their famous Mushroom & Thyme Frittata with potato, feta and free range eggs in addition to rotating hot meals, salads and hot pots. You can even pick up a cafe cookbook and bring healthiness home!
24 Wyndham St,
Auckland Central & 33 Lorne St,
Auckland Central; Open Weekdays 11 AM- 7 PM
Soul Bar and Bistro is one of the rare, sit-down restaurants to offer a rotating, full vegetarian menu on the beautiful Viaduct Harbor. They pride themselves on using the finest and freshest local ingredients, providing vegan options as well as seafood and meat options for non-vegetarians. Try the Aubergine Caponata on toasted sourdough with garlic yoghurt, Crescenza & Sweetcorn Tortellini with honey, rosemary and butter sauce, or a salad with roast carrot, parsley and goats’ curd.
Viaduct Harbor, Auckland; Open 7 days a week 11 AM-Late
Little Bird Organics began as an effort to give New Zealand residents a healthy alternative to the global trend of highly processed foods. They believe thoughtfully making everything from scratch is the key to creating delicious and nutritious meals. Everything you’ll eat here is unrefined, non-pasturized, non-pressurized and non-heat treated, and they even squeeze their own nut milks, make their own preserves, culture their nut cheese, sprout their cereals, juice their veggies, dehydrate their kale chips and make their own yogurt. Sign up for one of their natural cleanses, or have some fun at a Little Bird Organics’ cooking class.
Kingsland Unbakery, 385 New North Rd, Kingsland; Open 7 days a week 8 AM – 3 PM
Ponsonby Unbakery, Cnr Summer Street & Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby; Open 7 days a week 7 AM – 4 PM
Britomart Unbakery, 14 Customs Street East, Central City; Open Mon – Fri 6.30 AM – 6.30 PM, 9am – 5pm Weekends
Scarecrow combines a grocer, kitchen and florist in one cozy shop near Albert Park in Auckland Central. While the food isn’t all vegetarian, they celebrate local food and regional producers, and always offer delicious options for non-meat eaters. This ‘urban farmers market’ and gourmet cafe showcases over 120 of Auckland’s regional artisan producers with a carefully curated selection of local food, boutique wine and beer, beverages, chocolates, flowers and gifts.
The menu changes regularly but a vegetarian meal might include a Butternut & Pumpkin Seed Duke with fried sage and dried fruit vinaigrette for an appetizer, and a Slow-Roasted Carrot Lentil Stew with pickled seaweed for a main dish. Finish up with something like a beetroot and cashew cake with dates, sesame and candied beets.
Victoria Street East, Auckland Central; Open 7 days a week from 9 AM- 7 PMHere's how to keep a #vegetarian diet while #traveling in #Auckland Click To Tweet
6. Il Bucco
If you’re wandering around downtown Auckland or Ponsonby looking for a tasty grab-n-go meal, Il Bucco is a traditional Roman pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) offering 30 different varieties. This includes at least eight vegetarian options and six additional vegan pizzas, some with vegan cheese and faux chorizo. These meat-free pizzas have been warmly received and incredibly popular since being added to the menu.
113 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland; Open Monday – Sunday 7.30 AM – 9 PM
35c Vulcan Lane, Auckland; Open Weekdays 8:00 AM- 6 PM
7. Sunflower Thai Vegetarian
Sunflower Thai is a hole-in-the-wall hidden gem in Auckland’s Central Business District. This informal and authentic spot serves up a variety of mock meat and vegetable Thai dishes, with both dine-in and takeaway options. Choose from an extensive and affordable menu of Chinese, Thai & American specialties such as deep fried “oyster” or “meat ball” soup, as well as all your typical Thai favorites. While the restaurant is all vegetarian, with so many options, even meat lovers won’t notice anything missing.
6/50 High Street, Auckland Central; Open Weekdays 11 AM to 3 PM, 5 PM to 9 PM
The Blue Bird café brings culturally diverse vegetarian and vegan cuisine to Auckland’s Mount Eden suburb. They serve up freshly prepared food on a rotating menu and specialize in vegetarian comfort foods. Think nachos, burritos and burgers as well as a wide variety of global rice bowls served in a spiritual atmosphere. They also provide food for takeaway, true espresso coffee and a range of teas, smoothies, fresh produce-laced juices and tasty desserts. Blue Bird is run by members of the New Zealand Sri Chinmoy Centre who offer meditation events and classes on the premises.
299 Dominion Rd, Mount Eden; Open Monday to Saturday 8 AM -3 PM
What are your picks for the best restaurants in Auckland for vegetarians? Please share in the comments below!
How To Maintain Your Vegetarian Lifestyle While Traveling [Blog Inspiration]
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The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen [Great Reads]
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