If we’re to believe our TV theme tunes, Sunday and Monday are happy days. But the people who sang that song (a 70s duo called Pratt and McLain, as long as you’re asking) might not have been quite so chipper if they’d ever found themselves wandering Ponsonby Road on a Sunday night, looking for a half decent steak.
Most restaurants close on a Saturday night and reopen again on a Tuesday, giving their staff a enough time to seek out vitamin D and their leftover seafood enough time to taste like Preparation H. There aren’t many decent places who cook seven nights a week, which won’t worry you much over the course of your regular schedule but if find yourself at the start of the week with surprise babysitters/overseas guests/sober demons, it’s worth knowing what’s open.
Viaduct and surrounds
You know what tourists love? Walking around next to water. It really wouldn’t do for them to take an $80 taxi from the airport only to see a sign up on Nelson Street saying “Sorry, New Zealand closed”, so restaurants about the viaduct make it their business to be open on demand. Of these, Euro is first class but can get expensive and some wait staff are more affected than others. I’ve had some great meals at Kermadec but they’ve changed head chef recently and the jury is still out. I twice had a crappy time at The Foodstore but it made the Metro Top 50 this year and people I trust really rate it. The food at Fish is underrated and the views super, although I don’t know many fans of the overall package.
Harbourside is reopening any day and has been around long enough to deserve a look, and I haven’t heard much from now sister-business Botswana Butchery recently, although it’s always been full of promise.
With all that faint praise you may well decide to head over Te Wero bridge to the Wynyard Quarter where at least two apparently very good restaurants now reside. Miss Clawdy and Baduzzi are getting great reviews all round the place, and you’d be unlucky if neither made you happy.
Britomart seems to have the same seven-day attitude – I guess being surrounded by businessmenpeople and their clients helps. I’ve never had anything other than a fantastic meal at Mexico, Ebisu and Ortolana. Orleans – the new District Dining – looks like another perfect project (except it’s closed Mondays), and you don’t hear many complaints about Café Hanoi either. The perfectly formed Milse dessert bar is also open every day of the week.
You know who doesn’t obey standard rules of socialising? Gamblers. The hard core ones would never ruin a long session of pants-soiling on the slots by going to dinner, but for the masses of people who pour into Auckland on conferences and misguided honeymoons, good dining options even on quiet nights are essential.
Thank goodness Sky City have provided, with five world class restaurants within spitting distance of each other, particularly if you’re spitting from Sugar Club at the top of the tower. Federal and Depot are two of the best joints in the city, and the Grill does a great job of meat and more. Bellota is across the road and used to be the best date place in the city. I’m sure it’s still good but they might need to shout and remind people they’re there – I haven’t heard boo from them in five years.
Prego on Ponsonby Road is always good, and always open too. Moochowchow (8/10) will do Mondays but not Sundays, while Tin Soldier (6.5/10) and Mekong Baby (unrated) will do Sundays but not Mondays. You’ll probably love Blue Breeze Inn, and it’s open every day.
The Grove in the city was named Metro Best Restaurant in 2010 and 2011; it’s still a five star experience any night of the week. The Langham’s Eight is always a good time, if a little overpriced – it’s a buffet featuring eight different kitchens of very high standards: the sushi is arguably the best in town. Cazador on Dominion Road is one of my favourite restaurants in the city - you can eat among the stag heads on a Monday, but not on Sunday. And Clooney does BYO on Sunday!
Hope this list is useful – there may be other good ones I’ve missed so please add them or feel free to fairly rate any of the above restaurants in comments.