Despite Parnell’s outdated reputation as an uptight area it also happens to be home to some of the most creative businesses in Auckland; advertising
agencies, design studios, homegrown boutiques and, yes, innovative restaurants.
It’s hardly a surprise that a few of the Parnell restaurants on our list have been around for decades, indicative of Parnell’s heritage of being Auckland’s
oldest suburb. However, also thrown into our carefully curated mix of Parnell restaurants are a couple of relatively young Parnell restaurants that reflect
both the industrious heart of Parnell and its dedication to reinvention and relevance.
The dining tradition at the decades old Antoine's Restaurant in Parnell, Auckland had remained the same since it opened its doors to patrons in Parnell
back in 1973. There are no self-invitations or casual walk-ins here. The doorbell is rung, and the maitre d' personally ushers you into the space that
houses a culinary experience crafted by no other than New Zealand culinary legend, Tony Astle himself.
This Parnell restaurant may be over four decades old now, but it doesn't allow its menu to go stale, constantly reinventing the menu as it goes while still
retaining a Nostalgia Menu that retains classic Antoine's favourites. While this Parnell restaurant certainly isn’t for every day dining, it's difficult to
dispute the fact that few eateries celebrate the drama and decadence of eating out in more extravagant and traditional a fashion than Tony and Beth Astle
do at Antoine's Restaurant.
Iguacu Restaurant & Bar
The thing we love so much about Iguacu Restaurant & Bar is how this Parnell restaurant is all-appropriate - apart from the minor issue of not being open for breakfast, Iguacu Restaurant & Bar is appropriate for every other occasion you can think of - it's available for brunch, lunch, tea, dinner, hosts both kids and adults like an absolute gem, has a dedicated vegetarian menu AND can be both casual and dressy, all while providing consistently stellar service and great food.
More importantly, we value this Parnell restaurant as being one of the best in the area because of their never-ending dedication towards improving themselves. In true Kiwi ingenuity and spirit, this Parnell restaurant never takes for granted any of its patrons’ expectations in their service or culinary expertise, responding to customer dissatisfaction the right way – with respect. And nothing gets to us quite like seeing a restaurant treating us paying customers seriously and with decorum for once!
The deliciousness that is the food at Cibo, Parnell is indisputable and is widely acknowledged by the people of Auckland, but is too often overlooked for
the newer and trendier restaurants of the currently prospering food industry in Auckland. While Cibo may not be at the top of mind for some of the people
in Parnell and Auckland, don't make the mistake of thinking that this quietly confident and high-flying restaurant isn't deserving of the attention.
This Parnell restaurant is notorious for consistently exceptional service – a rarity itself not only for restaurants in Parnell, but the greater Auckland
region as well. And while we cannot offer you a definite recommendation picked off the menu because chef Kate Fay revamps the menu seasonally, you have
our word that you will not regret saving stomach space for some of this Parnell restaurant’s desserts.
Gion Japanese Restaurant
Not only is Gion Japanese Restaurant one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in Parnell or Auckland; it also remains one of the most unyieldingly quality
ones. The decor is old-school yet incredibly grandeur (think wedding kimonos draped on bare walls) and service classically Japanese - politely cordial
without being detached, and still incredibly efficient.
Like many things in Parnell, Gion Japanese Restaurant may appear a little dated or stuffy in the face of the many new-age and urban eateries popping up
all over Auckland, but the food and unpretentiousness at this Parnell restaurant we think is difficult to beat. You may want to keep in mind, though, that
the prices are very typically Parnell-like as well, so don't turn up expecting the cheap and cheerful Japanese donburi meal. Neither we nor your accountant
would recommend that you do this too regularly, of course, but rest assured that the occasional splurge on their infamously silky and flawlessly cut
sashimi at this Parnell restaurant will be worth it.
Although probably not quite qualified for the title of 'Parnell's best kept secret' anymore, now that people from all over the wider Auckland region
clamour over to Parnell for a booking at one of La Cigale's three-nights-a-week dinners, a feast at this Parnell restaurant still manages to feel like a
night out at a private underground dinner party every single time. From its well-hidden location nestled amongst the quiet houses of Parnell to the
uniquely friendly welcome of its resident waiters, dinner at La Cigale is sure to make you feel like part of the exclusive in-crowd.
The menu at this Parnell favourite is dictatorial, with a selection of only one starter, two mains and two desserts available nightly, but refreshingly so.
Few things are more off-putting than a restaurant that attempts to take on more than it can handle, after all. For something extra special, book – early! –
for one of their monthly bouillabaisse nights that takes place on the first Friday of every month, and don't ever leave without getting something off the
French cheese trolley.
Non Solo Pizza
If you've never quite experienced dinner or a night out in Parnell before, Non Solo Pizza needs to be on your to-do list. This Parnell restaurant is the
epitome of the prototypical Parnell vibe - relaxed, feistiness with a touch of restraint, and yet all class. Just ask any Parnell local; every other one
of them will tell you that Non Solo Pizza is well deserving of institutional status in Parnell.
This authentically Italian Parnell restaurant is a go-to eatery when you've looking to guarantee a no-fluff, all-around stellar experience for you and your
mates or family. With a menu consisting of a whole rank of solid shows with even the starters and pasta dishes garnering fan bases of its own, this Parnell
restaurant makes for a great communal eatery, with at least a few things on the menu sure to please even the pickiest diners in the group.
Other Great Choices:
Best Parnell Restaurant for Kids Iguacu Restaurant & Bar
Has a dedicated Kids Menu and holds Kids Club gatherings every Sunday afternoon in the private dining room.
Best Parnell Cafe for Coffee Espresso Workshop
Espresso Workshop baristas have been winning the Auckland regional barista championships every year since 2009.
Best Parnell Cafe for Desserts The Chocolate Boutique
Name says it all. Must Try: Chocolate Densos. Bonus: Open and quelling sweet tooth cravings until 10.00pm daily. Get on it, Aucklanders.
Best Parnell Cafe for Vegetarians Domain & Ayr Café
Not fully vegetarian anymore after having rebranded from Kokako Café, but the vegetarian and vegan options still are as good as ever. Can’t get over the
Ayr Breakfast – their vegan rendition of a full-on English breakfast – ourselves.