This is Where I Eat When I Want The Best Food Ever

My favourite restaurants in New Zealand RIGHT NOW are listed below. That means, doy – Depot and The French Cafe are obviously some of the best, but we all talk about them so much that there isn’t a whole lot left to say. These are my choices now. Right now.

Coco’s Cantina

I really like a couple things about Coco’s. I like that the food is always damn good. It’s always generous as well, meaning sometimes I can’t even finish it. ME. I KNOW. I like how the owners and staff support the local community, and embrace their  location on K Road. But mostly I like how special I feel when I walk in the door. The staff are simply the best. Lovely, warm, kind and friendly. Not because they have to, but because they simply just are. I feel like I’m at home when I’m eating at Coco’s. And this is the reason it is my new local and they will be seeing a more of me in the future.

What I order: The pate is really yummy and is a massive serving, with warm grilled bread. You will run out of bread, but don’t worry it happens. They will bring you as much extra as you want, anyway. Their steak frites is the bomb. A massive piece of yummy scotch, a great salsa verde and the most delicious bowl of home fries and aioli. And you can’t go wrong with Coco’s pastas. Any of them.

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Leonardo’s Pure Italian

Who would have thought that the best pasta I’ve had in NZ would be in Rotorua. Yeah, I know. I’m not joking. Leonardo’s is run by…. Leonardo. He’s been in the kitchen or on the floor every time we’ve visited. And we’ve visited a lot. He’s awesome, attentive, and super friendly. There’s something about spending four hours riding mountain bikes in the Redwoods and then being welcome with very friendly and open arms into Leonardo’s for what I have to say is the best antipasto platter I’ve ever had, and a gorgeous bottle of Chianti. Then order the Carbonara. It’s just so good. Then order the cheese. It is also the best cheese. Leonardo’s is made all the better by the fact that it not only exceeds it’s competition but completely smashes them. They probably could be half as good and still be the best restaurant in Rotorua, but they wouldn’t be happy with that. Instead they totally slam it out of the ballpark.

Note: Leonardo’s is closed until mid June 2015 while it moves premises. Exciting! A big renovation and more seating where the old Lewisham restaurant was. Can’t wait to check it out.

What I order: Antipasto platter for 2, which comes with the most delicious dips (pesto, salsa verde, tapenade) and warm grilled bread, meats, artichokes, olives, mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes. Then, order the carbonara or the tagliata (rare fillet, with rocket and fresh parmesan).

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Janken

Janken has been open for a wee while now, but was always easy to get into until the NZ Herald wrote a glowing review and now you have to call to book. This is great for them, but sometimes I don’t like sharing and this place has always seemed like a bit of a secret until now (secret’s out, so I guess there’s no harm in passing on the good word now!)  Janken is the best Japanese restaurant in the city, in my opinion. They steer clear of the obvious ‘all sushi all the time’ selections, instead creating a concise and every evolving menu of yummy goodies you won’t find on every other Japanese menu. Sure there is salmon sushi and a generous seasonal sashimi – but –  there is also a gorgeous seafood hotpot, mushroom bunless burger, and cockles and snapper in a miso stew. They do a very well priced lunch menu as well with most dishes hovering around $16 and they are all big serves. Their green tea is exceptional and sitting outside is fun. And, like with the two above, the staff are lovely, helpful and always happy to see us. Which makes me happy.

What I order: If it’s lunch, I go for the bento box which is huge and full of yummy stuff. Rice with pork, salmon and egg, fried scallop, prawns, sashimi, rolls, salad, fruit with coconut cream and tea. And you leave feeling full but like you put good food in your body.

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  1. Just came across your blog (from insta) and it’s led me to many great things in NZ! We’ve just moved to Auckland so loving your tips and can’t wait to try these out… we had dinner at nandos when we were in Rotorua earlier this month – we’ll have to head back again once Leonardo’s has reopened!

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      Hey Cheryl, thanks for reading! Auckland is a glorious hotbed of food choices, you’ll feel spoiled for choice in no time. I’ve lived here for seven years so I know how it feels to explore a new city for the first time. I hope you fall in love, like I have 🙂

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