Five of the best gastropubs in Auckland

Gastropubs: pubs, but a bit fancier.
The Occidental/Facebook

Gastropubs: pubs, but a bit fancier.

Kiwis love a good pub. For the atmosphere mainly, not necessarily the food. There tends to be an emphasis on quantity over quality, with little to really excite the tastebuds.

Gastropubs, however, not only excel in that cosy feeling of yesteryear - though sometimes with a modern twist - but serve up creative, high-calibre grub. Here are five of our favourites in the city. 

1. The Occidental Belgian Beer Cafe, 6-8 Vulcan Lane, CBD.

As classic a pub as you could find, though the Occidental goes beyond the predictable prawn cocktail with its ...
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As classic a pub as you could find, though the Occidental goes beyond the predictable prawn cocktail with its Belgium-influenced menu.

With its dark wood paneling and red velvet curtains, the Occidental oozes old-time pubishness.

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To transport yourself to Flanders, order 'moules-frites' (mussels with chips are quintessential Belgian bar food), Flemish stew with stoemp (Belgian mashed potatoes), then waffles for dessert. Wash it all down with some lovely Belgian beer, naturally.

2. The Good Home, 55 Princes St, Onehunga.

Onehunga's The Good Home is an elegant reinvention of a historic library.
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Onehunga's The Good Home is an elegant reinvention of a historic library.

The latest edition of this somewhat hipster-ish gastropub chain is at the former Andrew Carnegie Free Library. There are curiosities and books galore on the old library shelving, and a portrait of Carnegie himself behind the marble bar.

Dig in to their salt and pepper squid, the 'Jerusalem Harvest' - featuring halloumi and hummus - or a pizza named after a small New Zealand town.

3. The Matakana Village Pub, 11 Matakana Rd, Matakana.

Food and decor at the Matakana is a perfect balance of tradition with contemporary flare.
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Food and decor at the Matakana is a perfect balance of tradition with contemporary flare.

Built out of single Kauri tree in 1903, the illustrious Matakana has a rustic-chic vibe and frequent live music. It's worth the drive north.

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There's an extensive meaty menu. Ribs, beef cheeks, and pork bellies are joined by more exotic dishes like lamb kofta, served with divine harissa and orange blossom yoghurt.

4. Sweatshop Brew Kitchen, 7 Sale St, Freemans Bay.

The Sweatshop Brew Kitchen brews its own beer, smokes its own meat, and shaves its own customers (if that's what they order).
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The Sweatshop Brew Kitchen brews its own beer, smokes its own meat, and shaves its own customers (if that's what they order).

For lovers of "smoked meat, hoppy craft beers and a good shave", the Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen has an array of ambient spaces - including a barber shop by the bar and the intimate little 'velvet room'.

This is the home of a gangster American hotdog, rosemary and camembert fondue, and the 1/4 beer can chicken with barbecue kimchee.

5. The Birdcage, 133 Franklin Rd, Freemans Bay.

The beautiful Birdcage has its namesake dangling above the front door and dusty mirrors, stacked logs, and exposed ...
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The beautiful Birdcage has its namesake dangling above the front door and dusty mirrors, stacked logs, and exposed brickwork within.

One of the oldest pub premises in Auckland - the Birdcage has been sensitively restored in recent years and serves unpretentious yet upmarket "comfort grub".

We'd go for the slow cooked lamb and vintage cheddar pie, followed by some chocolate orange truffles.

 - Stuff

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