Food with friends: Our favourite Auckland places for dining in a group

Customers dining under colourful bulbs at Gemmayze Street in Auckland.

Get the gang together. Here are our picks of the best places to dine in Auckland when you're with a group.

Words by: Nicole Mudgway

Photos by: Anna Briggs

When you’re assigned the task of organising the next group outing, choosing somewhere that’s going to please everyone can be difficult. Auckland may have an abundance of options, but it doesn’t mean they are all good ones!

Some of Auckland’s cafés and restaurants cater particularly well to bigger groups, whether for the reason of private dining spaces, set menus, accepting reservations or dishes that cater to every dietary requirement. Our list below compiles the best of the best so that next time the gang gets together, choosing somewhere to go will be a piece of extremely delicious cake.

Cotto

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375 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Cotto ticks most, if not all, of the boxes for a great group dining experience. Not only can you make a reservation (which is almost essential if you are in a group), but if your group is big enough (that is, more than 21 people), there is a whole private dining room upstairs on offer. The gorgeous Italian fare served is designed to share, and if you have a group of at least four, you can opt into the set menu and try a little bit of everything (well, a lot of things). Cotto is known for its lively atmosphere, communal dining and all round good food - it’s always a reliable option.

Grand Harbour

Cnr Customs Street West and, Pakenham Street East, CBD

One of Auckland’s first yum cha restaurants, Grand Harbour has been serving yummy Chinese food to the masses since 2000. Traditionally yum cha is a weekend activity, where it is a Cantonese tradition to eat small servings of different foods while sipping on Chinese tea. Grand Harbour is here to please the people, and you’ll find that yum cha is available every day of the week. It’s spacious, it’s fun and there are so many dishes on the menu there is bound to be something to suit everyone’s tastes.

Groups full of people sitting around tables inside a large restaurant space.

Amano

66 - 68 Tyler Street, Britomart Place

For those who’ve been, it’ll come as no surprise that Amano features here. Its large dining space, assortment of table sizes and an option for a set menu make it a classic, no-fuss option when planning for a group. Offering Italian-inspired cuisine, almost around the clock, there is a huge range of goodies and dishes suitable for sharing or savouring alone. Also, the cleverly designed interior makes the space feel particularly roomy, meaning those larger groups can blend right in.

Photo by: Supplied

A table full of plates of food at Azabu.

Azabu

44 Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay

Offering one of the best outlooks of any Auckland restaurant and located in an iconic stone building, Mission Bay’s beachfront Azabu is well worth the venture. Groups can enjoy contemporary Japanese cuisine with a Peruvian influence, in the shape and form of shared plates, either from the a la carte menu or the ‘Omakase’ set menu. The food is not just beautifully presented (don’t miss the volcano sushi roll); it tastes darn good too.

Photo by: Supplied

A close up of a plate of Chinese food on a table at New Flavour in Auckland.

New Flavour

537 Dominion Road, Mount Eden

One of Dominion Road’s favourite late night eateries, New Flavour, is also a common destination for BYOs, which translates to: good for large groups! There is a private dining room available if your group is sizable, but no matter how many people you visit with, make sure there is no shortage of dumplings ordered. Boiled, steamed, fried and even in soup, there are over twenty different kinds, each as delicious as the next.

Gemmayze Street

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Shop 16, St Kevin’s Arcade, 183 Karangahape Road

Housed in the majestic St Kevin’s Arcade, Gemmayze Street is the ideal place to take a group of open-minded pals who want to share in something delicious together. We suggest you order the Jeeb, which means ‘bring’ in Arabic - and is basically a handing over the reins to the restaurant’s team, so you can focus on enjoying and sharing in the warm service and delicious food. 

T-shirts and chilled drinks in a fridge inside Urbanaut in Auckland.

Burganaut by Urbanaut Brewery

597 New North Road, Morningside

Perhaps an unlikely contender for a group, seeming as bookings aren’t possible, but given plenty of large tables on offer, it’s usually pretty easy to nab one sooner or later. Home to some of Auckland’s favourite craft beer, as well as Burgernaut, there should be something to keep everyone happy. The burger menu is simple, but delicious. There are three different kinds of smash burgers available, and they come in meat, vegetarian or vegan form. Pair with a beer, and if you can’t decide which one, a tasting paddle lets you try a few. 

Cibo

91 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell

Housed in a repurposed chocolate factory, over the years, Cibo has become something of an Auckland establishment. It’s classy yet down to earth and the perfect destination for groups, literally any size. With a set menu option, an express menu option or just the good ol’ a la carte, there is an abundance of options available. And with an entire section of the menu dedicated to ‘plant and garden’, you can be reassured that even your most vegan of friends will be happy!

Neat Auckland Places

Homestead Café

A flatlay of food.
Place Auckland
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From the people who brought you Ceremony Café comes Homestead, a gallery-come-café servicing the ‘burbs with great coffee and food.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Red griffins sign.
Place Auckland

Another one of Ponsonby’s illustrious retailers is Flotsam and Jetsam, a vintage store with both new and old items for the home.

The Shelter

Clothing racks inside The Shelter.
Place Auckland
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There’s a new way of doing business here in Auckland, a collaborative shared space drill that seems to save on risk, worry and premature closures; friends and foes unite with the similar goal of success.

Pici Pasta

Exterior image looking through the big glass windows into Pici Auckland.
Place Auckland
Bars key icon. Restaurants key icon.

Pasta fiends unite; you simply can’t miss a meal at Auckland institution, Pici.