1. The comfy night: Event Cinemas and Pappa Rich
You don't want to be challenged, you don't want 'an experience' – you just want an easy night out. Event Cinemas Queen Street will provide plenty of sessions of the latest big movies. You know what you're getting at an Event Cinema and the popcorn tastes the same (great) whichever branch you're at. (And if you're an AA Member there's a good deal on tickets). Then, you don't even need to leave the building to get some of the best Malaysian in the city centre – Pappa Rich is a franchise with over 70 outlets in Malaysia, but don't this put you off – the food is traditional (if you skip the weird chicken nuggets and chips section of the menu) and very tasty. The laksa is a bowl of pure spicy comfort and their perfect fluffy roti is offered with lots of options, though I can never go past the classic curry chicken canai. It's not licensed so if you need a drink do dinner first, then have a glass of wine at the movies after.
2. The night out on a budget: the Academy and The Kimchi Project
For a cheap night out, you want to see a film at Academy Cinemas on a Wednesday – it's a $5 ticket! The Academy shows a range of big films, art films and documentaries and is one of Auckland's best cinemas, in my opinion. Combine it with a visit to The Kimchi Project along Lorne Street a bit for fun Korean in a lovely Instagram-friendly setting.
Finally tried the Kimchi Project yesterday!! 😍 can I just say that the restaurant itself is BEAUTIFUL - you 100% have to eat in the courtyard if you visit. The service was top notch and the assortment of baos was to die for 😊 matcha latte and ginger tea was on point, and the pulled pork bun/soft shell crab bun was delicious. Kimchi fries weren't bad, but I wasn't a big fan of the smoked chicken rice bowl (felt like something I could make at home). Other than that would 100% go back 😊 4.5/5 . . . #thekimchiproject#food#foodie#foodporn#foodlover#nzfood#nzfoodie#nzfoodiefinds#auckland#aucklandfood#aucklandeats#aucklandfoodie#yum#eatcentral#fusion#koreanfood#korean#bao#fries
Or go to izakaya Mentatz in Lorne Street for cheap rowdy fun with a fast turnover, the ramen is good but I always go for a selection of fried things washed down with Asahi Super Dry by the tumblerful.
3. The cultured choice: Q Theatre and Federal Delicatessen
Auckland theatre-goers aren't sure what they did before Q theatre existed... There's always something good on at Q, and often something exceptional. In their words, their 'doors are open to music, dance, comedy, film, visual art and everything in between.' Check their website to see what's on.
The foyer is a good place to meet for a drink beforehand, but for dinner, a five-minute walk away is the always excellent Federal Deli. Before the show enjoy the best chicken sandwich ever and a wedge of iceberg lettuce with blue cheese ranch dressing with a wine on tap. Then when the entertainment is done, realise the Fed stays open late, and go back for the pie and a bottomless cup of joe.
4. The cool evening: Basement Theatre and Gemmayze St
Start your evening in K Road's St Kevin's Arcade – home to the nicest place to sit during the day with a coffee (at Bestie), and at night the same arcade seating area is home to Gemmayze St. Expect very tasty Lebanese food here (with loads of vegetarian options) and I recommend getting (doing?) the jeeb at $60 a head – a kind of set menu where you trust the chef to send out the best dishes available to the table.
If that's a bit steep go next door to Acho's for Japanese steam buns and beer.
When you're full, take a stroll through lovely Myers Park down the hill to the Basement Theatre, in the carpark of what I guess is Auckland's theatre district. Basement Theatre calls itself a bar, theatre and community and you get the sense of it when you walk in the door. It's where you'll see some of Auckland's funnest theatre and best original local talent and content. You're guaranteed a good time at Snort every Friday night at 10pm – an often raucous late-night improv show with some of New Zealand's best comedians (for $10!).
5. The harbourside evening: ASB Waterfront Theatre and Miss Clawdy
The ASB Waterfront Theatre is Auckland's newest theatre and it's in the newish area of the city that includes the bars and restaurants of Wynyard Wharf and Silo Park. There's often something going on at Silo Park – markets, movies at night, festivals, events – and though I haven't seen anything at the theatre yet, it's in a great spot to combine a show and some good kai! Miss Clawdy is dependable comfort 'soul food' – po boys and cornbread and fried stuff. A couple of spots along is 16 Tun which has a good range of craft beer available with some interesting choices. Baduzzi is great for lovely Italian in a lovely setting, and with the flashest kids' menu out. After dinner and a show, wander across the Wynyard crossing bridge and Te Wero Island back downtown to get your train or bus home...
Oh, Lordy! A taste of Louisiana in Wynyard Quarter ❤️ . . @missclawdynz in Wynyard Quarter has joined First Table . . Come let Miss Clawdy feed your hungry hearts with a lil’ southern magic. Step into Miss Clawdy’s lively dining room for all the sights and smells of the Mississippi heat and Creole-inspired cuisine. Cool off with an enticing cocktail like their Old Fashioned Cherry Lemonade. When it comes to cooking, Miss Clawdy ain’t shy. Enjoy big, playful flavours with attitude. Southern Fried Oyster Po’ Boys, Prawn and Green Papaya Salad, Jambalaya with Crayfish and Bourbon Butter and a soul-arresting Key Lime Pie are just a taste of what awaits you. The inspiring menu is available every day for lunch and dinner, and Miss Clawdy always says a meal tastes better when it's shared. Miss Clawdy gives praise to the heart and soul of southern cuisine. See y’all soon. . . #missclawdynz #wynyardquarter #aucklandeats #akleats #firsttable #jellicoest #nzeats #aucklandfoodie #eeeeeeeeeats #loveauckland #eatauckland #louisiana #keylimepie
6.The pure laughs evening: Classic comedy and Tanukis
The Classic Comedy Club in Upper Queen Street is Auckland's home of comedy – opened in 1997, The Classic used to be an old adult cinema and has fostered generations of home-grown talent and introduced international stars to local audiences. The Classic is always especially busy and fun during the International Comedy Festival in April and May but you'll find something to please every comedy taste all year round (see the easy-to-use comedy calendar on their website). It's guaranteed fun and you should combine it with a trip to another Auckland institution, Tanuki's Cave, for an excellent night. Always busy, always good, Tanuki's Cave is a short trip underground to where the yakitori is tasty and the Japanese beer on tap is fresh. Get the beef tongue, the mushrooms stuffed with chicken mince and the mashed kumara coated with almond chips and you'll be in a fine state to enjoy a laugh up the road.
7. The civilised evening: Herald theatre and Masu
The Herald Theatre, tucked behind the Aotea Centre, is one of my favourite theatres in Auckland – I've seen a lot of great plays at the mid-sized theatre and it has a nice feel to it. If you are seeing a play there, it's a short walk up to Masu on Federal Street, which though in the foyer of a hotel is far above the usual hotel restaurant standard. Masu is a Japanese robata bar – a contemporary Japanese cuisine which involves cooking over a charcoal grill – and is beautifully done traditional and fusion Japanese dining at its best. Masu has an open kitchen and dining room area with impeccable service and a huge sake list – you can't go wrong here...
8. If you're playing tourist with lots of cash: Civic Theatre and The Sugar Club
Start your evening at The Sugar Club – Peter Gordon's restaurant on level 53 of the Sky Tower. It doesn't rotate, like Orbit on level 52, but is real special occasion dining, with prices to match. (I've never been, can you tell??). See a big musical production like West Side Story or the ballet or the opera at The Civic – Auckland's beloved and most gaudily decorated theatre.