Eating Good, Feeling Good- Mighty Fine Places To Dine

Fried Chicken, Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken, Ribs and Curly Fries from The Culpeper

There are few things in this world that will never fail to bring you happiness on a gloomy day and one of those things, is food.

Growing up, my mother always told me that if the food was delicious and something I enjoyed, even if it costed a little more, it would always be worth it. This has stuck with me my whole life and is the reason I find it so easy to drop $30 on a single meal but am barely ever willing to spend more than $20 on a shirt.

It’s funny, I started my food Instagram, crunchycourtney, as a separate platform just to post photos of my food and now it’s almost an alterego. “Where would crunchycourtney eat? What does crunchycourtney recommend?” are questions I am often asked by friends, even using the third-person.

In response, I have outlined a list of some of my favourite fool-proof cafes and restaurants (also often eateries I refer to as “my happy place”). What do I mean by “fool-proof”? These are the cafes and restaurants that I am a strong supporter of and passionately speak of, places where when people tell me they’ve never tried it, often triggers me to say, “you have not lived!”

You know how people often seek validation from others through compliments or by being commended on their hard work? I seek validation by taking people to my favourite restaurants and cafes and hearing them praise the food after taking the first bite. Hence, these are places I have taken my friends to on several separate occasions and each time have received a good response.

DISCLAIMER: I have obviously not had the chance to try every item on the menu of all of these restaurants and therefore this is all based on my personal experience. I am also aware most of these places are only located in the Auckland CBD but have limited my list to these five, for now! All images in this blog post were also taken by myself and are featured on my food instagram, crunchycourtney.

The Culpeper

Chocolate Pecan Pie and Blueberry Cheesecake (pie of the week special, at the time) from The Culpeper

Where: Princes Wharf, Auckland CBD

What to order:

I personally prefer to go to The Culpeper for dinner purely because their Peruvian rotisserie chicken is only served after 5pm and NO LIE IS THE BEST CHICKEN YOU WILL EVER EAT, IT IS TRULY AN EXPERIENCE, I AM A FAN!

Pulled Pork Corn Dogs

Salted Caramel Apple Pie (comes with your choice of a scoop of ice cream)

Smoked Brisket Poutine (where else can you get chunky poutine with steak pieces)

Fried Chicken (no explanation needed)

Why: Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken. Also, The Culpeper is super poppin’ and very relaxed. The restaurant can accommodate for many customers yet the space never feels cramped or tight even in peak times. It’s also very family-friendly and accommodating for people that have strict dietary requirements. They also have heaters for those dining in the outdoor area and can section off the outside to prevent wind entering.

Additional comments on experience: The first time my friends and I dined at The Culpeper, my friend cried when she had a bite of the pie because that’s how good it was.

Bonus points: their tabletops are covered in a mosaic tile pattern that makes for an A+ Instagram flatlay.

The Federal Delicatessen

Spit Roast Chicken, Fries, Matzo Ball Soup and Chicken Salad Sandwich from The Federal Delicatessen

Where: Federal Street, Auckland CBD

What to order:

Poutine (possibly one of the best you’ll find in Auckland)

Spit Roast Chicken

3-way dessert board (trust me on this one, you won’t want to settle for just one. New York Baked Cheesecake and Banoffee Pie will be your go-to)

Why: Walking into The Federal Delicatessen will transport you into an American diner with an open kitchen. The music is always vibin and they even have hooks underneath and beside the tables for you to hang your belongings. They also serve bottomless coffee and every time you down a cup, their signature Fed Deli mugs beg you with the question, MORE?

Additional comments on experience: If you go during breakfast hours and order the Stove Top Hot Cocoa, it will come in a small glass jar that you can pour into your mug yourself!

Bonus points: the wait staff have the cutest retro uniform!

Orleans

Curly Fries and Chicken and Waffles from Orleans

Where: Britomart

What to order:

Chicken and Waffles (one of their signature dishes and pairs perfectly with a thickshake)

Curly Fries (seriously damn good and fried to perfection)

Why: Orleans specialises in Southern Creole type food which can be very difficult to find in Auckland! They have a large restaurant space that can fit a large number of people and is perfect for catching up with a group of friends after work or uni.

Additional comments on experience: Occasionally, they do a Waffle and Shake Wednesday for only $12 so it’s well worth checking out during these days!

Bonus points: Orleans often has live music nights with a small stage set up towards the back of the restaurant. They also have Creole Salt available on all the tables and legit, this is the good kind of seasoning.

Chinoiserie

Assortment of Bao dishes, Fries with Wasabi Mayo, Pork Spare Ribs and Coconut Crusted Squid Rings from Chinoiserie

Where: Owairaka Ave, Mt Albert

What to order:

Karaage Chicken Bao

Pork Belly Bao

Slow Cooked Beef Bao

Coconut Crusted Squid Rings (great for sharing but you may wanna order this one for yourself)

Why: Chinoiserie may be small but it feels like a party. The restaurant is decked out with impressive wall paintings and lanterns and is perfect if you’re down for a cheap meal shared with a group of friends.

Additional comments on experience: The wait staff are all very welcoming and genuinely treat you as if you’re a friend. Because the menu is primarily composed of bao dishes, the wait time for your food is never too long!

Bonus points: They have a rack of kimonos outside for guests to wear if they’re feeling a little cold!

Major Sprout

Bibimbap and Tteok Galbi Burger from Major Sprout

Where: Graham Street, Auckland CBD

What to order:

Bibimbap

Green dumplings

Sous Vide Chicken

Why: Major Sprout is the perfect café for anyone that has dietary requirements such as being gluten-free, dairy-free or vegetarian as they outline this throughout their menu. They also have an extensive and impressive drinks menu which includes alternative lattes like beetroot, turmeric and matcha.

Additional comments on experience: YOOOO, this café is aesthetic af. It’s clean and sophisticated, open and bright with a large window running down the side of the restaurant so makes for great lighting as well YAS

Bonus points: First of all, free wifi! Second, the serveware is really nice which makes sense considering the dishes are often too pretty to eat!