Perhaps you have your tried and true places to go in the heart of the city, maybe a favourite bar, restaurant, or shopping destination. But there are some amazing hidden gems that the city has to offer. Forget about that “been there, done that” mentality, and check out our list of quirky and unusual places around the city centre. 

Remedy coffee | 1 Wellesley St W 

Though constantly packed with loyal regulars, Remedy Coffee is still considered a gem as there is a whole future customer base which isn’t aware of this cafe located opposite The Civic. As you enter Remedy, you will be struck by the eclectic decor, warm service, and coffee list which has true classic and quirky additions. The coffee is carefully selected, with single origin and  handpicked beans from all over the world. 

La Fuente | 23 Customs St E 

Located in the quaint Snickel Lane, La Fuente is a unique spot in the city as it’s the bar in Aotearoa to focus predominantly on mezcal, an agave based spirit from Mexico. With around 30 handcrafted variations from Oaxaca, Mexico, there is mezcal for beginners and those who are well-versed in the drink. Of course there is also delicious food to accompany, from salmon tostadas, house cured ceviche, and cheese & charcuterie boards. 

The Yakitori House | 2b/18 Shortland St

Yakitori is a favourite among many, it’s perfect for sharing, and you get to try a great selection of Japanese delicacies. Yakitori translates to “grilled bird” in Japanese, but has changed to encompass a variety of dishes on skewers as well as small plates. On top of lots of different preparations of chicken, there is also pork belly, sirloin steak, tiger prawns, soft shell crab, and Teriyaki tofu to tantalise your taste buds at The Yakitori House. 

Caretaker | 40 Customs St

With Caretaker, if you know you know. Creep down the staircase to the dimly lit New York style establishment, and take a seat at an intimate table with a single candle providing light. The Caretaker experience is truly unique, where there is no cocktail menu and the bartenders ask you a series of questions to make a drink which satisfies your desires. You know that you will receive a beautiful cocktail made with the utmost of care and consideration, balancing complex flavours and spirits.

Jason Books | 16 O’Connell St 

During this time when small businesses have been put under immense pressure, it’s the right thing to do to avoid buying from big international conglomerates when purchasing your next book. Though you may be familiar with other independent bookstores in the heart of the city, Jason Books may not be on your radar yet. Jason Books specializes in buying and selling second hand, out-of-print, and rare books. Having been in Auckland for over 50 years, Jason Books is an undeniable establishment of the city centre. 

Emporio U | 9 High St 

A hidden gem on High St located down a flight of stairs, Emporio U is a treasure trove filled with vintage designer wear. With the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, and Prada, fashion lovers will be in heaven. Owner Ute Bohnert hails from Germany, and moved to Auckland in the 1980s, before opening Emporio U. She has committed to sourcing designer garments from all over the country, naturally developing a loyal following. 

Monstera | 14 Sale St 

Monstera, located in City Works Depot, was created for the urban dweller. Focusing on indoor greenery, succulents and cacti, bonsai, and orchids, Monstera offers the widest range of indoor plants in the entire country, including rare and large specimens. To accompany the splendid plants, there are a variety of pots and pot stands for sale as well. This is a small and independent business with heart.

Dice & Fork | 210 Victoria St 

An activity that may sometimes go under the radar, board game cafes are undoubtedly a unique and exciting destination. It works like this, at Dice & Fork you aren’t charged for games, all you need to do is order food or drinks while you are playing. If you are playing for longer than 2 hours then a minimum spend is $25. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable about all things board games, so pick their brain about some unheard of games which will suit your group (there are 300+ games in the cafe!). 

Tabac | 6 Mills Ln

Tabac is a favourite late night spot for many, set in a rustic heritage building, and presenting entertaining comedy. There’s free comedy shows at 8pm every Tuesday and Wednesday, so there’s no excuse to gather a group of friends and have a midweek gathering filled with laughs and drinks! The vibe is chilled out, welcoming, and fun. 


Last updated: 27 February 2024