Vegetarian Dining in Central Auckland

Mixed plate from Downtown Food Court
Mixed plate from Downtown Food Court

Recently I was in Auckland for work.   Auckland is pretty easy to find vegetarian food in, though it was more Chinese and South East Asian style food rather than Indian which I usually would aim for.  Though this was fine and made an interesting change.

My first lunch when I arrived was at the Downtown Shopping Centre which is a Westfield Mall.  There is a reasonable sized foodcourt with most counters having at least one vegetarian option.  I picked Orient Express which offered 3 choices on a large or small sized plate (from memory).  The food was served out of bain-maries and once I picked the veggie egg fu young and the beans with potato, the lady smiled at me and said “vegetarian?”.  My third choice was the spicy tofu.  This was served on vegetarian fried rice. Fried noodles or rice noodles were an alternate (and no doubt steamed rice was available too if I had asked).  The eggs were a bit bland and the tofu wasn’t spicy (at least not to my thinking).  The best on the plate was the beans with potatoes.  This was $12.80 including a bottled soft drink.

Thali Platter from the Hare Krisna Restaurant on K' Road
Thali Platter from the Hare Krishna Restaurant on K’ Road

I was staying at the YMCA (which was great BTW) and that was situated quite near K Road (Karangahape Rd).   When I got off the bus from the airport, I spied the Hare Krishna Food for Life restaurant.   Many years ago, I used to regularly go to the Hare Krishna restaurant on Colombo Street in Christchurch, but that has since long gone.  I had fond memories of the Christchurch one so decided one night for dinner to check out the K Road one.  I chose the Thali which included 3 curries & rice, pakoras with chutney, roti, poppadom, dhal and barfi with custard.  I also got a Keri juice but was disappointed to find it was a “fruit drink” instead of real orange juice (after I opened it) – serves me right for not reading the bottle carefully.

This was a lot of food but I valiantly attempted, and was nearly successful, in eating all of it.  The dhal was great, as was the paneer dish.  There was some type of other dish on the platter which was like chips/fries with veggie crumble mince and mixed veg.  It tasted better than it sounded or looked.  The veg curry on the rice was a little bland.  The pakora were yummy.  The barfi and custard was ok.  I’m not sure I’d rush back.  If I did go back, I’d probably get the daily special which was half the price.  The thali was $19 including the drink and way too much food for me.

The biggest issue for me though, was that it was an open restaurant and it was bloody freezing in Auckland the first two days I was there, the coldest day in May in 40 years, so the food cooled very quickly.  By the time I got to the barfi and custard, it was cold.

Malaysian Vegetarian Curry from Downtown Foodcourt
Malaysian Vegetarian Curry from Downtown Foodcourt

Another day, another lunch and I had to go to grab a couple of things at the mall, so back to the Downtown Shopping Centre.  This time I visited Malaysian Pepper and got their imaginatively named Vegetarian Curry.  Decidedly underwhelming.  I think I should have gone with another option.  The food looked good and there were plenty of people buying so I suspect this wasn’t the best thing on the menu.  Cost was $7.90 (without a drink).

And can we have a drum roll please… the award for Best Vegetarian Meal from a Foodcourt goes to… Spicy Delight with their Potato, Eggplant, Capsicum stirfry dish (with rice) from the basement International Foodcourt on Queen Street.  This was a huge serving and delish!  No way I could finish it.  It was $12 (no drink) and it was super tasty.  The capsicum and carrots were crisp, onions sweet, the potato slices and eggplant cooked perfectly.

This foodcourt looks pretty grotty, its downstairs and has zero street appeal, no effort has gone into the decor.  Its plastic seats and tables, looks like it needs a major overhaul and it was packed.  I’d definitely go back as there were around a dozen vendors offering various “foreign” food options – again, mostly asian style meals.

Potato, Eggplant and Capiscum from International Foodcourt
Potato, Eggplant and Capiscum from International Foodcourt

There were another couple of meals I enjoyed which I didn’t photograph.

Pho Saigon which serves Vietnamese and Malaysia food, when we said we were vegetarian, the woman who took our order was very careful to ensure the items we chose didn’t contain fish paste or shrimp paste.  Great meal, especially the Malaysian vegetarian curry!   $42 for two (no drinks) and huge servings.

Mexicali Fresh which is a chain with restaurants throughout Auckland.  A friend recommended it as a good choice for vegetarian or gluten free diners.  I had the nachos and they were great!  I would definitely go back again.

I am probably heading back to Auckland in few weeks time so am looking forward to trying a few different places.  Mexicali Fresh will probably be on the list as I’d like to try the burrito and also the International Foodcourt to try another option.



  1. Most places have several vegetarian options these days even the really meat-centric restaurants. If you are in Auckland city again, try out Mamak in the Chancery. Budget-friendly Malaysian food in a nice part of town (if you feel like a tiny bit of ambience). Most of their appetisers are vegetarian (I love assembling a dinner just on appetisers) and they have a few vegetarian mains too. All vege dishes are clearly marked. Another budget-friendly and vegetarian friendly place is Mexico.

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