Ah, the North Shore. The mythical region in Auckland where house prices rise abruptly, international pop starlets are forged (okay, one) and cloudy days don't exist*. It's also home to free parking, an endless coast of user-friendly beaches and some of the most relaxed cafes in town. Take the kids, your lover, the dog, take anything - except probably the expectation to be able to move there anytime soon.
The monarch of the Shore cafe scene, the beloved Dutch cafe Zomer does not put a modern-yet-casual-yet-polished foot wrong. It's dog friendly, near the beach and serves some of the most perfect halloumi in town. Enjoy your meal while Terry O'Neill's photograph of Faye Dunaway oversees and approves of every single menu choice you and your fellow diners make.
Home to the best French toast in town (think brioche encrusted with macadamia nuts and cornflakes), The Collins provides an oasis for city-weary cafe goers who just want to sit in a nice quiet garden cafe for a change and get reacquainted with the true definition of a tucked away hidden gem. Again: try anything on the menu, you will leave satisfied.
Added bonus: Pretty sure the dude who owns the cafe is Wentworth Miller's twin.
When Kim Evans opened her first small storefront cafe in an old butcher's shop on a quiet Auckland suburban street she hardly imagined that the cafe would become such a favourite amongst locals and non-North Shorians alike. The cafe is packed with incredulously wonderful baked goods as well as people. For those a little bit more enthusiastic in the kitchen, take her recipe book home and try recreate those pastry masterpieces at home. One can only try.
Views: Takapuna Beach Cafe has them. With glass panel walls overlooking the nearby Takapuna beach and typical A-grade Hip Group food (including ice cream for those not in the mood for a warm cup of caffeine), the cafe caters to every post-beach need or craving you could possibly have.
The best eggs Benedict is yours for the taking if you stumble into Bungalo on heavy-headed Saturday morning/afternoon. Add a nice view of the harbour bridge, space for days (where would you like to sit - outside, inside: inside in a quiet adjacent room, inside with a view?) and other notable menu items, and you have yourself Birkenhead's prime cafe offering.
One for those who like feeling like good people who don't exploit animals, humans or the environment, Jam Organic Cafe serves organic, free range meals that filter all that goodness into some pretty mouthwatering creations. It's also close to the beach so you can walk it off, glowing from your ethically conscious eating choice.
While not a North Shore native and a bit of franchise (there are a few Mexicos cramped into Auckland; the mind still baffles how multiples of country can fit inside our city), Mexico's sheer quality still makes it a deserving member of the Shore's ten best clan. A little bit of a late riser, Mexico Takapuna doesn't open its doors until noon, but once it's open it stays open till late, so you can spend the latter (better) half of your day drinking margarita slushies and eating relatively cheap fare with pictures of skulls and Frida Kahlo to keep you company.
While it may not be the prettiest of the bunch, it surely is the most wholesome. A cafe of which even local Devonportians are still unaware, the store-cafe hybrid offers a wide variety of organic goods to purchase (fairtrade tealeaves to chemical-free hair dye, anyone?) as well as a mouth-watering cabinet selection of tasty, organic and mostly locally grown treats.
The Mariangi Bay corner cafe stocks all the cafe classics - bagels, hot cakes, eggs Benedict, creamy mushrooms on toast, chicken salad etc. - but although the menu is safe, the cafe aces on delivery - providing high quality fare with their own variation on the tried and tested. Paper Moon is just a really nice, simple cafe.