Sarah & Otis Frizzell's Auckland
Otis and I met on a blind date, set up by Otis’s brother, Josh. The rest, they say, is history. We’re pretty fortunate to be best friends, which definitely helps when you’re married and run a business together!
As a student in Edinburgh, I lived off two-minute noodles and sardines on toast. I couldn’t boil an egg and considered ‘not’ burning my toast to be a culinary success. But when you love someone, you want to feed them, and so when I met Otis, my real culinary journey began to unfold. I discovered I was actually a good cook, with a well-tuned palate. If I taste a dish, I can recreate it. After our honeymoon in LA, I packed in my advertising career and we went head first into the taco life. We travelled around Mexico on a taco odyssey for six weeks, then came back, bought a truck and The Lucky Taco was born.
In the early days, Otis took a sabbatical from his successful art career to help. These days, he’s more art guy than taco guy, and he gets to his studio most days during the week. Otis has lived in Auckland his whole life, so when we met he could introduce me to lots of Auckland that you just don’t know if you’re not from here. The city really warms up if you have some inside knowledge. In the last 10 years, the Auckland food scene has exploded, so we often go exploring for new spots.
Accessible art at Endemic World Gallery
62 Ponsonby Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland
This is not a pretentious gallery. It has a bit more soul and funk and the interior is really cool. It feels accessible, as when you walk in, you don’t feel intimidated if you don’t know heaps about art. There are prints from local artists, including Otis. It’s a super cool spot.
Foodie reads at Cook The Books
19 Williamson Avenue, Grey Lynn, Auckland
The best foodie bookshop in town! I met owner Felicity O’Driscoll through my dinner club. A group of food lovers that get together once every few months to try a new restaurant. Felicity is so passionate about food that she started her own business selling the best cookbooks from New Zealand and around the world. She seems to know every book and every recipe. It’s a treat to pop-in there whenever we walk past, and it’s also our go-to for gifts for food-loving whānau.
Lucky noodles at Tianze
695 Sandringham Road, Sandringham, Auckland
This Chinese restaurant in Sandringham is a once-a-week thing for us. Sometimes it's just take-aways, but other times we’ll get a big gang together and go there for special occasions. We celebrated Otis’s birthday at Tianze last year, and the chef and owner, Levi, brought us a ‘lucky’ noodle bowl - the longer the noodle you pick, the more prosperous and longer life you have. Levi always shares the background and heritage of each dish. Food connects you to other cultures and I just love that. It’s a language that you don’t have to be fluent in to enjoy and understand. Some of our favourite dishes are the cold fern root noodle salad, fish dumplings, twice-cooked sweet and sour pork, sizzling eggplant stuffed with pork mince, deep fried chilli chicken and the broccoli and garlic.
Unwind at Oakley Creek Waterfall
1520 Great North Road, Waterview, Auckland
A few years ago, Otis and I decided to go on a mission to find waterfalls around Auckland, and discovered that Oakley Creek was only 10 minutes from our house! We started reading up on the history, and found that they used to take patients from the old mental asylum (now Auckland Uni campus) there to calm them down. It’s the perfect place to go to relax and unwind. Take a picnic and a blanket on a summer’s day - heaven! There’s a beautiful little native bush walk to the falls. It’s always busy in summer, with kids bombing from the top of the falls and people hanging out. We’ve even joined a local group called ‘Friends Of Oakley Creek’ that does clean-ups and native tree planting.
Ducks and eels at Western Springs
Motions Road, Auckland
Western Springs Park and Auckland Zoo are only five minutes walk from our house. We walk around the beautiful park when we need some down time and a re-set. We’ll always hit up the Tip Top Shack for an ice cream and then check out the slippery eels and the ducks. Running a business doesn’t leave much time to well...run...but we used to be keen runners, and Western Springs is the perfect track for a few laps to let off some steam. Just watch out for the aggressive ducks, that will chase you when they have their babies in tow!
Take a tour at Urbanaut Brewery
597 New North Road, Kingsland, Auckland
The Urbanaut Brewery in Kingsland is run by a lovely group of people who are passionate about brewing and beer! They will share all their knowledge and passion with you on a brewery tour. The brewery’s got a kind of neighbourhood vibe. It feels like sitting in your mate’s living room, except with a giant brewery attached. You’ll sometimes find The Lucky Taco truck amongst the line-up of stellar food trucks outside in the courtyard from Thursday to Sunday.
MorningCider and chocolate
16 McDonald Street, Sandringham, Auckland
The MorningCidery is tucked down a little alleyway alongside KIND café, Bo’s dumpling joint and Electric Chicken, so there’s something for everyone. You can go in for a tasting or a beer or cider on tap. We’re so into cider, we even did a Lucky Taco colab - a habanero ginger cider, which has some serious kick! It just scooped a bronze medal at the 2020 NZ cider awards. For chocolate fans, the Miann Chocolate Factory is just next door. You can watch them making chocolate in incredibly huge churns. The chocolatier, Brian, is a top bloke. New Zealand’s very own Scottish Willy Wonka.
Get some Zen at Fo Guang Shan
16 Stancombe Road Flat Bush, Manukau, Auckland
This stunning Bhuddist Temple in Flat Bush has beautiful grounds and there’s also a little gallery/shop in the temple. We love to combine a visit to the temple with a trip to the Auckland Botanical Gardens. It’s a good mental health day. Just make sure you aren’t rocking a singlet at the temple as no bare shoulders are allowed. We actually found out about this place through our foodie circles. The Water Drop café there is home to the BEST laksa we have ever had. And it’s 100% vegan. Go figure. I didn’t think you could make a vegan laksa with that much flavour.
Join the foodie cult at Homeland
11 Westhaven Drive, Auckland CBD
Peter Gordon is back from London and has opened his new venture down at Westhaven Marina. It’s pretty impressive and nobody is doing anything quite like it. It’s all about local New Zealand and Pasifika ingredients. It’s a café by day, a restaurant by night and a cooking school and a general food hub mecca. There’s a lovely outdoor space for growing fresh produce, with an incredible vista of the marina. We’re friends with Pete and went down to drop off some Lucky Taco products for the retail showcase. It’s really inspiring what Pete and partner Al are doing with Homeland. It’s not just a restaurant, it’s a way of life - a little foodie cult. But in a non-creepy cult way...
Vinyl at Conch
115A Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland
This is one of the last businesses on Ponsonby Road rocking an old school ‘Ponsonby Vibe’. You can browse vinyl and get superb food. There’s a cool courtyard out the back where you can hang, eat, drink beer or cocktails and listen to great music. Or you can sit out the front and watch the world go by. There’s often a DJ playing which makes it feel like a daytime nightclub.