El Faro, Elliott Stables, Auckland

We stumbled upon Elliott Stables by accident while walking around Auckland city on our first night in New Zealand.

Set in the Edwardian building that was the Archibald Clarke & Sons warehouse, Elliott Stables is an epicurean village that features specialty gourmet shops and an array of international eateries. It’s not your run-of-the-mill food court. You are free to browse the menus and choose a table anywhere in the main dining area (the Common) for a casual meal, along the cosy cobbled laneway or within the restaurants themselves for a more intimate experience.

A sign above reads: “Hunger is non-negotiable”.

>Inside Elliott Stables, a sign above the cobbled laneway reads: Hunger is non-negotiableThere’s something special about dining in a lamp-lit, cobbled laneway.

The long tables are a good option if you're dining with a bunch of mates.The long tables are a good option if you’re dining with a bunch of mates. There may be a wait for a table during peak times.

Once inside, we were compelled to stay for a bite. It wasn’t easy to make a decision, but after a couple of laps, we chose a table in El Faro (“the lighthouse” in Spanish) Restaurant & Tapas Bar.

El Faro signs

Our drinks order kept to the Spanish theme: a Moritz beer for Jac, and for me, a glass of classic sangria, with seasonal fruits steeped in brandy, tempranillo and garnacha, finished with a splash of lemonade.

Classic sangriaClassic sangria

Tapas is priced at NZ$7.50 for vegetarian dishes, NZ$9.50 for meat and dairy dishes, which was excellent value, especially once we did the currency conversions (AU$1 gets you approximately NZ$1.20). We ordered four dishes to share. Our waiter assured us that would be plenty between two.

First to arrive, the pintxos de jamon (pictured at the top of this post). These were wonderful and my favourite dish of the meal: lightly toasted sourdough bread, rubbed with garlic and extra virgin olive oil, topped with air-dried ham and a creamy swirl of queso fresco blended with parsley, lemon zest and more garlic, symbolically ‘spiked’ with a piquant caperberry (“pintxo” is derived from the Spanish “pincho”, which means “spike”). A deluxe alternative to garlic bread and the best ham and cheese snacks we’ve had in a long time!

Next, the sherry mushrooms – juicy mushrooms sauteed with extra virgin olive oil and garlic, flambeed with sherry and finished with a smattering of parsley. We couldn’t go past the Heritage breed piggy ribs – free range organic pork ribs cooked in Fino sherry with garlic, wild mushrooms and rosemary, sprinkled liberally with parsley and lemon zest. The meat was moist, full of flavour and fell off the bones easily, but with a few knobbly lumps of gristle still intact, these rustic piggy ribs won’t be for everyone.

L-R: sherry mushrooms; Heritage breed piggy ribsL-R: sherry mushrooms; Heritage breed piggy ribs

We also shared calamari, stuffed with a mixture of croutons, lemon zest, garlic, capers, parsley, black Spanish olives and pimenton picante (hot paprika), finished with a smokey chunky tomato sauce. It’s surprisingly difficult removing the skewers from a plump and slippery fully loaded calamari – in the painstaking process, it came perilously close to shooting off the plate like a shiny white zeppelin, which would’ve been terribly embarrassing and spectacularly messy. I wasn’t so keen on the mushy bready filling, but the calamari itself was smooth and tender, and the tomato sauce was plate-lickingly good.

Stuffed calamari - stuffed with croutons, lemon zest, garlic, capers, parsley, black Spanish olives and pimenton picante, finished with smokey tomato sauce Stuffed calamari

We had just enough room for dessert – crisp hot churros fresh from the fryer, served with chocolate dipping sauce, caught in a cinnamon sugar storm en route to our table.

Churros with chocolate sauceChurros with chocolate sauce

We leaned back in our seats patting our Spanish food babies fondly. Overall, it was an excellent meal.

El Faro
Elliott Stables
41 Elliott Street, Auckland City
El Faro is open for lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday
Free wifi is available
See the list of Elliott Stables eateries

We liked the atmosphere in Elliott Stables and would’ve returned, had time allowed it. In addition to Spanish tapas, the restaurants include Japanese, a French creperie, a European sausage house, Latin American, Italian, Cajun, Southern Indian-Mediterranean (really) and more. Whisky connoisseurs will want to visit The Whisky Shop.

Elliott Stables


Elliott Stables - exterior

Sky TowerThe spectacular Sky Tower – from our stroll back to our hotel.

New Zealand trip – blog series

There’s more to come from our trip.
Posted so far (in reading order):

This trip to New Zealand was planned by Jac and me. We paid for all meals, accommodation and activities; the exception was 1 x return premium economy flight Perth to Auckland, which I received at an Air New Zealand launch event last year.Everything I blog about the trip is based on our experiences and all opinions are our own.

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