If you’re looking for a casual and “on trend” place to catch up with friends and have a bite to eat, then Citizen Park is one of the new breed of restaurant/pubs that have opened to meet this need.
On a recent family outing one Wednesday evening, we arrived at Citizen Park around 7pm and nabbed one of the last free tables. Our daughter loved the table seating – high bar stools. There are two “regular’ height tables also available.
Citizen Park is themed along the lines of an American diner, and the menu reflects this along with Auckland’s current craze for Mexican food – tacos, fajitas, burgers and fries, hot dogs and large meals such as ribs and steak. The sides include macaroni and cheese comfort food and condiments for the Mexican food.
We decided to try several of the smaller items, although our daughter went beyond our Cheapeats mandate and opted for the steak and fries with onion rings ($32).
We were told that the tacos had been revamped and the shrimp taco ($6) and beef quesadilla ($14) were especially good, so we ordered one of each plus a pulled pork taco ($6) and the Citizen nachos ($14).
They arrived in reasonably short order. My husband and daughter loved the beef quesadilla, which was made with skirt steak and had Mexican cream (basically salted cream) and chimichurri salsa accompanied by a small salad. The shrimp taco worked for me – 3 grilled shrimp with pickled cabbage and guacamole. The pulled pork taco was ok, although I didn’t really get a flavour hit of the apple slaw and mango in it.
Not sure why we ordered the nachos – it’s one of those dishes that you can easily make at home, although the Citizen Park version used refried black beans and ox cheek (!).
Throwing caution to the winds we ordered another round of a shrimp taco and the beef quesadilla, plus “dirty bird” ($14), which was pieces of boneless chicken meat in a corn meal coating and fried and served with smoked mayo. This was a very generous serving and although the chicken was tender, was a “bridge too far” for my appetite. Likewise, our daughter, having filled up on our food, could only tackle a small portion of the steak meal, so we had both wrapped up to take home.
We couldn’t leave without trying the churros ($10), and these were the large version, nice and crisp with a cinnamon sugar coating. The dipping sauces were a lime curd and fresh raspberry sauce. Call me old-fashioned but I think that chocolate is the way to go.
We decided to have an alcohol-free night and only drank water, but there is a short and reasonably priced drinks menu, plus a few interesting soft drinks such as American root beer (which our daughter loves).
By the time we left it was literally standing room only, and filled with couples and groups visiting, having a drink and a bite to eat. It was too cold to sit outside at the bar area next door, although on a milder evening it would be lovely especially with the fireplace crackling. Keep it in mind for a pleasant and affordable night out.