Late Night Diner

After visiting Late Night Diner on Ponsonby Road for supper recently, I have developed a taste for red lights and dimly lit alleyways. Late Night Diner has proven to be an exciting development for Auckland’s after-hours dining scene, where previously the offerings were few and the calibre poor.

Stepping into Late Night Diner’s narrow dining room is reminiscent of stepping into an Edward Hopper painting, only darker and cast in a red hue by the glowing neon sign in the front window. With the option of booths or stools at the counter, from which you can observe the activities of the open kitchen, the place is dripping with nostalgic Americana kitsch.

Everything on the menu, save for three dishes, goes for less than twenty dollars, with dishes to suit every sort of appetite, whether you feel like an old school burger with fries, pork belly with celeriac and apple mash or a slice of butter nut pumpkin pie. Although I was quite taken by the idea of a duck and potato hash with soft boiled egg ($15), I waived this choice for my friend Shivani and instead thought I’d put this diner’s kitchen to the test with the cheese and bacon burger with fries ($15), whilst our friend Emma plumped for the mac ‘n’ cheese ($11).

Although it took a while for our dishes to arrive, when they finally did, none of us were disappointed. My cheese and bacon burger was rather enormous (after a hand-to-mouth trial I concluded it far too large for me to take a bite lest I unhinge my jaw), accompanied by some of the most fantastic fries I’ve had in a long while. Cut to shoestrings, they were piping hot but perfectly crisp with their skins retained and dusted liberally with salt. It took all my will power not to order an extra side of them. My burger patty was thick and juicy and glistened a rosy pink, exactly as a medium-rare patty should. The grilled cheese it rested on had a strong, mature flavour that beat all the other slabs of yellow and orange plastic I’d had in the past and the long slivers of pickled cucumber were refreshing as was the tangy onion relish that lay on top.

Emma’s mac ‘n’ cheese, although rather smaller than expected, was surprisingly light, without that oily cloyingness that reminds one that their risk of a heart attack has just increased, whilst Shivani’s hash was deliciously textured with shredded duck meat, chopped gherkins and some unidentifiable crunchy bits, tied together by the silky runny egg yolk.

Feeling far too full after my American-sized burger, I resigned myself to watching Shivani and Emma eat their chocolate and peanut butter fondant and butter nut pumpkin pie respectively (both $12). The fondant was perfectly executed, with a small torrent of molten chocolate, flecked with blebs of peanut butter, flowing from its centre; the pumpkin pie’s golden filling, though solid in appearance, was incredibly light and warm with spices.

Late Night Diner offers the best of all-American dining with extras, from imaginative mains to the grown-up milkshakes fortified with a shot of something much stronger than strawberry syrup. Whether you’re interested in dinner, some deep-fried pickles to go with your drinks or just dessert, Late Night Diner is certainly worth a visit.

Location: 152 Ponsonby Road
Phone: (09) 361-2320
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 5pm-late; Thursday-Sunday 5pm-2am
Prices: Starters $6-$10.50; sandwiches and burgers $8-$17; pies $13; home-cooking $11-$23; sides and salads $5-$9.50; desserts $11-$12; shakes and sodas $6-$16.50; cocktails $16.50
Credit Cards:  Yes
Licensed: Yes
Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes
Takeaways: Yes
Bathrooms: OK
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Get Directions

You may also like...

9 Responses

  1. Hi Lynn, thanks for the review.
    The map points to Symonds st but the review is for a place on ponsonby road..
    Maybe needs an edit?

    • Lynn says:

      Hi Alison,

      Oh oh! The gremlins got into the posting. Thanks for pointing out the error with the map. I have corrected it so should be correct now.


  2. Matt says:

    Sounds awesome! Do you have any idea if they serve real ketchup or just tomato sauce? Also do they season their burgers (like every place in Auckland seems to do) so they don’t taste like meat anymore, but rather onion soup mix or weirder.

    If you haven’t figured it out I am a purist and having been disappointed about 19 times (not kidding) by burgers in Auckland, I am just looking for a place that will make a basic burger with ketchup and good fries without spending my entire savings account.


    • Lynn says:

      Oh, good question. I will ask May-Lee. She wrote the review so should be able to help you out.

      Have you tried Big J’s burgers? They are “homemade”. We reviewed them some months ago.


    • May-Lee Wong says:

      Hi Matt,

      They most certainly serve real ketchup and lots of it (I’m a ketchup girl myself).

      Late Nigh’t burger probably sits on the border of what you’d consider fancy because of the bacon and relish.
      I quite like the Squawk Dawg burger at Velvet Burger on Fort Street in terms of basics (I didn’t particularly enjoy the other fancier ones so that’s a place to start) although the quality of their fries are inconsistent; once was great and then a visit soon after was average.

      Burger Wisconsin might also be worth checking out, the patties are kept simple (I’m not such a fan of less-seasoned meat but it may fit your purposes); I unashamedly crave Burger Fuel, their fries are always excellent and so are their simpler burgers. The final place worth trying is The Flaming Onion in Northcote; I haven’t yet had a chance to actually try it but by word of mouth is sounds very good and I’m hoping to visit sometime soon.

      Hope you haven’t been disappointed by any of these places; if you try any of them let us know how it went!

    • Kyle Street says:

      For me the only burger in the city worth its salt is White Lady !
      Falls apart as you eat it, cooked on a grill and dead juicy.

      • May-Lee Wong says:

        Really? That’s good to hear, I’ll have to try it next time! I’ve always heard mixed reviews about it; people have either complained it’s too expensive or the people who raved about it were rarely sober when they had it so I’ve been hesitant to trust their judgement.

  3. Kyle Street says:

    Love late night’s duck hash, i have it every time im there.
    I also dig their hot sauce selection.

  1. December 31, 2013

    […] reviews and deep passion for seeking out great food. This year her top picks were Petra Shawarma, Late Night Diner, Nol Bu Ne and Cafe […]

Get updates to your inbox!

Join our list to get the inside word on the best (and cheapest) food in town.

cheap eats

You have Successfully Subscribed!