Whether you’re a cash-strapped backpacker, a thrifty traveller or someone just wanting to keep their food costs at bay, Auckland’s amazing selection of cheap eats is guaranteed to keep you satisfied. Here’s a small sampler of the best budget bites, of all cuisines and flavours, scattered around the city.
A favourite among uni students and city slickers looking for a quick meal on the go, No. 1 Pancake is an unassuming kiosk that’s built a strong reputation for its sweet and savoury Korean pancakes over the last decade or so. For less than NZ$5 you can get a crispy treat packed with a variety of tasty fillings, including beef, chicken, vegetables, chocolate as well as cinnamon and sugar.
Opened by two Malaysian migrants in 1990, Sri Pinang is an Auckland cheap eats institution. One of its biggest appeals is that its food has remained consistent, and largely unchanged, over the decades. For less than NZ$20 you can get a filling vegetable curry or a variety of authentically Malaysian mains, while NZ$8 will buy you some spicy wonton soup that’s guaranteed to provide comfort on those nippy winter nights.
Big, juicy, gourmet burgers for NZ$10 or less — that’s the secret ingredient of Big J’s Takeaways’ success. Bring an appetite if you’re visiting the bustling Mt Wellington joint. Aside from its famous burgers, you can also sink your teeth into a hearty hot dog, an assortment of toasted sandwiches and lots of deep fried morsels like fish, battered sausages or chicken nuggets.
Fair warning: This is not a place for fast service. Petra Shawarma’s main point of difference is that its Middle Eastern dishes are very decently priced and cooked to precision. As such, meals tend to be slow to arrive, but the wait is 100% worth it. All mains are under NZ$20 and there are loads of options for vegetarians, vegans as well as gluten- and dairy-free diners.
As its name suggests, Bird on a Wire specialises in free-range rotisserie chicken. But if you’re not a meat eater, there’s also a healthy selection of seasonal salads and wraps for vegetarians. The eatery’s classic pulled chicken burger is a steal at NZ$10, while all other sandwiches are between NZ$11-$16. Make sure to keep an eye out for the weekly specials so you can get the best bang for your buck.
Barilla Dumpling is the go-to in Auckland for its namesake Chinese staple. Dumplings come in bundles of 20, so bring an appetite and lots of friends with whom to share these tasty steamed treats. Aside from this signature dish, the sauteed eggplant has proven to be quite a winner among locals for its friendly price and spicy, garlicky flavour.
Paradise Indian has taken Auckland by storm with its authentic Mughlai dishes. The Sandringham restaurant is incredibly popular because of its friendly prices, generous portions and vast selection of Indo-Chinese meals — the demand is such that there are three branches within walking distance from one another. The biryani is a must-try dish, and the restaurant also offers halal options.
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