You know when you’re cooking for just two of you, or for yourself, so you pop down to the food shop to grab a casual few ingredients and end up spending $65? Oh yeah. That bloody truffle brie saw you coming from a mile away, sucker. Step one, just eat it all on the drive home so there’s no evidence. Step two is to remember for next time that eating out can be a cheap, nice change sometimes. Also, for those times you just don’t feel like cooking but definitely feel like eating. Eating all the things – without paying the equivalent of twelve pieces of fancy cheese.
I’ve rounded up a list of my favourite cheap and cheerfuls in the city. These are places that I might grab brunch, lunch or dinner and it will cost you under $15 for a meal. (Slow down cowboy, drinks extra). Some are BYO, most offer takeaway (if you’re one of those people that can’t handle dining alone. Or with pants on.) and with one in particular, you can get the serving staff’s attention by pressing the buzzer on the table. This would seem rude if it wasn’t there because they put it there. Enjoy, you clever little penny pinchers.
Angie’s Kitchen is tucked off Symonds Street and is popular with the Uni students in the area. It’s always packed, half full of starving students, and half full of people after a really yummy Malaysian feed. Angie’s are experts on spice (I went with a head cold and left feeling totally fine after one dining experience), and put most of their energy into the dishes, rather than the decor. However, while they lack providing extra napkins and water refills, they make up for it in tasty generous sized dishes that pack a wallop of flavour, and you’ll walk away feeling like you scored the greatest food deal.
Don’t Miss: Chicken Laksa – $13
Yep, so bao is the new slider and I am so much happier for this. Lots of places seem to feature versions of this steamed bun, but only Chinoiserie has them as their mains. This is one of my frequent go-to’s for a cheap and yummy meal, and it’s worth the 20ish minute drive that I clock up. That says a lot. Because I am typically lazy. The restaurant has a great atmosphere, there are plenty of outdoor tables if the weather is playing nice, and you can order a beer or wine (or mulled wine in winter!) from the menu and you might still get your meal in under $15. They offer a pork, beef, chicken, squid and tofu bao option, as well as the best crispy fries with wasabi aioli. Also grab a bottle of their Gong Sauce and take it home – it goes amazingly on ribs.
Don’t Miss: Tofu Bao, my favourite bao option with crispy shallots and satay sauce – $8
On the corner of Beach Road by the Countdown, is the tastiest little Vietnamese takeaway. Made fresh to order (so it’ll be a 5ish min wait for your food), the dishes range in price from $8-$13 including a pho that I actually can’t vouch for because I always order the same thing: chicken lemongrass on vermicelli. Saingonz is licensed if you’re more in the mood for an after work combo and the portions are so generous; if you slack off with breakfast and are feeling hangry THIS is the place to go. Indoor/outdoor seating and takeaway available.
Don’t miss: Chicken Lemongrass with Vermicelli noodles. So much chicken, tons of veggies, and a yummy fish sauce to drizzle all over – $12
I grew up eating pate and liverwurst so this isn’t as weird sounding to me, but if you’ve been to Dizengoff and not ordered the chopped liver, you are missing out big time bro. While the menu is generally all kinds of awesome (creamy mushrooms, salmon & eggs, this green sauce that is just the right kind of tartness), the liver is a stand out to me, served with fresh white french loaf and chopped up cucumber. Trust me. You will love it. Unless you’re vegetarian, in which case they can sort you out too. Dizzy is the perfect brunch spot, and serves my favourite coffee – Allpress. Made by baristas who know their shit. Grab the Canvas, do the weekend quiz and feel super smug that you ordered one of the tastiest cheap meals in the city.
Don’t miss: Chopped Liver – $13
I’ve always liked Indian food but I’ve never been one to have a particular craving for it. It was all pretty good, nothing to write home about but you know, tikka masala. Yum. Then I was introduced to Paradise a couple years ago. I know I was late to the party but it’s better to be late than not invited at all – so HERE IS YOUR INVITATION. This is the best Indian in Auckland by far. And I am not the only one who thinks this, it is open 7 days a week and there is a queue outside the restaurant, and their takeaway next door, ALL THE TIME. It’s worth it. It’s so so good. I would suggest just getting takeaway. The service is actually really great, but unless you like cricket (playing on 6 tv’s, cricket bats plastered all over the walls), it might be nicer curled up on the couch watching Netflix with no one to judge you for ordering 18 dishes for three of you. (Ps. they don’t serve booze and there is no BYO). Call ahead to order your takeaway, or show up on the day and choose from the ready made options in the cabinet. When they say hot, they mean it. Especially the bright green chicken.
Don’t miss: Chicken Tikka Masala $14, Saag Paneer $12, Harabhara Chicken $12
Cheap and cheerful doesn’t always technically include the latter but if you visit Sri Pinang on K-Road, you will always get the cheerful. The wonderful staff at this Malaysian restaurant are so friendly and will always, ALWAYS warn you that the dishes have coriander in them if you are one of those weirdos who just.can’t.even. Eat in and BYO or call ahead and order takeaway. They also take bookings which is wise because it’s small and busy. Come with a crowd who like spice and are happy sharing the generous dishes.
Don’t miss: Wonton soup with crispy pork – $7, sambal eggplant $9, beef rendang $12
I’ve mentioned this little beauty before, but Kang Nam is the weirdest little wonderful place to grab a cheap meal when you’re in the CBD. I think Queen St is notoriously bad when it comes to healthy/fresh restaurant options, and I think this Korean wonder does the job. Much larger than it looks from the street, the room in the back opens to plenty of tables with a strange plastic covered tree growing right in the middle. Order your food from the menu (with photos) and grab a beer or two to enjoy with your dishes. The BBQ sizzling plates all come with rice and 4-5 veggie side dishes included in the price. The added bonus of a buzzer on the table when you’re ready to place your order just adds to the magic (weirdness) of this glorious place.
Don’t miss: BBQ pork sizzling dish $12
Okay, here’s my wild card since Siostra is definitely a more upmarket restaurant compared to the other lovely places above, but I feel like I needed to share this secret: Siostra do burger Tuesdays. EVERY TUESDAY. BURGERS. AND THEY ARE THE MOST DELICIOUS BURGERS. A choice of four burgers and fries will set you back $15, they mix the choices up each week with their glorious American beef cheeseburger always making an appearance and the fries are divine. This is also a great option if you have kids who eat like horses but you would still like the mushroom tortellini or skirt steak and a glass of chardonnay thankyouverymuch. Although I can’t promise you won’t want to order another round of burgers once you realise how bloody good they are. Do yourself a favour and try the rest of the menu because these ladies know their food shiz.
Don’t miss: The good old beef cheeseburger with homemade pickles with fries – $15
What have I missed? If you have a good old C&C you’d like to tell the world about, please let me know below. Cheers, my foodie friends. x
All photos are either the author’s own or courtesy of the businesses listed above.