Whether payday is a distant memory or you simply don’t want to spend your life savings on a meal, don’t go running for those two-minute noodles just yet. There are plenty of cheap eats in Auckland that are minimal on coin but maximum on deliciousness. These wallet-friendly Auckland restaurants will leave you full, satisfied, and with money in the bank. So, without further ado, here are the best cheap eats in Auckland.
Britomart, Mt Eden, Sylvia Park and Auckland City
Kicking off our round-up of the best cheap eats in Auckland is none other than Better Burger. The menu might be simple (hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger or a veggie-friendly mushroom burger), but the food is simply divine. You can grab a burger for less than $10 or upsize to a combo (with fries and a drink) for around the $15 mark—what a steal. Better Burger is dotted around the city in four convenient locations, so you’re never too far from your cheap burger fix.
Satya South Indian Restaurant
K’ Road, Sandringham, Mt Eden and Newton
Enjoy a cheap dinner without compromising on flavour at Satya South Indian. Better yet, they’re BYO-friendly so you can enjoy your curry with a glass (or two) of vino. If the budget allows, we thoroughly suggest you splash out and order an entree of dahi puri. This Indian street food snack features house-made crackers topped with potato-chickpea smash, creamy yoghurt and tamarind chutney. Your taste buds are in for a total treat.
New Flavour Restaurant
Balmoral and Parnell
Dumplings have a special place in the heart of every Aucklander. New Flavour Restaurant serves up some of the best (and cheapest) in town. Their seemingly endless dumpling menu is priced around $13 for a serve of 20 delicious morsels. The Auckland fave also serves delicious noodle and rice dishes and Chinese-style pancakes. The dessert-esque sweet red bean paste pancake is a must-try.
Big J’s Takeaways
No list of Auckland’s best cheap eats would be complete without mention of everybody’s favourite takeaway joint: Big J's Takeaways. Located in an unassuming block of shops in the suburbs of Mt Wellington, Big J’s serves up burgers that are big on taste but small on price. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for their always-epic burger of the week. The ever-popular takeaway joint also serves fish, toasted sandwiches, hot dogs and classic Kiwi potato fritters.
This Malaysian gem is cheap, cheerful and has the best beef rendang in town. Sri Pinang’s menu will magically transport you to the streets of Georgetown with all your Malay faves. Think: curries, noodles, rice and—the best part—buttery and oh-so-crispy roti. What’s more, the owner Angie is a total delight and her friendly team will make you feel right at home. Pair your meal with your favourite wine or beer as they allow BYO.
No 1 Pancake
It’s no secret No 1 Pancake is one of the best cheap eats in Auckland CBD. The tiny Lorne Street kiosk has an ever-present queue of hungry students and business-people alike. Whether you prefer sweet or savoury, the popular takeaway joint will satisfy your pancake craving for a fiver. We can’t go past the Hawaiian-esque ham, pineapple and cheese pancake oozing with hot, gooey cheesy deliciousness.
You don’t need to wait until payday to devour premium-quality handmade pasta. Instead, make a beeline for Cotto on K’ Road where you’ll find an entire menu priced under 22 bucks. Starring a stylish fit-out and divine flavours, it’s hard to believe that the chic eatery is known and loved as an Auckland cheap eat. Impress your significant other with a date night to remember and they’ll even be room in the budget for dessert.
Shaolin Kung Fu Noodle
Balmoral, Sommerville, Albany and Auckland City
Situated Auckland-wide, Shaolin Kung Fu Noodle serves authentic Chinese dishes packed with flavour. The Xinjiang lamb fried noodles flavoured with cumin and a dash of spice are totally unmissable or, if you’re visiting with friends, go for the sensational spicy chicken noodles. The epic-sized portion of chewy noodles can be shared amongst at least three other people will set you back just $35—meaning you totally have change for dumplings.
7 Siri Taste Of Sri Lanka
Is it Sandringham or is it Sri Lanka? 7 Siri’s food is so authentic, you won’t be able to tell—in fact, several of the dishes are even served wrapped in a banana leaf. Gobble up kottu roti, devilled fried rice or even egg hoppers—a cup-shaped pancake made with rice flour and your choice of toppings. A crisp $20 note will leave you with change at this cheap and cheerful Sandringham eatery
Chancery and Takapuna
You may have to wait to get a table at Mamak Malaysian but we promise it will be worth it. Round up your squad and work your way through serves of seafood laksa, deep-fried tofu and their sambal chicken on rice. Pro tip: mop your plate clean with their delightfully buttery roti. Better yet, Mamak has restaurants on both sides of the harbour bridge, so you don’t have to cross the water for your laksa fix. This is Malaysian food at it’s finest.
Balmoral and Mt Eden
Barilla Dumpling has made a comeback from its D-grade food safety days. With a fancy A-grade rating and TWO Dominion Road restaurants, the much-loved Chinese food joint will satisfy your dumpling craving. Our advice? Come for the dumplings, stick around for the sautéed eggplant and deep-fried green beans. This Auckland favourite cheap eat is here to stay.
Freeman & Grey
“There’s no such thing as a cheap meal in Ponsonby,” we hear you cry. Wrong. Freeman & Grey serve $5 pizza across lunch and dinner every day. Better yet, if you sign up to their loyalty club, your first pizza is on the house—and we all know the only thing better than $5 pizza is FREE pizza. Fire up the group chat, congregate in Ponsonby and have a much-needed bestie catch-up without blowing the budget.
FishSmith has put a Herne Bay stamp on fish and chips and made them just that lil bit fancy—but still without the expensive price tag. Our go-to is their spiced fish tacos paired with a side of fries. And there are no soggy chips in sight—they hand-cut their potatoes and fry them not once but twice to ensure they’re perfectly crispy. We like your style, FishSmith.
If you love Korean food (you do), look no further than BannSang in the heart of Auckland’s CBD. Serving some of the best Korean eats in Auckland, their delicious wine-infused pork belly has developed a cult following—and for good reason, too. Their perfectly spicy soul-warming soft tofu stew is also not to be missed. This is Korean fare at its finest.
Ponsonby and Browns Bay
Slurp your way through one of Auckland’s best bowls of ramen and you’ll soon forget your money woes at Ramen Takara. Serving up some of Auckland’s best cheap eats, a bowl of ramen goodness will cost you around $15. No visit is complete without a serve of their much-loved crispy lotus chips. Keep an eye out for their kitted out food truck and—if ramen is life—book it for your next event or function. Noodles at the office Christmas do? We vote yes.
Ponsonby, Newmarket and Takapuna
We love burgers and the friendly folk at Burger Burger serve some of the finest in Auckland (big call, we know). For around twenty bucks, you can grab a burger and a side of their famous charred broccoli featuring garlic, butter and almond. While every burger is mouth-wateringly delicious, our favourite is the tender grilled chicken burger with an added slice of pineapple. Dining on a budget doesn’t get much better than this.
Steamed bao buns for under 10 bucks... what more can you ask for? Situated in the CBD, Kai Eatery’s food stand is taking the fried chicken game to a whole new level. Chicken and bao aside, they also serve Michelin-star kumara fries (according to us). The fries are battered in a crispy coating and dusted with sugar—don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Wash down with a bubble tea and you’ll be away laughing.
Bold in decor and even bolder in flavor, Kiss Kiss is all about Thai cuisine on a budget. Dig into serves of khao soi kai curry noodle soup, sticky pork ribs and khao phat muu fried rice with satay pork. The quirky Balmoral eatery also offers a fun dining experience with its neon lighting, brightly painted murals and even a cocktail menu accessed via View Masters. If you’ve got room for dessert, the classic sticky rice with mango won’t let you down.
Mr Zhou’s Dumplings
New Lynn and Mt Eden
You know a restaurant is good when its popularity leads to opening a second venue. Born in New Lynn and now also residing in Mt Eden, Mr Zhou’s Dumplings serves some of Auckland’s best—you guessed it—dumplings. Here you’ll find your favourite morsels (pork with chives, chicken with coriander, beef with fennel) and other Chinese delights. Have your dumplings fried, boiled, with soup or cook them yourself with packs of their frozen signature dumplings.
Bringing a taste of Napoli to New Lynn, Settebello is run by Francesco Arci (a Naples native) who sure knows his pizza. The secret to the wood-fired pizza? The pizza dough is proved for at least 20 hours so it’s light and tasty as can be. Settebello also prides themselves on using the best ingredients possible… and even import cured ham from Italy to ensure their pizza is authentic in every way. The pizzas are priced around $23 or less—a total bargain considering it’s some of Auckland’s best pizza.
Eden Noodles Cafe
Mt Eden and Albany
Eden Noodles Cafe is the go-to cheap eats hub when it comes to spicy dumplings and dan dan noodles. Limited capacity increases the odds of you having to wait in line to get your Sichuan fix but patience is key, my friend—these bowls of slurpy goodness have earned a reputation for being the best noodles in Auckland. A word of warning: Eden Noodles spice scale packs a punch—you’ve got to be able to handle the heat.
The Mexican Cafe
In arms-reach from the Sky Tower, The Mexican Cafe will save you from the tummy rumbles—without costing the earth. They’ve got all your Mex favourites includes nachos, burritos, enchiladas and quesadillas. If you’re super short on cash, their daily happy hour has you covered with $5 tacos. Even better, you can wash it down with a tap beer or house wine for just $5.
Gogo Music Cafe
Balmoral and Wairau Park
There’s so much to love about Gogo Music Cafe. From the $1 lamb skewers to the $10 dumplings, you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. For dessert, their fried Chinese buns dipped in condensed milk are unmissable—trust us on this one. Visit with friends to maximise your visit and order a bunch of dishes to share. Luckily for us Aucklanders, Gogo Music Cafe has two eateries in Balmoral and Wairau Park.
Try It Out
Head to Otahuhu to try things out at the aptly named restaurant, Try It Out. The eatery is known for serving some of the best Vietnamese cheap eats in Auckland. Their prawn and pork summer rolls are oh-so-fresh and we can’t get enough of the combination vermicelli noodle bowl. It’s literally happiness in a bowl. Eat like a true Vietnamese and pair your meal with cha gio—aka spring rolls.
When hungry in Newmarket, head to Selera’s Malaysian eatery. You’ll be treated to the likes of nasi lemak, curry laksa and mee goreng. Be sure to get an entrée of curry puffs—the flaky pastry at Selera is seriously heavenly. Located a hop, step and a jump from Newmarket’s cinemas, a cheap meal at Selera is the perfect pre or post-movie dinner.
Bubble tea and bao—name a better duo, we'll wait. Forget your regular old takeaway fish 'n' chip shop and try out the new bao and bubble tea takeaway shop, One8tea. If you're a fan of bubble tea then get excited because One8tea have so many flavours, the only difficulty you'll face is having to decide—from coconut and taro, to matcha and rose, there's a tea flavour for everyone. Once your drink is sorted it's time to pick a $6 bao (pronounced "bow" for all those wondering). Choose from their range of options including sweet chilli and deep fried tofu or Korean fried chicken and spicy sauce and add one of their $4 sides like popcorn chicken or spicy wedges so you can fill up that tum while being easy on the pocket. Winning.
Image credit: Better Burger, Jaiden Bhaga