Great food at a great price? That, my friend, is the way to an Aucklander’s heart. Restaurant Month is officially here for 2020, bringing with it culinary creativity in the form of set menus and events from our favourite inner-city establishments.
2020’s Restaurant Month is special, not only because it’s the 10th year of this festival, but it also marks the creation of a fantastic new menu category: the $15 and under menus.
Perfectly timed celebrate our country’s return to normal, Restaurant Month give us Aucklanders an opportunity to show the city some love, in the best way we know: by eating left, right, and centre. So to kick off your budget-friendly restaurant bucket list, we’ve rounded up the best set menus you can find for $25 and under.
Happy belly, happy wallet. What more could we ask for?
Xuxu Dumpling Bar
Oh Xuxu, us Aucklanders sure do have a soft spot for you. Between fabulous cocktails, heavenly dumplings, and a lively atmosphere, there’s a lot to love about this Britomart hideaway. Adding to that is this year’s Restaurant Month menu, which promises lots of dumplings and deliciousness and a drink for just $25. You’ll start with a mixed basket of dumplings, featuring prawn and ginger har gao, pork wontons, spinach and chestnut momo, as well as fried mochi pork and mushroom dumplings (a winter favourite). You’re in for a real treat with dessert however, as they’ll be dishing up their iconic banoffee dumplings. Yes they’re jam-packed with fresh banana and gooey salted caramel, and yes, they’re impossibly delicious. See them come together right here.
The Good Luck Coconut
Known for fun fusions of Pacific and Asian cuisines, this Wynyard Quarter hotspot is keeping the flame burning with their Restaurant Month offering. Sweet potato bread with a toasted coconut butter takes centre stage on The Good Luck Coconut’s three-course menu, and is followed by a hearty serving of smoked pork ribs with a pineapple BBQ sauce as a main. Dessert is none other than a decadent steamed banana pudding with rum caramel and ice cream. Only $25 for this three course lunch or dinner, you bet your wallet and tastebuds will be getting a lot of bang for your buck.
La Petite Fourchette
French comfort food and an iconic pastry? Say no more. We’re making a beeline for Britomart’s La Petite Fourchette and their $15 ‘Very French Lunch’ Restaurant Month offer (which is also available for brekkie, btw). The menu starts with a traditional Flammekueche: a doughy creation topped with lashings of bacon, onions and creme fraiche. It’s then followed by a delectable ‘Tropezienne’ pastry—a traditional brioche filled with generous amounts of orange cream and coated with sugar pearls. Bon appetit, mes amis.
Victoria Street East
Known for their pasture-to-table philosophy and knack for serving quality local produce, Scarecrow is dishing up another wholesome offering this Restaurant Month. They’re pulling out the stops with a three course lunch for a sweet $25. Start with a black chia and vegetable kofta with a succulent babaganoush and then feast your senses on an Iraqi spiced pilaf garnished with crispy onions, roast butternut and tahini for your main. Make sure to leave room for dessert—a poached tamarillo, Black sesame glass and muscovado creation awaits you.
City Works Depot
The BBQ legends at Juke Joint are allowing us to be the master of our own foodie creation for lunch and dinner this Restaurant Month. All you need to do is set aside a crisp $25, take yourself to their City Works Depot Location and brace yourself to make some serious choices. You’ll start by choosing five proteins (succulent beef brisket, jackfruit and pulled pork are just some of the whopping options) before moving on to selecting a salad, sauces and two sides (pro tip: make one of them the mac 'n' cheese). From there, your choices will be BBQ-ed up into a delicious platter for you to devour. Fancy a more streamlined choice? Simply choose one protein and they’ll whack it into a hearty sandwich for you for $15. Easy peasy meaty.
Speaking of delicious carnivorous options—let us make mention of 16Tun’s special $25 Restaurant Month menu. This year they’re dishing up not one but two hearty surf n’ turf menus worth devouring. Option number one starts with a mouthwatering seared tuna bruschetta, garnished with mango chilli salsa, followed by beer braised beef cheeks (very fitting for a beerhouse, we think). Option two, is equally delish and comes with chorizo skewers with a Spanish slaw followed by a grilled salmon with roast pumpkin and greens for a main. Of course, being the epic beer house that 16Tun is, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to beers to match.
Pizza is always a good idea during these brisk winter days. Even more so when it’s at an equally irresistible price. Proper Pizza, being the legends that they are, are giving us a chance to indulge our comfort food cravings for less and have rolled out two ultra-budget friendly Restaurant Month menus this year. $15 dollars will buy you a tasty 20cm Pizza of any flavour plus a soft drink to wash it down. There’s all the classic toppings you know and love, fantastic gourmet options (cheeseburger pizza, anyone?) and a stellar range of vegan choices. Their $25 dollar menu revs the carb-ing up a notch and includes your choice of a delish 30cm Pizza plus your choice of criss cross bacon and cheese fries, or a cheese, chicken and garlic focaccia. It’s safe to say that Proper Pizza has our winter cravings properly covered.
Make your way down the rustic Elliot Stables, and into tuck into the hidden Mexican gem that is Besos Latinos. Here you’ll find one of the best lunch or dinner Restaurant Month offerings in town, which is yours to enjoy for a nifty $25. They’ll start you off with a generous glass of liquid gold—also known as their Classic Margarita (which, we warn you, is ultra irresistible). As for the mains, you’ll get to devour a foot-long taco that’s jam-packed with all the trimmings. All you need to do is choose between beef, chicken, or a vegetarian filling and chow down.
Gusto at The Grand
Escape your winter woes and warm up at Sky City’s Gusto at the Grand, where they’re pulling out all the stops that $25 can get you. We’re talking about a two course Italian dinner or lunch, complete with a glass of Menhir Saleno Negroamaro I.G.T. Salento wine. You’ll start with a crispy bruschetta topped with pea and mint, before moving on to the serious comfort food: their legendary pappardelle Bolognese. Trust us when we say that the doughy pasta ribbons are like no other, and the sauce absolutely next level.
The Parasol & Swing Company
There’s a lot to love about The Parasol & Swing Company. Between their epic food, views and the fab vegetarian options they’re dishing up for their Restaurant Month choices this year, we can’t help but to sing their praises from the rooftops. Literally. Park up on their waterfront-facing balcony and be wooed by their $25 two-course dinner and lunch menu. You’ll start by choosing between the likes of an elevated assortment of veggie tempura, smokey pork achiote skewers, or gorditas (delish corn battered dumplings) stuffed with beef and brie or miso eggplant mince. Thought the hefty decisions would end at the entree? Think again. We bet you’ll be torn between crumbed paprika chicken and pressed tofu escabeche as mains.
Image credit: Xuxu Dumpling Bar, Proper Pizza