Auckland is great but let's be real; it's an expensive place to live. With such a large portion of our salaries going on rent in this het up property market, it makes complete sense to dutifully prep a bunch of budget friendly lunches in the run up to pay day. But after a while, the same medley of meals can get a little dull even for the most abstemious of people. Thankfully, there are plenty of cheap, tasty and even healthy lunch options available around the city. So blow the cobwebs out of your wallet and check out these cheap eats that won't break the house deposit fund.
A product of Vietnam's colonial past, bánh mì merges fresh, crusty baguette with a rich schmear of pate, a smattering of punchy pickled vegetables, an almost sinful amount of coriander, lashings of hot sauce and the protein of your choice. When done right, it's a quick filling and flavourful lunch option and perhaps the world's best sandwich. At Hello Mister you can get one of these delectable concoctions for $10. Be still my beating heart. From crispy pork, grilled pork, lemongrass chicken, crispy chicken, tofu or lemongrass beef and an array of vegetables and sauces, there will be something to cater to all tastes.
Like the name suggests, Best Ugly Bagels aren't much to look at, but their uniqueness is what makes them so damn delicious. They are purposely manhandled — punched, pummeled and rolled — before being simmered in honey water and fired in a Manuka wood oven. This hands-on approach makes these Montreal-style bagels the perfect base for some lush toppings. From comforting childhood classics — Marmite and melted cheese and peanut butter with jelly — to the beautiful simplicity of the White Rabbit — cream cheese, fresh tomato and basil drizzled with a zesty lemon fennel olive oil — there are plenty of options for under $10.
It wouldn't be a listicle about dining in Auckland without mentioning dumplings; these succulent morsels are beloved in our city and narrowing down the choices is no mean feat. But if you're looking for an alternative to your usual mountain of pork and chive dumplings, check out XuXu Dumplings where $10 will get you half a dozen parcels of goodness. With spinach and water chestnut momo, prawn and ginger har gao to, fish sambal and coconut being just a small selection of the flavours on offer, this is a light lunch that treads the line between tradition and modernity.
Who doesn't love a literary pun and a meat-free burger for $10? This Melbourne staple arrived in St Kevin's Arcade to much fanfare a couple of years back and it's become a firm favourite among the vegetarian/vegan/K' Road set. You don't have to choose between some tex-mex-inspired heat, the classic layering of cheese, pickles, onions, mayo, ketchup, or a crispy "chicken" burger because you can get them all for $10 every day of the working week.
Part of the joy of living in a city is finding nooks that are beyond the obvious. Xi'An Food Bar is one such place. While its plastic table cloths and florescent lighting aesthetic is not conducive to the 'gram, you should be too busy eating to care anyway. This is the ultimate comfort food if you've had a long week or morning of meetings. Think seemingly bottomless bowls of fat, soft, hand pulled noodles, melt-in-your-mouth braised pork for $9.50 and moreish Chinese Burgers (freshly baked bread stuffed with cumin-spiced lamb) for $4.50 a pop. All of their attention clearly goes into the food they are making and the CBD is all the better for it.
Whether you're feeling virtuous or are a vegetarian in need of a lunch that packs a little more punch than your usual mixed greens, Revive on Lorne or Wyndham Street will sort you out thanks to their small box of salad. Take your pick of any two of their salads and a generous dollop of hummus for a measly $8.50. With a menu that rotates weekly, you're sure to never get bored with their offerings which also cater for Auckland's vegan and gluten-free population.
If filling your belly with quality made-to-order food for a fiver in the Auckland CBD sounds too good to be true, then you've never been to No. 1 Pancake. This unassuming hole-in-the-wall on the corner of Wellesley and Lorne Streets often has queues of people waiting to snaffle their Korean-style pancakes, and after just one bite it's easy to see why. Their freshly made dough means that each pancake is deliciously crispy on the outside, yet light and fluffy on the inside. Stuffed with chicken, beef, vegetables or ham all held together by layers of gooey cheese or filled with decedent chocolate, delicate cinnamon or earthy red bean, it won't matter if you're looking to sate your hunger with something sweet or savoury; No. 1 Pancakes will have you covered.
Good donburi is the sum of its parts; pillowy rice, fresh vegetables and perfectly cooked protein. Hearty and healthy, The Yakitori House cooks donburi that does not scrimp on flavour. Their chicken donburi is brimming with the tang of freshly chopped cabbage, impeccably seasoned chicken and the salty crunch of seaweed all for $10.
This blink-and-you'll-miss-it spot on Wakefield Street is fast becoming a light-lunch favourite for those in the know. This cutesy millennial pink-coloured café has just five items on its menu, but they are all done exquisitely well. Their daily salad is $9, or if you're after something a little more substantial, their fried chicken drizzled with sesame mayo or the classic pairing of cumin and coriander falafel is a sure thing.
You can never have too many burger options for a quick and tasty lunch. In a world where burgers vie for our attention by becoming increasingly elaborate, BurgerFuel makes for a refreshing yet hunger-busting counterpoint with its Gourmet Minis selection. Perfect for lunch hours ahead of pay day, the selection offers four affordable options. The Chook Royale is a mini chicken burger with grilled pineapple, iceberg lettuce, fresh aioli and batch made tomato relish; the Hamburgini is a cheeseburger kept simple (yet delicious) with grass-fed beef, melted cheddar, pickles and aioli; the Bambina takes it up a notch with grass-fed beef, fresh cut salad, batch made tomato relish and aioli; while the Combustion Tofu is one for omnivores featuring velvety tofu, teriyaki sauce, smashed avocado, peanut sauce and aioli (which can be removed to make it vegan).
To wrap your hands around one of BurgerFuel's Gourmet Minis, visit BurgerFuel.