It’s probably not surprising that whenever there’s ‘Cheap Eats’ clickbait on Facebook that takes you to the Denizen/Urban List/other lifestyle sites for rich people, I click. But my reaction is either “but everyone’s been there before” or “that’s not that cheap”. Sometimes it’s “that’s affordable, but I don’t feel like Dominion Rd rn”. I want affordable food, I want it close to the city campus. and I don’t want a Budgie Meal. Is that too much to ask?
It’s kind of obvious that a lot of these lists are those sneaky paid promotions, and they always talk about the same places. Case in point: Bannsang on High St. Not that there’s anything wrong with Bannsang! A classic student haunt, and it’s not too far away from campus. They write about it all the time, and it’s a Metro Cheap Eat. Tick. Everyone knows about Bannsang, and you always see heaps of Asians there…so that’s a good sign, right? That’ll be $17 if you want the full meal. Not a tick.
Not to be that guy (but I totally am, who am I kidding), but a real Korean restaurant always gives you unlimited rice and sides as part of your main (please contact your nearest Korean if you need a fact check). I’m sure a lot of you might say, “OK Matt, but $17 for a meal out is not too bad”, and yeah, you’re not wrong…but I’m here to tell you that you could be doing so much better.
I’m more than extremely sure that almost everyone on campus has expensive taste, but a bank account that says no. You have two choices. One, you spend heaps anyway for a good night out or two, you spend not much and go home hungry (and nobody does option two, so checkmate, wallet!). This is where First Table comes in. $10 booking fee, and up to four people can get 50% off the food bill at restaurants all over Auckland for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Notable CBD restaurants: Yume (sashimi), Mexico, Wildfire. Holey Moley is even on here (mean bar food!) and a bunch of fancy Viaduct spots. Split the fee with your mates, and share everything? I have literally had a 3 course meal for $20 on here. No joke. $17 small bulgogi vs $17 angus ribeye steak (Wynyard Grill)… your choice.
(Extra for experts: they also have a ‘Last Table’ which gives you a late night evening booking).
Pros: Excellent value for money
Cons: You have to book in advance and organising friends is difficult difficult lemon difficult
Story your meal on Instagram, pay in-app and get a discount on a bunch of places around town. Easy to use, and it has some places I really like (all 20% off) – Seoul Night, Twelve, Wise Boys Burgers, Sumthin Dumplin, Hawker and Roll, Nobibi and One8Tea is 30% off. There are heaps of cute city cafes on here, and Everybody’s is 50% off. Woaw.
Pros: Super easy to use, and you can pay in-app.
Cons: You have to story it, and you might want your privacy sometimes. Also, it’s not the biggest discount so you can’t go too crazy.
A very clever lady by the name of Michal Garvey invented an app that connects eateries around town that have surplus food to sell it for very cheap. It’s pro-sustainability, pro-environment and pro-affordable. $2.50 gourmet cabinet items (take that, Munchy and your price hikes!), $6 Revive salad meals, $5 banh mi (Luna Café) and more!! They also sometimes do non-menu items, and by that, I mean one time I bought a 1L carton of soy milk for $1.50 from Luna Café and took that lil’ boi home with me.
Pros: Heaps of places close to campus, you can buy individual items for snacks and lunch. It also combats food waste!
Cons: Vendors and what they sell change daily 🙁
Giapo does some pretty delicious gourmet ice cream, but a single scoop for almost $10? Yikes. It’s very much a treat yourself kind of place and I am here for it, but I am a little more here for it after discovering that they have an app where you can get cheaper prices if you order in advance. $7 for a cone sounds way better, and they keep you updated very well via text for the ice cream-to-mouth ETA. You also get an extra 10% off on top of the lowered price (so $6.30), and you collect points for credit. It’s boujee, but you’ll feel a lot less guilty. I see that as an absolute win.