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.
Boujee: First Table (firsttable.co.nz)
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
On the Go: Evouch App
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.
Snacks (and save the world!): Foodprint App
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 🙁
Honourable Mention: Giapo App
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.