5 Cheap Must-Eats in Auckland

by  Sonia Narang | Feb 20, 2018

Bring your appetite to Auckland. New Zealand’s largest city is chock-full of affordable cafes putting fresh spins on classics — from grilled cheese sandwiches to pancakes. And with the New Zealand Dollar at 0.72 US Dollar, there’s a 30% discount built into every check. Here are five places you won’t want to miss.

Miss Istanbul
At this Turkish restaurant in the Ponsonby’s bustling food market, snag a seat at the bar and watch the chefs prepare “The Feast” ($29.5 NZD or about $21 USD). The grand platter for two comes with two skewers, salads, Turkish rice, all-you-can eat pita bread, and a variety of mezze, including hummus; labneh infused with cucumber and mint; and ezme, a tangy salsa-like mix of ground tomatoes, onions, peppers, and herbs. Meat-eaters can choose skewers of tender chicken, beef, fish, lamb, or sausage. For vegetarians, there are plump squares of thick halloumi cheese marinated in herbs and a trio of freshly made, soft falafel balls. And it’s all delivered on a giant silver platter (seriously). Those with a smaller appetite can opt for the dürüm ($15 NZD or about $11 USD) — a Turkish wrap stuffed with sumac-flavored red onions, labneh, hummus, tomatoes, greens, and a choice of meats, halloumi, or falafel. For the adventurous eater, simply say “Feed me, Chef,” and you’ll be presented with a nonstop lineup of off-the-menu dishes. Settle on a price and pay once you’re full.

Bestie Cafe
This hip food court-style eatery — located in a covered market on Auckland’s vibrant Karangahape Road — serves all-day breakfast dishes that capitalize on comfort. Take a prime window table for a view of Auckland’s famous Sky Tower, and order a mug of hot chocolate ($4.5 NZD or about $3.25 USD) to start. We recommend Courtney’s Fluffy Hotcakes ($15 NZD or about $11 USD) — three soft, airy pancakes topped with homemade whipped cream, a bed of caramelized cornflakes and sugared hazelnuts, and cereal milk ice cream on the side. If you prefer a savory breakfast, the Towpath cheese toastie ($12.5 NZD or about $9 USD) is made with thick slices of sourdough, aged cheddar, spring onion, and a side of tart quince jelly; top it off with a chili fried egg. Even the eggs on sourdough ($12 NZD or about $9 USD) stand out, thanks to a side of slow-roasted tomatoes on the vine and hot-smoked salmon (smoked in-house, of course). Bestie’s colorful dessert shelf is a test of willpower. A selection of individual-sized cakes includes black plum cake topped with pink buttercream with lime and plum, a vegan ginger cake with vanilla bean buttercream, lemon yogurt cake with lemon cream cheese frosting, and chocolate cake topped with caramel frosting and shaved chocolate (all $6.50 NZD or about $4.70 USD each).

Corelli's Cafe 
A 12-minute ferry from Auckland takes you to the charming bayside village of Devonport. Corelli’s Cafe sits at the far end of Main Street and is a welcome respite for hungry walkers who spend the day climbing the lush volcanic hills. You’ll want to make a beeline for the colorful cakes and pastries (they sell a recipe book for their treats), but it’s worth the wait to eat your meal first. The globally inspired menu runs the gamut, from acai and poke bowls to bangers and mash. Our favorites are the hearty toasted vegetarian sandwiches, like the Mediterranean on Turkish bread ($10 NZD or about $7 USD) with spinach, crumbled feta cheese, tomato, and spinach. Save room for the baked cheesecake ($7.50 NZD or about $5.50 USD), topped with plump strawberries, cherries, and a dollop of delicious homemade cream.

Fort Greene
Run by a young South American transplant and her partner, this trendy little café is inspired by the Brooklyn neighborhood of Fort Greene. The café serves homemade toasted sourdough bread with everything from asparagus and ricotta to a French omelet made with free range eggs ($14 NZD or about $10 USD). The sandwich menu brings perennial favorites — a four-cheese grilled cheese on sourdough ($13.5 NZD or about $10 USD) and the hearty, traditional deli staple, The Reuben ($19.5 NZD or about $14 USD). The sandwich called “The Fish One,” ($15 NZD or about $11 USD) cradles house-cured and smoked New Zealand Kahawai fish fingers along with peas and tartare sauce. “The Vege One” ($16 NZD or about $11.50 USD) features crispy tofu, house-made kimchi, black hummus, and Asian herb salad. Wash it down with a refreshing glass of locally made kombucha or cold-pressed juice. Fort Greene has New Zealand’s Sawmill craft beer on tap, along with a selection of wines, People’s Coffee from Wellington, and steaming pots of tea.

Sky Café 
If you like your meals with a stellar view, this is the place to be. At 600 feet above Auckland, you’ll enjoy your cheese toastie, mouth-watering Kapiti ice cream, and a glass of New Zealand wine with grand, 360-degree views of the city. Surprisingly affordable for dining on the 50th floor of Auckland’s Sky Tower, the cafe is co-operated by the New Zealand Kapiti cheese company, known for their fantastic cheeses, milk, and above all, ice cream. The sharp, zesty Tuteremoana cheddar cheese toastie with red onion jam ($9 NZD or about $6.50 USD) is a must-try, followed by a scoop of Kapiti’s ice cream ($5 NZD or about $3.50 USD). They don’t always have the same flavors, but do a few taste tests, and you’ll be sure to find a favorite, whether it’s chocolate with almond pieces and swirls of salted caramel (our favorite), or roasted fig with Manuka honey. 

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