Restaurants & Bars

Auckland for the Budget Chowhound

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Restaurants & Bars 7

Auckland for the Budget Chowhound

Emily Cotlier | Sep 15, 2005 05:06 PM

It’s going to be visitor season for New Zealand soon, and there will be some requests for places to eat in New Zealand. To help, I’ve put together a list of budget Auckland recommendations. These are places to eat for between $5 and $15. I’m doing another post later today for Auckland fine dining.

Downtown Auckland
These places are either downtown or very easily accessible by bus from downtown.
• Mercury Plaza, Mercury Ave. off Karangahape road, walking distance from downtown – This Asian food court is cavernous, dingy, and has fantastic food. The Korean place here has homemade dumplings.
• Satya Indian, 158 A Hobson Street, downtown – Reservations recommended. Focus on the specialties like dosa and utthapam, washed down with a lassi or Masala coke. At the higher end of the low-budget range.
• Ponsonby Pies, 288 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby (Three Lamps end) – The classic Kiwi meat and vegetable pies. They do a nice pie/salad/chips plate.
• Foodoo Café, 62 High Street, downtown – Exciting café food and sandwiches. Not open for dinner or on Sundays, unfortunately.
• The Fish Pot, 99 B Tamaki Drive in Mission Bay – For your Kiwi “fushnchupsmate”. Take it away and eat on the Mission Bay beach across the street, or eat in the café.
• Burgerfuel –New Zealand burgers are distinctive. Will you like them? Try one of Burgerfuel’s very fresh creations and see. Several locations, most accessible ones from downtown are in Ponsonby and Parnell.
• Ponsonby Cafes – There’s a lot of cafes in the Ponsonby neighborhood. Recommended for food are: Flavour, Cezanne’s, Il Forno, and Fatima’s (middle eastern sandwiches). The Early Bird Café and Bakery is locally praised for its donuts, and City Cake Company serves big slices of extremely rich Kiwi-style cakes. Ask for cream.
• The New World Grocery Store near Victoria Park – The best grocery store in all of New Zealand, and an excellent place to get NZ cheese, butter, ice cream, gourmet jams, etc. Yacht crews are known to stock up here.
• Tanuki’s Cave Yakitori Bar, downtown, 319 B Queen St – Fun yakitori place. You can eat under $15 but I take no responsibility for your bar tab.
• Dragon Boat, downtown, Atrium on Elliot, Elliot St. – Don’t sit down in the restaurant for the pretty good yum char, get it from the mall booth around the side. The restaurant is on the street; go inside the office building looking thing for the booth. Cash only, yum char booth lunch – midafternoon only.

On A Budget, Have a Car –
Auckland is big and spread out, so you’ll need a car to get to these places.
• Xotic Sweets and Snacks, 245 Mt. Albert Road, Mt. Albert – More of that delicious vegetarian Indian food, and extensive, fresh Indian desserts. There’s a $10 buffet Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, but most things are between $2 and $7.
• T& T Takeaways, Titirangi road in Titirangi village – Fantastic honey-dipped fried chicken; can't track down the street address, but Titirangi is small, and it's in the tiny strip of shops across from the restaurant Barossa. It’s a counter with takeout only. Buy chicken here and go have a picnic at Piha or Titirangi beaches.

The Dominion Road Area – This strip, especially around the intersection of Dominion and Balmoral road, has a lot of eateries for the adventurous. The immediate intersection includes the Thai place Tusk, another vegetarian Indian joint called Ras Vatika, and several other places you can try if you want to pick your own.
• Love A Duck, Balmoral, 547 Dominion Road, Balmoral – ONLY THIS LOCATION IS RECOMMENDED! Cantonese barbecue, plates starting at $6.50, and to-order dishes; specials based on fresh market-garden produce. If it’s cold outside, try the Chinese beef brisket, braised with star anise.
• Lebanese Place (name forgotten!) on the #830 block of Dominion road – About five minutes down from the Dominion/Balmoral intersection, a “you can’t miss it” place, if the guitar store nearby is still putting their Elvis statue on the sidewalk. The open-air shop has nice seating in the summer. Recommended: lamb shawarma, mezze plate (ask for the potato-lemon and bean salads), and delicious little Lebanese pies.

NOT RECOMMENDED –
Pizza in general in NZ will disappoint the serious chowhound, and the few good pizzas aren’t cheap.

Albert St. Food Court – This downtown warren of food stalls may tempt the culinary adventurer, but one case of food poisoning too many has led me to never darken its doors again.

Movenpick Ice Cream in Mission Bay – I know the line’s out the door, but honestly, the ice cream isn’t worth the wait nor the premium ice-cream prices. And I say this as somebody who loves ice cream. The best ice cream in New Zealand is outside Auckland, at Waitete Orchard, Waitete Road, in Waihi near the Coromandel. Their homemade ice cream is also scooped up at Jokers Ice Cream in Paeroa, also near the Coromandel.

Bon appetit!

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