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Making any list like this is fraught — What are the parameters? What are we missing? What’s become so familiar we take it for granted? — but none more so than one based around price. Of course, this list isn’t about the money (it’s the food, dummy!) but Metro Eats used to be called Cheap Eats for a reason: it’s a guide to the best things to eat in this city under an arbitrary dollar amount. First it was $20, then $25, where it ambivalently remains.

The tension here is between celebrating food that is (to a degree) economically accessible, casual and likely to be a regular part of people’s lives, while recognising that some things just can’t be made that cheaply anymore. $25 ain’t what it used to be. Inflation seems to have hit food harder than almost anything else. A sandwich on Karangahape Rd (whereMetro resides) is regularly $20. A fair reflection of the costs of the labour, ingredients, rent, overheads and everything else required for its making? Sure! Punishing when you eat more than two of them in a week? Definitely!

And that’s the rub. Food is more expensive than it has been in a long time because, in most cases, it needs to be. And yet, for many of us, $20 is a far bigger slice of our weekly budget than $16 was two years ago. Wage inflation is not (in most cases) matching price inflation. Still, among the doom and gloom of the economy, there’s abundance to celebrate here. Old favourites remain as good as ever and it’s heartening to see some of them expand their businesses into other parts of the city. And there are plenty of new places, too — recent openings, fresh discoveries and, as ever, pop-ups finding bricks-and-mortar homes — all spread far and wide across this ever-sprawling city. So get hungry, head out and explore.

Oh, and a final disclaimer: while we have endeavoured to provide accurate opening hours for these 50 eateries, in the post-Covid, staffing-shortages era, they seem to be even more of a moveable feast than usual. Check before you go.

Category winners

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Kiin

In its new Dominion Rd location (which just happens to be closer to the homes of the various Metro staff), Kiin Thai has dropped the ‘underground’ from its name (the kitchen being now above ground) and is better than ever. Kiin has all the delicious dishes you’d expect at a New Zealand Thai restaurant, but if you’re there with a group (or a pretty hungry duo), we highly recommend the Jumbo Kra Pao, a huge mound of rice and pork mince (also available as chicken or vegetarian, though we’ve tried neither) and two fried eggs. Add a sweet and spicy salad on the side and you’re in for an unbelievable treat.

More about Kiin

AUCKLAND'S TOP 50 EATS

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    1
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    1
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    5
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    1
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    50
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    2
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    1
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    9
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    1
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    1
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    1
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    2
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    1
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    1
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    9
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    5
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    2
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    1
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    1
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    1
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    1
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    23
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    3
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    1
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    1
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    3
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    6
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    24
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    6
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    1
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    2
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    1
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    9
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    2
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    8
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    2
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    1
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    5
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    2
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    1
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    3
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    3
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    6
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    1
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    17
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    1
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    1
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    1
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    1
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    5
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    1
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    4
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    1
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    7
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    4
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    1
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    2
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    1
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    37
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    1
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    3
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    12
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    1
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    2
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    4
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    9
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    32
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    10
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    10
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    1
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    1
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    6
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    3
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    1
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    39
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    19
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    27
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    67
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    10
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    9
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    4
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    7
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    2

605

605 New North Rd, Morningside

The Grove

St Patrick’s Square, Wyndham St, Central city

Nanam

178 Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna

Ockhee

171 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby

Onslow

9 Princes St, Central city

Paris Butter

166 Jervois Rd , Herne Bay

Pasta & Cuore

409 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden

Pasture

235 Parnell Rd, Parnell

Pici

Shop 22, St Kevins Arcade, 183 Karangahape Rd, Karangahape Rd Precinct

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