Aucklanders in the know share their favourite cheap foodie finds around town.
Host of TV's Hottest Home Baker
Favourite place for breakfast? Without a doubt, you start the day at the Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar. It's open from 7am and, if you're anything like me, you get to have beignets with your long black.
Best mid-morning snack? My brother Eric told me where to get fantastic coffee and delectable macarons on the run - La Boulange. It's literally a doorway to Paris on 32 Lorne St. Now every time I'm off to the art gallery or meeting friends, I zip past for what could only be described as exciting as fleeting French kiss ... never enough.
Favourite hidden haunt for a bargain lunch? Without a doubt Elliott Stables. Not only do I love the location and the variety, it's a food court without that cheap plastic feel of a mall. The Stables have history and the restaurants are fantastic. My picks are El Faro for Spanish and Frankies Wurstbude ... in winter you need a little sausage and they have the choicest.
Best Asian drop-in? Sushi Pac on Customs St West - part of the Downtown Building on the street side is divine. Clean, fresh and amazing-looking sushi. I'm such a fan of their happy faces and sometimes they even give me their opinions on what I wear.
Best afternoon sweet treat? Okay, I'm all about the good things in life and that's why I love Imperial Lane. Sensational coffee and just the right selection of treats to go with warm conversations, in a fantastic location. Well done Auckland.
Best place for nibbles with an afterwork drink? I do like Sale Street. What's important to me is that the bar staff know their drinks and give you genuine recommendations on platters. I tend to do business meetings there, as it has space, you can chat and if that boozy after work drink and gossip session turns into dinner, then you don't have to move. The bands come out and the whole place morphs into a great night spot.
Favourite hidden haunt for a bargain dinner? Tanuki's Cave is an old classic haunt of mine. After events, theatre, cinema, it's an easy option. Jam-packed and noisy but everyone is delightfully on the sake and yakitori taste experience... a real delight. So yes, please pour me more sake.
Irresistible tasty treats I can't walk past? Soft shell crabs from Tyler Street Garage. Actually all their snacks are delicious. But I make up excuses to go there. My next arm twist is taking my mother there for - you guessed it - soft shell crabs (my mouth is watering already).
I'll drive into town especially to stock up on ... Giapo at The Civic on Queen St has the most insane flavours of icecreams in a parlour including "Colin Mathura-Jeffree", which I hear is a massive seller: banana, nutella and big nuts. But don't just nibble me, try all their innovative flavours ... they have strange choices, but the weirder the better, I've realised. It's worth the trip. Great for dinner parties ... just keep it simple and serve in a cone.
Best place for nibbles with an afterwork drink? Smith Bar in Britomart serves delicious olives with Vesper martinis ... It's easy to stay for a few.
Favourite place to meet a friend? Mexico in Britomart - love the zucchini and mint quesadilla and sharing a big jug of margarita.
Irresistible tasty treats I can't walk past? Almond croissants at Shed 5 Cafe, Wellesley St.
Any other favourite finds? Britomart Country Club $10 Mondays. All pizzas are $10 and delicious.
Operations manager Soul Bar & Bistro
Favourite place for a breakfast? My favourite weekly indulgence is Saturday brunch, and the best inner city spot is the Quay St Cafe. As well as the usual favourites, there are unusual things like spicy red lentils with soft boiled egg, coriander and yoghurt - yum. They squeeze their own juices, offer a selection of breads and the sun streams in all day, so try to nab a seat in the window.
Best mid-morning snack? Sushi Train opposite the newly reopened Tepid Baths. Ask for their super-tasty grilled salmon sushi, which they make to order - coupled with a cup of miso, it's the perfect pick-me-up.
Favourite hidden haunt for a bargain lunch? The best bargain lunch is when I take the time to make my own at home - it doesn't happen often. But otherwise the roast meat sandwiches at the place in the Downtown food hall.
Best Asian find? Cafe Hanoi in Britomart - you can eat just a snack or a full meal, everything tastes really fresh, and no matter how busy they are (and they are always busy), the service is friendly and efficient.
Best afternoon sweet treat? The gluten-free chocolate brownies at Federal & Wolfe. They're gluten-free so they must be good for you.
Best place for nibbles with an after work drink? My after-work is usually around midnight, so not much choice there. But at Soul the chefs serve up free flavoured popcorn at 5pm every day. The smell drives me crazy as it drifts up the stairs to the office. The black truffle flavour is my favourite so far ...
Favourite bargain food treat to share with a friend? For true comfort food I love having yum cha at Grand Harbour. Always reliable, always busy, although I try to avoid it on Sundays as it's so crazy there. You have to go to yum cha with at least one friend, so you can order lots of goodies. I always order too much, which means I get to take some home for snacks later. The secret is in the timing - you have to be there at the start of a run, otherwise you'll miss out on the steamed dumplings and only get the fried stuff. And if you're like me and my family and love the custard tarts, grab them as soon as you see them, they may not come around again ...
Favourite hidden haunt for a bargain dinner? Ima on Fort St. Delicious Middle Eastern/Israeli food that has restored my faith in the genre. No sad, tired tabbouleh and ho-hum hummus here, just good, honest, fresh, delicious food, cooked with love by Yael. I challenge you to finish the Lebanese lamb shoulder. Another passionate immigrant making a difference to the diverse cultural cuisine offerings in our city. Auckland is finally growing up.
Irresistible tasty treats I can't walk past? I can't go past Sal's Pizza without grabbing a cheesy knot. So cheesy, so naughty ... so good.
Another all-time favourite is for a quick yum cha fix on the run, visit Dragon Boat in Elliott St. They have a takeaway yum cha bar inside the mall on the lower floor, with all my favourites. Just like at regular yum cha you just choose the dumplings you want, and they box them up for you. I always ask for extra chilli and soy.
Host of TV's The Block
Favourite place for a quick breakfast on the run ... I'm so easy for breakfast on the run. It's usually a coffee and savoury muffin, and most places around town do that. My city destination would be Federal and Wolfe or Kingston St Cafe - both on Federal St and both have great coffee and service.
Favourite hidden haunt for a bargain lunch ... The food court on Albert St, Food Alley, is always good and covers all bases depending on what you feel like - it's pretty cost-effective too.
Best Asian drop-in ... Genzui Ramen Bar (or as I know it, "that Japanese place by the Crowne Plaza lobby"). It's a great quick spot to grab a bite at any time of the day. They do an awesome tofu salad and good sashimi. You can get a drink if you want, too.
I'll drive into town especially to stock up on vegetables and seafood from the Auckland Fish Markets. I don't eat beef or chicken, etc and try to eat good seafood when I can. They have plenty to choose from and there's always a deal to be found.
Any other cheap foodie finds you'd like to share? I always boil a big pot of rice for the week, so I can make wraps or fry it with prawns. It's really quick and I can chuck a can of tuna with it if I'm at work. I never get sick of rice. Almonds are good too, I keep a bag at my desk.
Curator Contemporary Art and of the Walters Prize 2012, Auckland Art Gallery
Favourite place for a quick breakfast on the run? Albert Park Cafe - because it's close, wholesome and has the most fantastic cheese brioche.
Best mid-morning snack? As above, if I haven't yet had a cheese brioche I can choose a friand, or a healthy and hot blueberry bran muffin with a coffee.
Favourite hidden haunt for a bargain lunch? The Chinese noodle house, Continental Noodles, on Durham St East, with stairs into a basement. I've been going there for chicken noodles since I was a student. It's still there, it must be good.
Best Asian drop-in? Shio Butter Corn at Daikoku Ramen on Tyler St.
Best afternoon sweet treat? To catch the afternoon sun and some fresh air, I head up to the Auckland Art Gallery's level 2 cafe next to the Jeppe Hein sculpture. I'll be spending more time there, especially when the Walters Prize 2012 opens next door.
Best place for nibbles with an after work drink? I'd try El Faro for Spanish tapas or Reslau in Elliott Street Stables.
Favourite bargain food treat to share with a friend? For old times' sake, I like a lamington at the Smith & Caughey's cafe. And tea in a tea cup - I'm sure it tastes better.
Favourite hidden haunt for a bargain dinner? The Korean restaurant, Kang Nam Station, on Mayoral Drive (near the Queen St intersection).
Difficult to walk past? A Korean pancake on Lorne St.
I'll drive into town especially to stock up on ramen noodles.
Any other cheap foodie finds you'd like to share? The range of chocolates upstairs on the top floor at Smith & Caughey's: hard to refuse.