Cheap and cheerful: the best lunches under $12

Ditch the leftovers and get back out there with a cheap and cheerful lunch from a fave you've missed, or a newbie you've been meaning to try

Pho Mo

62 Dixon Street, Te Aro , Wellington

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Be drawn in by the neon pink signs to discover a lively interior coated in pink. Naturally, with a name like Pho-Mo, you don’t want to miss this!

Pho-Mo's your next lunchtime spot, with quick and delicious dishes packed with fresh herbs and flavours. Take your pick from pho, noodle salads and banh mi. Most dishes are around $10 (or a few cents over) so your bank and your belly will be looked after.

Midnight Espresso

178 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

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The original café for midnight feasts on Cuba Street, Midnight Espresso is one of the last places still open on Cuba Street to score a late-night coffee and bite to eat. Their iconic café counter is generously piled high with vegetarian (and often vegan and gluten-free) frittatas, pies, sandwiches, cakes and slices, all decorated in an eclectic and flamboyant way with fruit and flowers. There's also a vast short-order menu written large on the café wall and liquid refreshments in the form of freshly squeezed juices and high-octane Havana espresso.

Best Ugly Bagels

153 Featherston Street, Te Aro, Wellington

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Get a freshly-made bagel from Best Ugly topped with your choice of spread for under nine bucks. Choose from a schmear of cream cheese, peanut butter or house-made chocolate hazelnut spread.

If you haven't already tried their bagels, they are made in the Montreal-style and cooked in a woodfire for a crispy exterior and chewy inside. There's two locations for your bagel fix - Swan Lane off Cuba and Featherston Street.

Where's Charlie

153/157 Willis Street, Te Aro, Wellington

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Where’s Charlie has two locations in the city and serves up tasty and fresh Vietnamese food. Don't miss their delicious lemongrass chilli chicken banh mi. Jess, a banh mi regular says, "their baguettes are crispy but don’t flake all over the place which means you can return to work still looking like an adult, rather than a toddler who has just eaten their lunch." Jess has a toddler, so you know she's speaking the truth. 

Make sure you get in early to avoid a wait, or better still, order online beforehand  - it's a popular spot for locals during the work week.

Satay Village and Satay Kingdom

58 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington

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For more highly recommended Malaysian food, head to Satay Village on Ghuznee Street or Satay Kingdom on Left Bank for chicken or vegetable roti chanai.

A bowl of curry comes with warm, chewy and slightly sweet roti bread on the side. Add some rice if you’re feeling extra hungry. It’s a meal that most Wellington students will be very familiar with and the perfect ‘day before payday’ lunch.


7 Boulcott Street, Te Aro, Wellington

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Dumpling'd are dumpling dynamos. Mixing the best of East and West cuisine, these freshly-made dumplings combine high-quality ingredients and fresh flavours to bring a little bit of Asia to heart of Wellington.

Get dumplings for lunch at one of their three locations on Boulcott Street, Courtenay Place and The Terrace and enjoy eight dumplings for $10.50.

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