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  • Bianca Maria Schioler

Cuba Street Meal Steals

Served by Bianca Maria Schioler (she/her) 

Kia ora tātou and welcome back to another season of Meal Steals which your StudyLink budget won’t kick up a fuss about

On today’s menu we’re going to take a trip to the famous Cuba Street, well known to any Wellingtonian as the street for excellent food and creative expression. Sadly, Covid-19 saw the closure of many iconic Cuba Street restaurants, and only a few new ones have popped up in their place in the following years. However, we can contribute to making Cuba Street the same vibrant, cultural-mixing glass of culinary excellence it once was by taking to the streets, and filling our tummies. 

Unfortunately, for people on a budget it can be pretty difficult to navigate the over-priced, fine-dining and mid-level, still-way-too-fucking-expenny restaurants when we’re looking for a place to eat out with some friends. So, having “sacrificed” my stomach and my wallet for some much-needed research, I bring to you (in no particular order) the top 10 most affordable, quality restaurants on Cuba Street and what to expect from your budget-dining experience. 

1. Ram’s Restaurant 

This little hidden Chinese restaurant was an excellent discovery I made on a late Friday date night, out of pure chance, when all the other restaurants were closing or full. While it’s not much to look at, the food is truly excellent and the prices are what they used to be ten years ago when our parents would take us out to dinner for special occasions. The portion sizes were generous, and we shared a main and a starter between two people, which was more than enough and didn’t cost more than $25 each. 

2. Aunty Mena’s Vegetarian Restaurant and Cafe 

Right next door, Aunty Mena is bustling and full, and I know why. A fully vegetarian and vegan restaurant, the prices reflect this. Here, with just $15 you can fill up on yummy Malaysian meat-free meals! 

3. 1154 Pastaria 

Depending on when you visit, 1154 Pastaria can be a good option for some cheap, filling and delicious food. If you’re an early diner, head down here from Monday to Friday between 4pm and 6pm for $12 pasta on select sauces. While you can probably make pasta at home for less, unless you’re Italian I doubt it’ll taste as good as this one! 

4. JJ Murphy’s 

A crowd favourite, the good old Irish Pub. JJ’s has daily deals which make it worth a visit on your evening trawl for places to eat on Cuba. These include 2-for-1 burgers on Saturday nights, $1 chicken wings on Friday nights and 2-for-1 mains on Monday. In addition, you get to enjoy the amazing atmosphere and live music on Friday nights! A must-visit if you haven’t already. 

5. Abrakebabra 

More of a takeaway than a restaurant but well-known for its extra large portion sizes for the standard price of a kebab. If you don’t eat much, one kebab will last you two meals! There’s a little lounge in the back where you can sit and enjoy the turkish-style dining experience. Super quality fresh ingredients, and the falafel here is really top notch. 

6. Satay Kingdom Cafe 

Very simple locale in Cuba Mall serving Malaysian cuisine. There’s some outdoor seating so it's really nice on a sunny evening or for a lunch out. Most mains are around $20, tasty and decent portion sizes. 

7. Kisa 

This “new” Turkish restaurant on the corner of Cuba and Vivian Street has been full each time I’ve been past. Because of this I haven’t eaten there yet, but judging from how popular it is and the stellar reviews, the food is high quality. Having scoured the menu, it’s got decent mid-range prices, and the mezze lunch platter for $23 seems like a great sharing option if you’re not too hungry but looking for a nice modern locale serving quality, fresh produce. 

8. Flying Burrito Brothers 

This Mexican restaurant is an icon in Cuba Street dining, and was one of the first places I visited as a teenager dining out with friends. I couldn’t make a Cuba Street dining guide without mentioning it, and while it’s a bit pricey it’s really got something for everyone. The locale has a really authentic feel and the food is just 10/10. 

9. Scopa 

While famous for its creamy hot chocolates, Scopa is also a good option for what we call “aperitivo” in Italian. This is when you go out with friends and instead of eating dinner you drink alcohol and have some small bites to sustain you. If you want to get drunk in a classy way, this is the spot. They also have $10 margherita pizzas on Tuesdays from 11.30am - 2.30pm! 

10. Old Quarter (Asian fusion) (Bao buns for $6-$9) 

Asian fusion fans, this is your place. Fantastic for sharing small bites (but be careful, the bill racks up pretty quick!). If you’re very price-conscious they also have bao buns for $6-$9. 

Hopefully this guide will help you keep within budget on your next night out with friends or family. Coming up in the next edition of Salient I will be speaking to the readers who love their take-out.

In keeping with this week’s theme, I will review the best takeaway spots in and around Cuba Street, for your late-night cravings. 


Luxury Drunk-Night Mouse Traps 

4 portions Cost per portion: $2.10 (VG) $3.15 (with ham) 


- 4 slices of vogel’s bread 

- 1 ½ cups grated cheese 

- 1 fresh tomato, diced 

- 4 button mushrooms, sliced 

- 1 egg 

- 200g thick ham slices, diced (optional) 

- Handful of chopped parsley to garnish 

- Salt and pepper 


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. On a baking tray lay out the bread slices. 2. In a bowl mix all the ingredients. Spoon evenly onto the slices of bread. 3. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown, and serve. 

You can prepare the mix (minus the egg) before you head out for a big night and leave it in the fridge. If you’re sober enough to safely operate the oven (or even better, airfryer) when you get home, crack the egg into the mix, grill and enjoy. Sober you will thank you tomorrow!


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