No one likes to seem like a ‘cheap date’, especially in a food-obsessed town like Wellington. However, it never hurts to have a few tricks up your sleeve so that you can woo your prospective conquest AND keep solvent until your next pay-day. Fortunately, in Wellington there are endless places to go that taste incredible and are easy on the ole’ wallet.
When it comes to being a good ‘cheap-date’ it helps to have done your homework. If romance is in the air, you can’t risk suggesting somewhere that doesn’t deliver to a high standard. After all, there’s nothing worse than when the date is going well, you’re looking into each other’s eyes, and all of a sudden your noodle soup tastes like dishwashing water. Bad move.
So what should food on a cheap date aspire to be? First of all, it should be fun. Something light, enjoyable and with a bit of personality. Second, it should be ideally portable, something which can be eaten on the go ideally. Finally, it should be no more than $20 a dish or $25 max. You want to be able to have a little bit of change in your pocket, in case you end up letting the night linger on.
The House of Dumpling is a great place to pop into and order half a dozen dumplings to go - made with all-natural ingredients. Remember to secure your impression as a suave considerate individual by asking about his or her dietary preferences (you can get vegetarian and vegan dumplings too). Owned by renegade dumpling chef Vicky, you’ll find that your date likely wants to reschedule a second date right away - just to make sure there’s another excuse to order more dumplings!
If you can’t afford to take her on a Greek sailing cruise, you can afford to take her to the Greek Food Truck. Serving honest, authentic Greek food, owners Sophie and George are the real deal. For vegetarians, go with the halloumi burger. For everyone else, you have GOT to try their souvlaki. Stuffed with red onions, chips and lamb, it is to die for.
Almost gourmet kiwi street food, cooked and served in a pop-up kitchen? Can I get a hell yeah! These guys are constantly changing their menu but gourmet bacon burgers and whitebait fritters are just some of the temptations you can expect to be on offer. Friendly and straight up, you can’t ignore their bright and cheerfully decorated set-up with crazy farmville imagery.
If it’s something sweet you’re after, to sweeten the romance, then why not line up for a waffle at The Little Waffle Shop on Courtenay Place. Open late, these guys are true gourmands who do rich and decadent waffles. They even have special pop-ups to spice things up, like a fried chicken waffle takeover. Make sure you leave plenty of space. Not one for those who are inclined towards low-carb diets.
Laundry is a great place to go on a first date. It’s cool, eclectic vibe and day-to-night restaurant mean you can end up whiling away the hours over lunch and slide into the cocktail hour without seeming like you’re trying too hard. Boasting southern soul food, from Cajun Fish to Super Salads, you can’t go wrong with the Cuba Street classic.
For burgers as fresh as your smooth moves, you need to go to Ekim burger on Cuba Street. These delicious independent burger vendors make the goods right in front of you, so you know that what you get will be hot and tasty (just like her). Ekim is located outside, in a former car lot, so maybe not one for when it’s raining. However, on a warm sunny day, nothing could be more flirty than ordering hot potato cubes and a couple of Ekim’s finest.
What is romance without ice-cream? The classic date snack is iconic for a reason and crops up in slushy movies, from here to eternity. Rather than go with traditional vanilla, why don’t you surprise your date with some of the unexpected impossible flavours that Gelissimo excel in creating? From charcoal to peanut butter and jelly, these guys have made it all. If you’re not quite in the mood for something cold, suggest a couple of Wellington Chocolate Factory salted caramel hot chocolates. You’ll have her melting in the palm of your hand!
It’s F-R-E-A-K-I-N-G gourmet fried chicken. ‘Nuff said.
My favourite Sushi in Wellington? O’Sushi. This will set you apart from all the other sushi buying gents (or gentleladies). O'Sushi is run by Miki Wee, owner of Newtown’s popular O’Sushi. Miki is an experienced sushi maker and uses only the best, freshest ingredients in her sushi, made onsite daily. Some O'Sushi favourites include Japanese-Style Sashimi, Maki, Vegetarian Tempura, California Rolls, and Teriyaki Salmon over Rice. Miki also offers pork buns, dumplings, and miso soup. Some dream of power. I dream of this sushi.
Ah, amore! What could spell out love better than a slice of pepperoni pizza (except if you ACTUALLY spelt out LOVE in pepperoni on a pizza)? At $5 a slice, you can’t go wrong with Tommy’s excellent offerings which are now at three handy locations in Wellington - Courtenay Place, Willis Street and Featherston Street corner. Pizza is truly the way to a girls/guys heart. Best of all, if it’s been a long date with plenty of drinks, and she’s getting weary, you can make a hangry girl happy again by getting the lady her own pizza to go home with. Officially, you are the best date of all time. I bow down.