Christchurch was brought to its knees by the devastating earthquake that shook the city to its core in 2011. But the city is now thriving again, and nowhere is this more evident than in the hospitality sector, as our guide to the top 10 brunch spots reveals.
Luciano Espresso Bar
Cafe, Restaurant, Australian, $$$
Luciano’s Espresso Bar was started by Luciano Marcolino, a man who has won barista of the year many times over in New Zealand. It has been a favourite with the locals of Christchurch
for a good while now. This is not the sort of place you want to visit if you’re after something slimming. It is the perfect place, however, if you want something properly indulgent. A Sunday brunch that will banish any hangover ghosts that might be rattling around the old noggin and satisfy any salty or sweet cravings you might have. Washed down with some of the best coffee in the country, you’ll be feeling right as rain in no time at all and ready to visit again. The Banoffles (chocolate buttermilk waffles served with fresh banana, housemade salted caramel ice cream and peanut praline) are one hell of a way to brunch like a champion. Want to add bacon? ‘Course you do.
Hello Sunday Café
Cafe, Australian, $$$
The building that houses Hello Sunday Café has a rich history. Built in the 19th century, it was originally a post office, then a Baptist Church Sunday School. Most recently the building now holds Hello Sunday Café. This café continues to provide a connection with the community by preserving the building’s history as well as serving great food and coffee. The food includes outstanding eggs benedict, beautiful brioche french toast, and a great baked eggs with beans dish.
Joe's Garage Sumner
Cafe, Restaurant, Australian, $$$
Joe’s Garage Sumner promises and delivers everything you’re expecting from a cool garage environment. Great drinks, tasty food, good music and attentive, efficient staff to make your dining experience perfect. There are many branches of Joe’s across New Zealand
, but the chain has sadly not made it across the world for others to enjoy just yet. Particularly favored by diners is the ‘Cajun Joe’ – consisting of harissa marinated chicken breast, cherry tomatos, caramelized onions, fresh rocket leaves, Joe’s tomato sauce, mozzarella and minted yogurt dressing. Yes it’s a chain, but it’s also a flaming good one.
Restaurant, Deli, Australian, $$$
Primarily a delicatessen, BearLion Foods is also open for dinner on Thursday evenings so customers can see examples of dishes that can be whipped with all the incredible produce that is on offer in store. The food always comes out looking fantastic – although sometimes it’s tricky to know what it actually is that you are eating. Never fear though, because ignorance has never been so blissful. They’re adamant on never using refined white sugar or flour in anything they make, which satisfies the environment as well as their clientele. Perhaps our favourite aspect of the menu (and shop, of course) is their meat. All of it is sourced locally, with their sausages made with natural casings and without fillers, and their bacon free from nitrates or preservatives.
Under The Red Verandah
Bakery, Deli, Australian, $$$
Before becoming the home of this quirky café in 1997, Under The Red Verandah’s building had changed many times and had been several different businesses, including a butchery, bakery and deli. Since then, the building was recognised as a distinctive landmark, thanks to its bright and distinguishable red verandah. This was until the devastating earthquake in February 2011, which left the building needing to be demolished. Thankfully, the owners of this café were able to move into a cottage nearby, and restore it with the iconic red verandah. It remains a fantastic meeting point, with great coffee, amazing food, and fresh bread
, pies and cakes, which are all baked on the premises.
Cafe, Restaurant, Diner, American, $$$
Bookings are essential unless you enjoy waiting at this American-style diner, and the vibe is always busy, fairly noisy and full of families or groups of friends. Think of all the breakfast classics that you’ve experienced in real American diners or else from the movies. Thick, fluffy pancakes, waffles, breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros. It’s all good, filling stuff, but what we think makes the place is a certain element of theatre that you can’t quite put your finger on.
The Lotus-Heart Vegetarian Restaurant
Restaurant, Fusion, Healthy, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
If any restaurant on this list was selected for epitomizing the diversity that Christchurch offers when it comes to places to get the old nose-bag on, The Lotus Heart might very well be it. Offering a totally vegetarian menu, the fine people of The Lotus Heart are dedicated to offering up locally and organically sourced fare in a spiritual oasis of an environment. For those of a vegan or gluten-free disposition, or for anyone on a raw food diet, this is an essential port of call.
Addington Coffee Co-op
Cafe, Australian, $$$
The Addington Coffee Co-op
is a business with a belief that profit should be equally shared among those who have earned and deserve it. Not only do they serve excellent and aromatic coffee that is ethically produced and sourced, but over 70% of their profits are redistributed back into the local community. These profits also go back to the overseas communities that produce the coffee. To enjoy coffee here is to know you can contribute to the promise of correcting injustice, poverty and exploitation. We hope that in the future, many other businesses adopt this ideology.
Bakery, Cafe, Australian, $$$
This Christchurch establishment has been here since 2010, and even the earthquake couldn’t persuade it to move. Located in Christchurch’s CBD, not far from the beautiful Christchurch Botanic Gardens, is Vic’s Cafe, a modern, cosmopolitan café whose décor is an exuberant mix of styles, making it a great find for a late breakfast. After being the multiple gold winner of the ‘Best Bread’
award from the New Zealand Bakery of the Year competition
, Vic’s Café also makes some of the best coffee in the city, using fresh C4 beans delivered daily to ensure only the best quality.
Restaurant, Cafe, European, Australian, $$$
inserted itself deliciously into the consciousness of many Christchurch locals thanks mostly to the tasty sweet treats that it concocted. However, these days Strawberry Fare pride themselves on serving the very freshest and predominantly organic ingredients, cooked to perfection and adjusted to the exact taste of the individual consumer. With a range of menus served in the chic, monochrome interior, choose a sumptuous breakfast treat such as corn and capsicum fritters with feta and tomato jam. If searching for sustenance a little later in the day, the restaurant comes into its own with the lunch and dinner menu, offering classics such as Caesar salad and spring pea risotto followed by slow-cooked beef rib or chicken with caramelized, balsamic onions. If you’re after a cheeky morning something along the lines of Death by Chocolate, you’ll still be able to get your fix.