, the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, is a must-visit spot for tourists and Kiwis alike. After being stricken by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in 2011, it is now well on the rise again, and in no better way can this be seen than in the selection of its restaurants.Whether you fancy vegetarian, Indian, fine-dining European-fusion or authentic wood-fire pizza, Christchurch has you more than adequately covered. The hardest part is picking where to start. So loosen your belt a notch or two and dive into our guide of Christchurch’s best restaurants.
King of Snake
Restaurant, Asian, Contemporary, $$$
Christchurch is quite the cultural melting pot when it comes to gastronomy, and there are few more exotic places to eat than King of Snake
. The restaurant and bar space itself is more like a movie set than a typical fine-dining establishment. There’d really be no surprise if you were sitting enjoying the crispy pressed half duck with caramelized mandarin sauce and a bunch of masked ninjas catapulted through the window, à la Kill Bill.
Naturally, it’s the food that takes the limelight though. This is a place that lives up to the rave reviews.
The Lotus-Heart Vegetarian Restaurant
Restaurant, Fusion, Healthy, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
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 fair 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.
Twenty Seven Steps
Restaurant, European, $$$
First up, this is a restaurant where reservations are highly recommended. Do not try your luck without one if you’re planning a first date because chances are you’re going to end up with egg on your face. So, once you’ve done the smart thing and made your booking, prepare the gastric juices for a phenomenal time. Twenty Seven Steps showcases the very best of what New Zealand has to offer in the lamb, beef and seafood departments. Happily, they only offer up what is in season, and they do so in a modern and exciting way.
Bar, Restaurant, European, $$$
Ah, Fiddlesticks! Just saying the name is a cure for melancholy, and you won’t be feeling any of that when you sit down to some of their beautiful food in the welcoming and comfortable interior. This is a wonderful spot for that intimate dinner. The food is first rate, as is the coffee, and the staff extremely attentive. There are few places better for sitting outside and watching the world go by over a very Kiwi lunch of beer and whitebait fritters.
Diner, Fast Food, $$$
The word “best” is sometimes synonymous with “expensive” when interpreted by the human brain, especially when it comes to restaurants. However, this is not the case at Bacon Brothers. This little establishment, based in a trendy area of Christchurch, boasts perhaps the
best burgers in the South Island. That’s a big call, what with the likes of Fergburger in Queenstown
and Velvet Burger in Dunedin, but for sheer bang for your buck, coupled with truly unbeatable and mate-like service, it’s hard to get past — or over — the goodness served up at Bacon Brothers. Do yourself a kindness and order one of the many iterations of the bacon burger with a side of deep-fried cauliflower instead of fries.
Restaurant, Indian, $$$
The only frustrating aspect about dining at Nobanno is that you’re limited by your stomach on how much you can decently consume. Saying that, the fact that you’ll want to come back time and time again to sample every exquisite curry on the menu is the perfect excuse to do just that. Nobanno embodies everything a customer could want in an Indian restaurant — a lovely atmosphere in which to relax, friendly, patient and helpful staff, and some of the best curry you’re likely ever to try.
Restaurant, European, Contemporary, $$$
is one of those restaurants in which it is prudent to opt for one of the degustation menus. If you want to be really privy to the skills that the chefs in the back have, then this is definitely the way to go. They offer five, seven or nine courses with the optional extra of wine pairings. Naturally, this comes at a price, but if you’re happy to pay for food which stresses attention to detail and high-end ingredients, then this is the spot.
Dimitris Greek Food
Restaurant, Greek, $$$
For those who consider themselves Greek food aficionados, there is really nowhere else to swing by first than Dimitris. They are yet another Christchurch
restaurant that produces top-quality street-style food for very fair prices. When looking for a tasty fresh lunch that’ll fill the gap after a morning of sightseeing, look no further. The souvlaki will not so much knock your socks off as blow them out the window and across the street.
Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, European, $$$
A crucial feature of any restaurant and cocktail bar is style
. Style counts for a lot in the world of hospitality, and it’s the element that brings punters back again and again, and gets them recommending a place to their friends. O.G.B.
has a real speakeasy vibe, and when you combine this with their excellent food, a central location and incredible cocktails, it’s understandable that people come for dinner and stay until closing time. There’s also a cracking breakfast menu and a winning view of the Christchurch cathedral, making it a hot spot for a lazy Sunday.
Zen Sushi and Dumplings
Restaurant, Japanese, Asian, $$$
When you walk through the door of Zen Sushi and Dumplings, the first advisable step is to embrace the idea of zen. Try and drop all those illusions and try and see things as they are, without the distortion created by your own thoughts. What are you left with? You’re left with sushi. You’re left with dumplings. And when everything is stripped back, you’re also left with the indisputable fact that both the sushi and the dumplings are absolutely delicious. The key is the faultlessly and consistently fresh ingredients. Whether you opt for some of the pork and chive dumplings — steamed or pan-fried, depending how naughty you’re feeling — or the classic avocado and Marlborough salmon sushi, there’s no way to leave this joint without wishing you’d gotten just a little bit more.