Best places to eat christchurch

Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, and a burgeoning culinary scene. From dining in a restored historic building to enjoying a meal amidst  beautiful gardens, Christchurch offers a diverse array of dining experiences. As a food enthusiast, traveler, or local, discovering the best places to eat can be an adventure in itself. This guide will navigate you through some of the top restaurants and hidden gems that Christchurch has to offer.

The Vibrant Cafe Culture

Christchurch is home to a vibrant café culture, with numerous establishments dotted across the city, each with its own unique charm. If you’re in the mood for a leisurely cup of coffee or a hearty brunch, you won’t be disappointed.

Le Pantry

Nestled in the heart of the city, Le Pantry is a charming French-style café that exudes warmth from the moment you step in. The menu features a delightful selection of pastries, sandwiches, and traditional French dishes, all made with locally sourced ingredients. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff make it a perfect spot to start your day or enjoy a quiet afternoon.

Little Poms

This cozy café, located in Christchurch’s heritage precinct, is a favorite among locals for its excellent coffee and homely breakfast and lunch options. The menu is innovative and frequently changing, with a focus on seasonal produce and creative flavors. Don’t miss their famous brunch dishes, which are as Instagram-worthy as they are delicious.

Fine Dining at its Best

For those special occasions or when you simply want the best of the best, Christchurch’s fine dining scene is ready to impress. These restaurants offer an exceptional culinary experience, combining exquisite food with stunning décor and top-notch service.


Housed within The George, a luxury hotel on the banks of the Avon River, Pescatore is an award-winning fine-dining restaurant that specializes in contemporary New Zealand cuisine. With an extensive wine list and a menu that changes with the season, each visit promises a new and exciting gastronomic adventure. The elegant interior and views of Hagley Park create a sophisticated and romantic setting for an unforgettable meal.

Roots Restaurant

Under the helm of celebrated chef Giulio Sturla, Roots Restaurant has gained international recognition for its innovative approach to dining. The concept is simple—food that reconnects you to the land and the people who grow it. The ever-evolving set menu is paired with locally-produced wines and served in a minimalist yet welcoming space. This is a must-visit for foodies looking for a unique and thought-provoking culinary experience.

man reading newspaper in a café

Ethical Eats and Sustainability

The conscious eater movement is alive and well in Christchurch, with a number of establishments dedicated to sustainable and ethical practices. These eateries offer delicious meals with a side of environmental responsibility.

C1 Espresso

Located in a historic High Street building, C1 Espresso is not your average café. This place is famous for its unique pneumatic tube food delivery system and an inventive menu. The selection of locally sourced, organic, and free-range fare is a hit among ethical eaters. With a strong focus on sustainability, C1 Espresso is a pioneer in the push towards more eco-friendly food industry practices.


Gatherings is a unique dining experience, spearheaded by a team that is passionate about ethical and sustainable eating. The restaurant grows a portion of its own ingredients and sources the rest from local and ethical suppliers. The menu is inspired by the principles of permaculture, resulting in dishes that are as beautiful as they are earth-friendly. Expect an ever-changing menu based around seasonal, plant-based food, with a zero-waste ethos.

Hidden Gems and Neighborhood Favorites

Every city has its hidden gems and local haunts that are cherished by those in the know. In Christchurch, you can stumble across some real foodie treasures in unlikely places.

Twenty Seven Steps

Tucked away in an alley in the heart of the city, Twenty Seven Steps is a European-style bistro that serves up food with flair. The intimate setting and often-changing menu keeps things fresh and exciting. The chefs make use of local produce and premium imported ingredients to create dishes that are visually stunning and packed with flavor. This is a go-to place for a delicious, relaxed meal in a cozy setting.

Bacon Brothers

For the best burgers in town, head to Bacon Brothers. This is local dining at its most laid back — you order at the counter, grab a seat, and wait for your name to be called. The focus here is on high-quality, locally-sourced meat with customizable toppings, ensuring that every burger is exactly what you want. Don’t expect fancy presentations and complex ingredients, just a good old-fashioned delicious burger.

Traditional Favorites and Local Flavors

Of course, no culinary tour of a city would be complete without sampling its traditional dishes and local specialties. In Christchurch, you’ll find a range of options that represent the city’s heritage and diverse community.

Pedro’s House of Lamb

A local institution, Pedro’s House of Lamb serves just one dish — slow-cooked lamb shoulder with all the trimmings. The meat is cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection and is always tender and flavorful. It’s the perfect place to sample a true Kiwi delicacy in a casual, friendly setting.

Dose Diner

Kiwi culture has long been influenced by the American diner, and Dose Diner celebrates this fusion with their take on American comfort food. From loaded fries to stacked burgers, the menu is filled with all the classics done exceptionally well. The lively, vintage-inspired space is the perfect backdrop for indulging in some hearty, belly-filling fare.

A Foodie’s Paradise: Christchurch’s Markets

When it comes to food, there’s something special about eating where the locals do. Christchurch’s markets are the perfect place to find fresh produce and a diverse range of culinary delights.

Riccarton Market

Held every Saturday, the Riccarton Market is a foodie’s treasure trove. Here you’ll find an array of international cuisine, as well as fresh produce, artisan bread, cheeses, and more. The atmosphere is buzzing, the vendors are friendly, and the smells and tastes will transport you around the world without leaving the city.

The Lyttelton Farmers Market

Just a short drive from Christchurch, the Lyttelton Farmers Market is a Sunday morning must for any food lover. The market is set against the stunning backdrop of Lyttelton Harbour and offers a mix of fresh food, hot food, and a selection of local crafts. From freshly shucked oysters to steamed bao buns, you can sample some of the best flavors the region has to offer.

Top 5 Intriguing Facts About New Zealand’s Dining Scene

  1. Historic Appeal: The iconic C1 Espresso in Christchurch not only tempts with its coffee and treats but is housed in one of the city’s few buildings that have story and character, having survived the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. This resilience adds a layer of historical significance to your dining experience.
  2. Kiwi Invention Fueling Dining: New Zealand isn’t just about traditional flavors; it is also the birthplace of novel culinary inventions. The ‘Flat White’, a coffee beverage now found worldwide, has its origins in this coffee-loving country.
  3. Cultural Melting Pot: Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, is noted for its incredible diversity, which is reflected in its food scene. You can find a staggering array of international cuisine, from Malaysian to Moroccan, Turkish to Thai, showcasing the city’s cultural melting pot.
  4. Environmental Pioneers: Restaurants in New Zealand, such as Roots Restaurant in Christchurch, are at the forefront of the sustainable and ethical eating movement. Their practices, including using locally sourced and produced ingredients, set a precedent in the global culinary scene.
  5. Burger Bliss: The popularity of gourmet burgers has swept across New Zealand like a delicious tide. Fergburger in Queenstown has become an almost pilgrimage site for foodies, often cited as making the best burgers in the country, and has put New Zealand on the international map for burger aficionados.

Final Bites: Top Tips for Dining in Christchurch

When exploring Christchurch’s culinary scene, keep these final tips in mind to make the most of your dining experience:

  • Go Local: New Zealand has a wealth of fresh produce and local ingredients, so be sure to support the small businesses and taste the best of what’s in season.
  • Be Adventurous: Try something you’ve never had before. Christchurch’s multicultural population means there’s a wide variety of international cuisines to choose from.
  • Book Ahead: Especially for fine dining establishments, booking ahead can save you from disappointment and ensure you get the best seat in the house.
  • Talk to the Locals: Some of the best eateries don’t have a huge online presence. Ask the locals for their favorite spots to eat and you might just discover a new gem.

Christchurch’s dining scene is a reflection of its rich cultural heritage, its connection to the land, and its forward-thinking community. Whether you’re enjoying a casual meal at a local favorite, savoring the culinary delights of a top chef, or sampling the flavors of the world at a local market, there’s no shortage of ways to indulge in the city’s delicious offerings. Remember, the best way to truly experience a place is through its food — so eat well, and enjoy every bite.