Cafés of Christchurch
Christchurch’s post-quake café scene is booming, and there’s never been a better time to venture out, try something new, and discover another fave haunt to down a flat white and a couple of yummo morsels. From the tried-and-true institutions that are still going strong to hipster hangouts, Sunday-drive destinations to throw into the GPS, ‘new Christchurch’ pop-ups and a bit of old-world elegance (pinky finger off that teacup!), there’s a host of options to suit your preferences, or even just your mood.
Sure, it’s good to support your local café where they know your name and start fixing your morning coffee when they clock you walking through the door. But sometimes you need to share the love – how else will you discover that to-die-for crazy new muffin combo or exotic new blend on the scene? Help is at hand – spin the Cityscape café compass and find a new place or two to try. Here's the highlight reel!
City The city centre is pretty much bursting with awesome cafés and crazy good coffee fixin’s from Blax Espresso Bar, Boulevard Café & Bar and the little slice of Christchurch history that is the Antigua Boat Sheds Café to the understated cool of Café Lumes and their bodacious soft brew single origin filter roast coffee of the week. Caffeine Laboratory’s sensational new chargrilled chicken salad, the kumara & bacon risotto cakes on offer at Your Place Café & Bar, the florist/café hybrid hip at Pepperberry Café and the addictive cold drip creations from the caffeine alchemists at Vivace Roastery & Café are all musts.
North Head north for two of the three Savoire Café & Wine Bars in Bishopdale and Merivale (the third is in Beckenham – just so you know!); you’ll also find Café Metro’s art-inspired café serving seriously good coffee alongside an extensive selection of teas (13 types!) in Merivale too. In Russley, sustainable style joins one of the country's leading sustainable cafés at Untouched World's Native Garden Café. Rocking Strowan is Rock Salt, home of the legendary hangover-curing big breakfast. The latest pit-stop to the Joe’s Garage stable has made a welcome addition to the top end of Cranford Street, Garden Hotel’s Garden Bar Café (GBC to its friends) in Shirley adds live music to the mix in the evenings and in St Albans you can join the suspended coffee movement at Ris'tretto.
South Take a trip to Cashmere for the gourmet goodies on offer at Taste @ Twenty, where primo coffee is served alongside some of the city’s finest baked delights, a swell deli and market fresh produce. Lending swagger to Sydenham you’ll find roasters extraordinaire Underground Coffee serving up their famous fair trade faves on Colombo Street, while the crew at The Serious Sandwich in The Colombo serves its signature one-size-only coffee alongside, as their name suggests, seriously gourmet sangas.
East Looking for a seaside escape? Take a trip to The Rock Café Sumner, where water views join bodacious baked goods, a slick menu and the opportunity to enjoy live music on a Sunday arvo with a cheeky beer or wine. You’ll find former Poplar Lanes staple and family affair Mitchelli’s Café Rinato at home in The Tannery serving some of the city’s finest calzones alongside the awesome acai berry smoothie, while Urban Corner Café in New Brighton get creative with the Surf n’ Turf in their funky container fitout.
West Go west (come on, we had to say it!) to Middleton and tap the genius of Café Kudos’ mixed berry pancakes: they’re light and fluffy and smothered in berries mixed through a cinnamon crème fraiche – straight up addictive. In Addington Bean Scene Café’s polenta fries take some beating (seriously, try ’em) and Milieu Café serves a trumped up version of old skool brekkie classic lambs fry and bacon alongside dangerously good coffee. Swing by the cool catz at Café Sismo in Riccarton for a laidback escape, take in the extensive range of French cheese behind the glass at Decant Vintners & Epicures, tackle Ground Floor Café’s Steak Manwich or the sensational pea and mint fritters at Seven Café.
Not quite cafés, these places rock awesome daytime menus and killer coffee all the same: Baretta Bar & Restaurant, The Cornershop Bistro, Clink Restaurant & Bar, Curator’s House, Fiddlesticks Restaurant & Bar, Governors Bay Hotel, Hinton’s, JDV, Morrell & Co, No.4 Bar & Restaurant, Strawberry Fare, Sugarhorse, The Pedal Pusher, Torenhof Belgian Beer Café, Trevinos Restaraunt & Bar and Valley Inn Tavern.
Worth the Trip
Sometimes you need a change of scenery and a road trip is called for – and the lunch at the end of a nice little journey (whether by bicycle, car or motorbike) only tastes even better. Take in 1890s charm of Lincoln's The Tea House or cruise around Lyttelton and over to Diamond Harbour (or take the ferry) and kickback in the sunshine at Chalfont or Godley Café where homemade goodness reigns supreme. Take the turn off and keep going to the bustling Little River Café for a side of rural and an art fix after or sample the decadent delights on offer at Blue Duck Café. Head north and enjoy a languorous lunch amid the vines at Waipara Hills, the amazing smoked chicken, roasted vegetable & cream cheese calzone on offer at Pukeko Junction Café or the bistro stylings of Nor’Wester Café.
Our tried and true city favourites: where would we be without them? Some have had facelifts or relocations forced upon them with many adding a few new twists – C1 will fire your sliders at you via pneumatic tube, Futurama-style, the new Black Betty is more spacious than ever before, Terra Viva has branched out with an entirely new bakery offering in Woolston and The Villas – formerly the iconic Coffee House on Montreal Street – has expanded in spectacular renovations to encompass the house next door! Whether you’re tapping into the relaxed bistro dining with a touch of class at Brigittes in the heart of Merivale, watching the magic happen at the open plan bakery goodness of Vic’s Café, taking in the views and cabinet food to die for at The Cup, savouring the moments at Copenhagen Bakery, Oddfellows Café or the casual cool of Lyttelton Coffee Company, you know you’re in good hands. Inner city havens include the iconic Under the Red Verandah with its sunny courtyard, Procopé’s long awaited return to Victoria Street and new digs in Fendalton, irrepressible fave The Honeypot Café, C4 and the culinary craftiness of Underground Coffee Company.
Keep on Truckin'
Sometimes, when an earthquake knocks all your buildings down, you have to get your tasty food to your appreciative audience without one. Enter the food truck, the pop-up and the coffee cart! We’re especially well covered for some excellent Mexican in the food truck department, with the likes of primo Mex/Kiwi fusion at Tiki Taco, Bueno Latin Cantina, Loco’s Tex Mex Cuisine, Tommy Taco and Mamacita’s. For bangin’ pizza on the fly the crew at BASE Woodfired Pizza are the guys to tap, otherwise you’ll find clusters of cool at The Commons and the primo mix of the southern flavours of The Holy Grill, Vietnamese at Street Food, Fueled by Coffee and Japanese at Hakoya at 100 Peterborough Street (opposite the library), or get brewed on the go at The Caffeine Laboratory, The Barista, Mac's Coffee and Coffee Zone.
If you find that your coffee supply isn’t up to your own high standards, you need to take urgent action yourself. A number of companies around Christchurch have done just that and given those beans we crave their own loving treatment. And better yet, at their own café offerings you can try before you buy: portside at Lyttelton Coffee Company, at Vivace Roastery & Café (who have has been successfully supplying cafes around New Zealand with perfectly roasted beans since 1997, so you know they're doing something right), Crafted Coffee Company, Hummingbird Coffee’s weekday café Oddfellows, or Upshot Coffee and Underground Coffee Company’s air-roasted beans (ethical and fair-trade, natch) which are brewed up at several outlets around the city.
Dens of Cool
Like a bit of atmosphere, style and street along with your caffeine fix? There’s plenty on offer for those looking for a side serving of quirk, funk and/or chic. Maybe you fancy a bit of repurposed retro in Hello Sunday’s former church, or to depart the everyday with the gourmet treats that await at exotic eatery Passengers + Co? For super laid-back, imbibe amongst the second-hand chic behind the red door at Beat Street, or for an industrial edge you can’t beat the speakeasy swank of prohibition cool Mama Hooch. Sophistication and share plates abound at Addington’s Town Tonic, while neighbours Addington Coffee Co-Op’s wares come with a side serving of good karma, Mrs Hucks combines class with quirk, and the alt-cool of Dose Café brings a touch of Melbourne swag to Tuam Street.
You’ve got to pay attention in Christchurch, because if you blink, you might miss yet another sweet new venue opening up. Let’s bring you up to speed – venues that are new on the block and worth familiarising yourself with include the airy environment at Ilex, Little Merchants, Mama Hooch, the flash new Therapy in the regenerating CBD, the new Underground HQ in Durham Street, Allpress Espresso and Havana Coffee Works. Go have a nosey!
Your daily café fix needn’t mean ditching your health kick – you can treat yourself without the guilt. Pure Café eschews sugar, salt, additives and other nasties, The Herb Centre offers the tastiest, nutrient dense vegetarian food going, and the new BearLion Foods focuses on real food that is organic, gluten and dairy free.