Central Christchurch’s vibrant laneways and inner-city neighbourhoods are booming, thanks to the great bars, restaurants and cafés for locals and visitors to hop between. CHCH Central Unwrapped has been interviewing a few central city champions about where to eat and drink this Christmas, and we’ve collated their top picks!
Sprinkle your night with a little old-time magic at one of Christchurch’s most historic buildings. This building that OGB calls home, was built back in the early 1900s, giving the bar a real sense of history. Now Cathedral Square's bustling hotspot for a night of live music in its courtyard or festive drinks indoors, this is the place to be. The speakeasy bar offers delicious snacks, burgers and platters and is a local favourite for a negroni or two. Plus, if it’s too chocka you can always sneak next door to Parlour, a dimly lit, opulent cocktail lounge which feels like something straight out of Mad Men. Open everyday except Christmas, OGB is where it’s at for a quality Christmas cocktail and a feeling of time travel to another era.
Castro’s & Kaisers Brew Garden
A bustling hub of the community, Riverside Market is the rejuvenated beating heart of the central city we’ve all been waiting for. This unique Christchurch establishment brings fresh produce, artisan bakeries, independent food stalls, bars and restaurants, high-class retail and eclectic market stalls all under one roof. But what’s really bringing a bit of flavour to the city’s hospitality scene, is the double offering of Castro’s and Kaisers Brew Garden located upstairs. Experience the history, quality and evolution of 157 years of Bavarian brewing excellence in a terrace beer garden. Kaiser’s Brew Garden is brought to the market by three German-Kiwi brothers, who pay homage to Bavaria’s renowned Kaiser Brewery founded by their great uncle in 1862. The brothers take their family’s original recipes and create hand-crafted beer with a Kiwi twist. Neighbouring Castro's offers a taste of Spain with tapas and a culinary menu that includes chargrilled meats, seafood or vegetarian paella, which you can match with a glass of Spanish wine, or any of Castro's range of cocktails. The food is easy to share and frequent live music and salsa nights bring an authentic Spanish flair to this central city location.
Always a great stop for a beer and burger on a summer’s night, Smash Palace certainly is a stalwart of the Christchurch hospitality scene. Over the years it has also become a place to congregate during the Christmas period with friends old and new. Thursday night bike nights provide a unique experience and an insight into the Christchurch bike scene, and should make every list of ‘things to do’ in Ōtautahi. With great local wine and beer (try the house beer Bodgie) and those made-from-scratch burgers, Smash Palace covers all of the bases when it comes to good times. The music is loud, the service is cheeky and bowls of cheerios run freely – what’s not to love.
As the name suggests, Amazonita has been inspired by the charm of the Amazon with a nod towards the diverse culinary traditions of the Mediterranean. A local’s favourite dish is the Pappardelle, a creamy pasta with truffle, white wine, cream, parmesan and salted cured beef cheek. A sense of the jungle definitely exists inside this restaurant filled with colour, interesting lampshades and plenty of indoor greenery. The outdoor courtyard has become a buzzing place on The Terrace to sip cocktails and share food whilst enjoying the vibrancy of the central city.
The quiet achiever of The Terrace hospitality scene, Amaterrace Teppanyaki provides the perfect getaway from the bustling masses below. Service and ambiance is second to none here, and with the chefs providing a show whilst cooking, it’s no wonder this Teppanyaki has become a local favourite amongst the hospitality crew. Make sure to try the wagyu beef and prawns with a side of sake, to round off what is a great escape to Japan from the comfort of the city centre.