Where To Get Your American Food and Drink Fix in Christchurch

A plate of meat and chips on a table sittling alongside beers.

American food spans many cultures, locations and cuisines, making it an exciting and varied cuisine.

Words by: Ashlyn Oswalt

Luckily for those in Christchurch, there are plenty of delicious options for sampling American food and drink, so pull up a chair and get ready to enjoy the different nuances from around the fifty states.

Sun Dog Diner

2-10 Papanui Road, Merivale, Christchurch

This quirky diner on Carlton Corner is enough to make American expats weep with nostalgia. Step into the funky space decorated with American records, collectibles and comic-style art, to be greeted by the diner’s friendly staff...and a pie cabinet. There’s plenty of food to be had, so be sure you save a bit of room for their rotating list of delightful, homemade desserts. Whether you’ve come to Sun Dog Diner for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you won’t be disappointed by their hearty portions and wide range of comfort foods. Their hash and bottomless coffee is a must-have in the morning, and the burritos and beers on tap are perfect for ringing in the weekend. Don’t miss their cocktail list either, which features favourites like negronis. 

Smokey T's

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314 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

A fan favourite in the Christchurch BBQ scene, Smokey T’s dishes up some seriously good BBQ.

You can smell the brisket, pork belly and jerked chicken being wood-smoked from miles away. The sides are as Southern as they come - with options like southern fried chicken, mac and cheese and waffle fries, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to an Alabaman back porch on a hot summer’s day. Make your way upstairs to catch NBA and other sports on their screens, or take in a distinct view of the Port Hills from the patio. Wash it all down with an iced tea, spiked of course, or a local craft brew.

Soul Quarter

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219 High Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

From the soft notes of Ella Fitzgerald playing over the speaker to the warm greeting you receive walking through the art-deco doorway, you’ll immediately be charmed by Soul Quarter. Inspired by the flavours of Louisiana and the French and South American influences, the menu at Soul Quarter is unlike anything else in Christchurch. With braised beef short ribs rubbing up against fried chicken waffles on the menu, there’s something to please everyone. For a fancier night, we suggest perusing the wine list which includes extensive options from around the country, or digging into your adventurous side with something from their cocktail menu.

Austin Club

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Basement Bar 236 High Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

Entering the Austin Club conjures up images of fringe dresses, Tommy guns and prohibition-era extravagance.

This imitation speakeasy bar sits beneath the action of Cashel Street and requires a password (which can be found on their website and social media channels) to get in. Once inside, you will discover a long bar with period-dressed barmen and women waiting to fix you up something strong. Inside a leather-bound menu, there are curiosity-inducing cocktails like ‘Mushroom People’ which includes shiitake scotch, earl grey and Italicus. If you’re hungry, simple bar snacks, cheese boards and grown-up toasties are on offer. Designed as a place to have a jolly good time, you just might get to see a live performance as well. 

12 Bar

342 Saint Asaph Street, Christchurch Central

In true American dive bar fashion, 12 Bar draws in a crowd and a cult following.

With a focus on blues, 12 Bar lines up frequent live acts, mostly with little or no cover charge, so you can enjoy the tunes with your craft beer. With 20 taps, there’s everything from chocolate-y stouts to fresh pilsners being served. If you’re feeling peckish after a bit of dancing and singing, you can find Craft Eats outside. A food truck with burgers, fries and poutine, you’ll be fueled and ready to go just in time for the second act. 

Boo's

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level 1/98 Victoria Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch, Christchurch & Canterbury

Southern American cuisine in an opulent setting sets Boo Radley’s apart.

Tucked away on Victoria Street, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon a hole in the wall as you climb the stairs in the direction of the music. Once upstairs, the bar team will greet you with a dazzling array of cocktail choices, and plenty of beers and wines if you’re not ready for the hard stuff.

The seating at Boo Radley’s is decidedly comfy, yet refined, and if there’s a live act on you’ll wile away the hours. This place should not be deemed just a cocktail bar, however. Their food menu is a love letter to the south, featuring classics like pimento cheese dip, mac and cheese croquettes and s’mores for dessert. 

Currently undergoing refurbishment until April 2022. 

Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places

Native Café

Two women having coffee at the counter outside Native Cafe in Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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Next time you find yourself Sydenham side of Christchurch town, stop at Native Café for a cup of top-notch coffee and an honest bite to eat.

Little High Lanes

View of a laneway with buildings on both sides.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Bars icon Cafes icon

Little High Lanes is an eclectic blend of food, fashion and industry.

Tramway Restaurant

Tramway Restaurant exterior.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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The Tramway Restaurant is somewhat of a moving Christchurch institution. Most of us have seen it roll past us lit up with warm lighting, filled with happy diners waving at passers by.

Sweet Soul Patisserie

Fine patisserie on a white plate.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
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This light-filled corner shop is the first fine patisserie shop in Christchurch.