travel tips 

We at out at 15 different restaurants, cafes and food trucks during our 6 days in Queenstown! Here are my top five spots, in order! 
 

 

The Chop Shop (Arrowtown) 
Number one favourite spot, this small and quirky little cafe sits in the heart of Arrowtown and was the only restaurant we went to twice! They do Asian fusion food so well (although there are other dishes, not just Asian inspired) and the portions were as generous as their hospitality. Despite being extremely busy, the front of house staff never showed that they were stressed, and they still came to check in on the tables to see if we needed anything extra etc. 

WHAT TO ORDER

  • Satay Chicken Bao with pickled cucumber and carrot, sultanas, creamy satay sauce, mixed herbs and a side of kumara chips! This was my favourite thing I tasted at The Chop Shop  (but the photo didn't come out good! Waaaah...check it out on Trip Advisor!). I love that the chicken was charred but still so juicy - and it was packed full of flavour. I have to recreate these, they were the best thing I ate in Queenstown! 

  • Okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancake) with crispy tempura prawns, sweet soy, pickled ginger, bonito flakes, Kewpie mayo and a fresh herb salad. It was so generous with prawns, it had the crispiest edges, soft centre and the perfect balance of umami flavours! 

  • Ricotta Hotcakes with poached tamarillo, mascarpone cream and a pecan crumble topping. My son Jah ordered this BOTH visits - repeat offender because they are that good! If you are a sweet breakfast fan, these fluffy hotcakes are for you!



Vudu Lader (Queenstown) 
This placed gets packed out, even during the week! The food is thoughtful and has creative spins on the typical breakfast menu. Vudu delivers a menu of everything you didn't know you wanted until you read it (which made choosing hard!), with delicious flavours, textured and gorgeous presentation. I love how they use superfoods like quinoa and matcha so it physiologically makes it feel like that french toast breakfast choice is good for you ;) 

WHAT TO ORDER

  • Agria potato, pumpkin, cavolo nero hash with a fried egg, halloumi, crispy quinoa, tomato jam and a chipotle mayo. Aary ordered this, and it was very good! I actually got food envy because the potatoes were so crispy and all the flavours together were amazing! 

  • Lamington brioche french toast with grilled banana, coconut mascarpone, chocolate soil, maple syrup and a matcha pistachio crumb. The flavours and textures were OUTSTANDING. This is up there with one of the best sweet breakfasts I've ever had. 

 


VKnow (Fernhill) 
Vknow is the sort of place that would become my local if I was a Queenstown resident. It's unpretentious, you're welcomed on the first visit like an old friend, they serve food that you want to eat and its cooked to perfection and Danny has a wealth of 'not-snobby' wine knowledge. I got the vibe he was a wine Yoda so I let him choose for us, and both glasses were outta the ballpark good! The Sleeping Dog 2009 Central Otago Chardonnay was the BUSINESS! We loved our meal here and it was the best dinner we had in Queenstown by far. If you don't have a car when visiting, take a taxi because this place is so worth it.


WHAT TO ORDER

  • Beef Ribeye on Panko & Parmesan Crusted Potato with Spinach & Horseradish Sauce. OMG, I was craving a steak and was exactly what I needed to feel satisfied and make me smile when eating it. The steak as perfectly pink with little marbles of fat, the crusted potatoes were crispy and carb-a-licious and the sauce brought it all together. I will kill to eat this again!

  • Seafood bowl of mussels, king prawns and blue cod in a creamy chowder sauce with toasted garlic bread. This was Aarys dish and by far the best chowder we have had. We were told they make their own fish stock from the cod heads and I know that was just a small part of the love and care that when into this dish. If we went again, I would probably order more bread on the side if super hungry...but it did leave room for dessert!

  • We tried 3 of their 4 desserts and their three berry parfait was the stand out favourite! If you are visiting Vknow, and have room for more at the end this is light and fruity but still indulgent! 

 

 

Furgbakery (Queenstown) 
This is my favourite place to stop for breakfast for on the go, or for a post-slopes feed when it's not quite time for dinner. I love it because it's in and out and there are no long ques (unless you're waiting for coffee) unlike its sister store next door Furburger, which I am still yet to try! 

WHAT TO ORDER

  • The breakfast bap - fresh soft buns, fried eggs, bacon and relish.

  • The Belgium hot chocolate - which they ladle from a crockpot - it's rich, thick and dessert like. The dark chocolaty sweetness will pep you up and give you that warm comforting feeling you want in a snow city. This and mulled wine are the go-to drinks for me in Queenstown.  

  • Their pies - Aary got the Hunter Pie (I think with venison and duck) and he loved it.  

     

Rata (Queenstown)

This is my 3rd visit to Rata and I actually prefer their bites and entres to their mains and desserts. So, the last two visits, we've dined with more of a 'tapa's style of eating' in mind - ordering raw (oysters), entrees, sides and plenty of booze, skipping the mains entirely! You are definitely paying fine dining prices but with that, the service has been impeccable every time and we've felt very well looked after. On this latest visit, we ordered all the things we loved from past experiences and found a new favourite too - their paua ravioli! 

WHAT TO ORDER

  • 1/2 a dozen Bluff oysters (a dozen with a bottle of Champagne if you've got the cash to be baller!). Rata's oysters are served our favourite way - with a mignonette (a French shallot vinaigrette). Heaven with a glass of bubbles or white wine to go with! I've had oysters all over since my Rata visits, and nothing yet has compared. 

  • Southland cheese rolls with bitter leaves, pickled butternut, hazelnut, honey and pear. This dish is one of my all-time favourite things, ever! Not even joking - order 2 of these and don't be ashamed to be a cheese glutton, because it is, after all, a fine dining portion so YOLO. Ask for a mojito to go with, because theirs are so good with a good measure of zesty lime goodness (love a limey mojito!), and it balances out the deep fried cheese. I could not even contain the smiles when eating this dish - I was literally doing a little dance shimmy in my chair! 

  • Stewart Island paua tortellini with fermented kohlrabi, parsley oil and fish veloute. What I loved about this dish is that you could taste the paua, and the pasta was so perfectly al dente, the sauce I could drink by the jug. 
    IMHO, skip dessert and go to FergBakery for a Belgium hot chocolate...they're open till 4:30 am! 

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