Queues and tight time slots among the bugbears
Our reviewers have trawled their notebooks, recalling some "wow" moments as well as the not-so-good.
We see what three cafes serve up between slices
Back in the old days a sandwich was Marmite and lettuce (tossed aside), but thanks to bakers producing better bread than ever, good sandwiches are being built.
The pre-quake Victoria and High streets favourite is back. Grab a park where Victoria meets Salisbury St, then follow the garlic, galangal and lemongrass aromas.
OPINION: Never before have I heard diners ask for more plates of the cabbage - a testament to the chef's quality.
Dishes feel like they come from a chef who has had time to research and labour over them.
The dishes at this affordable Rangiora spot have a lovely blend of spices, each nicely complementing the others.
This cute wee bar, tucked away in New Regent St, excels with its service and drinks and food offerings.
Featuring an atmospheric venue and local products, this place has plenty of potential.
OPINION: If asked to sum up this place in a word I'd say "generous". The vibe is good and the menu matches the mood.
There may be no chilli in Nobanno's cuisine but the dishes hum with flavour.
The menu is definitely extensive but the cafe is so busy it is possible to see the kitchen really does produce the many options.
The Japanese fried chicken is by far the best dish of the night - cooked in crispy spicy batter, it is moist and flavoursome.
The sushi burger offers two flat cylinders of rice instead of bread around a beef pattie and teriyaki sauce.
The overwhelming impression from entrance to departure is the excellence of the service.
From the outside, it is not much to look at, but inside the feel is classy and the service fantastic.
I don't use the word exquisite lightly, but what I expected to be a pub meal was fine dining at a pub price.
The Old Vicarage gives its diners what they want, and that must be why they arrive in waves from noon on.
Almost six months into central city residency, the cafe owners could definitely branch out into more exciting territory.
I can't confirm the authenticity of Sema's Thai food, but it certainly hits all the right spots for two hungry Kiwis.
It's not every day you see a timed 10 minutes with a big cookie jar as a dessert option.
Apleasant spot where, once you get the nod of approval from the veterans, you feel comfortable.
Dinner at Passengers and Co is all about trust. Even the waitstaff don't know what's coming as there's no menu.
REVIEW: Sala Sala offers an unhurried atmosphere away from the Papanui rush hour.
Offering protein smoothies and paleo-approved foods, Pure Cafe Co strikes us as a health-conscious cafe we'd expect to find in a trendy New York City neighbourhood. Imagine our surprise when we stumbled upon it in Birmingham Dr.
Every day is St Patrick's Day at the new Irish pub in Victoria St.
The tapas selection ranges far and it would be a fussy woman who didn't find a plate or three she wanted.
Civil and Naval is a tapas bar; this makes deciding easy - a little of what you fancy.
Great winery restaurants work hard to present their wines in the best possible light - Waipara Hills ticks this box.
They say first impressions last but not so at Savoire Cafe and Wine Bar.
The Station doesn't grandstand, and delivered the best service we've had for some time.
Seated on long benches at our table near the open kitchen, we could see the chef cooking up a storm
In a former life, Purple Weka was a bland little cafe but it's had a fantastic makeover.
You are looking at a tapas-style evening with everyone sharing at this new restaurant.
Looking around the quiet gentility of The Square in the Novotel, it seems a lifetime since the The Press moved in after the September 2010 quake.
The first word that springs to mind as you wander into Browsers Garden Cafe is oasis.
A masculine setting with a menu specialising in steak - two pages are devoted to various cuts, breeds and weights.
Choices range from Thai green curry to beef fillet and pan seared turbot.
Hummingbird's container cafe has a surprisingly large capacity and makes a top breakfast.
Doing business in the seaside suburb post-quake is not easy, but this place is buzzing.
The old wooden building has been decorated to capture the feel of the past yet it's open and inviting.
An old Poplar Lanes favourite has reopened in High St and gets top marks for ambience.
Bloody Mary's is not a cocktail bar per se although hearsay has it they mix a mean cocktail of the same name.
We sit outside amid miniature roses and archwayswith the lawn the perfect play area for little ones.
A street-style Mexican eatery/bar, Mexicano's has the essentials down pat: atmosphere, service, innovative menu.
Exemplary service, good food and chic decor are all good reasons why Gustav's has pulled customers early and kept them.
REVIEW: Hinton's Vineyard had generous portions and good service, but the fish was dry and the brulee wasn't good.
REVIEW: The popularity of Japanese restaurant Kinji is taking some shine off the experience.
Spectacular views served up with tasty shared plates in this Waipara vineyard.
REVIEW: Great food, outstanding coffee and unrivalled views in New Brighton.
REVIEW: There's much to like about Vangionis in Akaroa.