To place Federal Diner in the same category as the greasy, burnt coffee joints off of the Garden State Parkway is unfair. In fact, it’s a travesty. Because if the roles were reversed, if a local from Lake Wanaka were to hop off their flight at Newark Airport and see the familiar words ‘Diner’ and think they were about to devour a warm heavenly cheese scone that tastes more like a biscuit-scone hybrid (looking at you Dominick Ansel, make that happen) or perhaps bite into the salty and sweet combination of grilled banana bread or maybe drink an almond milk iced coffee topped with whipped cream (okay, maybe they have that), they’d be sorely disappointed.
Tucked away in an alley way off the main street in Lake Wanaka, hides the best breakfast spot in the world. Yeah, I said it. It was that good. And this was the point of the trip where we were susceptible to vacation goggles, where everything tastes and seems better because you’re not at work and it’s vacation (like who actually thinks Pina Coladas are good?) This place exceeded all expectations in one flurry of beans and eggs; grilled halloumi and polenta.
A family from New York sat next to us, subjecting themselves to a similar food trance just as ours had begun to wear off. We watched them experience the meal with a jealous delight.
Exiting Federal Diner with a two-hour bumpy off-road drive ahead of us, we all collectively agreed this was the best breakfast ever. Period. And if this place existed close to home, we would be regulars.
Our only regret? We weren’t able to make it back for a second seating.