A question that I get asked a lot (generally on Twitter) is my top dining recommendations in and around Canberra. While I love answering this question, 140 characters just isn’t enough to say everything I want to say. Hence I’m writing this post with my current top recommendations and I plan to update this list regularly (last updated December 2015). It goes without saying that these are my recommendations based on personal experiences and this is not in any way a sponsored post.
I think these guys make some of the best coffee in Canberra and their breakfast menu is seasonal and unique. My top picks from the current menu are the hotcakes and the Huevos Bollo (brioche bun filled with egg, bacon, avocado and Colombian BBQ sauce). Oh and they make a mean milkshake too- try the salted caramel and popcorn kingshake and you can thank me later. My review is here.
If you are after a relaxing and sophisticated breakfast this is the place to go. The owner here is also the head chef at the top fine dining restaurant in town which means you are going to get fine dining breakfast. You can even do breakfast degustation on weekends! My review is here.
It’s a gorgeous place by the water and their speciality is wholefoods and cold pressed juices. Beautiful food, great service and the most loveliest space. My top picks are green pea pancakes or green breaky plate. My review is here.
This is my new local and I’m totally in love with this place. Barrio excels at specialty coffee and their short and sweet breakfast menu is equally impressive. It’s the kind of place that does small things really well and puts out a tiny menu (from an equally tiny kitchen) that will blow you away. I can guarantee that the avo on rye with togarashi seasoning is the best avo on toast you have ever had. My review is here.
If it’s a weekday head to Da Rosario for authentic Italian food in a “pretend-you-are-in-an-Italian-piazza” surrounds. I can’t recommend just one thing from here, everything is fantastic and the menu changes daily. My review is here.
This is a popular spot and with good reasons; the freshly baked handmade sourdough is seriously amazing. There’s everything from gourmet sandwiches, salads and soups to more hearty meals like braised venison ragout on offer. Everything on the menu is under $15 and these guys make some of the best pastries in town too.
This is of of my absolute favourite places in Canberra for lunch as well as breakfast. The menu is 80% healthy but it’s definitely not bland rabbit food. Expect big flavours and hearty meals. The Japanese salad bowl in the current menu is not to be missed and the range of colourful and delicious salads and soups that change daily always hit the spot. The smoothies are a meal on their own and the coffee is great too. My reviews is here.
I know I’ve mentioned this place once already under breakfast recommendations but lunch specials here are worth the visit after 11am. The cauliflower soup with seared scallops that is on the current menu is seriously amazing.
Cheap Eats (lunch/dinner)
This is an unmissable Canberra institution. The wait might be a little long during peak hour so my hot tip is to call ahead and place your order as takeaway. But once you get there you can choose to dine in if you wish and your food will always be ready exactly when they tell you it will be. The Brodburger with blue cheese is life changing. My review is here.
Cheap and cheerful doesn’t get any more hipster than this! This is where all the hipster food trucks of Canberra hang out feeding the masses in a wonderfully eclectic and buzzing atmosphere. Trust me when I say you couldn’t stop at just one meal here. If I had to pick a few favourites they would have to be THE Broddog from Broddog van, pork belly burger from Mr Papa, prawn and chorizo pizza from 10″ Custom Pizzeria, lamb sharma wrap from the Indian truck all washed down with a Nam Nam Vietnamese iced coffee from Chasing Mr Morris. It’s BYO and there is generally a DJ playing funky tunes anytime of the day or night so it’s the kind of place you could hang out for hours and not get bored.
Mid Range Dinner
This place had quite the reputation in the early days for their service that had a tendency to get a bit too friendly but the food has always been truly spectacular. And the service is fabulous now too. Everything is share plate oriented and everything is insanely delicious. My top picks are the ghetto beef, scallops with black pudding and the black chicken. And you MUST order the popcorn sundae for dessert (it made the cover of Gourmet Traveller for a reason). Oh and the banoffee pie. Seriously. You’d be mad not to order both! My latest review is here.
This is fancy Thai food; full of big bold flavours and presented beautifully. The service at this family owned and run restaurant is what really sets them apart; mum, dad and two sons all work either in the kitchen or front of house. The scallops with pig ear terrine and red duck curry with crispy fried rice cake are my top picks from the menu. My latest review is here.
Seasonal menu, share plate oriented and delicious. Temporada ticks all the right boxes for me and I’m yet to have a dish I didn’t like here. Start with a pigs head roll and end with the salted caramel donuts; everything you have in the middle is guaranteed to be fantastic. My reviews are here and here.
Akiba is all about a fast and fun dining experience. The emphasis is on the many styles of Asian barbecue that also highlights light and fresh Asian flavours. It features a range of street food (bao, dumplings, pancakes), raw dishes and larger share plates. The “Just Feed Me” menu of 8 of Akiba’s most popular dishes for $45/person is particularly great value. My review is here.
If I had to recommend just one restaurant in this category I would go with The Boathouse without a moment of hesitation. Nothing else compares to The Boathouse by the Lake; the food, the location and the service are all truly spectacular here. The degustation menu with matching wines is seriously good value for money too. My reviews are here and here.
Sage is a modern fine dining restaurant in a charming historic building. The menu is inventive and exciting and the new executive chef has really shaken things up here in a really amazing way. They do things a little differently at Sage and even ask diners to score their new season menu to get feedback. My reviews is here.
This is what you would call destination dining. It’s a fine dining restaurant located in a gorgeous rural setting just 8km out of the centre of Canberra. In winter you can dine by the fire place and in summer the gardens are a real treat. And then there’s the food that can’t be faulted with service to match. I have dined here several times but yet to write a review. Promise it’s coming soon.
Parlour Wine Room is one of my favourite places in town; it’s a grown up bar and a stylish space for everything from a quiet date to a night out with friends. The tapas menu is delicious and the wine list is seriously impressive. They do amazing lunch deals as well as two-for-one tapas on Sundays. My latest review is here.
Get on board The Highball Express for a journey back in time to Cuba during prohibition years. This bar has a lovely fit out that is all bright and white interiors, high ceilings, lush greenery and chilled Cuban beats. It will make you feel like you are on a tropical holiday. There are over 350 varieties of rum on offer and barrel aged cocktails are their speciality. It’s the bar of the summer for me. My review is here.
Molly is Canberra’s first (and best) speakeasy. Finding it is half the fun; the website gives you the GPS coordinates so follow the map and look for the open door with a velvet rope and a single light bulb above the door. Inside it’s dark, mysterious and has loads of charm. It’s the kind of place that you can settle in for the night with a cocktail or three and a charcuterie plate.
Out of Town Food and Wine Experiences
A short 40 minute drive from Canberra and you arrive in the character filled little town of Gundaroo where you will find the award winning Grazing restaurant. The classically driven menu here is wonderful and hearty. A stroll around Grazing’s veggie garden and a spot of wine tasting at Capital Wines next door are mandatory. My review is here.
Robyn Rowe is a multi award winning chocolatier and although you can buy the chocolates at some outlets around town and at farmer’s markets, a visit to the chocolate maker’s door is a must to experience the real thing. Get a plate of chocolates (sea salted caramel, honey log and hazelnut praline are all kinds of amazing), order a hot chocolate or a pot of tea and enjoy the idyllic county surrounds while you savour Canberra’s finest chocolate.
Canberra region is home to some incredible wineries but if I had to pick my favourite Canberra winery and the best cellar door experience it would have to be the highly acclaimed Clonakilla Wines. Every single wine here is a outstanding so taste, enjoy and stock up.
If I had to pick my second favourite cellar door experience it would be Gallagher Wines. Their sparklings are wonderful as is the Riesling. And they have a fromagerie on site and makes some incredibly wonderfully cheeses; the labneh and the soft washed blue are to die for. A cheese platter and a bottle (or two) of wine from here is a highly recommended experience.
So there you have it. That’s my up to date top wining and dining experiences in and around Canberra. I hope this is a handy directory for those times when you are needing some guidance with restaurant selection!