The funky foodie scene of Adelaide has been on my radar for many years now. What food fanatic could resist the promise of bountiful markets and excellent eateries, only few hours from one of Australia’s most prolific wine regions?
With only a weekend to spare, I knew I had to maximise my eating time in the southern gem of Adelaide. I enlisted a fellow foodie and we set off to eat our way through The City of Churches.
Adelaide Central Markets
I thought I’d hit two birds with one stone and get brekky at the market that Adelaideans are so proud of. Mark and Cheryl of Central Market Tours set me and my travelling buddy up with a huge spread at Lucia’s, a traditional trattoria with a history that is almost as delightful as its bacon. It may be famous for being the first pizza bar in South Australia, but Lucia's sure does a bang-up breakfast.
After I had finished my raptures over the bacon the market tour commenced in earnest with local tour guide Hannah, whose knowledge and passion was humbling. From historic lolly shops to Russian delicatessens, Hannah had a story to tell about each vendor that made us very chuffed with our decision to join a tour, not to mention all the free samples that we got to munch on. These included kangaroo salami, creamy yoghurt sprinkled with crumbled wagon wheels, piroshkis, cheese from heaven aka The Smelly Cheese Shop and of course, FruChocs – the chocolate-covered apricot balls that South Australians go gaga for.
Haigh’s Chocolate Factory
I could have happily wandered the markets all day with my newfound insight, but my partner-in-food dragged me to the Haigh’s Chocolate factory, an intervention for which I will ever be grateful.
It’s best to book in advance for the free tour of Australia’s oldest family-owned chocolate company, and while it’s only a short event, they manage to squeeze in plenty of taste testers. Our guide Tara-Jane was both funny and knowledgeable, and as the tour went on I became increasingly jealous of her job. Each batch of deliciousness has to be quality taste tested, and according to five-year veteran Tara-Jane, it never gets old.
We shopped up a storm in the factory’s adjoining chocolate shop, and I only wish that I bought more, because each purchase is accompanied by yet another free sample.
After our gazillion free market samples and chocolate taste testers I knew I had to do some walking or there was a danger I wouldn’t be hungry for dinner. Adelaide’s downtown Rundle Mall is filled with all your usual suspects set in a charming pedestrian area, which is inexplicably adorned with four bronze pigs.
A little way off the high street we found Bauhaus, a lifestyle boutique with a wonderful mix of trinkets and home wares from Mexico, Morroco and every exotic location in between. Locally crafted jewellery shares space with Frida Kahlo prints, making it a great stop to pick up a unique gift.
More Adelaide Travel Inspiration:
La Rambla Tapas Bar
Cheryl from Central Market Tours gave us the hot tip for dinner, and we headed down to Peel Street where we were instantly charmed by the schmick interior of La Rambla Tapas Bar, although there are plenty of enticing dining options in the area. Our tapas feast barely left enough room on the table for our jug of Strawberry, Mint & Rose sangria, but luckily there was plenty of room in our stomachs.
My Kingdom for a Horse
Two words: chocolate waffles. We decided on this super-cute cafe for breakfast due to its proximity to our tour bus stop, but we went back on our way to the airport the next day because it was absolutely fabulous. Top marks for coffee, and for an all-day menu that made it extremely hard to decide, with options such as the gruyere omelette and smoked salmon rosti competing with my beloved chocolate waffles.
With only one day available for wine touring, we visited McLaren on the luck of the draw. There was a ‘Best of McLaren Vale’ coach tour departing at 9am and we hopped aboard with tour guide Marty and set off on a sipping adventure. Gray Line offers a great introductory wine tour that encompasses the McLaren’s well-known wineries, and throws in a good chunk of Adelaide trivia into the bargain.
We got to ring the vintage bell at Wirra Wirra and hear the history behind the crazy names of d’Arenberg wine, including the intriguing ‘Stephanie the Gnome with Rose Tinted Glasses’. Lunch at Red Poles was served in the courtyard with the accompaniment of live music, and the artsy gift shop was a treasure trove of unique jewellery and knick knacks.
Marty was a top-notch tour guide with an amusing running commentary, and this combined with the free flowing samples ensured a very jolly drive back to Adelaide.
Adelaide has a huge choice of excellent Asian cuisine, but after a day of wine touring I couldn’t pass up the chance to try fancy, reasonably-priced Indian food. Beyond India is a cool retreat of high-backed leather chairs, earthy decor and smiling staff members.
The first sign that we had made a good choice was the perfectly textured naan bread ; an easy indicator of Indian excellence. I don’t usually go for vegetarian dishes, but I can’t resist Malai Kofta, a potato and cheese dumpling that Beyond India got sensationally right. Another highlight was the Kulfi, a dense, creamy ice cream blended with spices, crushed cardamom and mango.
The longer I stayed, the more wanted to see, so consider this only part one of a foodie tour of Adelaide!