Canberra’s recent renaissance is due in no small part to its born-again culinary expertise. The region’s soil and weather yield unique local produce and the new generation of gastronomic artisans make the most of the bounty.
The food and wine trails in the surrounding countryside are some of the nation’s finest. There are over 30 wineries showcasing the region’s highly regarded cool-climate wines within 35 minutes of Canberra, headlined by the rieslings and shiraz viogniers from Clonakilla. Foodies will love the Hills of Hall trail and Poacher’s Way. For authentic country cooking adventures out of town, check out Grazing restaurant at Gundaroo and Poacher’s Pantry at Hall.
Fancy a drink? Head to the Wig & Pen Tavern & Brewery for an in-house brewed beer, King O’Malley’s for an Irish pub experience or Hippo Co, Muddle and Knightsbridge Penthouse for a classy cocktail setting. There are many sharp bars, fine-dining restaurants and casual nosheries in Canberra these days, especially around NewActon.
Our top picks
15 Moore Street, City
Canberra’s Restaurant of the Year 2014, as awarded by The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide. Known as much for its relaxed attitude as its original and ever-changing menu, Temporada is unstructured, unfussed and undeniably top-notch. Sister restaurant Aubergine (18 Barker Street, Griffith) is a fine-dining marvel with an extensive domestic and foreign wine list. Dinner at Aubergine always begins confidently with a serving of Petuna ocean trout before they let you choose your next three courses.
Corner Lonsdale & Elouera Streets, Braddon
At this in-vogue restaurant, you can watch meals being prepared from your stool facing the open kitchen, which locals say is a better way of choosing your meal than reading a menu. Informal and ideal for sharing, Eightysix’s signature dishes include a Peking duck bun, ghetto beef, oxtail jaffle and salted caramel popcorn sundae. Expect the unexpected and be prepared for a fun, in-your-face experience.
Eat like a local
Italian and Sons
7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
Cool, authentic and massively popular, Italian and Sons is all about wood-fired pizza, melt-in-your-mouth pasta and daily offerings like roast suckling pig on Tuesdays and salt-crusted beef with horseradish on Wednesdays. This multi-award-winning Roman-style trattoria produces seasonal fare created from ingredients sourced from local growers as well as their own farmyard and is noisy, passionate Italian dining at its most exuberant.
Monster Kitchen and Bar
25 Edinburgh Avenue
Inside the uber-chic Hotel Hotel, 'The Monster' is one of Canberra’s most intriguing eateries – think violet gin and yabby jaffles – and is the perfect casual venue for a meal with friends. Sunday is 'sunset appreciation night' when hip young things gather for an evening tipple. It also received a coveted chef's hat in the prestigious Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide in 2016. Open for breakfast, with sharing plates and drinks available from noon til 1am.
1 Burbury Close, Barton
This adventurous south-western China-themed restaurant was created with the support of the Michelin-starred Chairman restaurant in Hong Kong. The smoky Sichuan-fusion aromas of herbs, chillies, spices, stews and roast meats hit you the moment you enter. The decor – also an authentic fusion – is based on a black bamboo forest setting and 1930s Shanghai-style monkey-patterned woodwork. Try the sake!