Chinese, Indian, Thai, Italian, Mexican, Japanese … Launceston has a solid repertoire of dining choices. But where it shines right now is in serving fresh, modern food made from local ingredients. Head to the “Paris end” of Charles Street for a cluster of good cafes that include Mondello, Elaia and Sporties. At the opposite end of the CBD is the marina development Seaport and its modern-Australian restaurants including Mud and Levee.
For something completely different, the Kleiner Baum Modern European Kitchen turns heads with the likes of German meatballs and Hungarian goulash. For the best of Tasmanian produce, Alps & Amici stocks cheese, meats, seafood and ready-to-go meals cooked by chef Daniel Alps. Wursthaus Kitchen in the Quadrant is also a premium, jam-packed spot for Tasmanian food and wine; its house-made smallgoods are divine.
For a drink, it’s bottoms up to Launceston’s large collection of historic pubs: keep an eye out for The Star and Gunners Arms. More up to the minute is the groovy Saint John Craft Beer Bar in St John Street. Or drop into the James Boag Brewery bar.
Our top picks
2 Bridge Road
With seasonal menus using local produce for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the latter either degustation or a la carte, Stillwater describes its cuisine as modern Tasmanian. Yet its premises, by Australian standards, are ancient. Ritchies Mill was built in the 1830s on the Tamar River to mill flour for a fledgling community; now within its timber walls, organic vegetables, wild harvested seafood, Flinders Island lamb and Cape Grim beef are among the stars of dishes that have earned Stillwater a national reputation – helped by The Mill providore and gallery upstairs.
Novaro's Italian Restaurant
28 Brisbane Street
Launceston has a strong tradition of Italian restaurants serving the classic carbonara, veal marsala and garlic prawn fare. Novaro’s does it with a fine-dining, locavore twist. Signature Tasmanian ingredients such as greenlip abalone, blacklip mussels, oysters and smoked salmon feature in provincial Italian dishes such as orecchia di mare. All within a city-centre Edwardian terrace.
Eat like a local
Garden of Vegan
39 Cameron Street
This vegetarian/vegan cafe is hot – and a move to new premises has only heightened the buzz. It uses local produce in Asian-inspired soups, curries, stews and noodles. A different lunch menu for each day of the week keeps the peeps coming back. And there’s chocolate peanut butter “cheezecake” for dessert.
Me Wah Restaurant
39-41 Invermay Road
Exemplary is how the locals describe Me Wah restaurant, a bad report of its Chinese cuisine apparently impossible to come by. In the northern suburb of Invermay, a modest part of town, Me Wah also sources locally for its extensive menu, including South Cape crayfish, cooked as you like it, and squid from Bass Strait tossed in salt, spice and chilli.
And for a quick lunch...
Pasta Resistance in the Quadrant makes its pasta on site and sells it take-away for a price from another decade: $6 small, $8 large. On Wellington Street is Morty’s Food Hall, a line-up of outlets offering Asian tucker and on-the-run staples such as burgers, salads and kebabs. Another long-time lunch favourite is Old Brisbane Arcade’s Perfect Potatoes Plus, baked spuds with all the comfort-food fillings.