Your guide to restaurants and dining
Canberra restaurants and local food and wine scene continue to gain critical acclaim. Stylish venues blend effortlessly with suburban favourites and gourmet cheap eats for a great range of dining experiences.
Canberra’s inland location and altitude combine to provide a smorgasbord of seasonal food delights, delicious local produce and renowned Canberra District Wines. Broaden your palate and taste lovingly crafted local produce in restaurants and cafes.
Good Food's Guide to Canberra restaurants
Savour the region’s best cuisine at one of the eateries rated by the ‘bible’ of good food, The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2015. Topping the list is Aubergine, also named the ACT’s top restaurant in the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide alongside Monster Kitchen and Bar. Aubergine rated two hats in the Good Food Guide (in addition to the Best Regional Wine List), while Eightysix, Ottoman Cuisine, Italian & Sons, Courgette, Temporada, Waters Edge and Capitol Bar and Grill each received one hat.
Dining in Canberra city
In the heart of the city, Canberra Centre’s North Quarter dishes up some hot city eats. Try Cream, Sammy’s Kitchen, popular Mexican restaurant Guzman y Gomez and Jamie’s Italian Canberra. On Bunda Street, check out the Chairman & Yip for East meets West cuisine.
Superb Italian fare can also be found at Mezzalira and the little hole-in-the wall that is Da Rosario in the Melbourne Building. This historic building is also home to Thirst Wine Bar and Eatery, offering a quick fix of modern Thai street food. Visit the nearby Charcoal Restaurant which has served mouth-watering steaks for an incredible 50 years. Hidden within the Melbourne Building is the unassuming Loading Zone, serving delicious but simple Italian food. Head to Courgette for some of Canberra’s most upmarket fare.
On the fringe of Canberra’s CBD, Braddon is becoming the hip neighbourhood for cafes and restaurants and bars. For classic Italian cuisine and buzzing atmosphere, try Italian and Sons, Eightysix for an ultra-cool dining experience and the Elk & Pea for a Central American-inspired menu. For street fare, try the food vans within The Hamlet. Hipster coffee spots, cold pressed juice bars and an eclectic mix of homeware stores, vintage op shops, pop up art, fashion and design shops as well as car yards and hairdressing salons abound.
Drop into to Canberra's BentSpoke Brewing Co. and taste their ales and ciders, all made on the premises. Hopscotch has also joined the neighbourhood with rare beers on top, and an Argentine open grill fuelled with Australian woods to impart a distinctive flavour.
Nestled nearby inside Gorman House, a 1920s heritage building in the heart of Canberra, the award-winning Sage Dining Rooms serves up excellence in a relaxed environment. Their food has been described as 'whimsical pieces of art' — as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palate.
Discover the delights of the NewActon dining precinct. The Parlour Wine Room, a Canberra favourite, offers tapas, classic cocktails and an extensive wine list including Canberra wines. It’s located next to A.Baker and Močan & Green Grout, both popular spots for a great cup of coffee or delicious meal incorporating local seasonal produce. Italian restaurant Bicicletta specialises in simple and traditional Italian food. Newcomer Monster Kitchen and Bar, located in the ever so cool Hotel Hotel, offers a creative menu for breakfast and all-day dining. NewActon neighbour, QT Canberra, offers an extensive menu designed by Robert Marchetti at the Capitol Bar & Grill. In the evening, enjoy the super-relaxed atmosphere and cool tunes — there are lots of little nooks within the precinct where you can eat and enjoy a drink. Movie-lovers can visit Max Brenner or the Palace Electric Cinema's Prosecco Bar before seeing a film.
Canberra's inner south
Kingston and Manuka and nearby suburbs in the inner south have many fantastic cafes, restaurants and bakeries. Choose from modern Australian, Vietnamese, Indian, Turkish, Spanish, Malaysian, Thai, Chinese and Italian cuisine.
In Kingston, try Ox Eatery with its fabulous French rotisserie oven or Penny University’s casual dining experience whose open-style kitchen adds to the feel of stepping into someone’s (funky) home.
The Kingston Foreshore is transforming into a vibrant waterfront precinct offering many dining and bar options. C Dine Bar was the first of many restaurants to make their home at the promenade, and has since been joined by Morks, The Rum Bar, Local Press cafe and vibrant pub, Walt & Burley. Coffee lovers can also enjoy a cup at Remedy by Lonsdale Street Roasters, 38 Espresso, while Max Brenner will satisfy any sweet tooth. Visit a Canberra favourite, Brodburger at the Canberra Glassworks, for mouth-watering burgers and bustling atmosphere.
In Manuka, Abell’s Kopi Tiam offers home-style Malaysian cuisine. Grab a bite to eat at Urban Pantry or enjoy an upmarket take on pub grub at Public. For fine dining, Griffith’s Aubergine regularly wins some of the city’s top dining awards, while nearby Rubicon has a well-deserved reputation for its fine food and extensive wine list.
Dickson offers a small flourishing Chinatown and much more. Share great value Asian food at Jimmy’s Place, Asian Noodle House, the Scholar and Ruby Chinese. There’s a great vibe, not to mention terrific dumplings, at Dickson Dumpling House. You’ll also find Korean, Malaysian, Turkish, Italian, Indian and Thai food all within a short walk.
Delights of Canberra's suburbs
Nestled out in the suburbs you’ll find casual yet stylish eateries that are worth a detour. Visit Ellacure for modern Australian cuisine in Bruce. Try European bistro-style dishes with a twist at Pulp Kitchen in Ainslie or creative Asian cuisine at the Lanterne Rooms in Campbell. Some of Canberra’s best southside fine dining are worth the journey to dine in places like Pistachio Dining at Torrens.
Enjoy Chinese/Malaysian at Timmy’s Kitchen in Manuka or Turkish fare at the Turkish Pide House in Woden. For pizzas and other Italian fare, Bicicletta in the NewActon precinct is a popular choice. La Cantina, in Narrabundah, also offers family-friendly Italian dining. For budget dining, try the Food Court Family Restaurant in Dickson, where the buffet features seafood, pasta, Chinese, salads and dessert, along with free soft drink refills. Canberra’s many sporting, national, cultural and tradesman's and worker's clubs also offer great value family meals in bistros and restaurants.
Tapas share plates and light meals
For authentic tapas, try the extensive menu at Legends Spanish Restaurant in Manuka. In nearby Barton, indulge in the rich melange of flavours at Hotel Realm's Ostani Lounge Bar Restaurant. Honkytonks in the city is a cool venue serving tacos, salsa and hot dogs. For a touch of style, try the shared plates at Parlour Wine Room in NewActon, Playground Martini & Tapas Bar in Garema Place or Muddle Bar on West Row.
Canberra cheap eats and pub food
Canberra has many pubs serving hearty, inexpensive food. In the city, head to King O’Malley’s Irish Pub, PJ O’Reilly’s Irish Pub and the Uni Pub, the Wig & Pen Tavern and Brewery and Brewery at Llewellyn Hall, Australian National University, and BentSpoke Brewing Co. in Braddon or cook your own steak at the Kingston Hotel. Zierholz Premium Brewery has two outlets, in Fyshwick and at the University of Canberra in Bruce, where you can enjoy a wide variety of food with locally crafted beers. Canberra’s many licensed clubs also offer good value meals.
Dining with a view of Canberra
For spectacular views over Canberra, Onred and its casual cafe Little Brother have fine views from Red Hill Lookout and lure diners with creative dishes highlighting fresh seasonal produce. Sophisticated Waters Edge has views across the lake and up Anzac Parade to the Australian War Memorial, while the Boat House by the Lake is cosy in winter and hard to beat on sunny days. For a more casual lakeside experience, settle into bookplate at the National Library of Australia or the cafe at the National Museum of Australia. Snapper on the Lake at the Canberra Yacht Club in Yarralumla is a great spot to grab some fish and chips.
Canberra district produce
Canberra has a thriving Slow Food movement and many outlets for people interested in buying direct from small local producers. Stop by Choku Bai Jo shops in North Lyneham and Curtin or drop into the Saturday morning Capital Region Farmers Market – the largest farmers market in the Southern Tablelands. Visit Grandma’s at the Farm for locally produced olives and olive oil, Chocolate d’Or for exquisite Robyn Rowe chocolates and Gallagher Wines for locally produced cheeses and wine. Poachers Pantry produces wonderful smoked goods and is one of the stops on the Poacher's Way, a self-guided drive of boutique food, wine and accommodation. Pick up some award-winning bacon voted ‘Australia’s Best Artisan Bacon’ from a number of outlets including Essential Ingredient and IGA Ainslie.