March 27, 2019
There’s a reason everyone is raving about Canberra’s food scene.
Here are 50 mouth-watering destinations you simply must try.
To ensure your culinary trip is covered, we’ve compiled a list of 50 cafés and restaurants in and around Canberra as recommended by local professionals. They are Belinda Neame, creator of Canberra’s only street-style food event, The Forage; Brian Tunks, creative director of Bisonhome; Nutritionist and 2018 MasterChef Australia contestant Chloe Carroll; Patissez co-owner Anna Petridis;and director of This Canberran Life, Lisa Eriksson.
$ – $25 & under $$ – $25 to $40 $$$ – $40 to $55 $$$$ – $55 & over
Barton • Japanese • $$$$
Here you’ll be served authentic Japanese with a modern twist – think ocean trout with wasabi mascarpone and tempura egg served alongside duck. Pair your meal with sake – or ask the friendly staff to pick for you from the wide range – and experience some of the best hospitality that Canberra has to offer, nestled inside the Burbury Hotel (yes, there’s room service!).
Goodfood.com.au says: “The food is eclectic and immaculate, the service personable and professional and the set-up is Tokyo-cool. This eatery stands up in any company.”
NewActon • Modern Australian • $$$
Offering seasonally-based meals designed to share, this modern Australian eatery is ideal for groups. Spread across four visually different spaces, including a lounge, Monster is open from breakfast until late so you can enjoy a bite from its unique menu whatever the time of day.
Lisa says: “This is my go-to! Sitting by the fire with wine and share plates is perfect in winter.”
Braddon • Modern Australian • $$$
Everything about this dynamic restaurant works – from the unstructured menu loaded with Asian and Aussie flavours to the modern interior and hip-hop tunes. Menu items are listed from small to big, so you can mix and match based on your tastes. There’s also a salt-and-vinegar potato scallop (tip: order at least two), but be sure to leave room for the banoffee pie.
Chloe says: “Eightysix is by far my favourite place for dinner. The food is well executed and the overall experience is second to none. Its spiced cauliflower is a must!”
Kingston • Modern Australian • $$$$
Otis Dining Hall’s dark, moody timber interior is suggestive of a saloon but, in contrast, the menu is fresh, exciting and quintessentially Australian (even wallaby gets a look-in). If it’s a sophisticated dining experience you’re after, this is the venue for you.
Belinda says: “Canberra loves its truffles, and my favourite way to enjoy them is the truffle gnocchi at Otis Dining Hall.”
NewActon • Café • $
A top-10 contender in the Gourmet Traveller 2019 Australian Restaurant Guide, this café in the cultural district of NewActon pours Fairtrade coffee and its small but perfectly formed menu makes it well worth the visit.
Gourmet Traveller says: “Mocan & Green Grout is the antithesis of comfortable fine dining. Op-shop cutlery, retro lamps and recycled-timber walls give Mocan a beach-shack vibe. A fully open kitchen adds to the atmosphere.”
Braddon • Modern Australian • $$$$
Choose your own food adventure in elegant, ambient surroundings. The menu has an old-world feel, with the option of three or five courses, plus additional drink pairing.
Goodfood.com.au says: “Service is friendly and attentive all night and you can really tell they’re trying hard to please.”
Braddon • Italian • $$$
A firm favourite among locals, this trattoria presents patrons with an impressive menu that could be plucked straight from the heartland. The cheeses are indeed sourced from Italy, as is the majority of the wine list.
The Weekend Australian Magazine says: “What makes this place stand out is a commitment to good produce and wonderful service.”
Barton • Turkish • $$$
Make sure you arrive hungry to this little piece of Turkey. Start on meze plates of housemade dips, pan-fried haloumi and fetta-filled pastries, finishing on a sweet note of traditional baklava.
Chloe says: “Ottoman Cuisine has an amazing reputation for good food, wine and service.”
Barton • Modern Australian • $$$$
What better way to watch the sun set over Lake Burley Griffin than with four courses of beautifully plated cuisine. Each dish on the short but satisfying menu is thoughtfully planned to deliver a fine-dining experience.
Brian says: “Beautiful location and absolutely brilliant menu.”
Griffith • Modern Australian • $$$$
This culinary icon is by far Canberra’s most decorated restaurant. The fast-changing menu is exciting and definitely worth splashing out on.
Goodfood.com.au says: “This little restaurant at the Griffith shops is anything but old-fashioned. It focuses on being a special place to dine, with a wine list like no other, and food that is intricate without being annoying.”
Narrabundah • Asian fusion • $$$
Fun and funky, XO has nailed the share-plate concept with a small menu that sings with South-East Asian flavours. You’ll want to order one of everything – don’t skip the sake, either.
Goodfood.com.au says: “Eating should be fun and everything about XO is, from the service – by a team who is clearly passionate about food – to the particularly enjoyable playlist.”
Canberra City • Modern Australian • $$$
This is a restaurant that truly welcomes you with open arms. The menu of bespoke tapas plates is fresh and inviting, the staff are helpful and the website even has a handy parking map for out-of-towners.
Brian says: “Their menu is fabulous, with a great selection of gins from Canberra and all over.”
Canberra City • Wine bar • $$
This venue’s sparse industrial interior is brought to life by a colourful menu of share plates and an extensive drinks list. Every night here feels like a Saturday night, so if you enjoy quirky music and solid bar food, this is your place.
Lisa says: “Perfect for a late-night drink and their food is delicious! I always recommend this bar to anyone visiting Canberra.”
Campbell • Asian • $$$
You’re in safe hands at Lanterne Rooms, which is run by The Chairman Group (also behind Lilotang). This is food for the soul: traditional satay chicken, tom-yum-infused prawns and Shanghai noodles, all in cosy surroundings.
Goodfood.com.au says: “Lanterne Rooms offers a style of gutsy Malaysian-Chinese-based food and reaches much wider for new influences.”
Weston Creek • Mediterranean • $$
Dive right into some of the best seafood that Canberra has to offer at this family-run diner. Anchovy bread, sweet prawns and chunky fish stew – it’s all delicious and comforting.
Goodfood.com.au says: “This is home cooking with a big heart, and the whole package adds up to a warm, friendly restaurant.”
Canberra City • French • $$$$
Dishes at this French establishment are finished with flair, from sauces and glazes to micro herbs. Here you will enjoy a decadent four-course dinner, with the option of a fifth cheese course that seems a shame to pass up.
Lisa says: “Dishes are beautifully presented – it’s definitely one to add to your list.”
Barton • Modern Australian • $$$$
We eat with our eyes so, naturally, this contemporary restaurant’s beautifully plated dishes make it an instant hit. But it is also the clever flavour creations and unsuspecting wine pairings that keep the locals coming back. The ambient interior feels relaxing – unusual for fine-diners but welcome all the same.
Gourmet Traveller says: “The eats lean towards the accessible, with familiar combinations of flavours and ingredients: beetroot and goat’s cheese, pork belly and cauliflower, lamb with eggplant and fetta. Wagyu beef is a highlight.”
Canberra city • Italian • $$$$
Located in the QT Canberra hotel, this eatery oozes glamour and sophistication; the dress code of “dress to impress” says it all, really.
The wine list perfectly complements mains hot off the wood grill, featuring mouth-watering steaks you’ll find hard to resist.
Out In Canberra says: “With a concept created by acclaimed restaurateur Robert Marchetti, you will have your fill of fine wine and food offerings that are perfect for a power lunch or dinner.”
Canberra City • Café • $
Helmed by the folks behind ONA Coffee, ACT powerhouse The Cupping Room delivers a full Canberra food experience. The bean blends on offer are rotated frequently and the smart, crowd-pleasing menu (think smashed avo, French toast and a beef burger) is packed with locally sourced ingredients.
Time Out says: “It’s the food that really makes this place. Every dish is nicely balanced.”
Kingston • Café • $
Local Press Café is for people who like their food consciously sourced and prepared – and snapping an Insta-worthy photo or two. With vegan-friendly and gluten-free meals, as well as a build-your-own-brekkie option, there’s something here for everyone.
Chloe says: “If you’re after good wholesome food, coffee and cold-pressed juices, look no further. This quirky café is passionate about serving fresh, simple and honest food.”
Kingston • Café & bakery • $
Skip the continental breakfast at the hotel and head to Silo. The café menu is small but boasts an impressive array of flavours to suit most palates – Bircher muesli, scrambled eggs with local truffle and even a breakfast cheese board. When you’re finished, grab a treat or two from the onsite bakery and take the good times home with you.
Belinda says: “I’m a sucker for good buttery pastry and that’s definitely what you get with Silo’s tarts. With flavours such as chocolate crumble, classic lemon and prune clafoutis, the hardest part is sitting down to just one.”
Deakin • Café • $
Variety is what makes this buzzy café great – from the numerous breakfast options and add-ons to the seemingly endless beverage menu. You’ll want to try one of everything, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself going back again and again.
Brian says: “Doubleshot is the best spot for a lazy weekend brunch.”
Dickson • Café & bar • $
Here’s where you can celebrate brunch in style. The menu – featuring chia pudding, pea-and-three-cheese fritters and a vegie bowl spiked with kimchi – is inventive and undeniably delicious. There are also plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
Belinda says: “What’s not to love about Highroad? It has a stunning, considered interior, wonderful service and a menu loaded with more-ish dishes – Highroad has it all.”
Braddon • Café • $
This café serves Five Senses (that is, delicious) coffee and Scandi-inspired dishes in a relaxing setting. Perch on a stool and dig into soft-boiled eggs with soldiers or, if your sweet tooth prefers, the orange-and-raisin artisan sourdough with banana and ricotta.
Goodfood.com.au says: “Rye’s menu is seasonally focused, with salads and sandwiches available for lunch, plus heartier meat dishes for those looking to stick around. Pickles, chutneys, pâté and even tonic water are made in-house.”
Lyneham • Café • $
This café calls itself “one of Canberra’s greatest little secrets” and it’s a nice surprise given the dishes on offer. If you’re looking for your ’grammable moment, you will definitely find it at this Lyneham gem. One thing’s for sure: this secret won’t last long.
The Canberra Edit says: “Serving breakfast and lunch for now, The Front welcomes you to pop in for any occasion: a catch-up with friends or a place to study or just read the paper over a great coffee roasted by Two Before Ten.”
Griffith • Modern Australian • $$
With its white tiled walls and immaculate benches, Urban Pantry’s chic setting would not be out of place in the Hamptons. Best for a breezy long lunch – make sure you try the espresso martini.
Goodfood.com.au says: “The lunch menu includes French-inspired dishes such as bouillabaisse and a baguette with Angus fillet, gorgonzola and truffle butter.”
Springrange • Restaurant • $$$
Smoked meat is having a moment and this restaurant knows exactly how to excite the senses with its artisan produce. The lush, inviting grounds make it the perfect spot for lunch. Give yourself a little extra time to explore the cellar door and farm shop, too.
Bestrestaurants.com.au says: “Poachers Pantry, home of some of Australia’s best smoked goods, is nestled in the Hall hills just outside Canberra. The property produces a wide variety of smoked meats, poultry, game and vegetables, which are cured and smoked using traditional methods.”
Parkes • Café • $
Where else can you enjoy a mouth-watering meal in such close proximity to some of the greatest Australian literary works and treasures? No ordinary eatery, this airy café at the National Library is lined with stained-glass windows and has an impressive menu to match.
The Canberra Times says: “There are lots of little touches that add a pop of colour to the space. Those who drop by for a bite can sink into mustard banquettes and eat off navy blue crockery made by an Australian potter.”
Pialligo • Modern Australian • $$
Located a short drive from the Parliamentary Triangle, Pialligo Estate is a picturesque property featuring a restaurant, which serves modern Australian cuisine, plus an orchard, vineyard, olive grove and more. Enjoy a long lunch followed by a browse of the farm shop for the wares produced on site.
Goodfood.com.au says: “A really pleasant place to eat, food that is very well done and a lovely sense of removal from everyday life.”
Acton • Café • $
Take a break from wandering the picturesque Australian National Botanic Gardens at Pollen café, where you’ll truly experience peace and relaxation. Best of all, you can make a table reservation online or take your order with you. The kids’ menu is a winner, too.
Weekend Notes says: “With its beautifully-styled décor and healthy food menu, Pollen café has quickly become another of the attractions at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Surrounded by native plants and tall gum trees towering above, the leafy ambience makes it a popular weekend escape.”
Dickson • Asian • $
If you’re crazy for yum cha, make a beeline for this dumpling house, set on the strip that forms Dickson’s very own Chinatown. Steaming bowls of wontons and noodles are served quickly and in generous portions. It’s a restaurant
for both the young and young-at-heart.
The Sydney Morning Herald says: “What you can expect is a good, fresh meal made with skill and pride, delivered quickly with a smile, and exceptional value for money.”
Canberra City • Italian • $$
Smack-bang in the heart of the CBD, Briscola Pizzeria serves unpretentious Italian comfort food. And boy, does it deliver: the atmosphere is warm and inviting and the menu is moderately priced. If daytime dining is an option, be sure to take advantage of the lunch specials.
Goodfood.com.au says: “The restaurant serves a mixed crowd and all are well catered for.”
Canberra City • Chinese • $$
With a great menu of fan-favourite Chinese dishes to choose from, Sammy’s Kitchen is perfect for a quick and easy lunch or dinner. The central city location makes it a convenient stop on your way to or from the surrounding attractions and shopping precincts, while the tasty dishes ensure it’s a hit with locals and visitors.
Belinda says: “The ideal ‘Let’s go and get a quick bite to eat with the kids’ spot! Sammy’s is fast, friendly and consistently delicious. The sizzling pepper lamb with snow peas is a favourite.”
Braddon • Burgers • $
Half old-school burger joint, half trendy bar, Grease Monkey whips up crowd-pleasing grub, including burgers that won’t fall apart in your hands and succulent fried chicken. Burgers come with a side of chips that are cooked and seasoned to perfection. This eatery has a weekend vibe to it, no matter what day it is.
Goodfood.com.au says: “Grab a seat at the booths or there’s plenty of space in the huge courtyard outside, where long tables and benches are framed with hanging pot plants and a bright red wrought-iron gate swings merrily onto the street.”
Canberra City • Asian • $
This is not your average noodle house. We’re talking about plates of perfectly cooked gyoza, generous portions of made-to-order noodles – pad Thai, yakisoba, Korean spicy chicken – and beautifully presented desserts. There’s also Japanese rice tea and a great range of slushies.
Lisa says: “With its tasty mini plates, Soi Noodle Bar is a delicious place to catch up with friends.”
Braddon • Fish and chips • $
More than just a takeaway joint, at Catch you can wash down your fish and chips (or burger or poke bowl) with a beer, wine or sparkling beverage for something a bit more special.
Goodfood.com.au says: “While it’s styled on a ‘takeaway’ – and everything’s available to take away from inside the store or the dedicated takeaway window facing Elouera Street – a lot of thought has gone into the seating areas, which have a beachy feel.”
Manuka • Asian • $$
The name of this vibrant eatery means “coffee shop” – a nod to the Malaysian coffee drink enriched with butter. The rest of the menu is just as comforting, but the stand-out is My Mum’s Laksa: a perfect balance of spicy and creamy.
The Sydney Morning Herald says: “There are many things to like about Abell’s; the place is full of good smells and happy eaters.”
Kingston • Thai • $$
Situated on the Kingston Foreshore, Morks offers contemporary Thai dining with water views. You won’t find page upon page of dishes here; instead, the menu is a carefully curated selection of memorable meals.
Goodfood.com.au says: “The idea is a modern, not-too-serious take on Thai food, wrapped up in a mod-Asian package.”
Canberra City • Asian • $$
This fun restaurant, with cartoon artwork on the walls, is dedicated to bringing a new wave of Asian flavours to Canberra. As well as the usual suspects of bao and dumplings, you’ll find more creative picks such as kimchi and oyster pancake and tamarind-caramel-glazed beef rib.
Anna says: “Akiba is such a cool joint, with great music, great service and always-great food.”
NewActon • Japanese • $
Brought to you by the folks behind XO, this eatery reimagines daytime dining.
It’s brunch-good but with an Asian twist – there’s a char-siu-bacon and egg roll with mayo and the granola is served with a more-ish pumpkin lassi.
Lisa says: “The location is great and both the food and service are impressive. The food has so much flavour – I love the black-sesame waffle.”
Canberra City • Japanese • $$
Raku is a mix of aesthetically pleasing food, impeccable service and clean, true Japanese flavours. The menu offers a range of raw and hot plates at fair prices, making this clever eatery accessible to the masses.
Goodfood.com.au says: “Chef Hao San has brought a new kind of Japanese dining to Canberra – sleek, super-modern in the drinks and set-up, quite purist and very good.”
Canberra City • Japanese • $$$
Fresh ingredients and an authentic Japanese experience are at the heart of this restaurant, which serves traditional and modern dishes, sushi, sashimi and more. Set meals will help you get a taste of the variety on offer, or mix
and match your own DIY sampler.
Qantas Travel Insider says: “Don’t be fooled by the casual exterior – this downtown joint is all class when it comes to Japanese cuisine.”
Manuka • Indian • $
Home to some of the best curries in Canberra, Jewel of India prides itself on its traditional, great-tasting meals. Dine in or take away and prepare yourself for a feast of breads from the tandoor, creamy spiced curry and biryani.
Bestrestaurants.com.au says: “The colourful dining room is well equipped for groups and is complemented by the family-style share menu.”
Yarralumla • Turkish • $
Don’t be fooled by the shopfront – this is a gem of Canberra’s takeaway food scene. All food is made on the premises to adhere to strict halal standards and the pides are worth lining up for.
Out In Canberra says: “Dubbed by many as the ‘best kebabs in town’, Turkish Halal Pide House serves 100 per cent fresh halal dishes. You will love the traditional flavours.”
Canberra City • Turkish • $
New on the scene, this family-owned “grill bar” has perfected its succulent meats, rich sauces and desserts bursting with Turkish flavours. They do takeaway options, but the beautiful dining room is worth sticking around for.
Eat Canberra says: “The künefe (sweet cheese wrapped in kadayıf pastry baked and soaked in sweet syrup) with a glass of hot tea is the best way to finish off a truly unique Turkish dining experience right in the heart of Canberra.”
Braddon • Street Food • $
An ideal pit stop on the way home – it’s open 6pm until late – this is street food at its best. Be sure to sample the sticky, sweet Mandalay chicken wings as you work your way through the South-East Asian menu.
The Canberra Times says: “The Bus is serving up an international menu, from coconut chicken noodles, prawn twisters and bacon-and-cheese pies to beef nachos.”
Kingston • Italian • $$
Set in the food hub of Kingston, this brightly lit Italian restaurant is where you can try the famed cacio e pepe – a decadent spaghetti dish with cheese and black pepper.
Lisa says: “I love Molto! The service is always great and who can go past pasta served out of a giant wheel of cheese? Amazing!”
Deakin • Italian • $$
Come to Locale for the wood-fired pizzas and stay for the bombolini – warm doughnuts filled with chocolate. The beverages are authentic, too, with beer and wine sourced from Italy, plus some local picks thrown in for good measure.
Brian says: “Locale really is my local – I love, love their pizzas.”
Canberra City • Italian • $$$$
This fine-dining restaurant housed in the CBD’s grand Melbourne Building, just a hop away from some of Canberra’s hotspots, has withstood the test of time – it’s been operating for more than 20 years. Its classic Italian menu includes antipasti, pasta and mains made with love.
Goodfood.com.au says: “Mezzalira is not constrained by the divide between refined Italian and country Italian; it does both.”
Kingston • Italian • $$
Fitting for both big and little kids, Agostinis feels like home. You’ll be treated with warm hospitality at this family-friendly restaurant in the East Hotel and tempted with piping-hot pizzas and desserts made to order.
Anna says: “I’ve recently discovered Agostinis. I love the fit-out and the food. It’s great for a social catch-up.”