A Foodie’s Getaway Guide to Canberra
If you haven’t road-tripped down to Canberra since school excursion days, it’s time to hop in the car. The capital city is more than just politics and power players – it’s a foodie’s dream. Thanks to a close-knit network of growers, farmers, brewers and winemakers who have brought good food and wine to the forefront, every dish and glass is as delicious as the next. The city is home to a handful of hatted restaurants as well as scores of swish and casual eateries catering to every palate. Vineyards are a short drive away, and if you want to cook up a storm, there are farmers markets and grocers flush with fresh produce and deli delights.
Here’s your guide to a foodie getaway in Canberra.
Capital Region Farmers Market
Locavores, you’ll love this market. Held every Saturday morning, it has 100 stalls selling everything from fruit and veg to meat, seafood, condiments and baked goods – almost all of which comes from less than 300km away.
Southside Farmers Markets
Wander through this market, and you’ll spot stalls piled high with fresh produce, meat, poultry and dairy, including plenty of organic, biodynamic and gluten-free goodies.
In Kingston, these Sunday markets are an institution. Along with arts, crafts and clothing, there’s a fresh produce section stocked with fruit, veg, breads, sweet treats, cheeses, cannoli and locally made sauces, spreads and marinades.
Open Thursday to Sunday, Canberra’s oldest markets are made up of 25 shops, including fruit shops, florists, butchers, delis, bakeries, seafood sellers, specialty Asian grocers and wine and liquor stores.
Known for their fine cocktails and whisky, this Garema Place watering hole plays host to masterclasses, tastings and live music. Busy on weekends, be sure to get in early to avoid disappointment.
On the scene for 10 years, Parlour is local institution. Combining moorish tapas and an impressive cocktail list, Parlour is the perfect spot for an intimate dinner or late night drink.
A glamorous nightspot with a whimsical fit out, this cocktail bar takes you down the rabbit hole. Taking inspiration from Alice in Wonderland, expect creative cocktails and curious bites.
Tucked away in a basement through a hidden doorway, this chic den raises the bar scene stakes. With its classic yet modern style, everything about this bar oozes cool; from the mini chesterfields to the crisp cocktails.
For something livelier, this tex-mex bar and restaurant is perfect for those looking to party. Come the weekend, the outdoor garden is packed with people enjoying the Mexican bites, sipping on tequila-laden drinks, dancing to the live band.
Head chef Ben Willis has held onto not one, but two, Chef’s Hats for five years. The Modern Australian restaurant offers a four-course fixed menu that changes with the seasons, but always showcases local produce.
For fine dining by the waterfront (in this case, Lake Burley Griffin), go to The Boat House. The service is warm and professional, and the Modern Australian plates are perfectly presented.
In leafy Kingston, Otis also holds a coveted Chef’s Hat. It serves French bistro dishes that double as conversation starters (get the green pea risotto and you’ll see what we mean), and the wine list is great.
Tucked inside the Ovolo Nishi Hotel, Monster made its name with the Yabby Jaffle – but that’s just the beginning. Open all day, the industrial-chic eatery’s delish Modern Australian menu is made for sharing.
For a taste of Turkey, book a table at Ottoman, which has been on the scene for 25 years (and scooped up many awards during that time). Go hungry, so you can truly enjoy the generous portions!
Eating is one of life’s simplest pleasures, and XO makes it a playful one, too. The restaurant whips up pan-Asian classics and share plates to a predominantly 90s soundtrack, making it a millennial magnet.
Run by Australia’s first World Barista Champion (who won the award in 2015), it’s safe to say this specialty coffee house knows its stuff. It serves ONA coffee, and hosts cupping classes so you can learn just how really, really good coffee is made.
This tiny space packs a powerful punch. The menu changes all the time, but you’ll always be treated to inventive, ethically-minded dishes. We love the ‘afternoon’ menu, which is designed to keep the hunger pangs at bay before dinner.
In Kingston, this lakeside café is a health lover’s paradise, serving hearty mains (try the waffles or green pea pancakes), cold-pressed juices, smoothies and sweet treats. After brekkie or lunch, stroll the foreshore.
This café shines brightest at brunch, where you can tuck into shakshuka and breakfast burritos while sipping on the delicious-yet-nutritious peanut butter smoothie, or a great coffee.
This Scandi-chic spot is an interior design dream. It’s also wildly popular for weekend brunch, so you’ll want to get in early to score a table. Once you’re seated, feast on the orange and raisin sourdough and the blue swimmer crab omelette.
When you’re wandering down Lonsdale Street, stop in at this buzzing café. Its philosophy is simple: eat healthy, nutrient-packed food 80% of the time, and indulge the other 20% of the time. As you may have guessed, Eighty/Twenty will help you with both.
DESSERTS & SWEETS
If you’re looking for Canberra’s best ice-cream, here it is. At Frugii, the flavours change daily, but there’s always a mix of classic and experimental combos (savoury ice-cream, anyone?), plus vegan, dairy-, gluten- and nut-free options.
With a tagline, “life is short – make it sweet,” this charming chocolatier just outside of the city is worth a visit. Stock up on Robyn’s hazelnut logs, walnut fudge and chai latte chocolates.
Macaron fans, don’t leave Canberra without trying Dream Cuisine’s creations. Found at the EPIC and Bus Depot markets, the pistachio and fresh lime is divine.
Sip on the original ‘freakshake’ at Patissez. The spot exploded onto the social media scene thanks to its decadent, OTT milkshakes topped with brownies, doughnuts, pretzels and ice-cream sandwiches.
Each winter, this festival showcases the fresh black truffles grown in the ACT and southern NSW. From June to August, you can visit truffle farms, take cooking classes, or indulge on truffle dishes at restaurants and cafes around Canberra.
Swish, sip and repeat at Pialligo, a riverfront vineyard that’s known for its Riesling, Shiraz and merlot. You can simply visit the cellar door, or make a day of it by signing up for a wine or cooking class, or lingering over lunch at the restaurant.
A 15-minute drive from the city centre, this wine wonderland has made a name for itself for its boutique wines and beautiful views. To learn more about viticulture, sign up for the gumboot tour.
Class is in session. Brush up on your cooking skills at Foodish, which hosts classes on everything from Italian to Indian, dumplings to desserts, and slow-cooking to ‘survival cooking’ for time-poor people.
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