This article is sponsored by VisitCanberra
In recent times Canberra’s foodie scene has really taken off, solidifying the vibrant capital city as one of Australia’s premier foodie destinations.
Find some of Australia’s best and brightest minds debating current affairs over locally-sourced entrees, families enjoying alfresco dining against the unique Canberra landscape where the land meets architecture, and everyone in between digging into delicious plates of world-class gastronomic delight in bars, booths and more.
As Australia’s largest inland city, Canberra is also home to a fascinating history, a wealth of cultural attractions and a rotating calendar of exciting events.
The KFC Big Bash League takes place December 21 (Sydney Thunder versus Melbourne Stars) which also includes the Women’s BBL Thunder versus Hurricanes game. It’s a family-friendly atmosphere and a great day out for those of all ages.
Don’t miss the Domain Test Match, the first international cricket match ever to be played at Canberra’s historic Manuka Oval, taking place from February 1 – 5. Australia will face off against Sri Lanka in the nail-biting historic event. Or, check out The Big Bash League on February 9, where Sydney Thunder will face off against Hobart Hurricane.
After you’ve worked up an appetite from the bumper summer of cricket in Canberra, there’s plenty to satisfy the taste buds. Here are ten iconic Canberra foodie spots for you to taste.
1. Lazy Su
There’s no other word for it; Lazy Su is cool. The restaurant manages to strike an easy balance between Japanese and Korean flavours with an American twist, creating menus that are seasonal, accessible and casual – with nothing priced over $30.
The team behind Lazy Su are young but experienced industry players – co-owners Jared Calnan, Ben Ilic, Andrew Duong and Shaoyi Kuek – whose menu offers options like Wagyu cheesesteak spring roll, Korean buffalo wings, XO Pippies and fresh raw fish like tuna tataki and sashimi plate.
The space is full of character, expertly brought to life by a series of light features that allow it to transition from an airy lunch spot to an intimate dinner offering. Spot the army of eponymous golden lazy su(sans) offset by a back wall made of red and gold mirrors.
Whisky lovers and those who delight in Asian spirits will be astounded by the liquor collection at Lazy Su, much of which the team have brought back from research trips in Asia.
2. Grease Monkey
Burgers are experiencing a real foodie revival in recent times – from brioche buns to smoked BBQ pork brisket and homemade relishes, burger-lovers can expect much more than just ‘the works’ at Grease Monkey.
If burgers aren’t your thing, Grease Monkey also serve deep-south-style fried chicken with house-made coleslaw and mash potato and gravy. Or level up your fries game with loaded fries, topped with bacon, jalapenos and pickles.
All the fun goes down inside an old mechanic’s garage in the hip and happening Lonsdale Street, Braddon, where the team also serve a grand selection of beer, wine, cocktails and Greasy’s famous milkshakes.
Located in the beating heart of Canberra in Bunda Street is Kokomo’s, a sprawling restaurant and nightlife venue. The specialty trans-pacific cuisine is fairly unique in Canberra, bringing the heat from popular summer holiday destinations the world over.
But the one thing that really sets apart Kokomo’s is the serving hours – the team plate up delicious meals ‘til 11pm every day of the week, whether you’re set up outside at the tables, hanging amongst the foliage on the mezzanine level, in a booth or at the bar.
Enjoy menu offerings like Polynesian pulled beef toast with bone marrow, Szechuan pickle and poppy seeds or puffed quinoa and sesame chicken katsu with teriyaki and shiso, and round off the meals with a passion fruit cheesecake ice cream sandwich with pistachio crumb and lemon balm.
4. Morning Glory
What’s the story [about] Morning Glory? In short, it’s “a new perspective on daylight dining”. The mindful dining experience at Morning Glory aims to comfort, satisfy and surprise diners with unpretentious service and a unique menu, set within one of Canberra’s oldest hospitality precincts.
The menu boasts some twists on usual suspects (a char sui bacon and egg roll with kewpie mayonnaise and fried eschalot, for example) and some must-try options like cauliflower upma with paratha, fried egg and curry leaves, or the black sesame waffle with milk tea, raspberry and white chocolate.
Morning Glory also serve up game-changing coffee. One to taste is the seasonal blend, described as “a real fruit bomb, sourced from Ethiopia and Malawi, this seasonal boasts notes of blueberry, toffee and green apple, complemented by round, chunky and silky textures”.
5. Fox and Bow
Hidden in the heart of Farrer is Fox and Bow, a family-run cafe with a welcoming, homely vibe. The friendly and relaxed team at Fox and Bow serve tasty but uncomplicated food, making it a favourite local haunt for Woden Valley residents and visitors from beyond the valley, too.
Head to Fox and Bow for a lazy weekend brunch where you can dig into a plate of blueberry hotcakes with lemon curd, almond brittle, mascarpone and burnt orange caramel, or enjoy the honey-roasted sweet potato with halloumi and smoked trout.
It all goes down against the backdrop of polished concrete floors, exposed brick and blue gum timber tabletops while some fun tunes set the atmosphere. Check out the logo, which was created from bent copper piping, or say hi to owner Alex Piris – Fox and Bow is his first venture and business is booming.
Agostinis is an Italian family restaurant serving authentic regional cuisine made with amore. The team at Agostinis take their food very seriously, creating handmade fresh pasta daily, cooking pizzas inside the state-of-the-art Marana Forni pizza oven and even creating their very own gelato.
But the vibe of Agostinis is anything but serious. It’s a relaxed and fun dining environment where smiles are as abundant as the Parmesan cheese, all going down within the East Hotel complex. The open-kitchen pumps out metre-long pizzas with gusto – a must-try is the Salsiccia – Italian sausage, ‘nduja (spicy, spreadable salami) and Fior di Latte mozzarella.
There also options like tender calamari, cured meats and plenty of tasty dolci including tiramisu and cannelloni on offer, with something for everyone.
No Italian foodie experience is complete without a properly-paired drink – enjoy a classic ruby-red Negroni topped with a splash of dry prosecco or a speciality-chosen Italian wine available by the quarter-, half- or full-litre.
7. Urban Pantry
This light-filled casual dining venue is situated in the heart of iconic Manuka Lawns and run by the team behind Canberra favourites Double Shot and Locale. The carefully-chosen menu of Urban Pantry showcases the many foodie delights of the Canberran region, with a focus on the finer details evidenced from the culinary options to the retro tiles and handcrafted wall art.
Try the baked Sicilian eggs with San Marzano sugo, olives, roasted peppers, confit garlic, Persian feta, cannellini beans, grilled farmhouse sourdough and smoked Italian sausage if you’re in for breakfast, or the king prawn skewer with baby cos spears, avocado, cucumber ribbons, buttermilk emulsion, brioche crisps for lunch.
Pair your dining experience with boutique wines and beers, or take home a piece of the action with plenty of gourmet and local ingredients used in the kitchen for sale. If it’s a nice Canberra day, set yourself up outside under the beautiful oak trees and enjoy the sunshine.
Akiba was awarded Australia’s favourite restaurant as the Australian Financial Review Top Restaurants People’s Choice for 2016 and it’s easy to see why.
It’s an exciting, fast-paced dining experience for those craving delicate flavours and bold drinks. Cooked over live fuel of wood and charcoal, Akiba makes the most of local produce. The result is a modern twist on the great tradition of barbecue while staying true to fresh and light Asian flavours.
Think bustling food halls and dining rooms of East Asia – the raw bar offers options like salmon ceviche, horseradish cream, wakame, preserved lemon, enjoy a soft shell crab bun with pickled baby gem, creamy ponzu or taste the sweetcorn pancake with chilli caramel and togarashi.
9. Mocan & Green Grout
A cafe with strong Canberra roots and located in New Acton, Mocan & Green Grout focus on sourcing local ingredients and working with ACT artisans, artists and designers to create their dining experience. From handcrafted plates and mugs to the delicious food options served upon them, it’s no wonder this humble spot is a favourite Canberran foodie haunt.
The team serve fair trade coffee, source produce from local farmers, and grow herbs in a planter at the front door, creating a cozy and comfortable experience for diners within in an eclectic fit out. The team at Mocan & Green Grout also make bicycles under the label Goodspeed Bicycle Co.
Head to Mocan & Green Grout for a lazy afternoon and dine on some chic options like mushroom parfait with pickled mushrooms, chestnut and Ortiz anchovy, eschalot and caper crostini, along with a crisp glass of white wine or craft beer.
10. Bar Rochford
Hidden away in the iconic Melbourne Building is Bar Rochford, a wine and cocktail bar with plenty of twists and turns. It was founded by Nick Smith in 2016, who has created a stylish space of bottle green booths, ornamental Moritz cans and an arched window with views across London Circuit.
Cozy up by the fire and gorge on culinary treats like pork terrine with pistachio and quince, burrata with pumpkin and rye or Moonlight Flat oysters. Cocktails are a stand-out category on the curated drinks menu – try the Dubonnet Cocktail with aromatic wine, port, rye whiskey, sweet elderflower and Fernet-Branca.
Book ahead to ensure a table in the afternoon, where political power-brokers can be found alongside date-nighters basking in the afternoon Canberra sun. The bar’s dance floor cracks open on Saturday night, perfect for enjoying a chic Canberra nightlife.
All this food working up a thirst? Canberra’s beer and spirit-makers are making waves in drinks all over the city.
Notable mentions include Capital Brewing Co for their rich, malty Coast Ale, juicy session-beer Trail Pale Ale and the tropical, gutsy Evil Eye Red IPA. Head to Bentspoke Brewing to check out 18 varieties of beer and cider all brewed on premise, including hand-crushed apple cider and house-made ginger beer.
Or check out Underground Spirits for their multi-award-winning spirits created through a sub-zero, sub-micron cryofiltration process that eliminates impurities earlier than other processes. Taste the difference at The Canberra Distillery who only use the ‘heart’ cut of the distillate.
There’s no better time to visit Australia’s capital and discover why Lonely Planet ranked Canberra third in its top 10 list Best in Travel 2018 guide city list.
This article is sponsored by VisitCanberra