From fine-dining restaurants to wineries that also serve an excellent long lunch and bars so secret you need map coordinates to find it, Canberra is full of incredible places to eat and drink. Start with these top picks.
Museum Café at the National Museum of Australia
Image credit: John Gollings
A great brunch, uninterrupted water views and a culture hit – it’s a trifecta that’s tough to beat. Head to the Museum Café at the National Museum of Australia (pictured top) for creamy scrambled eggs served with grilled asparagus and parmesan or panseared Tasmanian salmon with braised fennel, heirloom kale and a gribiche sauce, or swordfish with quinoa and tahini yogurt, which you can eat as you watch Lake Burley Griffin gently lapping just metres away. Afterwards, take a tour of the museum’s Talking Blak to History exhibition, which speaks to the dispossession, grief and resilience of Australia’s First Peoples. If you’re visiting on a weekend, stop by the Dyara Indigenous Arts Hub outside the Museum Shop, to find an artwork that you can take home.
Image credit: Kara Rosenlund
If you put your arms out and spin in a circle you’ll hit 10 great places to dine in Canberra. For a small city, it holds its own when it comes to hatted restaurants, but fine diner Aubergine rightly owns its spot as the most refined place to have a special meal. Chef Ben Willis nods to trends but he’s not enslaved by them, instead focusing on classic food that’s cooked with precision, technique and flavour front of mind.
An easy day trip out of the city is a region boasting more than 30 cellar doors. In Murrumbateman you’ll find award-winning Clonakilla and Helm Wines, as well as The Vintner’s Daughter, where Stephanie Helm draws on the skills she learnt from her winemaking father. In nearby Lake George, Lerida Estate, designed by Glenn Murcutt, is an ideal spot for a lazy lunch.
One of the best places to taste the broadest range of food and drinks the capital has to offer is at the expansive Pialligo Estate – like a miniature village of deliciousness all unto itself. On the grounds, there are several restaurants, a smokehouse, an orchard, market gardens, olive groves and a vineyard. Follow Pialligo on social media for special events, such as coffee and storytellings and high teas.
Did you know Canberra has a bar that’s so secret the website provides map coordinates rather than an address? If you manage to sleuth it out, you’ll find Molly, a nostalgic speakeasy hidden in a back alley, offering smooth jazz, cocktails and good times.
If you’re looking for somewhere cosy and romantic, then you want a table at Ramentic. This quirky hole-in-the wall Japanese soup house serves the best ramen in the city, making it a top date spot.
Lake George Winery
Slumber near the vines at Lake George Winery, which produces some of the finest, minimalinterference cool-climate wines in the area. Try its vibrant riesling and award-winning tempranillo, which scored gold at the Canberra and Region Wine Show last year. A tiny house, Little George, let’s you stay on site; take bracing hikes around the lake before settling in for a long lunch at the Westering restaurant.
Enigma Fine Chocolates
Take a sweet piece of the city home after stopping in at Enigma Fine Chocolates in Braddon. The pick of its wares? The elegant truffles made with couverture chocolate – the Espresso Martini flavour, spiked with coffee liqueur from The Canberra Distillery, is a cracker.