The capital hasn’t always been a gourmet getaway. It’s the seat of our government and home to great cultural institutions but finding a good cup of coffee? That wasn’t so easy.
In recent years, however, a host of talented locals have opened up cafés, breweries, restaurants and small bars that could easily compete in bigger cities. Surrounded by farmland and with a growing multicultural population, Canberra is today home to eateries that celebrate local, seasonal and regional fare and now it’s winning hearts – as well as hats.
Whether you’re in town for a weekend away or an extended stay, here’s where to have your fill.
For coffee: Kyo Coffee Project
The hippest kid on Lonsdale Street, this spot takes its coffee as seriously as it does its Japanese-inspired menu. Set back from the street in a quiet courtyard, the hole-in-the-wall serves batch and pour-over brews alongside milk coffees and loose-leaf tea. There’s even free Berocca on the menu if caffeine won’t cut it.
GO5, 27 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
For brunch: Muse
Sophisticated yet homey, this hotel diner has perfected the lazy mid-morning meal. Settle on the leather bench along one wall or out on the deck and order a local Red Brick espresso – or a glass of bubbles – with the baked breakfast soufflé. Little ones will love soft-boiled eggs with soldiers and colouring in. The attached bookshop also hosts literary events.
69 Canberra Avenue, Griffith
For sugar rush: Frugii Dessert Laboratory
With white tiled walls, bright lights and a glass cabinet of sweets, this spot lives up to its name. Order a scoop of the always-popular salted caramel ice cream – or maybe try the cardamom if you’re feeling curious – and perch at the communal table. Friendly staff, chatty regulars and gleeful kids ensure it’s anything but clinical.
Unit 57, 28-30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
For family dining: Snapper on the Lake
If it feels like an impossible feat to keep little ones contained at a restaurant, head to this popular lakeside spot for lunch or dinner. With its crowd-pleasing menu of crumbed, grilled or battered fish and burgers and chips, as well as outdoor seating, a zerojudgement atmosphere and wine and beer list, everyone can relax.
Mariner Place, Yarralumla
For pre-dinner drinks: Bar Rochford
Follow the sound of cheerful chatter upstairs to this cosy local with one hat and you’ll find the bright young things of the city working their way through the red, white, orange, pink and sparkling wine list. Kick back in a booth or nab a bar stool and sip a classic cocktail while a David Bowie record spins.
65 London Circuit, Canberra
For craft beer: BentSpoke Brewing Co
As urban as an urban brewery gets, this shrine to craft beer is in the heart of buzzing Braddon. Pouring 18 frothies on any given day – almost all made on site – this brew pub presents you with the challenge of choosing between a Barley Griffin pale ale or the hoppy Sprocket. Family friendly, it has mac-and cheese balls or chicken and chips for the tykes.
38 Mort Street, Braddon
For dinner: Pilot
Whether reframing classics (cabbage e pepe) or rewriting the book (potato bacon balls), every dish at this on-trend yet chilled-out diner with one hat is as delicious as it is innovative. An all-Australian wine list welcomes regular international guest producers and the daily changing chef’s menu helps cure any option anxiety.
1 Wakefield Gardens, Ainslie
For all-day dining: Rebel Rebel
This long-awaited eatery from chef Sean McConnell (ex Monster Kitchen and Bar) delivers on its promise. All salvaged timber, raw concrete and matt black finishes, the stripped-back interiors contrast with a jam-packed menu. From cacao pops (the restaurant’s take on Coco Pops) in the morning to clams, chorizo and cider at dinner, the food is flavoursome, creative and best shared.
23 Marcus Clarke Street, NewActon
For local flavours: Temporada
Chef Ben Willis has won two hats at his fine diner Aubergine, a 15-minute drive away, so it’s no surprise that the food at this relaxed one-hatted spin-off is sublime. Proudly championing regional produce, Temporada boasts a Spanish vibe, from the wine list to the share plates for dinner – think grilled seafood and a superior cheeseburger that features the pride of the territory: bacon from the smokehouse at Pialligo Estate.
15 Moore Street, Canberra
Image credits: Rohan Thomson, Fred McGrath Weber.