The Best Gastropubs in Australia
A fresh, frothy schooner, a humble schnitty and the hum of rowdy locals: there are few things more comforting than a good, dependable pub. But there are some occasions that call for more than a parmi and that’s where the gastropub comes in. With all the atmosphere of your local, a menu that inches into fine-dining territory and wine lists that are more lo-fi than low-cost, it’s the best of both worlds. Here are some of Australia’s best gastropubs to pop into.
Image credit: Builders Arms Hotel
Builders Arms Hotel: Fitzroy, VIC1/19
The heritage bones of Fitzroy’s Builders Arms Hotel remain on the exterior of the building (which dates back to 1853). Inside however, it’s a different affair. Expect a contemporary bistro with teal banquette seating and flooring, along with a modern menu to match inclusive of winners such as curry leaf butter-drenched Spencer Gulf prawns and a yoghurt sorbet with elderflower jelly garnished with crispy meringue and berries.
Image credit: The Royal Richmond
The Royal Richmond: Richmond, NSW2/19
The menu may have all the staples – pizza, steaks and the ubiquitous parmi – but recently refurbished The Royal Richmond in the Blue Mountains is more than the standard offering. The confit Llandilo Rooster leg with Mountains Gourmet greens and crispy bacon is your first sign that this is not your average pub grub. Add the spectacular Zokoko Chocolate Mousse with malt cream and honeycomb to the must-try list.
Image credit: Public Bar
Public Bar: Griffith, ACT3/19
Spilling out onto the street from its corner post on a crossroads in the Canberra suburb, Griffith, Public Bar is a lot like a pub and a little bit like a wine bar, with a splash of restaurant thrown in. The wonderful wine list is domestically focused, with a few local favourites (Murrumbateman; Tumbarumba) and the menu plucks flavour profiles from all sorts of places – think kimchi-topped pulled pork sliders and nasi goreng spiked with speck.
Image credit: Hope and Anchor
Hope and Anchor: Paddington, Qld4/19
This self-dubbed “best little boozer in Paddington’’ does more than just drinks. Set in a heritage building from the 1800s, Hope and Anchor has an unmistakable ambience with an exposed brick interior, timber bar and verandah-style frontage that extends the seating area to the street, inviting patrons to watch passers-by. Serving early morning coffees through to late-night, espresso-laced cocktails, you can grab something a little left of centre at any time of the day: at brunch, it could be sardines on toast with confit fennel and preserved lemon mayo, while at dinner, it might be kingfish ceviche with crackling.
Image credit: The Daly Waters Pub
The Daly Waters Pub, NT5/19
A veteran drinking hole that’s been watering gullets since the ’80s, The Daly Waters Pub does grub in the way a dependable pub in outback Australia should, coming through with goods that are hearty, dependable and plucked from its surrounds. The wild-caught barramundi is a solid choice but there are also Aussie classics spanning crocodile and kangaroo for the more adventurous palettes.
Image credit: The Settler’s Tavern
The Settler’s Tavern: Margaret River, WA6/19
Yes, it’s a classic country pub. Or is it? Margaret River’s beloved Settler's Tavern has a few surprises up its sleeve. One is the menu, where the staples are given a glorious twist: spicy potato wedges sit alongside gochujang-slathered chicken wings as entree options. The other’s the produce, sourced from WA farms and providores, with dishes cooked in Margaret River olive oil. The third’s “The Bible”: the 600-bottle strong wine list that’s so impressive, it’s garnered industry awards. (There’s a generous Margaret River contingent, naturally).
Image credit: Tom McHugo
Tom McHugo’s Hobart Hotel: Hobart, TAS7/19
Cosy, rowdy and packed with regulars: Tom McHugo’s Hobart Hotel has the atmosphere of a pub with the heart of a fine diner. The kitchen employs a nose-to-tail philosophy, which tempts even the most cautious of diners, making it the place where people who know food throw back a few cold ones. After all, there’s little to argue with when it comes to the local lo-fi wine list and menu of melt-in-the-mouth confit beef shin or seven-spiced braised pig’s head.
Image credit: The Lincoln
The Lincoln: Carlton, VIC8/19
It’s the kind of pub where you envy those who get to call it their local. A seamless blend of the historic and the hip, this corner tavern spruiks craft beers on tap, a pleasingly dense wine list that rivals a top-notch restaurant and a menu of updated pub favourites (we’re ordering the venison and stout pie with red wine onions), all under the watch of a bold, contemporary mural that graces an entire wall.
Image credit: Clarendon Arms
Clarendon Arms: Evandale, TAS9/19
Atmospherically dim and pokey (with a roaring fireplace) inside and sprawling out into a huge, brick-walled beer garden, Evandale’s Clarendon Arms has the kind of charm only a country pub can conjure. The menu is pretty special, too — the fish curry pie with Tassie salmon and a buttered herb sourdough crumb is heaven on a cold day and the cheese plate for two, featuring local cheeses with quince paste and arancini is stellar no matter the weather.
Image credit: Ambergris Hotel
Ambergris Hotel, Geelong, VIC10/19
The pub end of the scale is the heritage, Gold Rush-era setting: a building dating back to 1856 that features polished Tasmanian Huon pine floors and pressed metal panels. The gastronomical part of Geelong’s refurbed Ambergris Hotel is abundant with Bellarine Peninsula spoils spun into edible gold from former Tonka and Coda alum chef Jackson Wilde. Our pick? The croquettes stuffed with Bellarine Peninsula truffles.
Image credit: The Alby
The Alby, ACT11/19
Perch on a beige-toned bar stool at Canberra’s new The Alby in Woden and you’ll soon be drooling over the slick, blonde wood interiors (and the menu’s pretty tempting, too). Keep the kids entertained with duckpin bowling (an avian spin on the classic game) while sipping citrus-drizzled cocktails in the beer garden before digging into wood-fired pizzas and crème brûlée – don’t skip the roast corn with hazelnut dukkah.
Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat, Vic12/19
There’s plenty of history at this gold-rush-era jewel in central Ballarat – Mark Twain and Prince Albert both stayed here and Dame Nellie Melba once sang from the balcony. The plush carpets and lofty ceilings are right on theme, as is the classics leaning menu at The Atrium restaurant. Marbletopped tables and a glass roof set the scene for elegant but unfussy dishes, such as vodka and beetroot cured salmon with avocado and caper salad.
Image credit: Ash
Mapleton Public House, Mapleton, Qld13/19
In one of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland’s “three Ms” (along with Maleny and Montville), the owners of The Falls Farm have shaped this pastel-pink watering hole in their own image since taking over in mid-2022. Their regenerative farm provides ingredients for dishes such as roasted baby beets in a puddle of molasses yoghurt and black sesame mousse. The airy deck gazing out towards the coast below is the ideal spot to sample a local craft beer.
The Farmers Arms, Daylesford, Vic14/19
Country charm and urban sophistication combine at this ivy-covered red-brick hotel in Daylesford. The à la carte menu features small plates, such as watermelon carpaccio with fried capers and dill, alongside heftier mains, but the real treat is the private six-course long lunch in the Farmer’s Kitchen that features a who’s who of local producers. Visit in the cooler months to celebrate truffle season in style.
Liberté, Albany, WA15/19
Blurring the lines between pub and restaurant, this acclaimed spot in the historic London Hotel put Albany on the gourmet map. There’s a distinct Parisian flair to the dining room, which is decorated with gilt mirrors and chandeliers. The opulence runs through a menu that makes room for owner and chef Amy Hamilton’s classical French training in combination with plenty of Vietnamese flourishes. Try rich onion dip spiked with pho stock and dangerously addictive profiteroles stuffed with Vietnamese coffee ice-cream and a topping of chocolate ganache.
Image credit: The Avoca Hotel
The Avoca Hotel, Avoca, Vic16/19
Locals and visitors alike flock to this beloved establishment in the Victorian Pyrenees for the sharp two-hander offering. The bar menu features the usual pub-grub suspects with snacks from the more sophisticated dining room, which pairs local produce and international flavours in dishes such as venison tataki with ponzu dressing and braised miso eggplant. Add in a wine list that comes from the Pyrenees, Grampians and Ballarat regions and you’re onto a winner.
Image credit: Remi Chauvin
The Waterloo, Swansea, Tas17/19
Don’t let the brick walls, timber panelling and burgundy carpet fool you; this charming former motel is like a little patch of Melbourne on Tasmania’s sleepy east coast. Chef Zac Green takes good food seriously but isn’t afraid to play around (potato cakes and caviar, anyone?) and the share plates are interesting and approachable, as is the selection of natty wine.
The Scenic Hotel, Norton Summit, SA18/19
With a wraparound balcony that looks out to the sparkling Gulf St Vincent, this Adelaide Hills spot lives up to its name, especially in the golden hour before sunset. Free-flowing natural wine and dishes like the signature steak tartare ensure the good times continue long after dark, while regular events bring in farmers, winemakers and musicians from across the region.