Though the choice is limited, the restaurants and cafés around the great red monolith – most of which are in the nearby resort complex – harness the flavours of Australia. Whether you want to book a once-in-a-lifetime fine-dining experience under the stars or just want to grab a quick bite with the kids, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
As the sun sets and turns the sky the same vibrant hue as the rock in the distance, your group of just 20 people will tuck into delicacies that use native herbs and spices to enhance each dish: garlic-grilled steak, for example, or almost-translucent slices of kangaroo meat flavoured with wattle seeds. The intimate, outdoor dining experience only runs from April to October each year so be sure to book early.
Though there’s buffet breakfast for guests of Sails in the Desert, you’ll want to head here for the multi-cuisine dinner smorgasbord, the centrepiece of which is a chocolate fountain sure to entice kids and anyone with a sweet tooth.
Sails in the Desert, Yulara Drive, Ayers Rock; (08) 8957 7888
Pioneer BBQ and Bar
It’s a little DIY but that’s certainly part of the fun – when else are you going to get the chance to grill an emu sausage to your liking? Select your meat cuts (steak, kangaroo, barramundi), fry it up yourself on the outdoor barbecues and then load up your plate at the salad bar.
Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge, Yulara Drive, Ayers Rock
Arnguli Grill & Restaurant
Its name is the Pitjantjatjara word for “bush plum” and the native fruit is just one of the Australian embellishments you’ll find on the a la carte menu. The Taste of Australia plate is a line up of meats that are hard to source from your local Woolies: crocodile served with a mango dressing; a wallaby meat stack smoked and served with a fresh tomato marmalade; kangaroo with mushroom; and emu with alfalfa sprouts and red cabbage. You can also choose matching wines from around the country.
Desert Gardens Hotel, Yulara Drive, Ayers Rock; (08) 8296 8010
Kulata Academy Café
Simple yet enormous sandwiches, smoothies and salads are the order of the day at this quaint café. The kitchen is run by students at the National Indigenous Training Academy preparing for a career in hospitality. For quick pit stops between exploring, there’s also Grinders coffee, T2 tea and a plethora of baked treats to tide you over.
4/127 Yulara Drive, Ayers Rock; (08) 8296 8010
Your local pizza joint probably doesn’t offer slices topped with smoked kangaroo and emu chunks but they definitely do at Geckos. The pizza-and-pasta menu is mostly traditional (mushroom risotto, margherita pizza, carrot cake) but spiked with native Australian flourishes, such as bush tomato in the ragout, wattle seeds in the chocolate tart and chicken wings drenched in a sauce of chilli and Davidson plum. It’s a relaxed eatery outside the accommodation offerings, there’s also a kid’s menu.
127 Yulara Drive, Ayers Rock; (08) 8957 7722