Once the gateway to South Australia’s finest food and drink moments, Adelaide is now a gourmet destination in its own right. Here’s where to find the best restaurants in Adelaide right now.
Shosho & Shobosho
In the heart of the CBD, the Shobosho vibe is loud, lively and veiled in smoke from the open kitchen’s yakitori grill and wood oven. In chef Adam Liston’s own words, it’s an “in-your-face, loud kind of izakaya”. Cult favourites here include the katsu sando (crumbed pork sandwich) and spit-roasted teriyaki chicken. Dine at communal tables for maximum impact.
At sister izakaya Shosho in leafy Hyde Park, Adelaide’s answer to South Yarra or Paddington, the mood is more sedate – but only just. A terrific retro playlist (compiled by Nate, the restaurant’s fish supplier) keeps the mood upbeat while the Japanese-Korean-Chinese menu strikes all the right notes. A shallot pancake stuffed with Laughing Cow cheese is ridiculously good, as is the tempura crunch of shiitake mushrooms filled with rare-cooked Wagyu mince. Delicious wine list, too. Dining alone or à deux, grab a seat at the bar for prime people-watching and good chats with staff.
Image credit: Duy Dash.
In design and dishes, Osteria Oggi is the full Monti – as in the hip but ancient Roman suburb renowned for its mod-trad Italian restaurants. The award-winning interiors combine cloister-like archways with a 20-metre moulded concrete bar and, out back, a bustling piazza with vine-tangled pergola. It’s like a Fellini film set, with a dramatic staircase leading from the dining room to the gleaming kitchen and a glass-walled salumi room with a fire engine-red meat slicer centrestage.
The piazza booths are prime real estate but communal seating is best for those wanting shared-Italian-feast moments. Or perch at the bar and begin with smoked scamorza and San Daniele prosciutto croquettes followed by a bowl of oven-baked reginette (crinkle-cut ribbon pasta) with eggplant, tomato, creamy fior di latte and chilli (also available for takeaway).
Image credit: Duy Dash.
Oggi is Roman, too, in its taste for fresh and regional produce – plus the finest imports – served without fuss. Expect blue swimmer crab from Shark Bay, Spencer Gulf prawns and Port Lincoln vongole tossed through squid ink fiori with samphire and ’nduja crumb. Pastas and breads are made in-house daily so even something as simple as spaghetti is a revelation. The wine list is decidedly Italian but has a generous selection of local and Australian vintages. No matter where you start, the inspired combination of tiramisu and affogato is a clear-cut finish.
Image credit: South Australian Tourism Commission.
The magic of Adelaide Central Market lies as much in its bounty of South Australian produce as in the way it distils the state’s diversity – cultural, agricultural, gastronomic – into a single city location. Since 1869, it’s been the city’s beating heart; a place not merely to shop but to meet friends, eat and drink.
Many of the 70-plus stallholders have served the city for decades. The Old Lolly Shop (known as Blackebys until early this year) at stall 33 has been supplying local sweet tooths since 1906. Lucia’s Pizza & Spaghetti Bar, opened by the late Lucia Rosella in 1957, has long been the city’s preferred pizza and pasta fix. Devotees know to go on a Friday for the lasagne layered with up to 14 sheets of pasta.
Market stalls, predictably, feature produce from the Hills and hinterland stacked high. There are butchers, Con’s Fine Food continental deli (since 1959) and a couple of excellent fishmongers including Angelakis Bros (since 1960) for Pacific oysters, line-caught squid and barramundi wings.
Image credit: Duy Dash.
The Barossa Valley has its own shingle at the market, so too the outback – via Indigenous-owned Something Wild (pictured above) with its bush-meat selection ranging from magpie goose pie and wild hare to wallaby shanks and green ants that retail for more than $600 a kilo.
There are stalls, too, devoted to yoghurt, mushrooms (including truffles in season) and coffee beans from Ethiopia and East Timor. But a trip to the market is as much about picking up a plate of food as it is the produce. There are several versions of giant paella, including Le Souk’s Algerian one laced with SA mussels, chicken and sausage. There’s Malaysian laksa at Doreen and Charles Lo’s Asian Gourmet, as well as Vietnamese rice paper rolls and Turkish lokum (aka Turkish delight) in lush flavours of pomegranate and pistachio or apricot reminiscent of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.
Image credit: Josh Geelen.
Adelaide’s most unorthodox restaurant, Africola, is unlike any other in Australia – or the world. Johannesburg native Duncan Welgemoed brings the emotion of African food to the masses, in the most fun way possible with pumping tunes, pumped-up staff and guaranteed good times. All fuelled by a cracking wine and cocktails list.
Originally conceived as a bright and brash shebeen, or illegal drinking den, Africola has matured into more of a gallery aesthetic, with artworks from African and Australian artists lining the walls. The avant-garde vibe remains.
“When we opened, we wanted to create something that no-one had ever experienced,” Welgemoed says. “More than a dining room but our living room, essentially. It was a bloody mosh pit of a restaurant and that’s still there but it’s a lot more refined now.”
The cuisine is best described as “interesting, inauthentic African food”, with natural fats, acids and heat to the fore. “We use techniques from all over the world,” says Welgemoed. “You wouldn’t be able to get these dishes anywhere else on the planet. We might use a Japanese technique on a Moroccan raw fish dish or a Nordic approach to a Maghreb dish.”
The signature plate is peri peri chicken basted in Welgemoed’s special chilli sauce, Mpumalanga fire. “That will never come off the menu,” he says. Nor will the tea sandwich of roasted chicken skin and chilli mayo in crustless white bread, with hot chicken drippings. Like so much of Africola’s menu, it’s the comfort food you never knew you needed.
Seven years in, Welgemoed’s favourite time of day at Africola is still just before it opens at 6pm, when the music’s blaring, the staff are psyched and the doors open to a queue of diners outside.
Image credit: Kate Bowman.
Since Fishbank made its debut in an Art Deco treasure on the corner of North Terrace in late 2020, it’s swiftly become Adelaide’s most extraordinary seafood restaurant and a destination for big nights out. The roaring ’20s architecture marries grand picture windows with brilliant chandeliers, marble, leather and parquetry in a glittering temple to Neptune.
Behind the raw bar chefs shuck oysters and slice and season sustainably sourced, premium-grade seafood such as Coffin Bay kingfish and yellowfin tuna from Mooloolaba, prepared sashimi or crudo. Menu must-haves: whipped tarama with toasted focaccia; Abrolhos Island scallops dressed impeccably in bonito vinegar, soy and green onion oil; and Goolwa pipis tumbled with ’nduja, tomato and fennel.
Image credit: Meghan Coles.
Enthusiasts keen to push the boat out should order Kangaroo Island crayfish – done Asian-style with shiitake, chilli and basil or grilled with garlic butter – or a selection of caviars served with toasted brioche and crème fraîche.
Pre- or post-dinner, head upstairs to 2KW bar and restaurant, owned by the same crew, for 180-degree views over Adelaide from the city’s most sought after rooftop bar. Choose something from the epic wine list: its 66 pages feature dozens of champagnes, 13 South Australian gins, five pages of Burgundy pinot noirs (because no Aussie state takes wine as seriously as this one) and cocktails.
Top image credit: Africola/Josh Geelen