In Adelaide, within a 20-minute drive, you could be meandering through hills, wineries and open pastures. Another 20 minutes outside the CBD takes you to two of the finest wine regions in Australia, McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley. And within an hour, you could be on a regional escape, tasting some of the best wines and produce South Australia has to offer.
To take advantage of the close proximity to the state’s food bowl, here are South Australia’s best regional restaurants worth the drive. From a spot in Seppeltsfield known for its long lunches to an eatery inside a giant mirrored Rubix cube, these are the state’s venues worth planning a weekend trip around.
Distance from Adelaide: 57min
Long lunches are the standard at Fino, where a hyper-local menu draws city dwellers every weekend. The light-soaked winery restaurant presents a seasonal menu designed to share or, if you’re feeling indecisive, opt for the six-course set menu. There’s no wrong move here. You’ll also have the choice of sitting on the Italian-style terrace or inside. As for the food, it tips on the side of fine dining with a rustic Australian twist. Think Wagyu brisket with sugar loaf cabbage and black vinegar and ricotta dumplings with a sprinkling of broad beans. Then there’s the wine list, formed by the winery a few steps from the restaurant.
Distance from Adelaide: 58 min
This single-estate boutique winery is as close as you’ll get to finding a grand cru Burgundy in Australia, James Halliday once said. Since then, wine lovers and everyone in between flocked to the charming grounds and 1840s heritage cottage to taste the award-winning portfolio and, naturally, ventured to the Atrium for a paddock-to-plate dining experience with a view.
The menu changes daily, but the Discovery Menu, decided by the chefs, is the perfect place to start. You can even book the chef’s table to watch them prepare it or take up residence by a floor-to-ceiling window for creek views.
Distance from Adelaide: 44 min
If you haven’t heard of or seen the giant Rubix cube-like building sticking out of rows of vineyards in McLaren Vale, you’re missing out. D’Arenburg Cube is the state’s quirkiest cellar door experience, thanks to its enigmatic owner Chester’s wild imagination. Inside the cube, make your way through the floors that can be likened to stepping into Alice in Wonderland. The top floor is reserved for blending your own wine and, of course, tastings. Next door is the restaurant D’Arry’s Verandah, guided by the seasons and serving sweeping views of the vineyard.
Choose from a lavish eight-course degustation or two or three-course menus, which you can pick from the a la carte menu. Regardless of your decision, expect fresh seafood picked from the Fleurieu Peninsula, meats from neighbouring farms, and more. The signature dish is an Australian lobster medallion with SA blue swimmer crab and prawn ravioli, sitting in a pool of lobster bisque.
Distance from Adelaide: 44 min
For a more whimsical experience at d’Arenburg Cube, book a table at Singapore Circus, the cube’s warped Southeast Asian wonderland. It’s loud, colourful, and casual. There are several dining options to choose from, including a shared banquet menu, a sunset dinner with magical views and a 360 dinner series, which is equally about the food as it is the wine pairing.
The food channels Singaporean favourites like an oversized, steaming bowl of mud crab and smashed cucumber and pickled wombok salad. You can add matched wines or choose your favourite d’Arenburg wine to compliment your meal.
Distance from Adelaide: 1hr
When it comes to setting the standard of fine dining in the region, Appellation takes the crown. This airy, light-filled dining room overlooks the Barossa Valley’s hills and vines, setting the scene for the hyper-local, modern Australian meal to follow.
Whether you’re staying at The Lousie for a romantic escape or driving up for a special occasion, Appellation is a gastronomy journey you don’t want to miss. The menu is constantly changing, according to what’s available in the kitchen garden and from local suppliers, but you can guarantee it will be an exploration of the region’s bounty. Think John Dory dressed with avocado and citrus, a creamy, rich tagliatelle and a moreish dessert. A wine pairing is a must. There is also a non-alcoholic option.
Distance from Adelaide: 14 min
Technically not regional, but well worth the mention, Magill Estate is Penfold’s fine dining experience with a view to match. The signature menu is the way to go for the full experience with the matched wines. It’s constantly changing, so be prepared to taste everything from a single Kinkawooke mussel stuffed with wagyu tartare to a deboned chicken wing stuffed with scallops and lobster. They seem to like to stuff things here.
A meal will set you back $265 per person, but there’s a reason it’s an award-winning icon. It all comes down to the food, service, and wine.