Canberra has long been underestimated when it comes to its culinary scene. Known more for its political landmarks and museums, this charming capital city has quietly been making a name for itself as a foodie haven.
From innovative modern Australian cuisine to authentic international flavours, Canberra’s vibrant food scene has something to offer everyone. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the quality and diversity of the city’s restaurants, as I was.
Join me on a gastronomic journey through the capital as I explore the best restaurants in Canberra that are putting this underrated city on the foodie map.
Bar Rochford is a popular haunt in Canberra known for its intimate setting and stellar cocktails. The dimly lit bar hidden away in the iconic Melbourne Building exudes an old-world charm that draws in those looking for a stylish night out. The cocktail menu is the star of the show, featuring innovative concoctions and classic favourites, although the wine is just as impressive with bottles from France to South Australia. The food is beyond an afterthought with an ever-evolving menu, except for the highlights; kingfish ceviche, wild mushroom pasta with chestnut casarecce, curried beetroots, and hand-cut chips with housemade ketchup. They’re masters at the fancy stuff and know how to serve up comfort foods.
Rebel Rebel is just one example of Canberra’s ever-evolving dining scene in the trendy Acton precinct. You’ve got something special when you can take a sugarloaf cabbage and make it the main dish and the popular choice. The food here is simple, refined, and bursting with flavour. The menu boasts corn and manchego croquetas with prawn head aioli, beef tartare with hot English mustard and pickles, and eggplant with nduja. Rebel Rebel is the ideal spot for a long lunch and is popular among the office crowd looking to escape after work or between. You can’t go wrong here.
Akiba is a vibrant Asian-inspired restaurant in the heart of Canberra known for its lively atmosphere and flavorful dishes. The menu boasts a fusion of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisine with a modern twist. Think pork belly bun, prawn and chicken dumplings, and sweet and sticky squid. The flavours are bold, the presentation is colourful, and the setting is bustling. Explore an extensive selection of drinks, including creative cocktails and a variety of sake options. Be warned; the service is fast. Superfast. There’s even a quick and cheap lunch option for the office worker crowd.
Pilot quickly rose to the ranks as one of Australia’s finest restaurants. Let’s face it, Canberra is the last place you’d expect to find a fine dining establishment. But here we are. Pilot is refined and elegant, known for its farm-to-table approach and innovative dishes. The menu changes frequently to reflect the availability of local ingredients, but diners can expect a seven-course degustation menu with an optional wine or non-alcoholic pairing.
Wilma is exactly what Canberra needed—a funky, Asian BBQ restaurant serving seriously delicious dishes. Helmed by James Viles, Wilma is a reminder of what good cooking can do—bring people together. Raw snacks, salads, wok, and BBQ categories organise in this progressive Asian restaurant. The snacks might be small, but they’re mighty. You can’t leave without trying the Wilma snag sanga and the melt-in-your-mouth tiger prawn toast. To share, order Wilma’s truffle, egg fried rice, and the hot smoked char sui pork belly from the BBQ section. As you can tell, Wilma takes all the familiar flavours we’ve loved since the 1960s and takes them up a notch in a classy dim-lit restaurant. If you’re looking for a fancy restaurant to celebrate with friends and family or looking to impress on date night, Wilma is the place to be.
Inside Ovolo Nishi is Monster Kitchen & Bar, a stylish restaurant and bar focusing on sustainability. The interior design is chic and eclectic, with a laid-back vibe that’s popular with locals and visitors alike. The menu leans toward inventive vegan dishes, including a beetroot tartar and mushroom karaage that will always be remembered in my books. Expect innovative flavour combinations and visually stunning plates.
Sitting on the fringe of Canberra is Temporada, a cozy and intimate restaurant known for its Spanish-inspired cuisine and relaxed atmosphere. The menu features tapas-style dishes with a focus on fresh and seasonal ingredients. Expect bold flavours and rustic presentations that transport you to the streets of Spain.
Canberra loves fast-casual restaurants; nothing is faster than a food hall. Verity Lane Market is chef-driven, with a rotating list of concepts coming and going every few months. There are options ranging from Korean barbecue to wood-fired pizza. Expect to find something for everyone, from meat lovers to vegans. Enjoy the laid-back vibe and communal seating for a quick lunch or a casual dinner with friends.
Brodburger is a beloved Canberra institution known for its legendary burgers and iconic airstream trailer location. Expect juicy, handcrafted burgers made with high-quality beef or vegetarian patties, served with all the classic toppings. Pair your burger with a beer at Capital Brewing Co., a brewery and casual eatery with outdoor seating in an industrial setting. You can also find a Brodburger in Kingston and Phillip, ACT.
Louis, a new restaurant located in Canberra’s Barton Precinct inside Hotel Realm, aims to provide a multi-layered culinary experience in the heart of the Australian capital. Combining classical European dining with sophisticated cocktails, Louis is the crown jewel of this venture. Led by culinary director Ben Willis and head chef Sun Hwa Jang, the restaurant offers predominantly South of France and Provencal cuisine using the finest ingredients from Australian producers.
Expect a European menu that draws inspiration from Provence and the French Riviera, featuring Mediterranean flavours in dishes such as John Dory with braised beans and chorizo, Fougasse and tapenade, and Potato and leek Pithivier with salsa verde. Cheese lovers can also expect a selection of Roquefort, Comté, and Délice de Bourgogne, while dessert options include Chocolate Fondant with vanilla ice cream, Crème Caramel with citrus salad, and Praline ice cream sandwich.