From 30 April – 9 May 2021, Adelaide will celebrate its fabulous food and wine scene during the Tasting Australia festival. But this is a party that continues all year round. Any time is a good time to experience Adelaide’s dining scene, which has always punched well above its weight. Blessed with fabulous local wines and fantastically fresh produce, chefs compete to elevate these elements to the sublime. And despite the high quality, you won’t find outlandish prices and weeks-long waits for reservations in the city’s best venues. Here are just a few of the highlights. Book accommodation for your gourmet journey of discovery in Adelaide at ChoiceHotels.com.
1. Cheap Eats
Jerusalem Sheshkebab House
Nightclubs on Hindley Street come and go with the prevailing trends, but Jerusalem Sheshkebab House has been delivering hearty but wholesome Middle Eastern food for decades. On a weekend night, you’ll still see lines of people waiting to order zingy tabouli bursting with colour, fresh balls of falafel, and impossibly juicy charcoal chicken skewers. There’s no alcohol service, but you’re welcome to BYO.
On an unassuming corner in the inner north suburb of Prospect, Minestra is a local favourite and allows customers to swap fresh backyard produce for store credit. It means there’s always something new on the Italian-influenced lunch menu, but there would be a riot if the delicious polpette (meat or vegetarian rissoles) ever disappeared. Breakfast and lunch are served Wednesday to Sunday, while Thursday through Saturday are pasta nights.
Vego and Loven It
The menu and decor at Vego and Loven Ithaven’t changed for decades, and that’s a good thing. Up a narrow set of stairs off Rundle Street, the vegetarian comfort food comes in the form of burgers and wraps so overloaded that only the bravest customers would attempt to tackle them without cutlery. On the tables and walls, a quaint collection of op shop finds and Adelaidiana shares space with postcards from satisfied customers. Because it’s just the owner in the kitchen, this venue doesn’t take groups larger than four.
2. Mid Range
In the heart of Adelaide’s historic train station, The Guardsman is a gorgeously restored bar and restaurant that hums from breakfast right through to after-dinner drinks. South Australian produce is pushed firmly to the fore in the kitchen, and the bar has an extensive wine list and twenty taps pouring local beers. Foodwise, expect pub classics with an upscale twist (think Mayura Station beef brisket and shiraz pie with horseradish mash and bush tomato relish) alongside impressive Asian-inspired share plates.
Golden Boy is not your average Thai restaurant! Gorgeously plated dishes are created using a market’s worth of spices and pack some serious flavour. The sauces, pastes and relishes are all made in house. Contemporary twists on Thai classics abound and the excellent wine and cocktail lists are just as carefully thought out. Tables have a two-hour time limit, and the beautiful heritage Botanic Bar next door is the perfect spot for an after-dinner drink.
Lady Burra Brewhouse
A Portuguese influence in Lady Burra’s kitchen means that there are plenty of Iberian-inspired options on the menu at this inner-city brewpub. Spiced piri piri chicken is joined by paella on weekends, but you can find paella croquettes on the petiscos (Portuguese tapas) menu any time. All the slow-cooked meats are marinated in house beer first. Try a few different options on a taco platter and match it with a tasting paddle of beers.
3. High End
A stunning 141-year-old pharmacy cabinet gives Apoteca bar and restaurant its name, but gorgeous wood furnishings and custom light fittings lend the venue a decidedly 1920s vibe. Skilled bartenders mix up a range of prohibition-era potions that will cure any ailment and the menu includes ‘First Aid ‘(snacks), ‘Vitamins’ (vegetarian options), and ‘Side Effects’ (sides). Expect highly seasonal share plates that highlight delicate flavours but aren’t afraid of some serious protein.
Botanic Gardens Restaurant
Plenty of chefs have their own garden, but few have a restaurant located inside one. And the idyllic setting in a heritage rotunda in the middle of Adelaide’s Botanic Garden is just one of Botanic Gardens Restaurant’s many charms. The surrounding 51-hectares is like one giant kitchen garden and is raided daily for an ever-changing menu of contemporary Australian cuisine. It foregrounds freshness and uses flowers, herbs and fruits to create dishes that look as fantastic as they taste.
Penfold’s Magill Estate
Although Penfold’s Magill Estate is just ten kilometres from the centre of Adelaide, Australia’s most famous winery feels like an escape from the city. Surrounded by vines on foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges, there are two dining options to choose from. The degustation only Magill Estate Restaurant offers complex, thoughtful fine dining, while the more casual Magill Estate Kitchen has a menu of elegant share plates and hearty steaks. And if you feel like ordering a glass of Grange and a cheeseburger, that’s fine – you wouldn’t be the first!
About the writer
After spending years as a music journalist and beer taster, Alexis Buxton-Collins sold everything he owned and spent three years travelling the world. He now writes about his experiences on the road, both abroad and at home in Adelaide. Alexis has written for Australian Traveller, Qantas, Virgin, Lonely Planet, Wild, and many other publications. He’s currently undertaking a comprehensive search for McLaren Vale’s best value bottle of wine.
Cover image: The Guardsman. Image courtesy of Skycity Adelaide