May 10, 2023
5 mins Read
When you think of our nation’s capital, your mind might wander to Parliament House, the National Gallery or the Australian War Memorial – school visit staples, if you will. However, Canberra also features a stream of burgeoning new hot spots that are starting to rival its big city sisters for architecture, gastronomy and, well, general coolness – that’s where this Braddon guide comes in.
Inner city Braddon is the leader of the pack – think Sydney’s Newtown mixed with Melbourne’s Fitzroy, plus a little Canberra trendiness on the side.
A heady mix of award-winning restaurants, busy coffeehouses and avant-garde retail spaces, this former industrial suburb has been taken over by creatives. Gone are the rusty car dealerships and dusty factories of 10 years ago, as they’ve been replaced by fun shops, busy bars and the irresistibly cool Midnight Hotel.
The best way to explore the neighbourhood is on foot, with a strong brew from hole-in-the-wall cafe Barrio Collective in hand. Tip: don’t forget to leave room in your bag for all you’ll want to buy, and room in your stomach for all you’ll want to eat.
Designed by acclaimed architects Fender Katsalidis and offering luxury, art-led accommodation, Midnight Hotel features bespoke artwork, sophisticated modern furnishings, and locally sourced products (including brews from BentSpoke Brewing Co, more on them later). Dedicated to working with local artisans, producers and institutions, especially their cultural partner the National Portrait Gallery, this hotel is elevating the suburb with its sharp design aesthetic.
Offering family activities and freshly cooked street food, plus an array of regional produce, these Haig Park Village Markets are one of the best ways to spend a Sunday morning in Braddon. Grab a hot pretzel or crepe, peruse the stalls, and listen to the live music while you contemplate what to eat for lunch.
Steal away from the bustle outside to the sophisticated Midnight Bar on Elouera Street. Open for lunch and dinner, you might come for the flavoursome food (think prawn toast with smoked soy and sesame), but you’ll definitely stay for the innovative cocktails. Favourites include the vodka and Aperol-based Hibiscus Hijinks, and the Livin’ La Vida, with mezcal and yellow Chartreuse.
With a big focus on drinks and a wine list longer than most, it’s not surprising that this modern restaurant recently won best wine list in ACT. Braddon Merchant is open for breakfast, when the room fills with soft morning light, as well as dinner when the wine list really shines. Championing local produce, you’ll find the refreshingly simple menu features dishes such as hand-cut spaghettini with spanner crab, and citrus-cured scallops with cucumber lime jus. This popular venue, as well as Midnight Bar, are both connected to the Midnight Hotel precinct, which is bringing a new level of cool to the area.
The perfect place for dinner with friends, Eightysix is always packed, and filled with the sounds of hip-hop. The ever-changing dynamic menu takes up a huge blackboard on one wall, the food is mainly locally sourced, and the wine list will surprise you. Book an early table (and don’t forget to try the famous banoffee pie), then go bar hopping.
Celebrating nearly a decade in the suburb, BentSpoke Brewing Co is so entrenched in the area they even serve up a beer called Braddon Bitters; it’s crisp, goes down well and leaves you wanting another. Spend a lazy afternoon or evening trying some of the 18 varieties of beer and cider on tap before attacking the classic pub food on offer.
Put aside time to explore Hive, a well-curated gift gallery filled with ethical and sustainable ceramics, jewellery, kitchenware, artwork and toys. With an emphasis on artisan-crafted products built to last, the owners encourage customers to think carefully about what they choose to have in their homes.
With a distinct nod to the ’90s, Lost Vintage is an ethical vintage clothing store has all your logo tees, sports caps and denim needs covered, as well as men’s button-ups and flannel shirts. The kids’ section is a particular highlight, with a range of denim OshKosh B’gosh overalls and vintage ’90s t-shirts for babies and toddlers taking centre stage.
If you’re after award-winning artisan chocolates with centres made from delicious local produce, Enigma Fine Chocolates is for you. This family-owned business creates their unique chocolate flavours according to seasonal fruits, so you’ll always be surprised when you visit. While kids (and kids at heart) will reach for the sprinkle-laden chocolate pops, adults will be attracted to the mountain pepperberry and chilli bark, which is made using 56 per cent single origin Ecuadorian dark chocolate.
Book your Braddon stay at midnighthotel.com.au.
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