There’s always something new and exciting happening in the Australian dining scene.
From brand-new places to drink and dine, reimagined restaurants and your favourites opening new venues, here’s our pick of the best restaurants to try around Australia right now.
NSW | VIC | QLD | TAS | SA |WA | NT | ACT
New South Wales
THE D’S BAR AND DINING
Located in the heart of Marrickville, The D’s Bar and Dining is a slice of paradise that combines NYC decor with diverse Asian flavours. Chef Lucas Doan, of Mr Wong and Luna Lu fame, opened The D’s with family at the forefront, not only by returning to Marrickville where his family lived when they first migrated to Australia, but also by having his sister by his side managing the restaurant.
Dine here on a Friday or Saturday night to be delighted by live jazz while you feast on the extensive menu. With a Vietnamese background and experience cooking at various kitchens across Asia, The D’s menu is as diverse as it is delicious.
Don’t miss the Merimbula appellation oysters, the crispy tempura eggplant, the beef suon black Angus short ribs or the crab fried rice. The crab fried rice isn’t your traditional fried rice though, it’s (intentionally) wet which I initially thought was a mistake, but it was delicious and a must-try.
The D’s crab fried rice and crispy eggplant are must-try dishes. (Image: Emily Murphy)
JACKSONS ON GEORGE
Jacksons on George is the newest venue taking Sydney by storm. Occupying three unique levels, Jacksons on George is ready to accommodate all kinds of diners.
On the ground floor you’ll find the Public Bar which welcomes guests into its doors for a cocktail or three, on the first floor is the flagship restaurant Bistro George, and on the top floor is the delightful Rooftop Bar which provides views over the city.
Jacksons on George’s Rooftop Bar is the place to be this summer. (Image: Tom Ferguson)
Head Chef Steven Sinclair (formerly Icebergs Dining Room and Bar) leads the food menu across all three spaces, with European-influenced bistro dishes with classic Aussie fare as the common theme.
Must-try dishes at Bistro George are the clams casino with Goolwa pipis, guanciale and pangritata, the gin rigatoni with fermented chilli, the 200-gram David Blackmore wagyu short scotch and the passionfruit tart with cultured cream to finish.
Jacksons on George is the first venue by new hospitality group DTL Entertainment Group, fronted by Icebergs Dining Room and Bar owner Maurice Terzini as the creative director and Michael Broome as the general manager.
The clams casino with Goolwa pipis, guanciale and pangritata is a must try. (Image: Jason Loucas)
Fresh doesn’t even come close to describing what you’ll receive when dining at Manta. Moments after ordering the whole lobster pasta from their spring lobster menu, our friendly waitress brought over Henry the lobster, straight out of the tank and on his way to the kitchen.
Caught slightly off-guard by Henry’s appearance, my apprehension turned to excitement as we awaited his return by devouring half a dozen Sydney rock oysters with cabernet sauvignon mignonette.
The whole lobster came out served on a bed of Mafalda pasta with ginger, chilli and Dashi. Cooked to perfection, every bite was better than the last and the sauce tied everything together so flawlessly. Manta Restaurant also has an à la carte menu if you’d prefer.
Try the whole lobster pasta from Manta’s spring lobster menu. (Image: Emily Murphy)
For a quick lunch, post-work drinks, a romantic date or a night out with friends, Kanade is the vibrant new place to be in Sydney’s CBD.
The menu is a seamless blend of traditional Japanese flavours with contemporary twists from an experienced team of chefs who have honed their craft in venues like Lumi Dining and Kuon Omakase.
Try the roasted duck breast with corn salad and sesame miso sauce.
Try the roasted duck breast with corn salad and sesame miso sauce, the fluffy miso cream carbonara with onsen egg and the wagyu beef steak with yakiniku sauce.
Pair your food with the delicious drinks list expertly crafted by top industry professionals from Maybe Sammy and Tetsuya. The special sake barrel cocktail was lethal and absolutely to die for.
The special sake barrel cocktail was lethal and absolutely to die for.
Located inside The Star Sydney, Rumble celebrates the four classic flavours that permeate Southeast Asian culinary culture – sweet, salty, spicy, and sour. The menu is simple yet punchy, and the inventive cocktail list incorporates a range of spirits infused with spices, herbs, teas and fruits from across Asia.
Try a cocktail from the inventive cocktail list. (Image: Steven Woodburn)
Don’t miss the Suea Rong Hai (crying tiger), a Japanese A5 wagyu sirloin with Nam Jim Jaew. Think melt-in-your-mouth and bursting with flavour.
Conveniently situated opposite the Sydney Lyric Theatre, Rumble is now open for lunch, dinner, drinks and pre-show snacks, seven days a week.
Rumble celebrates the four classic flavours that permeate Southeast Asian culinary culture. (Image: Steven Woodburn)
The much-loved Goji has opened a new venue in the heart of the city. The menu takes inspiration from Chinese, Japanese and Malaysian cuisines, and is cleverly crafted by head chef Sam Chang who has 20+ years experience across all Asian disciplines.
The menu takes inspiration from Chinese, Japanese and Malaysian cuisines.
Everything is designed to be shared, so pick a few different plates and enjoy with your nearest and dearest.
My favourite dishes were the stir fry noodles with kung pow chicken and chillies, the twice-cooked green beans with garlic and chilli, the slow-cooked wagyu beef brisket rendang and the Ferrero Rocher fried ice-cream..
Make sure you order the the stir fry noodles with kung pow chicken and chillies.
Métisse Restaurant in Potts Point is the innovation of world-renowned chef Opel Khan. The luxury degustation combines chef Opel’s French Avant-garde gastronomic techniques with his childhood memories of spices and salts. Métisse means mixed race in French which embodies the restaurant and its cuisine.
Métisse Restaurant is the innovation of world-renowned chef Opel Khan.
Chef Opel sources local produce for his menu, and the degustation has a premium French wine pairing curated by Métisse’s expert wine sommelier.
The Fruits de Mer, a fine dining version of a seafood platter, complete with Yamba prawn, octopus carpaccio, salmon confit and sea scallop was my favourite dish of the night. The burnt butter tied the flavours together and gave me goosebumps as soon as I tasted it.
The Fruits de Mer is a fine dining version of a seafood platter.
The premium Kobe beef score 12 was also delicious. There’s nothing quite like some melt-in-your-mouth meat.
The artful presentation, purposeful flavours and innovative techniques that tell a story are on full display at Métisse.
The artful presentation is half the fun.
Spice Trader is bringing the spice to the Porter House rooftop. The green marble bar, brass finishes and velvet throughout make a flirty first impression, and then you’ll be swept off your feet by the impressive cocktail list.
The green marble bar, brass finishes and velvet throughout make a flirty first impression. (Image: Steven Woodburn)
Opt out of the alcohol if you wish, several of the signature cocktails have been crafted with non-alcoholic alternatives as well.
To complement the cocktails, Porter House executive chef Emrys Jones has created a small list of snacks, designed to share. These include the hot, sweet and sour scallop and bay bug toast and the sherry-glazed duck milk buns.
The food menu is designed to share. (Image: Steven Woodburn)
Bookings will not be taken at Spice Trader, walk-ins only.
You’ll be swept off your feet by the impressive cocktail list. (Image: Steven Woodburn)
Lola’s Italian and Bar
Lola’s Italian and Bar is the newest eatery to grace Bondi, and boy is it a good ‘un. With views over Bondi Beach, Lola’s is the place to be as the weather warms up.
Sit on the terrazzo for views of Bondi Beach. (Image: Nikki To)
The menu serves fun and elegant Italian classics along with a provocatively curated wine and cocktail list. Don’t miss the semolina spaghetti with vongole and ‘nduja, and the octopus ‘alla amatriciana’. Not looking for a full meal? Guests can also have a seat at the marble bar for a quick drink and snack.
The food is warm and inviting at Lola’s. (Image: Craig Wall)
Recently opened in Sydney’s Quay Quarter, Caffe Q’s is bringing Europe to Sydney. Inspired by the Italian aperitivo tradition, Caffe Q’s is a destination that encourages connection. In the morning it’s your coffee go-to with Little Marionette providing the beans, and of an afternoon, unwind with a delicious cocktail and some thoughtful tapas.
Caffe Q’s is bringing Europe to Sydney. (Image: Emily Murphy)
Owner Quynh Nguyen brings his impressive bar expertise to the table, formerly working at Margaret, Icebergs, and Fred’s, and more recently he was responsible for the drinks program at Goji’s Sydney CBD outpost.
There will be spritzes galore and a handful of cocktails to try – the Aussie Faux Pas is to die for – and the food completes Nguyen’s vision. With charcuterie, cheese and antipasti boards, breakfast pinxtos and fresh sandwiches on display, Caffe Q’s has you covered from morning to evening.
Caffe Q’s is a destination. (Image: Jayden De Araujo)
PIZZA BROS, IMPERIAL ROOFTOP
The Imperial Hotel has long been a Sydney institution, and now there’s even more reason to settle in for a Sunday sesh or unwind over dinner. Popular food truck, Pizza Bros, has settled into the rooftop kitchen as its first brick-and-mortar location.
Watch brothers John and Jason Chammas make your pizza.
Run by brothers John and Jason Chammas, watch your pizza being prepared and cooked in the large, open woodfired oven as you sip on a cold beer or fun and fruity cocktail from the bar. Soak up the sun or stay cool under fringed yellow umbrellas as floating disco balls reflect the light around you.
The pizzas bring new, adventurous flavour combinations to that classic woodfired pizza taste – the Cacio E Pepe with double cream, truffle and pecorino is a must-try, while the Margho Picasso keeps it classic.
Settle in to decor as fun as the pizzas. (Image: Kassia Byrnes)
The iconic Merivale institution Totti’s has made its way to the Great Ocean Road, opening its doors within the Lorne Hotel.
Totti’s has made its way to the Great Ocean Road. (Image: Ashley Ludkin)
Totti’s Lorne has been designed for guests to roll in straight off the beach, and the menu captures the best local seafood and produce, complemented by local wines.
The new venue will include all of Totti’s signature dishes that we know and love, but executive chef and local Matt Germanchis has added his local passion and knowledge to the classics.
The new venue will include all of Totti’s signature dishes. (Image: Ashley Ludkin)
The mission driving this cosy 20-seater Melbourne bar is twofold: to minimise waste and focus on ferments using food that has been rescued from restaurants and markets. You will feel a bit more virtuous when you dine in at the sustainable small bar on Little Collins Street on a menu that utilises scraps and surpluses and perfectly imperfect produce. Go with your gut and order the kangaroo with fermented natives.
Parcs mission is to minimise waste. (Image: Parker Blain)
Farro means ‘spelt’ in Italian and adopting the ancient grain as the Melbourne pizzeria’s signature product is, says co-owner Nicolas D’Anna, “not a trend, but a return to tradition”. Farro opened its fourth Melbourne venue in Hawthorn in June and D’Anna says the new hospitality venture will use organic spelt flour as its signature product because “it’s better for the gut and better for the planet”. Chef Hugo Dief also adheres to the 72-hour slow fermentation process in order to facilitate healthy digestion.
Farro uses spelt flour as its signature product because “it’s better for the gut and better for the planet”. (Image: Raoul Gerard)
City of Melbourne
Pray to the Benjamin Button gods before you start day drinking at HER BAR, a daytime cocktail bar with a French-inspired menu that attracts gorgeous glamazons partial to an arvo aperitivo. If you haven’t figured out how to age backwards, at least put on some red lippy or a jaunty hat before you hit this Parisian-style bar, as it’s full of super stylish next-gen fems who appreciate a bar named after a preposition to refer to a female.
Walk-ins are welcome, but only if you have a bit of swag. Conceptualised by HQ Group, HER is a new four-storey playground in Lonsdale St, Melbourne.
This daytime cocktail bar has a French-inspired menu. (Image: Parker Blain)
Rubi Red Kitchen + Bar
Melbourne restaurateur and chef Michael Lambie (Taxi Kitchen, The Smith and Lucy Liu in Melbourne) has opened Rubi Red Kitchen + Bar in Queensland and the Gold Coast is all the better for it. The two-storey restaurant is located at Mermaid Beach and she’s a beauty, modelled on a fictional muse by the name of Rubi Red who has a passion for great food, cocktails and travel. If you were to conjure up a character to befit the restaurant, you’d find her kitted out, like the bar and kitchen, in flamingo pinks and reds. Go for soft-shelled crab jianbing, or ginger king prawn dumplings.
This restaurant is modelled on a fictional muse by the name of Rubi Red.
Siblings PJ Cianci and Jarrod Kyle grew up washing dishes at their family restaurant Edgewater, a Gold Coast institution. But now the brothers have branched out on their own with the aptly named Siblings in Kirra Pavilion. For 23 years, the heritage building housed a Pizza Hut franchise. As well as closing a door on that chapter – it was the final dine-in Pizza Hut in Australia – the brothers have realised the potential of the waterfront setting. While the Space Cubed Design Studio interior – all salmon pinks and mint greens – nods to 1950s beach clubs in Miami, it is also quintessentially Kirra, located near to iconic surf break, Kirra Point. Expect sea breezes over share plates of fish tacos and chargrilled king prawns.
The salmon pinks and mint greens interior nods to 1950s beach clubs in Miami. (Image: Brooke Darling)
Bar Evelyn has made Coolangatta even cooler. The pizza, pasta and antipasto bar was dreamt up by Nick Stanton and Mark Catsburg (ex-Leonardo’s Pizza Palace and Leonard’s House of Love in Melbourne). Named after Stanton’s mum, Bar Evelyn has an Italo-American 1970s vibe with cork floors and wood panelling. Expect saucy offerings such as pizza loaded with bolognaise and bechamel.
Massimo Mele is a Taswegian who is fiercely proud of his Italian heritage, so much so that his new restaurant, Peppina, at the newly developed Marriott Hotel, The Tasman, a Luxury Collection Hotel, is named in honour of his beloved nonna. Mele leans deep into the Italian way of feasting at Peppina, with a changing, seasonal menu that celebrates Tassie produce and producers. The 190-seat restaurant is located at the end of the heritage wing of the hotel, which dates back to 1847, and is flooded with light from a glittering glass ceiling overhead. Take your time over the ‘Tutti A Tavola’ menu.
Peppina is named in honour of his beloved nonna.
Although it opened its doors in 2018, Institut Polaire remains every bit as relevant in 2023. The owners of the restaurant, Louise Radman and Nav Singh settled in Tassie in 2012 where they established Domaine Simha Wines. While Nav drew on his winemaking experience in Burgundy and Bordeaux to establish Domaine Simha Wines, Louise turned her attention to producing micro-batch spirits.
Institut Polaire is loved by well-heeled locals.
And if small-batch spirits distillery Süd Polaire is a nod to Tassie’s location as the gateway to South Pole, Institute Polaire is a celebration of that cold-climate terroir and the influence it has over the wines and spirits it produces. The restaurant doubles as a cellar door and the marble interiors are as cool as the sparkles glinting off the glacial-cut pendants hanging from the ceiling. Also super cool are the bespoke squares of ice that may well have been carved off a glacier in Antarctica and garnished with sprigs of baby’s breath.
Fingers of toast topped with whipped bottarga and salmon at Institut Polaire.
You can also see the magic happen in this intimate pocket-sized space as Gabriela Macedo plates up dishes from the seasonal set menu such as toast with whipped bottarga and salmon roe and spanner crab, fennel, apple and finger lime. Choose a seat at the bar or settle in for the seasonal set menu which includes standouts such as the Cape Grim eye fillet with pink eye potato and black garlic. The restaurant, which feels more Helsinki than Hobart, is a firm favourite with well-heeled locals and visitors alike. And while it may be inspired by the coldest, driest, windiest place on Earth, this dinky little wine bar, restaurant and cellar door is warm and welcoming. An exceptional experience on all fronts.
A swanky new wine bar named Pastel has added a splash of colour to the suburb of North Adelaide, albeit in soft, delicate shades. Peer into Pastel and you’ll find diners framed by a row of round windows sitting in the moodily lit space, which is warm and welcoming with nutmeg and tobacco tones.
Try Pastel Bar’s signature dish.
Kick back in the beautiful courtyard to enjoy beer-battered flathead and crunchy potatoes paired with a glass of wine from the 130-strong list.
It’s always wine night at Pastel Bar.
Leigh Street Luggage
Leigh Street Luggage comes with a lot of baggage. The new owners of Leigh Street Luggage in Adelaide kept the name and reimagined the space as a Mediterranean-inspired bar that features some of the curios and knick-knacks collected by former owner Julie Barnes, who sold travel gear from the South Australian premises for four decades. The sepia-toned photographs, vintage posters, and leather suitcases all capture the essence of craftsmanship from a bygone era, something that co-owner Shahin Chegini is passionate about.
HNLY is named in honour of its location above Adelaide’s Henley Square down by the jetty. The beach-chic space, formerly apartments, is on the upper level of a building that once housed apartments and that homely feel remains. The owners are not new to the restaurant scene and Angela Papas, of Diaspora Kouzina, Peter Louca, of Louca’s Seafood and George Kasimatis of Georges on Waymouth have given the community exactly what they need: an elegant eatery with a focus on South Australia’s incredible seafood. Come for the beach, stay for the Spencer Gulf prawns and Southern Rock lobster.
HNLY is an elegant eatery with a focus on South Australia’s incredible seafood. (Image: Riley Williams)
Casa is one of Hawthorn’s hot new spots and it offers quadruple the amount of fun: it’s part bottlo, part restaurant, part bar and part Pin-spiring 60s’-style showroom. Like most places in Perth, this is a pretentious urbanite-free zone, with the focus more on rounding up great food and wine minus the wankery, making it one of the best restaurants to try around Australia. Expect Mexican and Italian-inspired food that reflects chef Paul Bentley’s interest in these cuisines with a range of top drops, from organic to biodynamic to old and new world wines. This is the place to dine out if you want to make new discoveries. Order the lobster salad and seafood ceviche and a glass of frizzante.
If you’re unsure what the focus at Nieuw Ruin, take a look around at the wine bottles occupying every spare bit of shelving. The team behind Foxtrot Unicorn, known around the land for its cheese toasties, has delivered a Fremantle fave in the form of Nieuw Ruin, which has a focus on wines you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. It can be daunting to make a choice when you have a 300-strong wine list, but the friendly staff are happy to make suggestions. Accept the recommendation for a glass of Italian sparkling to accompany small plates such as garfish rollmops and crisps with tarama and smoked trout caviar. Go boldly into the warm, inviting bar billed as a place for good food, cocktails and weird wine.
Go boldly into the warm, inviting bar billed as a place for good food, cocktails and weird wine.
Vin Populi is Italian for ‘wine for the people’, living up to its name in Fremantle’s west end. Handing over ownership to the group behind No Mafi a in Melbourne’s Northbridge and fi ne diner Balthazar was a parting gift from the Abrugiato family, who started the original Roma restaurant here in the 1950s. The enoteca pays homage to the Abrugiatos with its soundtrack of jaunty Italian pop, exposed plaster walls and a menu of antipasti, fresh-made pasta and local meats.
Raise a glass at Vin Populi.
Hanky Panky Lounge
So you’ve flown to Darwin with that bloke you met on Bumble and you want to impress him by taking him to the city’s newest drinking den? Don’t stress. We’ve got you. Head to the Hanky Panky Lounge, named after a classic cocktail created by Ada Coleman, the head bartender at the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London in the early 20th century. The list of bar bites is short and sweet. We recommend the parmesan fries with truffle oil and sea salt to go with your Sparkling Jungle Bird cocktail – you are in the tropics, after all.
Head to the Hanky Panky Lounge, named after a classic cocktail created by Ada Coleman.
Australian Capital Territory
A custom-made offset smoker and two-tier konro yakitori grill take pride of place at Wilma, a sophisticated new space in the heart of Canberra’s CBD that winks to Wilma Flintstone, the animated character from The Flintstones who also cooks over fire. The menu at the progressive Asian BBQ restaurant was curated by Brendan Hill (ex-Sydney’s Aria and 12-Micron) and spans small plates and share-friendly Asian-Australian favourites such as roasted duck and char sui pork along with the signature Wilma sausage sandwich. The two-storey eatery, all glossy dark woods, brass and leather banquette seating, also has a shiny new sister bar, The Pearl, slinging out Asian-inspired cocktails.
Wilma is a sophisticated new space in the heart of Canberra’s CBD.
Wakefield’s Bar & Wine Room
Edgar’s is an Ainslie institution that has expanded to include the charming Wakefield’s Bar & Wine Room and The Inn. The interior of The Inn, designed by Capezio Copeland, is all hard industrial edges softened by a vintage feel and anchored by a vast walk-in wine room with a range of nooks to sit and sip. Wander upstairs to the warm and inviting Wakefield’s, all retro artworks and oversized wicker lampshades, to get a taste of the Canberra Wine District. You’ll find chef Steven Jacomos (ex-St Crispin, and qualia) here trumpeting about the region’s best seasonal produce. The Inn, Wakefield’s and Dough Boy are all under the umbrella of Edgar’s, making this one of Canberra’s best places to eat, drink and socialise.
Wander upstairs to the warm and inviting Wakefield’s. (Image: Megann Evans).
Agostini’s @ East Hotel
Agostini’s is one of many compelling reasons to visit Canberra. Opened a decade ago, the restaurant has all the charm of an Italian gathering. It’s raucous, family friendly and lots of fun. The eatery is named in honour of the Agostini family who gifted Canberra with the East Hotel a decade ago. It serves up traditional takes on classic Italian cuisine using the very best local and imported ingredients.
East Hotel’s new private dining space, Il Camino.
Riding pillion passenger to the main dining room is Il Camino, which means ‘fireplace’ in Italian, and winks back to the all-enveloping warmth of the restaurant. The latest addition to Agostini’s was designed by Kelly Ross of Kelly Ross Designs and can be booked out for private functions. It’s also used as somewhat of a sidecar space for customers to spill into from the main dining room.
Order an Old Fashioned at East Hotel’s Joe’s Bar.
While waiting for your table, head to Joe’s Bar, one of the top places in the ACT for a tipple. Also earning rave reviews is Agostini’s at Lark Hill Winery, a pop-up that has become permanent due to it proving so enormously popular. Sip on top drops from Lark Hill while choosing from a concise menu of Agostini’s greatest hits.
Head to Agostini’s at Lark Hill, an offshoot of the popular East Hotel restaurant.
II Camino at East Hotel
Think of Il Camino as the carrozzino (sidecar) to Agostinis on the ground floor of Canberra’s East Hotel. Il Camino translates to ‘the fireplace’ which is at the heart of this luxe space by Kelly Ross Design. While the main dining room is great for large get togethers, Il Camino is more intimate and can be hired for soirées for up to 40 people. Meanwhile, an Agostinis pop-up at Lark Hill Winery has proved so popular it’s now permanent.
II Camino at East Hotel has an elegant dining interior.
The original article is written by Carla Grossetti, and has been updated by Emily Murphy and Kassia Byrnes.