April 05, 2023
9 mins Read
Asian markets, hipster cafes and jovial Greek tavernas meet high-end restaurants, perfect for sampling wild ingredients such as banana prawns, crocodiles and kangaroo. Here is our guide to the best places to eat in Darwin.
Whether you’re feasting on Sri Lankan string hoppers, pork-stuffed Thai chicken wings or freshly made Vietnamese banh mi, you can tell that Darwin’s soul is in step with its closest neighbours.
The hottest joint in Darwin is Little Miss Korea. Down a graffiti-filled laneway, the restaurant serves up the traditional Kimchi and Korean BBQ (think Bulgogi beef or Jaeyuk Gui Spiced Pork Belly) or just a more than ample a la carte. The wine list is small but well put together with the obligatory cocktails.
For authentic, budget-friendly Asian delights, make a beeline for the arcades around the Smith Street mall. Don’t miss Roast & Noodle 328 for a cheap and cheerful Chinese barbecue and a mouth-watering prawn wonton soup.
If you love a bit of Vietnamese pho (and let’s face it who doesn’t) then head to the waterfront and slurp down some of the finest rice noodles with raw beef at kitschy-cool Chow.
The pan-Asian restaurant Hanuman may be an established favourite, but it still cuts it with an enticing mix of Indian, Thai and Nyonya flavours. Cool down on its fabulous deck and tuck into the signature clay pot oysters presented in an earthenware holder and served with vivid lemongrass and sweet basil sauce.
The Noodle House opposite Hanuman is great for unfussy inexpensive quick and easy noodles.
A luxurious take on modern Sri Lankan cuisine. Ella – by Minoli promises a well-balanced mix of flavours, which pays homage to Sri Lankan food’s Ayurvedic properties, as well as creative and original cocktails.
For the menu, think mas cutlis fried meatballs with a chunky tomato tamarind sauce, crispy whitebait with curry-leaf mayonnaise, and wild-caught Australian king prawns slathered with Lankan butter, as well as black pepper pork belly, served with tamarind coconut sauce and pineapple salsa and much more.
Darwin has a strong Greek heritage and you can indulge in home-style mezedes, juicy meats, grilled seafood and mama’s syrupy sweets on the deck at Yots, overlooking Cullen Bay Marina.
With its sweeping views across Fannie Bay to Darwin, tables on the water’s edge under native fig trees, and innovative Top End favourites, Pee Wee’s at the Point is the ideal place to make the most of the balmy, tropical weather.
Appealing dishes such as buffalo carpaccio, tempeh bao buns and crocodile wrapped in betel leaf celebrate Territory produce.
An equally charming night out can be had at Char, an upmarket surf-and-turf restaurant in historic Admiralty House.
The beef (including 300-day grain-fed Wagyu rump) and the crispy fried whole baby barramundi are the stars of the menu, but it’s hard to resist a mojito under the lantern-lit trees.
For the best crispy barramundi in Darwin drop in on Wharf 1 at the waterfront.
Magnificent views of the harbour are matched with a selection of cured and raw plates (think carpaccio, cured salmon, charcuterie plates and tartare) and grilled meats or small share plates.
One of the town’s best-rated restaurants can be found in one of Darwin’s top-rated hotels, PepperBerry at The Hilton Darwin. Its modern Australia menu features miso tempura crocodile with mango green chilli sauce, Black Angus steaks and baked Massaman market fish in a fine dining setting and gorgeous atmosphere.
The most laid-back capital in Australia does casual dining better than most. The iconic Mindil Beach Markets are just one of several outstanding Darwin markets. Most locals can be found on a picnic blanket on the Nightcliff on a Sunday chowing down on a mic of food van and BYO dinner and drinks.
Twenty minutes north of the CBD in artsy hub Nightcliff, a ‘village walk’ of new-breed food trucks has popped up alongside the suburb’s milky-blue ocean fringe.
Further north lies Teardrop Coffee (Monday to Saturday), a pop-up blue-and-white vintage van with the pick of early morning locations: a stand-up paddle boarder’s section of beach, set right by the Aralia Street and Casuarina Drive intersection. Here, owner Imogen Gough brews java beside a scattering of milk crates and a lush strip of lawn.
By night, just around the bend at the Seabreeze car park (Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays), you’ll find the jewel in the foreshore’s food truck crown. Cucina Sotto Le Stelle translates from Italian to ‘kitchen under the stars’. In his mobile restaurant, chef Benjamin Matthews wood-fires traditional pizzas, while diners share long, communal tables set beneath illuminated flame trees.
Try the risotto with NT squid ink, garlic and blue swimmer crab. But do take note that the menu here shifts with the seasons, so while you may not always find your favourite, you can be assured the freshest produce Matthews can get his hands on.
For a spicy, funky Mexican feed down on the water, look no further than Hot Tamale. As well as the usual suspects, this water-view restaurant dishes up raw snapper ceviche with local tropical fruits, hot pork shoulder served in steaming tamale, spiced chicken, topped with cocoa and dried fruit mole and much more.
If you want to save on the dollars, arrive for Hot Tamale’s ‘Loco Arvos’ at 4pm to 6pm for $6 tacos, sangria and beers, as well as $12 spicy or frozen margaritas. Now that’s a perfect sunset pairing!
A classic surf and turf restaurant on the Darwin waterfront at Stokes Hill Wharf. Pull up a chair outside, and order from the enormous menu, which includes crocodile fillet skewers, grilled squid, sizzling chilli prawns, grilled beef and lobsters, wild barramundi, Northern Territory mud crabs (when in season), and Moreton bay bugs.
If you’ve staked money that Darwin is ‘not an oyster kind of palace’, you can just put your cash on one of the waterside tables of the Oyster Bar. Located at the Darwin Waterfront Precinct, as well as Coffin Bay oysters served up every which way (natural, Kilpatrick, Thai, with caviar …), you can also opt for house pickled octopus, coconut crumbed prawns, pork belly bites and popcorn crocodile with salad and bush tomato relish.
Happy hour runs from 4pm (5pm Fridays).
For an unencumbered beverage and an open outlook over a classic Top End sunset, many Darwinites will rightfully recommend Darwin Ski Club.
Grab a table on the manicured lawns, choose your fave bottled beer and watch the boats bob up and down in Fannie Bay, the palm trees reminding you that, hey, you’re in the tropics now. The bistro food here is also on the rise.
Other options include the Darwin Sailing Club or the Darwin Trailer Boat Club. They’re all neighbours that share the beachfront linking Mindil with Fannie Bay.
We’ve previously written about our favourite bars in Darwin, but have included a few more options for a bevvy and a feed below.
The open-air Deckchair Cinema (April to October) has very little chance of being interrupted by rain and it screens an intelligent array of films seven nights a week (on the Darwin Waterfront). There’s a licensed bar and decent food to help you enjoy the show (no BYO) with double-session marathons for the buffs. Definitely one of our favourite things to do in Darwin.
Lola’s Pergola is a cabaret and carnival-themed restaurant and bar in the harbour-side precinct of Cullen Bay.
It is the sister bar to Monte’s Lounge, an Alice Springs staple with a cracker of an outdoor area and more atmosphere than you’ll find at a footy grand final.
Lola’s serves up another NT newbie, too, a draught beer from local Darwin label One Mile Brewery. Cheekily, the beer’s name is drawn from the knock-off time for public servants: 4:21.
If you like to mix spice with music, then head to Nirvana on a Tuesday evening. It’s jam night where plenty of talented Darwin musicians pick up a sax or play impromptu drum sets. Fantastic cocktails – try the whisky sour – and Thai/Malay/Indian food is consistently flavoursome too.
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My Wife and myself come up to Darwin every second
year for the Football AFL -FREO
We always bring some one with us ,last time one of our
grandson he had a great time
ever time we come we find more to do