Being desert-bound doesn’t disqualify Alice Springs from reaching culinary heights to rival those of its urban cousins. From bush-tucker cafes to fine-dining gems, this outback town boasts a surprisingly creative and atmospheric food scene.
Though the words ‘Alice Springs’ may conjure visuals of dusty outback pubs, camel steaks and dinky sandwich shops, the town’s modern-day gastronomic scene is an emerging – and somewhat unexpected – treasure. Here, native desert ingredients find their home in cafe cabinets and spice-infused seafood steams a path through nationally recognised foodie hotspots. We did the hard work for you and found the nine best places to eat in Alice Springs.
Kungkas Can Cook
This unassuming cafe in Diarama Village is the brainchild of grandmother Rayleen Brown, an Aboriginal woman with a love for wild Central Australian bush tucker sourced traditionally. As well as quiches and pizzas, Rayleen serves kangaroo burgers and baked delicacies such as chocolate eclairs with wattleseed crème pâtissière, wattleseed chocolate brownies, quandong coconut slice and boab and apricot bliss balls.
Address: 475 South Stuart Highway, Alice Springs
Bursting with charisma – and hidden inside Todd Street Mall in Alice’s city centre – Page 27 is an eclectic and colourful cafe with a hippy edge. It serves killer Little Marionette blend coffee, as well as culinary fare with a focus on freshness – such as poke bowls and Moroccan couscous salad.
Address: 89 Todd Mall, Alice Springs
Alice’s cool cats congregate at Epilogue Lounge (also based in Todd Street Mall) which pairs live music and events with pizzas, burgers, tapas and a solid wine list. Artfully decorated, it boasts a sprinkling of retro couches and a rooftop bar. Drop by on Friday and Saturday nights for the food alone, but also to sample events such as ‘Afro Calypso Tropical Disco’, hip-hop night, and music fan meet-ups.
Address: 1/58 Todd Street, Alice Springs
Bean Tree Café
Abundantly calm, homely and inviting, Bean Tree Café is set within the grounds of Olive Pink Botanic Garden, a 16-hectare haven that displays arid-region flora, as well as the odd agile wallaby. Great for breakfast and lunch, Bean Tree caters particularly well for vegans – try the vegan breakfast, vegan bowl or vegan burger. Middle Eastern and Portuguese dishes also make an appearance on this tasty menu.
Address: Tuncks Road, Alice Springs
Step into this cabaret-meets-circus themed bar and restaurant to sample Alice at its grungy, quirky best. Monte’s is run by Northern Territory personalities Matt Mulga and Kitty Kat – who own the equally enchanting Lola’s Pergola in Darwin. Monte’s menu features burgers, pizzas and cocktails – and, on weekends, hosts events such as circus acts, electro beats and African drumming.
Address: Corner Todd Street and Stott Terrace, Alice Springs
Alice Springs Brewing Co.
One of the newest bar-cum-restaurants in Alice, this cleanly designed brewery is the lovechild of Kyle Pearson, a long-term local who’s been perfecting the art of beer brewing since the age of 18. Offering wings and pizzas (including dessert pizzas with marshmallows, crushed nuts and chocolate chips), Alice Springs Brewing Co. specialises in warm-weather beers like its Summer Ale, brewed with Citra and Mosaic hops.
Address: 39 Palm Circuit, Ross
Considered the fine-dining star in Alice’s crown, Hanuman has a sister restaurant in Darwin that is the only Top End restaurant to score a hat in the 2018 Good Food Guide. Run by another longstanding Northern Territory personality, Jimmy Shu, Alice Springs’s Hanuman is an ever-busy oasis for Indian and Thai dishes, made with trademark creativity and fat flavour punches. Over the cooler winter months, opt for Jimmy’s slow-cooked Madras goat curry served with star anise cloves and house-made garam masala.
Address: 82 Barrett Drive, Alice Springs
Australian and French-themed restaurant Tali is based out of Lasseters Hotel – which promises some of the best sunset views of the MacDonnell Ranges. But, to entirely forget the fact that you’re in the desert, pay a visit to Tali’s Oyster Bar or order its pan-fried barramundi fillet garnished with clams, prawns and orange dressing. Owing to its sizable drinks list, this light-filled space is also a fitting choice for a nightcap or an early-evening tipple.
Address: 93 Barrett Drive, Alice Springs
A budgerigar’s flight from Araluen Arts Centre, Watertank Cafe is an unexpected jewel tucked away in Alice’s industrial area. True to that fact, it’s housed inside a high-ceiling industrial shed and kitted out with all manner of recycled, upcycled furnishings – from road signs to old pianos and kitchen cabinets. Watertank brews a tasty coffee and serves healthy breakfasts and lunches, as well as dinners on Friday and Saturday nights. On occasion, the cafe also hosts ‘Moon Markets’, featuring local sellers, musicians and merriment.
Address: 16B Wilkinson Street, Ciccone