Food and wine

First thing to know: it’s hard to get a bad meal in Adelaide, so basically you can eat anywhere.  But here are our suggestions for some memorable meals.

  • Have at least one breakfast or lunch in the famous Central Market (between Gouger and Grote streets). Best days are Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  (If you are a foodie you can even do a tour). We recommend breakfast or coffee at Zuma’s or Lucia’s, a gorgeous cup of tea at T Bar, lunch at Comida or the Big Table, a bowl of laksa (fabulous Malaysian soup) at Asian Gourmet.
  • And have at least one lunch or dinner on Gouger Street. It’s mostly Asian, mostly good, mostly modestly priced – so follow your instincts. The chefs eat at Wah Ling at 85 Gouger St, and no wonder.  If you are looking for something a bit up market (and slightly pricier) we recommend Concubine for classy Chinese and Fish Head for excellent Malaysian dishes. If you are after something simpler (and cheaper) and are happy to eat on plastic tables try the places in the streets off Gouger Street. Thanh Thanh in Field St for Vietnamese, the Dumpling King and T-Chow in Moonta Street (Chinatown) are all great. There is also a food hall east off Moonta Street (lunch only) where you can’t go wrong. And the little places (pho and noodle shops) on Grote Street between Moonta Street and the Market are always full of international students. (A great sign for both quality and value.)
  • Other good eating streets
    • Waymouth Street: Great tapas and well priced pizza at Melt (leave room for a dessert pizza), truly fabulous food at Bistro Dom, great ambiance at Press, excellent food at Georges.
    • Rundle Street East: Lots of great options. Burger Theory is much loved for (you guessed it) burgers. Hey Jupiter has reputation for it’s pork belly.   For reliably very good Italian food try an old favourite: Amalfi. (Mick Jagger eats here!)
    • Peel Street/Leigh Street:  Full of bars, but also blessed with some very good places to eat.  Rigonis on Leigh Street has been there for years and is an icon.  Great pasta.  Peel Street, on Peel Street, serves some of the best food in town.  Really!
    • Hutt Street: Again lots of options. For a posher (ie more expensive) dinner try  Chianti Classico (classy Italian).  For more a more casual  meal – Good Life do a great organic pizza.
    • Hindley Street.  For breakfast or lunch (or Friday knock off drinks) head west to the quirky and delightful Peter Rabbit garden cafe.  (Visit the rabbit.) Or try the Levant Eatery next door.  Phonatic for good Vietnamese.
  • For a VERY, VERY special night out eat at the incredible Orana. It’s expensive (almost $300 per person for food and wine) but the restaurant only seats 25 people and the totally unique Australian food experience is one you will never forget.
  • Another local favourite if you want a less expensive, but still impressive, treat is the Botanic Gardens Restaurant. Award winning. Gorgeous setting.
  • In the SW corner try one of the local cafés: Troppo on Whitmore Square (a welcoming hipster haunt, open every day but Monday, live music Friday nights), Paddy’s Lantern at 219 Gilbert St (some say they serve the best coffee in Adelaide) or (my favourite) My Kingdom for a Horse in Wright St (great for brunch). For a quick cheap lunch, the Vietnamese Laundry (great cheap Vietnamese street food in what was, until recently, a laundromat).
  • Keep an eye out for one of the city’s 40 food trucks. They turn up in unexpected places serving great food, at good prices. And every few months or so they all congregate one spot for a much loved pop-up event called Fork on the Road.   ‘Like’ the Fork on the Road facebook page to be kept in touch.
  • And don’t overlook the pubs.  Adelaide has over 40 pubs just in the city square mile, lots of them in  gorgeous old buildings dating back to the 1800s. Most are good – for both drinking and eating. Current city favourites are the Edinburgh Castle in Currie St (eclectic décor, good beer selection, board games), the Gilbert Street (good food all week, Thursdays night for its famous Buffalo wings), the Franklin (just opposite the bus station) and, 50m west, The Publishers.  The Rob Roy in Halifax Street also does a good value meal (and has a great whisky selection). In North Adelaide, try the Archer (lovely balcony) and Daniel O’Connell’s  (food critic John Lethlean says their food is sensational). But perhaps the best idea is just ask your favourite local for their favourite local.
  • Adelaide also has a reputation for its dessert bars. There are lots; just keep an eye out.
  • We also regularly use, and highly recommend, Yelp.  Their consumer generated food reviews are usually spot on.  Just type in your location – they will tell you what’s near, and what’s good.

Meals aside, there are a some other distinctly South Australian foods that MUST try while you’re here:

  • Haigh’s chocolate – an icon! One shop in the arcade near the Market, one in Rundle Mall – AND you can do a tour of their factory on Greenhill Road.
  • Farmer’s Union Iced Coffee – straight from the carton of course.
  • A pie (or two) from Perryman’s Artisan Bakery in Tynte Street North Adelaide.
  • Fruchocs (available in the lolly aisle at the supermarket).
  • A ‘parmi’ for dinner. Most pubs do one.
  • A Balfours frog cake – now on the National Trust’s heritage list.
  • Golden North Honey Icecream (also in good supermarkets).
  • Lucia’s famous pasta sauce (available from the family run Lucia’s Fine Foods in the Market)
  • Kangaroo Island honey (available at the KI shop at the Market).  Ask them to tell you the story of their very special KI bees.  (While you’re there try the KI gin!)

And for drinking

  • South Australia is proudly Australia’s ‘wine state’ so let’s start with some serious wine drinking. Our current favourite spot is the intimate Cantina Sociale in Sturt St. It serves only 10 wines – each straight from the barrel. Also serves simple food. Lovely atmosphere. Check opening hours.
  • In the East end, we recommend the delightful Tasting Room at the East End Cellars (Vardon Street).
  • For beer lovers, the King’s Head in King William Street serves only local beers – and a great selection of them. They also have a bottle shop for takeaway.
  • For REALLY serious beer lovers take a tour of Coopers Brewery in suburban Adelaide – a South Australian icon. Tuesdays to Fridays at 1pm. $22, $20 of which is donated to charity.   Book.  Or visit Pirate Life in Hindmarsh.  Brewery tours every day at 2.  Store (tastings, take away beers, good coffee) open 12  – 6 Tuesday to Friday and from 11 – 4 on Saturday.
  • For bars more generally start in Peel Street (where a new bar seems to open every week).  Also have a look in nearby Leigh Street. (We love Pink Moon Saloon.) Gresham St (also off Hindley Street) is now home to La Buvette and Bibliotheca (bar and book exchange).  Further afield we can recommend the upstairs deck at Proof in Anster St (just off Waymouth), Hains & Co in Gilbert Place, Lotus Lounge on Morphett St (retro feel, welcoming little back garden, friendly staff, great cocktails) or the classy Collins Bar at the Hilton Hotel on Victoria Square (try the beetroot mojito).
  • Or get really serious, and have a day in McLaren Vale or the Barossa.