Orange locals are justifiably proud of the foodie credentials of their home. This is a place where you can get good coffee seven days a week, and have dozens of dining options - even a hatted restaurant. There are quality providores, wineries gaining international acclaim and a proud sustainable philosophy.
Like the food-focused residents, many of the chefs are big-city refugees and are at the top of the game - although service can be temperamental. Still, produce is as fresh as you'll get, and prices are well below what you'll pay in the big smoke.
With the recent closure of Bistro Ceello (rumours are talented chef Scott Want is moving on to become an accountant; there'll be midyear news on a new fine diner), Orange's big "special night" restaurant is the hatted Lolli Redini, where the deft hand of Simonn Hawke has dominated for 14 years. Think soft soufflés, cosy pappardelle and squid ink pastas, melt-in-your mouth lamb and brisket, all served with charm in a cosy old home. For more everyday fare, try Thai at Sweet Sour Salt. Or just-out-of-town Fiorinis for sumptuous home-style Italian (only open Friday to Sunday). Also leave town for Racine, for local produce done well and fine dining in a divine outdoor setting. The best bread in town can be found at their bakery namesake, in the Woolies car park. More great pastries are at The Sugar Mill Cafe – just opened, and sister to nearby Millthorpe fave Old Mill Cafe. But for the best lazy breakfast, go to the Lakehouse: let the kids loose on the sand or walk it all off with your lover around the lake. In the past you couldn't find a place doing drinkable coffee open on the weekend in Orange. All of a sudden, it's hard to miss. Could be all those former city dwellers escaping to Orange for the schools - and the food. Check out Nimrods, The Good Eddy, Factory Espresso and Bills Beans and – the local's fave – Byng Street Local Store (expect queues on Sunday). Owner Jeremy Norris also runs popular events space – and occasional pop-up restaurant - Botanic, at the local Botanic Gardens.
Lolli Redini Restaurant, 48 Sale Street, Orange, 02 6361 7748, lolliredini.com.au
Sweet Sour Salt, 116 Summer Street, Orange, 02 6362 5191, sweetsoursalt.com.au
Fiorinis Ristorante Italiano, 816 Canobolas Road, Orange, 02 6365 3863
Racine at La Colline Restaurant, 42 Lake Canobolas Road, Orange, 02 6365 3275, racinerestaurant.com.au
Racine Bakery, 166B Summer Street, Orange, 02 6361 4234, racinerestaurant.com.au
The Sugar Mill Cafe Shop, 1/ 86 Summer Street, Orange, 02 6361 1529
Old Mill Cafe, 12 Pym Street, Millthorpe, 02 6366 3188, theoldmillcafe.com.au
The Lakehouse Cafe and Kiosk, Lake Canobolas, Orange, (02) 6365 3814
Nimrods, 214 Lords Place, Orange, 0405 989 440
The Good Eddy, 187 Lords Place, Orange, 02 6361 7379
Factory Espresso & Bills Beans, 133-137 Kite Street, Orange, 02 6360 2858, billsbeans.com.au
Byng Street Local Store, 47 Byng St, Orange, 02 6369 0768, byngstreet.com.au
Botanic Orange Botanic Gardens, 02 6361 4007, botanicfunctioncentre.com.au
Orange bars and pubs have come along way since the sticky floors and swaggering ag students of a decade ago. In their place are stylish wine rooms and refurbished pubs where you can eat late – a luxury in most country towns. Next door to Lolli Redini, the heritage-listed Union Bank offers simple food (ordered at the bar) and live music Saturdays and Sundays, and is the place to go if the weather is good. If it's not (such as winter in Orange, when it can snow), sample the 60 whiskys at the new Chesterfields Whiskey and Wine Bar on the first floor of the Canobolas Hotel. Well, some of them, at least. And another new kid on the block, the busy Percy's Bar and Kitchen is fun for cocktails and curly fries, or dumplings on Tuesdays.
Union Bank Wine Bar, 84 Byng Street, Orange, 02 6361 4441, unionbank.com.au
Canobolas Hotel, 248 Summer Street, Orange, 02 6362 2444
Percy's Bar & Kitchen, 120 Summer Street, Orange, 02 6361 2400, percysorange.com.au
The two well-established events in Orange – FOOD Week (in April) and Orange Wine Festival (in October) - see the many providores and wineries overwhelmed with hungry eaters. The Orange Region Farmers Markets are famous for their abundance of phenomenal produce, including local apples, venison, breads, eggs, bacon, preserves and so much more. Catch them on the second Saturday of the month (location varies depending on the season). In nearby Blayney, there's a new farmer's market open every third Sunday in Carrington Park. If you miss the markets, never fear. Orange is spoiled for choice of local, "beyond organic" providores. The Agrestic Grocer is our pick (they even have live music, and excellent coffee) but A Slice of Orange and recently opened The Grocer & Co Organics are also worth a browse.
Orange wineries are worth a looksee, too. There are not as many as Mudgee or the Hunter, but they punch above their weight. Philip Shaw Wines is probably the best known and slickest in Orange, especially since opening their new cellar door in December. Ross Hill Wines is also a heavyweight of the region, with some tasty drops. If you're after more intimate (and super-friendly) experience, De Salis Wines is full of life and has great views. Even further away, Printhie is a picturesque 40-minute drive from town - to Molong - but well worth it for the tasty wines. Swinging Bridge has a funky cellar door in town (their onsite Canowindra cellar door is still open Thursday to Monday) as part of the Union Bank building, and – still in town – Ferment, The Orange Wine Centre has a wide range of local wines (and bike hire).
Events: orangefoodweek.com.au, tasteorange.com.au, orangefarmersmarket.org.au
The Agrestic Grocer, 426 Mitchell Highway, Orange, 02 6360 4604
A Slice of Orange, Shop 2, 200 Anson Street, Orange, 02 6369 0396, asliceoforange.com.au
The Grocer & Co Organics, 50 McNamara Street, Orange, 02 6362 1222, grocerandco.com.au
Philip Shaw Wines, 100 Shiralee Road, Orange, philipshaw.com.au
Ross Hill Wines, 134 Wallace Lane, Orange, 02 6365 3223, rosshillwines.com.au
De Salis Wines, 125 Mount Lofty Road, Nashdale via Orange, 0403 210 703, desaliswines.com.au
Printhie Wines, 489 Yuranigh Road, Molong, (02) 6366 8422, printhiewines.com.au
Swinging Bridge Union Bank, 84 Byng Street (cnr Sale Street), Orange, swingingbridge.com.au
Ferment, The Orange Wine Centre, 87 Hill Street, Orange, (02) 6360 4833, orangewinecentre.com.au
Keep up with the food and drink theme and stay at one of the four cottages on the picturesque Borrodell Vineyards, from $180 a night; or at one of the three gorgeous cottages a short stroll from the Mayfield Cellar Door, from $250/night. In town, de Russie Suites are stylish Tuscan-inspired, from $155 a night.
Borrodell Cottages, 298 Lake Canobolas Road, Canobolas, 02 6365 3425, borrodell.com.au
Mayfield Cottages, 954 Icely Road, Emu Swamp, 6365 9293, mayfieldvineyard.com
DeRussie Suites, 72 Hill St, Orange, 02 6360 0973, derussiehotels.com.au