These shiny new places caught our attention this year:
It's been open three months but every time we drive past Baby Su there's a crowd waiting for the doors to open. The brainchild of the team behind Lazy Su, Baby Su exudes the same vibe that has made the Braddon venue such a success. And that's a big part of the reason why co-owners Andrew Duong, Jared Calnan, Ben Ilic and chef Shao Yi Kuek took the chance on this new quirky diner. The menu reflects Lazy Su's pan-American-Asian flavours. You can get a few favourites such as the wagyu cheesesteak springroll and the bao-gers but there's also a range of new bowls and noodle soups. Pick up a matcha and white chocolate cream puff if you know it's going to be a long afternoon at work.
Corner West Row and Alinga Street, Canberra, baby-su.com.au
There aren't a lot of options when the people who slave away all afternoon and night, making sure you have a super night out, want to get together over a meal. The team at Narrabundah's XO are no different. Waking up with distant memories of Asian bolognese and fried chicken wings, Greg Lally, Kent Nhan, Stephane Nguyen, Elliot Gotovac and AK Ramakrishna would often find themselves around a table, in front of another plate of scrambled eggs and avocado, wondering whether there was anything more to what is often dubbed the most important meal of the day. Open daily from 6am to 3pm, it's all about "daylight dining". We'd like them to stay open later. From the food, to the ambience, to the service, Morning Glory is definitely not a place that only does breakfast and lunch. It goes well beyond that.
15 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra, morning-glory.com.au
At Taco Taco they go through about 260 avocados a week, making kilograms of guacamole to serve up with tacos, beans and rice and other surprises that appear now and again. Dan Zivkovich and his mates Duncan Turner, Sam Burns and Nick Smith, found the most popular food items at Barrio were the ones that were less than $10, and quick to get on the plate. The tacos were a big hit and they thought maybe it was something they could do in a dedicated space without coffee chewing up the whole kitchen. They bought in chef Jeff Shim, formerly of XO and the Chairman Group, who has given the menu some polish. It's Mexican street food inspired but with Asian and European touches.
Shop 8, No Name Lane (off Alinga Street), Canberra, tacotacocbr.com
After opening in June, Terra quickly cemented itself as one of Canberra's favourite lunch spots, with its canteen-style, produce-driven offerings. Dinner was always on the agenda, and kicked off in October (Thursdays through Saturdays). Brothers Anthony and Marcus Iannelli, the team behind fresh produce store The Food Forum in Belconnen, brought in chef Sung Son whose ever-changing menu features straight-off-the-spit smoked and charcoal meats, gourmet lunch rolls, seasonal roasted vegetables, fresh salads and juices, plus specialty coffee. Dinner might be house-made flatbread with duck liver parfait and dill pickles, confit salmon in a jar, dry aged beef, spit roasted pork belly with house-made sauerkraut, or deep-fried cheesecake with banana custard. But the joy of Terra is you never know what you'll get – the menu depends on what's good at the markets – but that's half the fun.
Shop G2 No Name Lane, 40 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra, terracanberra.com.au
Breads at Sonoma Bakery. Photo: Supplied
The iconic Sydney bakery opened in Lonsdale Street in August, the smell of baking bread literally stopping people in the street. Sonoma bakery includes a 40-seat cafe, doing simple breakfast and lunch plates, fresh sandwiches, pies, sausage rolls, pizzas and abundant salads, alongside a generous selection of pastries and sweets. There's also a focus on good coffee. All the Sonoma staples are on the menu, such as signature loaves the Miche and the Mission, but keep an eye out for breads baked with heritage grains.
Shop 1, 21 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, sonoma.com.au
Lola's owner Frank Condi and chef Wayne Alger. Photo: Elesa Kurtz
Tucked away behind Shorty's in Bunda Street in the city, "Italian-style speakeasy" Lola's is the latest venture of Frank Condi. One side is dominated by a large wood-fired pizza oven, the walls covered with graffiti of song lyrics and the like, people perched on high stools, sharing pizzas and beers. The other side is Lola's drawcard – tables and a corner with a low velvet upholstered bench reaching around the edge of the room. We like the neon lighting, dark corners, great soundtrack and menu – you might be a little surprised when it comes to either food or drinking offerings. Don't miss the big fat meatballs.
50 Bunda Street, Canberra, lolasbar.com.au
Manager Zac Young at Kita. Photo: Elesa Kurtz
Who said it was impossible to get something to eat in Canberra after midnight? Kita, at the Narrabundah shops, is open from 9pm to 9am, Wednesday to Saturday, with breakfasts served 'til noon on the weekend. The brainchild of the Young family (the team behind the Indo Place at the Old Bus Depot Markets), Kita caters to students, shift workers, emergency service people, anyone really who has a craving for great food and a relaxing ambience in the wee hours. Think perkedel – little Indonesian fried patties – or a laksa. But if it's really late, we reckon the martabak manis is the go, a lush Indonesian pancake filled with chocolate, crushed nuts and condensed milk.
59 Boolimba Crescent, Narrabundah, kitakafe.com.au
Bleachers managers Richard McPherson and Aaron Aherne-Williams. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Bleachers Sports Bar in the Melbourne Building serves up everything you'd expect to get at an American sports bar – think ribs, burgers, wings, mac and cheese, hotdogs and steaks. It's open from lunch until late, screening sports from across the globe on 24 screens. Beer is fittingly the main drink on offer at the bar – there are 12 on tap, including an alcoholic ginger beer and cider, plus plenty more in tins and bottles. The bar's only actual bleachers are in miniature form, purpose-built to hold its large spirits selection.
35 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra, bleachers.bar