In the past decade Canberra has grown a food scene. There have always been spots to eat in the town but now there is real diversity, in price and style. As well as the kind of healthy competition that only breeds better eats for all of us.
Whole new strips have grown up. In Braddon car wreckers have given way to ritzy apartments, restaurants, cafes and food vans. The hyper cool New Acton precinct is perched over the Lake Burley Griffin, with options aplenty – catch a late film then take supper upstairs at the coolest hotel restaurant in Australia at Hotel Hotel's Monster Kitchen and Bar.
And that's just scratching the surface. If you're heading to the nation's capital for a visit, make sure you give yourself time to soak it all up. Here are some of our favourite ways to do just that.
Canberrans have long been well served by the European style bistro Pulp Kitchen and on weekends brunch is the ultimate reviver. A bowl of coffee sets you up for the ultimate hangover cure, the breakfast raclette, a hash of bacon, potatoes, bechamel and spinach and melted cheese. The restaurant is a great dinner option too.
Across town one of Canberra's stayers, Silo Bakery, continues to produce the best bread this side of Rome and a jewel-like array of tarts: vanilla brulee, prune clafoutis, the list goes on. But don't let the bakery delights blind you to the menu, the day can start brightly with a flavour-packed piperade omelette or lunch might be a chestnut or salt fish soup or a creamy tart flamiche with expertly matched wine by the glass.
As brekkie blurs into lunch visit Autolyse Bakery in Braddon, where the chefs pipe out eclairs as you tuck into an avalanche of trout salad served with a half loaf of crusty bread.
If virtuous and caffeinated is how you want to feel, Barrio will deliver a spectacular shaken iced coffee (just really good milk and coffee) and small selection of beautifully balanced eats prepared in a kitchen the size of a pocket handkerchief.
Across the road is Canberra's best pizza, all chewy dough and minimal toppings, at Gusto. This is a real takeaway, but with stools and tables outside and a grog shop next door, so a great BYO dinner awaits.
Canberra's first dessert bar and best ice-creamery, Frugii Dessert Laboratory, is over the road, and $5 will get you a scoop of sensational lemon myrtle, real chocolate or even fennel ice-cream.
Serious dinners start at EightySix, the narrow, funky share-plate restaurant that has the best ceviche you'll find anywhere. Grab a seat at the bar if you want to watch the chef cook and hand you your dinner. Don't miss the frozen margarita dessert or the caramel popcorn sundae.
Italian and Sons is an exciting place for a special dinner. Virtually everything comes from the wood fire at the heart of this stylish operation. A new little bar out back means you can sample the goodies without digging quite so far into the wallet, or look up their on-the-street city offshoot, Da Rosario.
Monster Kitchen and Bar is the latest eating thrill in the ACT, and with good reason. Sean McConnell's 6am to 1am eatery has made "dinner after the show" an event in Canberra. The beef tartare is a must eat, and it is hard to pass on the pork neck bao or the yabbie jaffles. The whole menu is available as room service at the upstairs Hotel Hotel.
Mocan & Green Grout is one of New Acton's early innovators, and the architectural little cave is a great spot for coffee, lunch or an intimate dinner. This place revolves around a central bench and simple, modern food.
Pulp Kitchen, 1 Wakefield Garden, Ainslie, (02) 6257 4334, pulp-kitchen.com.au
Silo, 36 Giles Street, Kingston, (02) 6260 6060, silobakery.com.au
Mocan and Green Grout, 1/19 Marcus Clarke Street, NewActon South, (02) 6162 2909, mocanandgreengrout.com
Autolyse, 21 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, (02) 6262 8819
Barrio Collective Coffee, 28 Lonsdale Street, barriocc.com
Frugii, 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, frugii.com
Italian and Sons, 7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, (02) 6162 4888, italianandsons.com.au
Da Rosario, 59 London Circuit, Canberra
Monster at Hotel Hotel, 25 Edinburgh Avenue, New Acton, (02) 6287 6287, monsterkitchen.com.au
86, corner Elouera and Lonsdale Streets, Braddon, (02) 6161 8686, eightysix.com.au
One of the nation's best farmer's markets is to be found on Saturday's at Exhibition Park, drawing quality produce from around the region and beyond. Cherries from Young, berries from Borenore, oysters from the South Coast and nuts and trout from the Snowy are the tip of the iceberg at the Capital Region Farmers Market. Warm up with Wagonga coffee and a chestnut puree crepe or a fresh-cooked and filled Dutch "sticky bikkie". The Old Bus Depot Markets at the flourishing Kingston Foreshore also pull a crowd with a mix of makers, providing good eats, clothes and all the other bits you'd expect to attract a bustling Sunday crowd.
Capital Region Farmers Market, Exhibition Park in Canberra, capitalregionfarmersmarket.com.au
Old Bus Depot markets 21 Wentworth Ave Kingston, obdm.com.au
Nab an outside seat at Parlour Wine Room in NewActon – throw caution to the wind and take a Parlour Hard Iced Tea, or a tequila- based Current Affairs. On the first floor above the city bustle is a Canberra institution, Hippo. Book in a whisky tasting, or a cocktail-making masterclass, or just settle down for a properly made martini; this is lovely place to start or end your night.
Parlour Wine Room, 16 Kendall Lane, NewActon, (02) 6257 7325, parlour.net.au
Hippo Co, Garema Place, Canberra City, (02) 6247 7555, hippoco.com.au
A short drive brings real riches around the Canberra cool climate wine region, and there are real characters and great drops to be uncovered. Ken or Judith Helm will join you in a spirited chat over one of their great Helm Wines rieslings or reds. Bring the kids and a picnic basket.
Clonakilla is another great Canberra story. Established by CSIRO scientist John Kirk, now run by son Tim, it is going from strength to strength. Lark Hill's biodynamic wines are a standout, as are the Carpenter family who make any visit special.
Helm Wines, 19 Butts Road, Murrumbateman,(02) 6227 5953 helmwines.com.au
Clonakilla, 3 Crisps Lane, Murrumbateman, (02) 6227 5877, clonakilla.com.au
Lark Hill winery, corner Joe Rocks and Bungendore roads, Bungendore, (02) 6238 1393, larkhillwinery.com
This story was produced by Good Food in commercial partnership with Visit Canberra.