10 of the best places to eat, drink and food shop in Bendigo

The warm and lively Woodhouse is famous for its steak.
The warm and lively Woodhouse is famous for its steak. Photo: Simon Schluter

​Bendigo is a city of gastronomy. That's official, designated by UNESCO. It means it's been recognised as a significant, creative and thoughtful area for communities, food, wine, and whatever other drinks you like.

Bendigo is a city of many things. It's Dja Dja Wurrung country. Gold made it one of the richest cities in Australia, the legacy of which is in the grand 19th century architecture. It's the heartland of the Australian olive industry; Heathcote is nearby (for wine), so is Harcourt (for apples). In between meals, there are antiques stores, gardens, museums and craft shops to visit. There's more to Bendigo Art Gallery than the Elvis exhibition, and there's more to sheep than slow-cooked lamb shoulder – the Bendigo Woollen Mills, dear to knitters and weavers, is round the corner from the tram terminus. This is the city of the Wool and Sheep Show, and the Lost Trades Fair. And everyone who's in town, local or visiting, has a choice of where to eat and drink.

The Arts Precinct is the star location for diners. View Street has rich pickings, but it's not the only place to eat and drink well. The walk down Mitchell Street from the railway station and Hargreaves and Queen streets have their own temptations. Here is a selection of the best.

Best for short-stay supplies

Bendigo Wholefoods

BYO shopping bag, because that's the vibe. This long-running place has the lot: a cafe, grocery, and heaps of local produce. The store's the place to pick up supplies for a few meals: a good range of breads, local organically grown fruit and vegetables, free-range eggs and a huge assortment of groceries for something more substantial. Plus there is lots to take home, including a plant nursery with everything for the edible garden.

314 Lyttleton Terrace, bendigowholefoods.com.au

Stock up on produce at Bendigo Wholefoods.

Stock up on produce at Bendigo Wholefoods. Photo: Supplied

Best brunch

Harvest Food & Wine

Everyone's channelling Elvis while the exhibition is on at the gallery. At this bistro-deli-cellar door, you might sit down to a hearty Elvis breakfast (the works, including maple-glazed bacon, hash browns and fried eggs), and return at lunch for the Elvis roast chicken (rotisserie bird with corn puree, mac 'n' cheese and gravy). Or tread a more conventional path, ordering the generous Euro breakfast or pumpkin and leek tart with a glass of Harvest's own North Run shiraz. Grab food and drinks to go from the well-stocked deli and cellar door.

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55 View Street, harvestbendigo.com.au

 

Best stop for farmgate sales

PepperGreen Farm

Established as a market garden by Chinese settlers in 1859, now it's a social enterprise garden, encouraging people to learn skills. For visitors, it's a great garden to walk through, each area with its own crops and mood, and trees providing shade and shelter. Walk through the gardens to pick your own, or buy ready-picked produce from the store. There's also a cafe using ingredients grown on site.

40-44 Thunder Street, aag.org.au/peppergreen-farm

Pick your own produce at PepperGreen Farm.

Pick your own produce at PepperGreen Farm. Photo: Supplied

Best wine bar

Ms Batterhams

A glass of Heathcote marsanne? Or perhaps a Heathcote nero d'Avola? Either goes well with creamy-crunchy smoked scarmorze and leek croquettes. This sophisticated not-quite-nightclubby space doesn't have a huge range of wines by the glass, but there's a great cocktail choice – Bendigo sling, anyone? – and a wine list that encourages people to sit back, enjoy, and order more food.

MacKenzie Quarters, 10 MacKenzie Street, mackenziequarters.com/msbatterhams

Best pub

Rifle Brigade

There are lots of pubs in Bendigo, but this grand old one stands out for its commanding position – on the hill opposite the theatre – and for its architecture. It ticks boxes for the selection of beers, the range of spaces, a focus on regional wines, cheerful service, and the food that pubs do – fish and chips, steak, parma, burgers and pizzas. Pavement tables are busy in the afternoons, for beer and snacks or meals.

137 View Street, riflebrigadehotel.com.au

Best coffee

Percy & Percy

There's a lot more than coffee in this corner cafe. But start with that at breakfast, or lunch, inside, at the outdoor tables or in the courtyard. All-day breakfast runs from bacon and egg rolls to crab benedict burger on an eye-catching black brioche bun. Lunchtime brings more burgers, toasties and salads, plus blackboards specials. And, in a nod to its past life as a milk bar, there's a range of groceries, including local preserves, biscuits and peanut brittle. 

110 Hargreaves Street, percyandpercy.com.au


Best for dinner

Masons

The decor is understated – open kitchen, bare tables, painted brick walls. The rest is worth shouting about. Masons, always a champion of local producers, has streamlined its dinner options. It's now fixed price, five courses and an appetiser, and every one of them a delicious surprise. Lots of textures, and considered flavours in beautifully presented dishes, with knowledgeable waiters and a Victorian wine list that emphasises regional.

25 Queen Street, masonsofbendigo.com.au

Masons of Bendigo is terrific value.

Masons of Bendigo is terrific value. Photo: Dianna Snape

Best Asian

Malayan Orchid

It's been part of Bendigo's eating scene for many years, and remains reliably good. There's a certain formality in the well-spaced tables, the friendly waiters, a generous and fairly priced wine list, and a menu that goes beyond its name to include Chinese, Thai, and even Indian dishes: Nonya-style duck, southern Indian lamb curry, Malay chilli prawns, kangaroo with spicy plum sauce. Takeaway, too.

155-157 View Street, malayanorchid.com.au

Best steak

The Woodhouse

It's the spicy scent of wood burning for the char-grill that's the first attraction. What's cooked on that chargrill does the rest. There are other options, but steak is the king here. Take your pick of cuts and producers: Sher wagyu as tartare, porterhouse, fillet or scotch fillet, Cape Grim, and others. There are bigger cuts to share, including lamb shoulder, and good regional reds to match.

101 Williamson Street, thewoodhouse.com.au

Wagyu porterhouse with bone marrow and truffle at The Woodhouse.

Wagyu porterhouse with bone marrow and truffle at The Woodhouse. Photo: Leon Schoots

Best cellar door

Heathcote Winery

The wide-spread Bendigo region grows a range of less common Italian and French varieties (barbera, aglianico, sangiovese, petit verdot, roussane). If it's shiraz you're after, head for Heathcote. It's not part of the Bendigo wine region, but there are so many Heathcote wines on wine lists in Bendigo that you'd think it was. Big rich shiraz are the stars of Heathcote Winery's range. The cellar door is open daily.

185 High Street, Heathcote, heathcotewinery.com.au
 

Heathcote Winery cellar door is located in an old converted miners' store on Main Street.

Heathcote Winery cellar door is located in an old converted miners' store on Main Street. Photo: Susan Gough Henly