18 of Darwin’s best restaurants, bars and cafes
You might think Darwin is synonymous with crocs, outdoor adventures and that laid-back pub life, but upscale is the bustling little food and drink scene that also deserves your attention. Between cool lanes and bustling waterfront restaurants, there is no shortage of first-class restaurants, bars and cafes in Larrakia country.
Here are our top picks: 18 of Darwin’s best restaurants, cafes and bars.
With its constantly changing seasonal menu, Mango Phat is about celebrating local ingredients and Australian flavors. Run by British chef Martin Bouchier, you’ll find a varied and truly delicious range of dishes on the menu, including 78° gin cured Spanish mackerel, peri peri fish wings (from the NT of course), Humpty Doo barra smoked bruschetta and roo tail osso bucco. And believe us, they are all amazing.
A much-loved local favorite, you’ll take your taste buds on a trip to Southeast Asia by dining at Hanuman. With a host of awards under their belt, you’ll be drooling over their Malaysian fish curry and eggplant pachadi. And while lunch and dinner are amazing, we highly recommend making reservations for their epic Sunday brunch of South Indian egg dosa and duck laksa.
Little Miss Korea
Our mouths are watering just thinking about the tasty dishes coming out of the Little Miss Korea kitchen. The Korean charcoal barbecue restaurant offers a modern take on traditional meals, with memorable bites like KFC wings, Dollsot Bibimbap, slow-cooked coconut beef cheeks with pumpkin puree and crisps of wontons.
The name gives it away a bit, but the fresh, local seafood is definitely the main attraction of snapper rocks. We reckon you absolutely have to order the all wild wild snapper which is served with a creamy cashew sauce and papaya salad – the fish practically falls off the bone – but you’d be crazy not to try the crocodile bites with salt and pepper while you’re at it too.
Take this as a sign to overload tacos, guac and spicy margins, people, because Hot tamale is absolutely overwhelmed by these Mexican joys. It’s also crazy waterfront views and a list of 300 agave spirits which is apparently the largest in the southern hemisphere… soooo shots anyone?
PepperBerry at the Hilton
For refined fodder with a bush tucker edge, try PepperBerry, the restaurant inside the Hilton Darwin. The food delivers and it’s the sort of place where it’s okay to get a little frustrated, so ideal if you’re willing to swap your flip flops for a fancier night out. We’re also quite fond of the champagne tea experience for obvious reasons.
Keeping the fancy vibe you can’t ignore Char Restaurant. Located in the pretty Admiralty building, you can enjoy fresh oysters and champagne, followed by truffled mushroom risotto and crab linguini. Carnivores will salivate for their vast selection of steaks, including tomahawk, t-bone, sirloin and eye tenderloin.
Ruby G’s Canteen And Bakery
Got a sweet tooth? then you will love it Ruby G and their delicious bites of sweet pastry. Nestled in Coconut Grove and on Mitchell Street in the CBD, this bakery and canteen creates sweet pastries Darwinians can’t get enough of. Think nutella-filled cruffins, puff pastry almond croissants and lemon meringue donuts. Hot tip: you also can’t go past their sourdough with olives.
alley cafe has a cool industrial vibe with concrete floors, rustic wooden tables, and lots of plants. On the menu, it’s hard to choose between a wholesome nourishing bowl or one of the gigantic big brekkies with the tastiest potato hash ever… we’re sure you’ll make the right choice, though.
Ebb and flow
You can’t really beat the tropical harbor vibe at the Vegan Cafe Ebb and flow. If you manage to nab one of the cozy cabins, we think you could stay here all day with an iced oatmeal latte in your hand and vegan waffles in your stomach.
Sweet Brew & Co
Installed in a revived mechanical workshop, the crew of Sweet Brew & Co know how to prepare a healthy meal and a good cup of tea. Roll up for brekky dishes like Chilli Scrambled Eggs with Blue Swimmer Crab or Smashed Avocado with Purple Carrots and Feta, or savor something extra at the end of brunch like their much-loved Fried Chicken Baos Korean or katsu sandos. Before leaving, go upstairs to discover the pretty little fashion boutique.
Point Co Fees
A look at Fresh Point Co’s Instagram and you won’t really need convincing anymore. The menu basically reads like a brunch holy bible, with passages on pancakes, waffles, egg bennies and more. Whatever you do, however, please, for the love of all things sweet, leave room for dessert, because their shakes and special desserts are insane.
This place makes by far the best latte art in Darwin, maybe even in all of Australia, so worth a visit just for that. While you’re at it, it’s pretty hard not to get carried away by the comforting bowls of congee or laksa.
Stone House Wine Bar and Kitchen
Housed in a heritage-listed 1880s stone house, Stone House Wine Bar and Kitchen is the best place in Darwin for serious geeks. They have a whole menu section dedicated to vermouth o’clock, as well as pet nats, chilled reds, skin contact varieties and many more pages of carefully selected wine bottles, craft beers and spirits from around the world (which are also available to take away). The kitchen serves up the exact type of gourmet pastured produce you hope to associate with such high quality alcohol. Think: homemade sourdough and herb butter, smoked mackerel pâté and even a raclette set.
Hidden in Austin’s driveway, behind a rolling door and in a crummy elevator, everyone would think you accidentally teleported to Melbourne, but that’s just by charlie. The multi-story bar is made up of a vintage-inspired cocktail bar and restaurant, a lush outdoor deck with lantern, and an on-site gin distillery where you can even create your own blend.
Smith Street Society
If you want to catch Darwin’s ever-glorious sunset, head to the rooftop of Smith Street Society. With live entertainment and an extensive cocktail menu, this place is always buzzing. Better yet, you can fill your belly with their pub classics and sharing plates. Think jerky trevally tacos, stone-baked pizzas and juicy steaks.
It would be a crime to miss a cellar door tasting at Darwin Voluntary Distillery. Founded by David Willing, the industrial-style space is responsible for crafting unique Australian spirits flavored with local indigenous ingredients. Start with a tasting to learn all about their range of gins and vodkas, then browse other fair-dinkum mixed drinks in their vault… how do you choose between emu munted, bush negroni and rosella gin fizz?
The loading bay
Located within Little Miss Korea, The loading bay is a lively cocktail bar that’s best known for their award-winning mango laksa cocktail (trust us, it works) and the never-ending $1 dumplings they make every Monday from 5-7 p.m. Don’t forget to order a round of lotus chips for the table before you drop those cocktails.
Fill your day with more awesome things to do in Darwin.
Image credit: Hot Tamale, Phat Mango, Laneway Coffee, Fresh Point Co, Stone House Wine Bar & Kitchen by @psealms, Smith Street Social