You might think Darwin is all about crocs, outdoor adventures and that laidback pub life, but the top end is carving out quite the bustling little food and drink scene that deserves your attention too. From cool laneway joints and vibibng waterfront eateries, there's no shortage of first-class restaurants, bars and cafes in Larrakia country.
Here are our top picks—18 of the best restaurants, cafes and bars in Darwin.
With its ever-changing, seasonal menu, Phat Mango is all about celebrating native ingredients and Aussie flavours. Headed up by British chef Martin Bouchier, you’ll find a diverse—and seriously delicious—range of eats on the menu, including 78° Gin cured spanish mackerel, peri peri fish wings (from the NT of course), smoked Humpty Doo barra bruschetta and roo tail osso bucco. And trust us, they’re all amazing.
A much-loved local fave, you’ll take your tastebuds on a journey to South East Asia when dining at Hanuman. With a slew of awards under its belt, you’ll drool over their Malaysian fish curry and eggplant pachadi. And while lunch and dinner is amazing, we highly recommend you book in for their epic Sunday brunch featuring south Indian egg dosa and duck laksa.
Little Miss Korea
Our mouths are watering just thinking about the tasty eats coming out of the Little Miss Korea kitchen. The Korean charcoal BBQ eatery offers a modern take on traditional eats, boasting memorable bites like KFC wings, Dollsot Bibimbap, slow-cooked coconut beef cheeks with pumpkin puree and wonton chips.
The name kinda gives it away, but fresh, local seafood is definitely the main attraction at Snapper Rocks. We reckon you absolutely have to order the whole wild-caught local snapper that comes served up with a creamy cashew sauce and papaya salad—the fish practically falls off the bone—but you’d be crazy not to try the salt and pepper crocodile bites while you’re there too.
Consider this a sign to overload on tacos, guac and spicy margs, people, because Hot Tamale is absolutely heaving with these Mexican joys. It’s also repping insane waterfront views and a 300-strong agave spirit list that’s apparently the largest in the southern hemisphere... soooo shots anyone?
PepperBerry At The Hilton
For fine dining fodder with a bush tucker edge, try PepperBerry, the restaurant inside the Hilton Darwin. The food delivers and it’s the kind of place where it's acceptable to get a little frocked up, so ideal if you’re ready to trade in your thongs for a fancier night out. We’re also quite partial to the champagne high tea experience for obvious reasons.
Keeping on the fancy vibe, you can't ignore Char Restaurant. Located in the pretty Admiralty House building, you can throw back fresh oysters and champagne, followed by truffled mushroom risotto and crab linguini. Carnivores will be salivating for their huge selection of steaks including tomahawk, t-bone, sirloin and eye fillet.
Ruby G’s Canteen And Bakery
Got a sweet tooth? Then you’ll love Ruby G’s and their delicious morsels of sweet dough. Nestled in Coconut Grove and on Mitchell Street in the CBD, this bakery and canteen creates sweet pastries that Darwin locals can’t get enough of. Think: oozing nutella filled cruffins, flaky almond croissants and lemon meringue doughnuts. Hot tip: you can’t go past their olive sourdough either.
Laneway Coffee has a cool industrial vibe with concrete floors, rustic timber tables and loads of plants. On the menu, it’s hard to choose between a wholesome nourish bowl or one of the gigantic big brekkies complete 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 harbourfront vibes at vegan cafe Ebb And Flow. If you manage to snag one of the comfy cabanas we reckon you could happily lay here all day with an iced oat milk latte in hand and vegan waffles in stomach.
Sweet Brew & Co
Set within a revived mechanics workshop, the crew at Sweet Brew & Co sure know how to fix a wholesome meal and good cuppa. Roll up for brekky dishes like chilli scrambled eggs with blue swimmer crab or smashed avo with purple carrots and feta, or tuck into something more on the brunch end like their much-loved Korean fried chicken baos or katsu sandos. Before you leave, head upstairs to suss out the cute little fashion boutique.
Fresh Point Co
One look at Fresh Point Co’s Instagram and you won’t really need any more convincing. The menu basically reads like a holy brunch bible, with passages on pancakes, waffles, eggs bennies and more. Whatever you do, though, please for the love of all things sweet leave room for dessert because their shakes and dessert specials are insane.
This place is hands down doing the best latte art in Darwin, heck maybe even the whole of Australia, so it’s worth visiting for that alone. While you’re there though, it’s pretty hard not to get roped in by the comforting bowls of congee or laksa.
Stone House Wine Bar & Kitchen
Housed in a heritage-listed stone house from the 1880s, Stone House Wine Bar & Kitchen is the best place in Darwin for serious drink geeks. They’ve got a whole menu section dedicated to vermouth o’clock, plus pet nats, chilled reds, skin contact varieties and plenty more pages of carefully curated wine bottles, craft beers and spirits from across the globe (which are available for takeaway too). The kitchen serves the exact kind of gourmet grazing goods you’d hope to pair with such high-grade booze. Think: sourdough and homemade herb butter, smoked mackerel pate and even a raclette party set.
Hidden down Austin laneway, behind a roller door and up a shonky elevator, anyone would think you’ve accidentally teleported yourself to Melbourne but that’s just Charlie’s. The cool multi-story bar is made up of a vintage-inspired cocktail lounge and restaurant, a lush outdoor lantern terrace and an on-site gin distillery where you can even craft your own blend.
Smith Street Social
If you want to catch Darwin’s always glorious sunset then head to the rooftop of Smith Street Social. With live entertainment, and a lengthy cocktail menu, this place is always vibing. Best of all you can fill your tum with their pub classics and share plates. Think: cured kingfish tacos, stone-baked pizzas and juicy steaks.
It’d be a crime to miss a cellar door tasting at Darwin’s own Willing Distillery. Founded by David Willing, the industrial-style space is responsible for crafting uniquely Australian spirits flavoured by local native ingredients. Start with a tasting to learn all about their range of gins and vodkas, then work your way through more of the fair-dinkum mixed drinks in their vault…how to choose between the munted emu, bush negroni, and rosella gin fizz?
The Loading Bay
Located within Little Miss Korea, The Loading Bay is a vibrant cocktail bar that’s best known for its award-winning mango laksa cocktail (trust us, it works) and the endless $1 dumplings they sling every Monday from 5pm to 7pm. Don't forget to order a round of lotus chips for the table before you let those cocktails flow.
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