After spending two months of my life in Adelaide this year I’ve got a bone to pick with anyone who thinks Adelaide is not one of the coolest cities in Australia. Not only is it home to some stunning scenery, one of the best wine regions in the world and some extremely lovely people, the food scene is ridiculous.
In my time there I wasn’t even able to scratch the surface of what’s to offer, and I eat out a lot, believe me! But I was able to uncover the absolute must-visit restaurants, bars and cafes. And yes, you’ll need more than a week to experience all of the greatness served up in Australia’s most southern state, my friend!
Here is everywhere you need to eat in Adelaide.
In all my time in Adelaide I never met a person who didn’t like Argo and it’s no surprise because their menu is the epitome of variety. With two locations, one in the city and one in leafy Norwood, you’ll feel good about eating at Argo thanks to the quality meals they whip up on the daily—think smashed avo with nitrate free Barossa bacon, nut and gluten free vegan waffles and juices to cure any number of ailments. Allow yourself a decent amount of time because the menu will take you 15 minutes to read and then it’ll take you another 30 minutes to decide which of the 10 plus hot chocolates, smoothie bowls or burgers you’ll be enjoying. There is no way to visit Adelaide and go to Argo just once, trust me!
Hands down one of the best restaurants in Adelaide, Africola puts a modern spin on African cuisine and it’s so popular you’re going to need to make a booking in advance. Opt for the feed me menu and let the chef show you a good time with their cauliflower steak covered in tahini sauce and spiced butter, crispy eggplant served with chilli and shallot jam, peri peri chicken, and cool WA pipis in fermented chilli and garlic. Regardless of how stuffed you are, dessert is not optional—you’ll roll home, but you’ll roll home happy.
Gin Long Canteen
You haven’t been to Adelaide unless you’ve tried Gin Long’s salt and pepper eggplant. This super cool Asian bar in North Adelaide is oh so popular with the locals and we think it has a thing or two to do with their winning cocktail menu. We’re talking tamarind gin longs, Henricks, lychee and cucumber and lemongrass martinis. Food-wise, there’s no way to be disappointed, but the very exciting beef salad, vego yellow curry, netted spring rolls and really slow braised pork belly are bloody good.
Pizza E Mozzarella Bar
Adelaide does good pizza, and one of the best is Pizza e Mozzarella Bar in the CBD. Traditionalists when it comes to pizza making, the crew here hand stretch their dough and let it ferment for 48 hours resulting in extremely digestible, delicious pizza bases. Top menu picks include the calabrese with nduja hot salami and chilli and the napolitana buffalo mozzarella.
Adelaide’s version of Shake Shack, need I say more? I’m going to anyway. With four stores across town, Nordburger serves hamburgers, fried chicken, tater tots, and wait for it, FROZEN CUSTARD. Convinced? Thought so!
AKA Gourmet Traveller’s Restaurant of the Year. So yes, a visit to Orana is a must! Meaning welcome in some Aboriginal dialects, the staff at Orana will make you feel extremely welcome in this intimate restaurant perched above the city’s east side. Serving a native Australian-inspired degustation with casual flair, opt for the longer dinner tasting menu and enjoy up to 20 courses, kicking off with some potato damper that you cook on coals at your table.
It’s not often that sushi joints are welcoming of vegetarians and vegans, but Sushi Planet serves up platters dedicated to plant eaters. Their mango nigiri is a must, whether you’re vegetarian or not. The menu is extensive, so order a few platters (and shochus) and get stuck in. Don’t be turned away by the location, Sushi Planet is definitely worth a trip to the city’s western side.
Ten minutes from the city in Frewville on your way to the Adelaide Hills, Singapore House had me weak at the knees. Their salt and vinegar eggplant, beef rendang, crispy soft shell crab and roti canai will likely produce the same reaction on you as well. Make a booking so you’re not disappointed.
A newbie on the Adelaide Italian scene, Midnight Spaghetti brings with it a whole lot of laid-back charm and a flippin’ good value “spaghettaboutit” chef’s menu. They’ve got all the good South Australian wine on the drinks menu, as well as some regional Italian drops, negronis, spritz’ and bellinis. Plus, they’re open ‘til 3pm, so if you’re struggling with jet lag, they’ve got your food cravings covered.
Lantern By Nu
Nu Suandokmai, alumni of Gin Long and a number of other Adelaide top spots, heads up Asian sensation Lantern by Nu, tucked off Selby Street in the CBD. The betel leaves are a great starter, the top yum soup served in a boiling hot clay pot will soothe your soul and the pad Thai is legit. What more could you want?
A North Adelaide gem, Tony Tomatoes is cool, unfussy and bloody good. Select the base you prefer—they’ve got a white, thin base that’s been proved for 72 hours, a light and crispy wholemeal base, as well as a gluten free variety—and then choose between the 18 pizzas (plus specials) on offer. And if it’s all too hard, grab the banquet menu. Vegans: it’s your lucky day, Tony Tomatoes does vegan cheese!
Ten minutes out of the city in Walkerville, the Coffee Institute is a pleasure to wake up to. Get your phones out because the guys here serve gobsmackingly beautiful food that you’ve got to post on Instagram #sorrynotsorry. Get the pulled pork benedict, corn fritters, pannacotta and the pumpkin pie.
Described as “where Clint Eastwood meets Jay Z” you know you’re in for a good time at Spaghetti Western. Their Italian American cuisine will impress anyone with a penchant for carbs and cheese. From the cheesy meatballs and the fried ravioli to the house made gnocchi and mac n cheese, your taste buds will be smiling the whole way home.
There’s something about Adelaide and uber cool Asian restaurants. Golden Boy is everything you want on a night out with friends. Super cool interiors, a menu full of taste sensations and a dedication to making delicious cocktails. Oh and did I mention dessert? Roti with pandan custard and banana fritters with coconut ice cream anyone?
A modern Japanese gem in the heart of the city, Shōbōsho combines ancient traditions with modern finesse. Weekend bookings are essential if you want to get your hands on delicacies like their spiced prawn crackers with seaweed mayo, crumbed pork meatball sandwich and teriyaki chicken with smoked cauliflower, yuzu kosho cream and wood-baked shallot bread.
Take a weekend drive out to McLaren Vale and stop by our favourite Nonna in Adelaide’s restaurant, Pizzateca. Enjoy classic Italian starters, pizzas and contorni under the shade of some big shady trees. For dessert, there’s only one option, Nonna Anna’s homemade tiramisu which is molto bene!
Adelaide Central Market
Whether you’re hungry or not, a visit to the Adelaide Central Market is an absolute must. It gives the La Boqueria in Barcelona a run for its money! You’ll find fresh produce as far as the eye can see, cheese samples, cured meats and cute little cafes, including Jamface, Poh Ling Yeow’s latest claim to fame. You’ll come home with a bounty of goodies and that’s a-ok.
One visit to Mediterranean restaurant Ballaboosta and you’ll be wishing you could bring it home with you. Offering up relaxed vibes in spades, you’re going to want to grab a table outside and order some mezze dips with their signature wood fired pita while you decide on what to order. I can vouch for the fattoush, any of the wood fired pizzas and the falafel.
Singapore House’s friendly neighbour, Hispanic Mechanic serves a Korean twist on traditional Mexican eats. The papas fritas (crinkle cut fries with gochujang mayo) are a must, as are master Kim’s five star wings. Definitely check out the drinks list for all of your margarita and cerveza goodness.
A super cool pizza bar in the city, Sunny’s is best enjoyed in person (so don’t order takeaway you fool). Slide up to the bar, order a round of drinks and prepare yourself for cheese, dough and salami good times.
For those days when you need a healthy feed among your feasting, Poké Me is the solution. Their salmon, tuna, tofu, chicken and vego bowls are fully customisable, right down to the sauce you want on top.
You might think I am a little crazy telling you to go and eat at a supermarket while you’re on holiday, but this place needs to be seen to be believed. Not only do they stock a phenomenal range of products, they’ve got a charcuterie bar, bakery and even serve cocktails. Plus, if you go on the weekend you’ll get to enjoy local musicians playing the piano in the fruit and veg section. It’s no surprise this place was named the world’s best supermarket.
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Image credit: Singapore House