A resurgent food scene featuring local produce coupled with a thriving arts culture has made Canberra an intriguing destination of late. We’ve put together a guide to everything you need to eat, drink and do on a whirlwind weekend break in the Australian capital.
Breakfast at Barrio Collective
Get your day off to a good start at Barrio Collective, a friendly neighborhood cafe in the lively suburb of Braddon in northern Canberra. Barrio is a minimalist space with sofas and is known for the excellent coffee roasted at the Fyshwick roastery and a menu that revolves around simplicity. Depending on the time of year, you might come across a dish with heirloom tomatoes and Aleppo pepper on sourdough toast, or the seasonal vegetable plate with the latest crop.
Relax in Adytum
A short walk down Lonsdale Street from Barrio is Adytum, a sanctuary in Braddon’s new Branx building. Launched in 2021 by local entrepreneur Renée Douros, Adytum is a tranquil space where wellness is the order of the day. Adytum’s day spa offers a range of restorative massages, body brushes and facials, which can be bundled together in lavish spa journeys designed to promote harmony, vitality and renewed connection. A private two-person bathhouse features a traditional hot rock sauna, Japanese oak tub, and cold bucket shower. Once pampered and restored, stop at the Elixir Bar, where you’ll find botanical teas, organic coffee, cold-pressed organic juices, and elixirs – cocoa, matcha, and chai.
101/16 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
Lunch at Miss Van’s
Miss Van’s is the newest CBD location of Andrew Duong, a local chef who has made a name for himself with acclaimed local eateries including Baby Su and Lazy Su. At Miss Van’s, banh mi is on the menu – choose from lemongrass and garlic tofu or pork, with mortadella with steamed banana leaf, roast pork and chicken parfait – alongside a range of snacks, entrees and mains. The lunch menu ($39 pp) is a feast with two snacks, two main courses and steamed jasmine rice. Think sashimi scallop and house-made Lao sausage to start, followed by umami butter egg noodles and gai yang grilled chicken. For dessert, try Miss Van’s house specialty: Vietnamese coffee and salted caramel ganache with condensed milk ice cream, puffed wild rice and toasted rice powder.
Shop 4/113-119 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra
Dinner at Eggplant
In 2008, Canberra-born chef Ben Willis returned home after ten years of traveling and working around the world and took over Aubergine with his wife Andrea Collin. Aubergine, one of a modest array of shops in Griffith, represents the pinnacle of Canberra’s resurgent paddock-to-plate movement. The award-winning gourmet dinner showcases Willis’s consummate skill in the kitchen as well as the region’s finest produce in a five-course meal. Depending on the timing of your visit, dishes can include beef rib-eye with chestnut, smoked potato dumpling and truffle sauce or blue-eye trevalla with green goddess dressing, celery, apple and quinoa. The wine list is another plus, with an extensive range of international, Australian and local wine from the Canberra district.
18 Barker Street, Griffith
Drinking at Sideway
In the Sydney Building of the CBD is Sideway, a nightclub where you can find pizza, craft beer, wines from innovative producers and always interesting cocktails. You can choose from the yuzu and white chocolate Negroni, the Myrtle Sour (with pisco, cucumber and lemon myrtle) or the Puzo (with fig leaf whiskey, peach leaf and roasted macadamias). Sideway is also the place to be for live music, from experimental electronics to acoustic sets.
Level 1/21 East Row, Canberra
Stay in Ovolo Nishi
Ovolo Nishi, a boutique hotel in the CBD near Commonwealth Park, is the great base from which to explore central Canberra and the surrounding suburbs. The characterful rooms feature restored vintage furniture and original artwork, as well as all the high-tech modern comforts you need while traveling. Other amenities include a 24-hour gym, complimentary loot bag, and complimentary sunset drinks at the end of each day.
New Acton Precinct, 25 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra
Breakfast at Intra
Head west of the CBD to Campbell in the morning for a caffeine fix. With a minimalist interior and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Hassett Park, Intra is one of the city’s best-loved coffee spots, serving a house blend from local coffee roaster Barrio and single origins from Edition Coffee Roasters in Sydney. Breakfast jars are filled with kimchi, French onion gruyere or mapo tofu and Sichuan pork, or order the famous chashu bacon and spring roll before spending another day exploring the capital.
30/12 Provan Street, Campbell
Lunch at Verity Lane Market
Another new location that has recently opened in the CBD of Canberra is Verity Lane Market, a food hall in the Sydney Building. Entrepreneur Phillip Keir’s vision, Verity Lane Market is named after Verity Hewitt, a bookseller whose store of the same name was a Canberra institution in the 1940s and 1950s. Today, two vendors run kitchens in the space: boutique pizza parlor Pizza Artigiana and Ramen Daddy, a popular pop-up that found permanent home on Verity Lane.
Verity Lane Market
Sydney Building, 50 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra
Browse side projects
Tributary Projects, an artist-run gallery in the Gorman Arts Center on Ngunnawal land in Braddon, serves as a breeding ground for aspiring artists in Canberra. Since 2017, Tributary has been operating as a collective and community center for the local art scene. Nesta recent exhibition, explored the universal human desire for comfort – with the pandemic as a backdrop – and showcased the work of Alexander Sarsfield, Megan Kamei, Jessica Tanto and Ashley Lavoynne.
Block B Gallery, Gorman Arts Centre, 55 Ainslie Avenue, Braddon
Dinner at Raku
Raku serves the best Japanese food in town. Named after a type of handmade ceramic art revered in Japan for the artistry required to produce it, Raku offers a dining experience where every detail is thought of. Two tasting menu options highlight Chef Hao San’s menu, including high-quality sashimi, Wagyu sirloin, and Taiwanese eel. A seat at the counter offers an unbeatable view of the chef’s mastery, or retreat to one of Raku’s screened-in booths for a more intimate meal.
148 Bunda Street, Civic
This article was produced by Broadsheet in association with Visit Canberra.