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20 Australian restaurants to put on your bucket list
Everyone has dreams for their future (travelling to Europe, learning a language, pounding back a dozen doughnuts, you get the picture). Admittedly, for a long time we thought the only items on our bucket list were triple sec, tequila, lime, and ice… then we realized we were just reading a recipe for margaritas and had to reevaluate things. Hold on to your belts – if the only item on your personal bucket list is to never skip a meal, we’re raising the stakes with these 20 must-try Australian restaurants.
#1. Hellenika | Gold Coast
For Brisbane locals, this one’s a short trip (if we’re not counting post-gorging recovery times, that is). The authentic Greek restaurant serves up generous share plates just 2 blocks from Nobby’s Beach. Why you need to go: The classic baked lamb and overly addictive zucchini fries.
#2. Porteno | Sydney
This two-hat Surry Hill restaurant isn’t just raking their open-air fire pit – they’re raking in plenty of awards, too! Sydney locals and tourists alike claw at the chance for a taste of the wood-fired plates at this Argentinian BBQ. Why you need to go: The Mollejas de Corazon, otherwise known as veal sweetbreads.
#3. Tipo 00 | Melbourne
Try not to notice that the name of this pasta bar rhymes with ‘hippo’ – the bowls are far too good at this Bourke Street location for a sudden carb aversion. Why you need to go: The Tagliolini al nero, a squid ink pasta with squid and bottarga – closely followed by the chocolate, coffee and mascarpone-laden Tipomisu.
#4. Rick Shores | Gold Coast
Nope, not the terrifying ‘are we going to survive this Thailand trip’ vehicle. This Burleigh Heads kitchen sends out pan-Asian flavours in spades. Food comas here are a shore thing. Why you need to go: The waves are practically at your feet!
#5. Africola | Adelaide
Part food, part drink, part trip overseas, Africola is an interpretation of the owner’s trip to Africa. With a menu even more colourful than the décor, you’ll find an array of spit-roasted meats and charred vegetables. Why you need to go: Where else are you going to get to eat a relish called boom!chakalaka?
#6. Co-Op | Perth
It might be called Co-op, but we don’t need help polishing off these freshly-foraged dishes. Menus change daily with the award-winning seasonal produce plated up at Co-op. Why you need to go: These guys step up farm-fresh with ingredients foraged from the Western Australia wilderness!
#7. Franklin | Hobart
Can we speak franklin for a minute? Tasmania always earned a space on our ‘possibly too far’ list – until we visited Franklin. The longer trip is well worth pulling up a concrete pew for show-stopping seafood in a unique space. Why you need to go: The kitchen is set smack bang in the restaurant’s centre, so you can drool over your food as they cook it!
#8. Opera Bar | Sydney
Must-do tourist stop? Check. Cocktails and charcuterie? Check. Endless bragging rights? Triple check. Why you need to go: Wine and cheese in the shadow of the famous Opera House – need we say more?
#9. Gerard’s Bistro | Brisbane
One of the elites of the Brisbane dining scene (and the source of far more food comas than we’re willing to admit), Ben Williamson’s two-hatted bistro cites flavours from the Middle East, Africa, and southern Europe. Why you need to go: The bekaa wings – a mouthwatering meeting between fine dining and the desire to just get stuck into something.
#10. The Flour Factory | Perth
We’d never dreamed of fusing a New York Deli and Spanish bodega, but the crew at Perth’s Flour Factory pulled it off! Spread over 3 floors in a century-old flour mill, the gin-and-meat toting space is the inventor of its own genre. Why you need to go: Pastrami, house-cured lamb, roasted pork belly – carnivores, walk on in.
#11. Bucket List | Sydney
Sitting right on the world famous Bondi List, the name’s at this Sydney bistro is absolutely bang on. Make some time for some rock oysters and champagne by the waves and give that list a big ol’ tick. Why you need to go: It’s called Bucket List, and we’re pretty sure that’s a sign.
#12. XO | Canberra
Capital city, capital food plans. The south east Asian flavours found in this suburban kitchen will leave you with no doubt over Canberra’s standing as national bigwig. Why you need to go: The appropriately named ‘sexy squid’ with sweet chili salt.
#13. Three Blue Ducks | Byron Bay
Get your ducks in a row – it’s time for a weekend road trip to sunny Byron Bay. With farm fresh ingredients and spit-roasted meat, take our word for it: you’ll be waddling out. Why you need to go: Everything is grown, farmed, and caught locally – and even on-site!
#14. Nu Nu | Palm Cove
We’ve found the true north on our compass, and it’s Palm Cove’s only waterfront restaurant. Probably best to wait half an hour after gorging on those tropical Queensland tastes, though. Why you need to go: The melt-in-your-mouth pork belly massaman curry with ginger caramel.
#15. Lee Ho Fook | Melbourne
In the city we could spend our whole lives feasting in, at least a year would be spent at Lee Ho Fook. The contemporary Asian restaurant offers wow factor with every dish. Why you need to go: The sichuan pepper-kicked beef tartare
#16. GOMA Restaurant | Brisbane
Sorry da Vinci, but we’d rather van Gogh to this 2-hatted restaurant than tilt our heads at abstract paintings. Forget the art gallery, folks – you won’t be able to tear your eyes from your Insta gallery. Why you need to go: Fine dining with a side of modern art (even on your plate!).
#17. Paper Daisy | Cabarita Beach
Forget the hashtags, forget bulk-following other accounts – boosting your Instagram following is as easy as a trip to Paper Daisy. Attached to a seaside hotel and led by Esquire’s former chef, Ben Devlin? We’re there. Why you need to go: Shots of some of Australia’s prettiest plates – and places.
#18. Mejico | Sydney
It’s not just the tequila talking – Mejico is juan of our top picks for authentic south-of-the-border tastes. But can we justify travelling to Sydney for every taco craving? You bet we (Mexi)can. Why you need to go: The guacamole is smashed right at your table with your choice of ingredients!
#19. The Noble Experiment | Melbourne
Hey, no judgment on the over-ordering: this food coma is for a noble cause. This prohibition inspired speakeasy bar totes three levels packed with clever cocktails and irresistible menus. Why you need to go: The 12 hour lamb steamed buns have earned their place as a Melbourne icon.
#20. Spirit House | Noosa
Skip the airport: the rainforests of southeast Asia lie just 90 minutes north of Brisbane’s CBD. Find your feasting spirit in this sprawling venue with plates of pan seared duck breast and whole crispy fish with tamarind chili sauce. Why you need to go: Dining in a tropical paradise doesn’t need to cost a fortune in international flights. Psst: you may want to include a few post-feasting naps on that bucket list – you’re gonna need ‘em. Words by Samantha Chariton