Inspired by recent restaurant reviews of Aubergine and Zaab, we wondered where else we could eat in Canberra, from A-Z.
18 Barker Street, Griffith
This much-loved fine diner has maintained its two-hatted status in the Good Food Guide for eight years now, but Ben Willis is still finding ways to shake things up a little. The new fit-out has brought a sense of intimacy, and on the plate he's finding fresh ways with traditional ingredients. The wine list has always been one of Aubergine's core strengths. It's extensive without being annoyingly so; simply separated into old world and new world then sorted by region. Always a night out to remember, whatever the occasion.
65 London Circuit, City
With chef Josh Lundy at the helm after the departure of Louis Couttoupes earlier in the year, not a lot has changed at one of our favourite places that is as much a restaurant as it is a bar. Lundy is still presenting precise little plates that strip the best produce back to its basics and make us pay more attention to real flavours.
Chairman and Yip
1 Burbury Close, Barton
A Canberra institution really - was Chairman really in the city for more than 20 years? It's been just over three years since it moved to the Burbury Hotel, but from the moment you walk in you sense nothing has changed. The food is Asian fusion without any of the confusion, contemporary but classic at the same time.
59 Boolimba Crescent, Narrabundah
A firm favourite of southside locals who are looking for generous meals reminiscent of a French bistro. Think duck liver entree, followed by eye fillet with classic pepper sauce, and finished off with a good size portion of profiteroles. Still a BYO, so a good opportunity to take that wine you've got tucked away and let someone else do the cooking.
20 Lonsdale St, Braddon
Things have sparked up a little now Gus Armstrong is back in Braddon. Eightysix never lost any of its vibe - the venue is always packed and there's always a buzz - but we're enjoying what's coming out on the plate now, particularly at breakfast time on the weekend. It's probably wrong for us to get excited about jaffles, but when they're full of oxtail ragu and cheddar we do.
Fox and Bow
Farrer Place, Farrer
An unpretentious, family-run, warm, inviting café run by locals with a freshly prepared, slightly Spanish menu. We like it that Alex and Nicole Piris have some fun with their menu: "Bean there babe" is a serve of white beans cooked with pork spare ribs, chorizo and morcilla with a couple of eggs. Makes you wish every suburban shops had a place like this.
Cork Street, Gundaroo
Chef Kurt Neumann is doing great things in the kitchens of the historic Royal Hotel. The drive always makes a meal feel like a special occasion and the actual meal takes that to another level. With a focus on local produce and regional wines, there's no better place to dwell in front of a fire on a chilly night.
Cnr Cape and Woolley Street, Dickson
We've loved watching all the incarnations of this corner location over the years and we're glad Highroad is there now. Brought to you by the team at ONA Coffee, there is a strong focus on the brew but the food is modern and innovative. The dish that blends the two together best is the tiramisu French toast with ONA coffee cream cheese and chocolate mousse.
Italian and Sons
7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
Can we say Italian and Sons kick-started the reinvention of Braddon more than 10 years ago? Pasquale Trimboli gets it right from start to finish, with a menu and a wine list to impress. A long-time favourite of not only The Canberra Times but diners as well, splurge on the $80 eat like an Italian tasting menu at least once a year.
East Hotel, Kingston
Joe's is the kind of place where you drop in after work for a quick drink and find yourself still lounging about on the couches hours later. It's an intimate venue celebrating fine produce and fine wine and the house antipasto plate is well worth sharing. Finish the night off with a hot chocolate and vanilla gelato. Perfect.
1 Genge St, City
There's a new Asian slant to the menu at Kokomo's, the little sharing plates full of coconut, chilli and lime flavours a treat to share in one of the booths. The Feed Me option is a great choice: eight of the most popular dishes for $49pp. There are spring rolls and buns and fried chicken, and make sure you finish off with a coconut mango waffle cone.
23 Elouera Street, Braddon
The charming bistro brought a touch of sophistication to the inner north, serving classic French food with a twist. Over the years Les Bistronomes has relaxed into a neighbourhood restaurant, neither bistro nor fine dining - perhaps somewhere a little bit in between. Get in for the Friday fondue special while it lasts.
2/15 Edinburgh Street, New Acton
Morning Glory made its mark by bringing fine dining to the AM, and we're loving it that we can get there after dark too now to experience it by moonlight. With fresh twists on old favourites at breakfast - the char sui bacon is to die for - at night there's some sharing plates and bigger meals with an Asian twist. There's an interesting drinks list too to take you from morning to night.
21 Binara Street, City
Some of the world's best restaurants are in casinos, and while it might be a stretch to put Natural Nine in that class, they do what they do exceptionally well. From lunchtime yum cha to pre-theatre banquets where you're in and out in an hour, Natural Nine offers plenty of dining options with a modern Asian twist. There's a great drinks list too for Happy Hour between 4-6pm daily. Takeaway is also available.
9 Broughton Street, Barton
Nestled in amongst the public service offices of Barton and hidden behind a lush garden setting, Ottoman has been dishing up Turkish fare to politicians, public servants and the rest of us for more than 25 years. The menu has remained much the same over the years, a testament to the quality of the food and the loyalty of its clientele.
1 Wakefield Gardens, Ainslie
It's been a heady first year for the young team at Pilot. Ross McQuinn, Dash Rumble and chef Malcolm Hanslow have been recognised nationally for their fresh approach to food. There's a simplicity to it all, from the menu which might just read "cheese + spinach", to the way Hanslow lets the produce stand out without too much fuss. They took us all by surprise.
QT Capitol Bar and Grill
1 London Circuit, City
Not your standard hotel restaurant, there's a little bit of glamour to Capitol Bar and Grill. The menu is Italian focused and there's a great deal of steak. But it's the kind of food that doesn't rely on cheffy creativity so much as good training and well-honed techniques; quite conservative food that's good to eat.
Bowman Street, Macquarie
Let's head out to the suburbs to Ricardo's, where owner and pâtissier Ricardo De'marco has been crafting beautiful cakes and pastries for more than eight years. There's also a substantial breakfast and lunch menu, though nothing too out of the ordinary - think eggs, bacon and avocado. We like it too that the kids aren't forgotten about.
18 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
Emily and Russell Brindley opened this vegan café in 2012 and have set the standard for vegan eating in Canberra. Yes, it's only open for breakfast and lunch, but the menu will have even the most dedicated of meat eaters rethinking a few things. With a wide menu ranging from green smoothies and boneyard burritos to coconut bacon cheeze Burgers and tasty salads, there's something for everyone, vego or not. Famous around town for their cupcakes, banana bread, muffins, cinnabuns, and brownies.
15 Moore Street, City
Grab a seat at the bar, order the Chef's Menu and let Dave Young fill your night with a variety of treats. From oysters and sourdough to a banana mousse with chocolate crumb, these little plates personify Temporada's pared-back style. One of the few places in town open for dinner on a Monday night, and they do a mean breakfast as well.
5 Bougainville Street, Manuka
Light-filled casual dining in the heart of the iconic Manuka Lawns, Urban Pantry is always busy, whether it be for an early brunch or a late lunch. Come in for coffee but it's worth checking out the menu (where everything is available to take away as well). Indulge yourself with the vegetarian Chef's Pan full of halloumi and everything else you associate with breakfast.
48 Macquarie Street, Barton
There are some places that are so cool, you feel inherently cool just by stepping inside. Vincent is one of those places, with its minimalist set-up, flowing bar and tables, and just a whole lot of black. The food too is cool, and there's a focus on wine matching; pair wines around the world with produce sourced much closer to home.
78 Giles Street, Kingston
You might be lucky enough to spot a high-profile politician or two at Wild Duck, but luckier still to sample their refined take on dumplings. Think Balmain bugs or Wagyu beef tucked away in delicate little parcels. Much more high-end than your suburban Asian restaurant.
16 Iluka Street, Narrabundah
It's hard to describe the magic of XO - the dishes appear simple, but there's thought and an element of playfulness in each one, combined with a firm foundation of technique and an in-depth understanding of flavours. There's a nostalgic nod to southeast Asian food memories and an undeniable innovation present in each dish. The drinks are fun: house cocktails such as Japerol Spritz and NWA (Negroni with Attitude) are twists on classics.
Young and Frisky
Gungahlin Place, Gungahlin
Young and Frisky lives up to its name somewhat, a lively place with fun food and a great vibe if sitting around watching sport on the television and licking the fried chicken juices off your fingers is your idea of a night out. I know it's mine. Wash it all down with a deluxe milkshake - the peanut butter cup is topped off with Nutella and whipped cream.
2/9 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
Zaab knows that it doesn't need to try to reinvent the wheel, and that's a good thing. Its well-priced, traditional Lao-Thai cooking is better than your average cheap and cheerful joint, and the polished, trendy setting is a nice bonus. It's family-friendly, casual and authentic, a welcome addition to the Braddon dining scene.