DC Fit Masthead

More new places to eat + drink

Amanda Whitley

Tired of hitting the same old haunts? Here’s a generous handful of new places to eat and drink in Canberra.

But before you do, get the full run down of new openings this year – just click on the date to read the round ups: 27 August,  18 July, 3 July, 9 May, and 18 April. Feeling full yet?


Pulled pork croquette w poached eggs, beetroot hollandaise, pork crackling brioche crumble and pea purée.

Pulled pork croquette w poached eggs, beetroot hollandaise, pork crackling brioche crumble and pea purée. Photo: Javier Steel.


A carpark is an unlikely place for an eatery…but this is no ordinary carpark, and this is no ordinary eatery. The building in question is the 940-space Woden behemoth, Skypark, and the cafe is Space, the new venture from Canberra’s culinary wunderkind, Rick De Marco.

Rick may be better known as Ricardo – the face behind the eponymous Jamison café and pâtisserie that puts serious pressure on Adriano Zumbo. But if you’re expecting a veritable explosion of Willy Wonka sweet treats at Space, you may need to adjust your expectations.

While a very tempting cabinet full of Rick’s fantastical creations greets you as you descend the escalator from Skypark—Big Boy Ferrero Rochers – double nutella mousse rolled in hazelnuts dipped in chocolate sprayed in gold, resembling miniature gold-sprayed moonrocks; quivering Peanut Butter Domes – peanut butter mousse coated in caramel on a raspberry curd chocolate tart; and Milo like you’ve never seen it before – Milo mousse, salted caramel centre and an oreo biscuit base—Rick is firm that Space is about more than dessert. The menu reveals a pleasing mix of all-day breakfast dishes, salads, gourmet sandwiches, and reliable lunch staples (burgers, fish ‘n’ chips, sliders) but with a Rick twist.

Our pick? The Space Benedict ($17.90)—pulled pork croquette with poached eggs, beetroot hollandaise, pork crackling brioche crumble and pea purée—has the promised ‘wow’ factor in spades. It’s a pork croquette dressed up as a Golden Gaytime, the hollandaise transformed into a melted ‘ice cream’ slick by the addition of beetroot. The next big thing in Canberra Instagram feeds.

Read our full review.

Space | Ground Floor, Skypark, corner of Worgan and Furzer Streets, Woden | 7:30am to 5:30pm Monday to Saturday, later on Fridays | Call 6281 6668 for bookings or six people and over. Bookings are limited.


Photo: Ashley St George.

Inside The Highball Express. Photo: Ashley St George.

Named after the prohibition era flights that took thirsty Americans to Cuba for rum ‘by the barrel’, The Highball Express is part shady Cuban watering hole, part first class flight.

The stainless steel bar resembles the wing of a vintage plane, the fans turning overhead look like propellers and a vintage drinks trolley packed with all the ingredients for a variety of sultry rum punches will rattle between tables, offering in-seat ordering.

While Canberra has seen its share of high-concept bars gone astray, the team pull off the heavily researched décor so well that you almost forget the other important ingredient of a Cuban bar: the food and drink.

The cocktail menu is as extensive as you would expect, with unique Highball creations sharing menu space with classic rum cocktails and interesting options such as Rum tasting menus. Highball also possess an off-license, meaning that they will be setting wax sealed bottles of cocktails to take home with you from the trolley, rather like an in-flight purchase.

Read the full article.

The Highball Express | Melbourne Building, Level 1, 82 Alinga Street, Canberra City | Open Tuesday and Wednesday 4pm til late, Thursday to Saturday 4pm til 3am, Sunday 1pm til late | www.highballexpress.com.au


Photo: Ashley St George

The XO Team. Photo: Ashley St George

XO is hard to miss, with Dai Cameron’s dynamic black and white mural outside (bigger than the shopfront itself) commanding your attention. Regular patrons of former tenant, The Artisan, will do a double take as they walk in – the space seems to have doubled in size – with The Artisan’s palette of charcoal, dark wood and aubergine being replaced by matte poured concrete, whitewashed brick walls and blonde wood. The whole effect is minimalist with an emphasis on the small details like bespoke chopsticks and leather topped stools by Canberra designer Tom Skeehan and thick white business cards embossed with gold.

Wines (Clonakilla, Eden Road, Nick O’Leary and more) are displayed horizontally along the left wall, adding to the feel that the food and drink are the art of this restaurant – there’s no need for other embellishment. Behind the concrete bar, an uncrowded liquor shelf showcases a curated selection of sake and spirits. There are three beers on tap, one of which is Pact Beer by local brewer Kevin Hingston.

As is the tradition in Southeast Asia, the style of eating is very communal. This cuisine is the heart of the menu, especially Vietnamese and Malaysian, and there’s a focus on authentic flavours modernised through cooking techniques. There’s also an emphasis on fresh, quality produce of the highest grade.

Read the full article.

XO | Narrabundah Shops. 16 Iluka Street, Narrabundah | Open for lunch 12 til 3pm Tuesday to Saturday, and dinner 6pm to 11pm, Monday to Saturday | xo-restaurant.com.au


The new Urban Pantry. Photo: Instagram.

The new Urban Pantry. Photo: Instagram.

Ok, so Urban Pantry is not new. But it’s recently had a makeover and the results are impressive. Its previous dark—almost masculine—interiors have been replaced by breezy Hamptons-esque style: lots of white, marble mosaic table tops, and classic white cafe chairs.

Perhaps the biggest change, however, is the sense of permanency give to its outdoor seating areas – particularly the larger slab adjoining The Lawns. Whereas it used to be a motley collection of chairs, protected from the elements with a style-less plastic awning, it’s now a stylish built up verandah that’s almost begging for cocktails on a summer evening.

The menu’s had a revamp too, and there are lot of light and fresh options that are perfect for the warmer weather. If you’ve been passing Urban by for the more instagrammable Manuka options, it’s worth another look.

Urban Pantry |5 Bougainville Street, Manuka | Open 7am til 6pm Monday and Tuesday, 7am to late Wednesday to Friday, 7:30am to late Saturday, 7:30am to 4pm Sunday | www.urban-pantry.com.au

THE KNOX, made in Watson

The Knox, made in Watson.

The Knox, made in Watson.

It’s a cafe that’s all about living local, and that starts with the name. The Knox, made in Watson delivers a simple but satisfying breakfast and lunch menu and it’s already developed a loyal following, just six weeks after opening.

With future plans for night time trading, the focus is on meeting the needs of the neighbourhood. With a dedicated kids’ space (Little Knox), a steady supply of sweet treats for those seeking a quiet coffee and bite to eat, and all-day breakfast there’s plenty to like.

Complementing the good serve of Canberra region produce are plates made in Watson by Chris Harford, resident potter and teacher at the Canberra Potters’ Society, who worked with Daniel to design them. Could this be your new local?

Read the full article.

The Knox made in Watson | Shop 1, 13 Watson Place, Watson | Open 7am til 4pm Monday to Friday and 7:30am to 3:30pm Saturday and Sunday |www.facebook.com/theknoxmadeinwatson


Sudio Cafe. Image: Ashley St George.

Sudio Cafe. Image: Ashley St George.

Sudio Cafe is tucked away in a lane that looks far more industrial than you’d expect on the border of Civic and NewActon. Located under the NHMRC building on Marcus Clarke Street, Sudio’s outdoor seating is elevated,  spacious and airy, giving a wide view over the laneway below. 

Even though there seem to be another four cafes in the direct vicinity, Sudio’s location feels isolated and quiet, the perfect rest stop in the middle of a hectic work day. Shielded by the surrounding buildings, there’s the added bonus of being able to be outside without bracing yourself for midday sun. 

They serve an extensive breakfast and lunch menu, with highlights such as an 8-hour slow cooked pulled pork burger with cabbage slaw, lightly fried egg and smokey BBQ hollandaise sauce and stock baked goods like cronuts. 

Sudio | 16 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra City |Open  7am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 7am to 2pm Saturday | www.facebook.com/Sudio-Cafe


Petuna smoked salmon, soft herbs, pickled cucumber, and crème fraiche. Photo: Javier Steel.

Petuna smoked salmon, soft herbs, pickled cucumber, and crème fraiche. Photo: Javier Steel.

The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House is home to a new restaurant, HOI POLLOI, which celebrates the building’s history.

Fresh produce and local provenance is at the heart of the menu, with classic flavours reinvented with modern twists, and evolving with the seasons. From slow cooked lamb shoulder to passionfruit pavlova, Aussie tradition looms large in many of the dishes.

The wine menu is a distinctly Australian regional affair with strong links to local vineyards from in and around Canberra, all the way to cocktails that play to the history of the Members’ Bar and its famous guests including Former Prime Minister Robert Menzies – who was known to get behind the bar and mix his own Martini.

The contemporary dining room draws inspiration from its art deco heritage, and houses a casual bar area, large communal tables, and views overlooking the outdoor courtyard.

HOI POLLOI | Old Parliament House, 18 King George Terrace, Parkes | Open daily for lunch from 11:30am to 2:30pm | www.hoipolloioph.com


Colourful seasonal salad. Photo: Amanda Whitley.

Colourful seasonal salad. Photo: Amanda Whitley.

Pialligo Estate has already garnered quite the reputation for some of Canberra’s best cuisine. Fresh, regional, inventive and served in an environment unlike anything else in Canberra, it truly is a ‘must eat’ experience.

The Garden Pavilions dot the lawns of Pialligo Estate, looking out onto the vineyard and olive grove, and beyond to the river and the city. Made from reclaimed wood sourced from Thor’s Hammer, the Pavilions are intimate spaces which accentuate the ‘farmhouse’ experience.

The menu changes with the seasons, and the Pavilion menu is made to share: a charcuterie board, tender roast chicken, a colourful salad of beets and celeriac. It’s all fresh and flavoursome….a must-visit for Summer.

Pialligo Estate Garden Pavilions | 18 Kallaroo Rd, Pialligo | Breakfast from 8am on Sunday, Brunch from 11am on Saturday, Lunch from 12pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Dinner from 6pm Thursday, Friday | www.thepialligoestate.com.au

Originally published as Eight new places to eat + drink in Canberra.


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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