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20+ places to drink (and eat) al fresco in Canberra
We may now be ‘officially’ into Autumn, but while the days are warm, make the most of it by eating and drinking al fresco.
Be it a leafy courtyard terrace, the urban surrounds of an inner city local, or lakeside views from the deck, our city has some pretty incredible spaces perfect for a chilled drink and a bite to eat. It’s hard to beat open-air hangouts perfect for TGIF drinks and happy hour with co-workers, dinner and drinks with the family or a chilled Sunday ‘sesh’ with the sounds of live music in the background.
So get the gang together and try out some of the favourites we’ve rounded up below – there’s one in your ‘hood!
Frankies @ Forde
Tucked away in the suburbs, and a suburban adventure for some, Frankies @ Forde is the exciting new local, having taken over the ranks from what used to be Tusmo, late last year. Down to earth, with a rustic industrial feel and relatively low-key, the establishment is named after Francis Forde, the namesake of the suburb in which it resides.
There’s a ping pong table where you get your pong on with friends, outdoor street seating and a closed-in terrace area for a little more privacy from passersby. Take the kids for a family feed be it breakfast lunch or dinner, and if you’ve a four legged friend (the canine type that is) then they’re welcome too!
Local sounds create a relaxed vibe with Live Music Sundays—the best way to chill out for the afternoon with an ice cold beer or cocktail in hand; enjoy a lazy brunch with friends or order up a simple, fresh and tasty meal in good company. With it’s cosy pub-esque feel, Frankie’s is welcoming of the young and old, groups and families. But even if you’re there alone the guys tells us you certainly won’t feel like it! So pull up a seat, order a drink and we’ll be there with you soon.
Place to be: Frankies @ Forde
Where: Forde Shops, Francis Forde Boulevard, Forde
When: 8am-12am Tuesday to Sunday
Phone: 0429 781 704
Vibe: Family and kid friendly, pub-like food with a twist, industrial yet cosy.
Looking for somewhere to impress your friends or relax after work then Siren Bar is sure to make an impact. Its north-facing outdoor deck is perfect for sharing a bottle of wine, beer or cocktail or for mum and her little ones to enjoy a babycino in the sun. Sophisticated, stylish and very suave, you’ll melt into its lounges feeling relaxed and anything but pretentious in modern and trendy surrounds.
With a menu of simple food done well (gotta try the Bourbon Belly Pizza), Siren has an extensive wine list, amazing cocktail menu and an impressive selection of boutique beers. There’s also a great variety of specials offered every day of the week from Tuesday Tapas & Wine for $30 to $10 cocktails and live music on Thursdays, (you can even pick up a ‘twelve fitty schnitty’ on Sundays). It’s the place to be if you’re looking for somewhere out of the inner city, just save a bit of money for the taxi ride home or check the local bus timetable if you’re not a local.
Place to be: Siren Bar | Restaurant
Where: Abode Hotel, Cnr Anthony Rolfe Avenue & Gozzard Street, Gungahlin
When: 11am-11pm Monday, 7pm-1pm Tuesday to Thursday, 2pm-2am Friday, 11am-3am Saturday and 10am-10pm Sunday
Phone: (02) 6162 0377
Vibe: From tradies to suits, mums to Gen Y everyone is welcome. It’s friendly, hip and trendy without breaking the bank.
On a corner in Dickson lives your next regular hang-out, a boutique pub that dances the fringe of the city and inner north. If you’re not already familiar with this quality restaurant’s flair and metropolitan feel, Sub Urban’s lively atmosphere and boutique wine list are sure to have you there come this weekend.
Crafted by the maker’s of Belluci’s, it sits within a large art-deco inspired building and offers an Italian family dining experience. Although when the weekend rolls around, you can be sure Sub Urban’s bar will be heaving with a constant crowd of public servants, gen y’s and tradies looking to quench their thirst after a long week in the ‘office’. Enjoy the warmth under the shade of the umbrellas with its alfresco street seating or stay cool indoors with big screens on the walls if you’re an avid sport fan.
Place to be: Sub Urban
Where: Cnr Cape Street and Woolley Street, Dickson
When: 11am to late Monday to Sunday
Phone: (02) 6162 0930
Vibe: Take your friends or colleagues and kick back in the sun with a boutique beer or bottle of wine.
The George Harcourt Inn
If you’re looking for some ‘space’ this weekend, then George is your friend. A winner for families or just an afternoon with friends, The George Harcourt Inn is an oldie but a goodie set amongst the backdrop of Gold Creek Village.
Enjoy a good, decent pub meal with ice cold cider but take note that it’s not the place to be if you’re looking for a childless drinking session undisturbed. In fact it’s good to know there are some family-friendly watering holes around town so even Mum and Dad can enjoy a drink while the kids play about on the grassed area (and there’s plenty of it). The George has a large outdoor entertaining area including a new covered beer garden, live music and of course the Squires Square.
Place to be: The George Harcourt Inn
Where: 3 Gold Creek Road, Nicholls
When: 11am-10pm Sunday to Wednesday, 11am-midnight Thursday to Saturday
Phone: (02) 6230 2484
Vibe: Family friendly all the way! But you can enjoy a drink in relatively peace and quiet sans kids as there is plenty of space to hide.
City & Inner North
This spacious and inviting casual eatery burst onto the Braddon scene in August and immediately became the neighbourhood’s ‘local’. With its massive outdoor area, Hopscotch may win the title of Canberra’s ‘biggest beer garden’ and on warm weekend evenings it swells with merrymakers lured by the promise of hops, scotch or the kitchen’s ‘wood-fire wizardry’. The latter comes from their Argentine wood-fired grill, designed to cook mouth-watering meats over red-hot coals.
Whether you’re after liquid refreshment of something more substantial, you’ll find it here. Add in regular live music, tranny bingo, and a real sense of community, Hopscotch is one place you’ll want to check out.
Place to be: Hopscotch
Where: 5 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
When: Monday to Sunday, 11am til midnight (probably later on weekends)
Phone: 6107 3030
Vibe: The new local. Young, funky and loud.
Featuring old fashioned wooden booths and nostalgia, Tilley’s is a Canberra icon, with many saying it should be the first port of call for those who are visiting the capital for the first time. Its ‘romantic atmosphere is reminiscent of a Hollywood film noir’ and offers its guests a relaxing venue to dine and sip away the evening while letting the world gently pass by.
Timeless in every way, Tilley’s has stood her ground for 20 years; tried and true she was the first outdoor venue in Australia to become licensed. So you know you’re in good hands when you visit. With plenty of seats both inside and out, it’s perfect for a (champagne) breakfast, long lunch or dinner.
While away the afternoon in the sun with puppy by your side (if you have one) or catch up with friends for drinks. An internationally acclaimed live music venue, Tilley’s is sure to make for a relaxed, unique experience.
Place to be: Tilley’s Devine Cafe Gallery
Where: Cnr Brigalow & Wattle Street, Lyneham.
When: 7.30am-10pm Monday to Saturday, 8am-5pm Sunday and Public Holidays from 9am to 5pm
Phone: (02) 6247 7753
Vibe: Think Sin City meets Sunset Boulevard. Classy, elegant and timeless. You can dress up or dress down and still feel like you’re meant to be here.
Just up the road in O’Connor is The Duxton – the inner north’s ‘local’. Loads of indoor and outdoor seating, live sport on the TV, and the closest thing you’ll get to a good old-fashioned ‘counter meal’ in Canberra—it’s a great place for a relaxed beer or bite to eat.
If you’re after something a little less ‘pub’, take the stairs to the Capezio Copeland-designed ‘Loft’ for cocktails and tapas. With warm rustic recycled timbers, an open truss roof with exposed ducts, huge industrial steel doors, splashes of black and white marble teamed with an eclectic mix of furniture and vibrant leafy green plants—we’re talking understated industrial glamour reminiscent of a New York-style loft straight from the Meatpacking District.
It’s the best of both worlds.
Place to be: The Duxton and The Loft at Duxton
Where: Cnr Sargood & MacPherson Streets, O’Connor
When: The Duxton – Monday to Friday, 12 pm til late; Saturday and Sunday 11am til late. The Loft – Wednesday to Saturday, 5pm to Late; Sunday 3pm to Late.
Phone: (02) 6162 0799
Vibe: Relaxed beers or sophisticated cocktails – the choice is yours. Expect to see a proliferation of inner north facial hair whichever way you cut it.
Mint Garden Bar
Set amongst the beautiful heritage gardens of one of Canberra’s oldest buildings, Mint Garden Bar offers unrivalled urban tranquility – either under the stars or the heated canopy. It it the perfect place to while away a long afternoon and relax as the tree-lined courtyard lights up and day drifts effortlessly into night.
There’s a lot to like about this place: well trained staff, care with the mixing, the food (not surprising, since it’s attached to Sage). Live music on Friday nights adds to the attraction. Of course, there is the date danger that you’ll enjoy the spot so much you’ll be tempted for dinner at Sage and get some serious mission creep.
Place to be: Mint Garden Bar
Where: Gorman House Arts Centre, Batman Street Braddon.
When: 4pm-late Tuesday to Friday
Phone: (02) 6249 6050
Vibe: Urban tranquility at its finest in a classy atmosphere. Perfect for a lazy afternoon of drinks or somewhere a little spesh.
Sunshine might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of A.Baker. Perhaps you’re thinking of its moody interior or dim speakeasy bar…but step out the ‘back’ door and one of Canberra’s best courtyards is just calling for a bevvie or three. And now’s the time to enjoy it.
Plus, every Tuesday night is Courtyard Cinema time! Grab a deckchair and settle in for a flick…
Place to be: A.Baker
Where: NewActon Pavilion, 15 Edinburgh Avenue Canberra
When: 7am-10pm Monday to Friday, 8am-10pm Saturday, 8am-6pm Sunday and Public Holidays
Phone: (02) 6287 6150
Vibe: Inner city hipster meets raw, sustainable intimacy. Swing by after work for a couple of drinks before moving on to a nightclub nearby.
Parlour Wine Room
Snappy and modern with a focal square bar that takes pride of place in the centre of the room, Parlour Wine Room has emerged anew. Packed with tables and cosy nooks with couches perfect for hiding away from the cool of winter, it’s on Parlour’s terrace that you’ll be wanting a seat this summer as you overlook the evolving precinct of NewActon with a signature cocktail in hand.
Whether it’s drinks after work or a lazy Sunday afternoon, Parlour takes the concept of the ‘beer garden’ to new heights.
Place to be: Parlour Wine Room
Where: 16 Kendall Lane, NewActon (Kendall Lane runs off Marcus Clarke Street).
When: 12pm-midnight Tuesday to Thursday, 12pm-late Friday & Saturday, 12pm-10.30pm Sunday
Phone: (02) 6257 7325
Vibe: Modern with a dash of eclecticism, it’s a bit hipster and great for a night out with the girls (trust us, we know!)
The Kingston Hotel
The Kingston Hotel, fondly referred to as “The Kingo” is one of Canberra’s original watering holes and has become one of Canberra’s most popular family-friendly pubs.
With two lively bars, two bistros and a huge outdoor seating area, it offers the true beer garden experience.
If you’re after food, there’s no shortage of options – with two dining bistros and a “Cook Your Own” feature at The Steakhouse, you’ll find some great pub food favourites.
Place to be: The Kingston Hotel
Where: 73 Canberra Avenue, Griffith
When: 11am til late, seven days.
Phone: (02) 6295 0123
Vibe: A pub in the truest sense of the word. It’s an institution, where suits, tradies and families mix.
If you’re a Barton officeworker, chances are you’ve had at least one Friday night bevvie at Ostani at Hotel Realm. As well as having a cosy interior and plush dining room, the real star here is the spacious outdoor area, complete with ‘pavilion’…it’s a space that buzzes til the wee hours with public servants and staffers.
You won’t go hungry either, with a selection of great food – from tapas to more substantial steaks and salads. But it’s really hard to go past the woodfired pizza – amaaaazing.
Oh, and ask for a Cherry Amaretto Sour…the bar does amazing cocktails.
Place to be: Ostani
Where: Hotel Realm, 18 National Circuit, Barton.
When: Lounge from 6:30am; Bar/restaurant from 11am til late.
Phone: 02 6163 1802
Vibe: A resort-style bar complete with umbrellas – perfect for letting your hair down!
Most nights of the week, and on weekends, the outdoor seating areas of Public in Manuka are crammed with people enjoying a cold drink or meal…and for good reason. They serve quality ‘pub grub, you can get a decent tipple if you’re fussy about your wine, there are nightly specials, regular live music and a really friendly and relaxed environment.
Pretty Young Things rub shoulders with more mature inner-southerners and families, and all happily co-exist on balmy spring and summer evenings. Plus, there’s the added attraction of Gelatissimo just up the road – dessert, anyone?
Place to be: Public Bar
Where: Corner Flinders Way and Franklin Street, Manuka.
When: Open 9am til late, seven days.
Phone: 6161 8808
Vibe: Upmarket pub – chilled out and friendly – meet your friends for a drink and a woodfired pizza.
Little Brooklyn is a casual place to hang out in Kingston’s Green Square—an American-type gastropub with several big screen tvs for the sports nuts out there. In a word, it’s big, with plenty of seating out the front (on the edge of the newly ‘regreened’ space) and a gorgeous little beer garden at the back, created by knocking out part of the wall that faces Highgate Lane.
If you’re headed there on a Friday, this is not a place to go for a quiet drink – it’s made for partying. But on a weeknight or weekend afternoon, it’s the perfect place to soak up the sunshine or warm night air and enjoy a drink or two and some good American-inspired fare: hot dogs, ribs, steak and some generous salads for good measure.
Place to be: Little Brooklyn
Where: Green Square, Kingston
When:Open 7 days.
Phone: (02) 6260 8150
Vibe: Sports bar meets pub – this is where the inner south after work crowd hang.
Walt & Burley
A huge 300 seater gastropub, no expense has been spared. There are benches, a more formal seating area with a banquette, a gorgeous area for lounging around a show-stopping copper fireplace, and plenty of outdoor seating. This place is already a Friday night favourite, with beer and ciders with names like Beez Neez, Fat Yak and Dirty Granny.
You won’t go hungry with a good range of pub food, and the view of LBG is enough to lure anyone. Settle in with a drink or two and just gaze over the water.
Place to be: Walt & Burley
Where: 17-21 Eastlake Parade, Kingston Foreshore
When: 11am to 12pm, seven days.
Phone: (02) 6239 6648
Vibe: The local for Foreshore residents and those who work in the area. Chilled during the week and the day, a bit rowdier on weekend evenings.
On the waters edge of Lake Ginninderra, you’ll find The Lighthouse— a perfect venue for all your summertime festivities—from business lunches to a few quiet after-work ales or even a pumping late night party. Relax in the waterfront beer garden for a lazy afternoon and let the stresses of the rat race wash away with a refreshing local or boutique beer. Maybe it’s a few glasses of bubbly with a twilight dinner that’s more to your taste? Live bands and DJs crank up the volume every Wednesday and Friday night, so practice those moves and bring your groove shoes to strut your stuff on the dance floor. Keep an eye out for the fun through summer including mechanical bulls and surf boards, horizontal bungee and the fly on the wall.
If you don’t like it loud, then kick back at a Sunday Session featuring the latest tunes—the best way to end your weekend.
Place to be: The Lighthouse Pub
Where: 80 Emu Bank, Belconnen
When: 11am til late Monday to Sunday
Phone: (02) 6253 0390
Vibe: One for the family during the day to early evening but then head home as it can get a little loud and boisterous.
Ha Ha Bar and La De Da
This place is twice as nice. Downstairs at Ha Ha Bar you can enjoy good food pretty much any time of day – and there are few things nicer than enjoying the view of Lake Ginninderra with a great cup of coffee and hearty breakfast. Pop upstairs to La De Da and settle in for a chilled – or somewhat spirited – session of drinks, tapas and more.
Place to be: Ha Ha Bar and La De Da
Where: 102 Emu Bank, Belconnen
When: Ha Ha Bar – 7:30am to 10pm Tuesday to Thursday; 7:30am to 12am Friday; 8am to 12am Saturday and 8am to 8pm Sunday. La De Da: 5pm-2am Wednesday, 5pm-11pm Thursday, 5pm-1am Friday & Saturday, 3pm-10pm Sunday
Phone: (02) 6251 6110
Vibe: A mix between, hipster, Jack Johnson and fruity, it’s the cocktails that will have you in the door because they are out of this world.
Reminiscent of simpler times when beer and a feed were the done thing to do and the question of ‘Whose round is it?’ was well…never really a question, Rose Cottage Inn is fighting contender on our list of beer gardens to visit this summer. Old it may be, but in recent years Rose Cottage has certainly lifted its game and is home to some beautiful and lovingly restored gardens—a historic feature of the Rose Cottage Estate. With plenty of space to spread out and relax, don’t worry about booking a babysitter because the kids are welcome too! And if you haven’t heard there’s also a courtesy shuttle bus!
Place to be: Rose Cottage Inn
Where: Cnr Isabella Drive & Monaro Highway, Gilmore
When: 2pm to late (bar only) Tuesday, 2pm-late Wednesday, 12pm-late Thursday & Friday, 10am-late Saturday & Sunday
Phone: (02) 6260 1314
Vibe: Laid back and cruisy, you won’t be going anywhere soon once you kick back with a beer in hand and good pub feed in front of you. Oh and bring the kids too!
Southsiders can rejoice! Smoque has finally answered the cries of the people of Woden and blessed them with an al fresco drinking space worthy of its inclusion in this round up of beer gardens.
Offering the same all-American menu as its city sibling, Smoque Woden is perfect for after-work drinks with workmates or friends.
Place to be: Smoque Woden
Where: Abode Hotel, 10 Bowes Street Phillip
When: Breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday to Sunday
Phone: (02) 6260 4621
Vibe: All-American hangout perfect for ribs, beer and wings in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.
The Garden Bar & Section 57
When we added this one to list, it was under the guise of Section 57, which then posed the question ‘is this still even open?’. The short answer is yes…but they’ve also just re-opened The Garden Bar and its vibe is still very much the same—stylish, funky with a very cosmopolitan feel. Its cosseted, tranquil and private location away from the hustle and bustle of everyday going-ons outside will beg you not to leave so soon.
Relax among the lushly planted gardens and let the muted sounds of the water features soothe the senses as you indulge in a cocktail or two, or whatever takes your fancy from the full service outdoor bar. Featuring a stunning colour-backed glass wall in the appropriately named hue of ‘sexy red’, a black marble bar top and recycle North Coast redwood surrounds inlaid with copper, the bar itself is as delicious as the drinks on offer.
Section 57 also has a sun-drenched courtyard perfect for enjoying a chilled glass of win during the warmer months.
Place to be: The Garden Bar & Section 57
Where: 10 Heard Street, Mawson
When: 4.30pm-11.30pm Friday & Saturday; 12pm-9.30pm Sunday
Phone: (02) 6286 1600
Web: Find them on Facebook.
Vibe: Clear your afternoon ‘cos you’re in for a long one.
There you have it, Canberra’s best alfresco drinking establishments…But if you think we’ve missed one or there’s one that’s just plain missed the mark, then we want to know about it so leave your comment below and tell us what’s on the top of your list and where you’ll rest your pint at the end of a weary summer’s day.