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The tasty secrets of our suburbs.

Emma Macdonald

Shhhhh. Canberra author Marg Wade lifts the lid on those suburban eateries that are definitely worth a visit.

Between the late 1970s through to the late 1990s, Marg Wade was one of those Canberrans who bristled every time someone bagged the city. But unlike most of us, she took direct action.

Marg is the author of Canberra Secrets – an insider’s guide to every nook and cranny of the capital from restaurants, to events, galleries, parks, trails, vistas and characters.

The book has been so successful it is in its third edition – with Marg recently launching it at a shin-dig at King O’Malleys Irish pub in the city – a place with enormous atmosphere, she says.

Canberra Secrets author Marg Wade

Marg should know. She has been chronicling the city’s secrets since 1999 after having packed up her day job in the Public Service to write the book.

She originally arrived in Canberra as a young teacher in 1979 and since then has watched the food scene grow exponentially. But Marg still has a soft spot for those suburban eateries which have stood the test of time.

“We all get very fixated on the latest new spots that open up in the city, but if you venture further afield there are still some great places to go”.

She lists Rama’s in Pearce for a fragrant curry, or an Indian Affair in Phillip for consistently delicious food. Ethiopia Down Under is also a favourite.

A Bite to Eat in Chifley

When it comes to secrets, most of Canberra’s diplomatic community seems to know that the Turkish Halal Pide House in Yarralumla is the best place for Turkish as well as presenting amazing value for money.

Over in Belconnen, Marg is a frequent visitor to Kinh Do in Macquarie, while on the south side, its sister restaurant Griffith Vietnamese sets the standard for inexpensive, delicious fresh food.

Woolley Street in Dickson, otherwise known as little China Town, has a line-up worthy of frequent visits including Ruby Chinese, the Dickson Asian Noodle House and Pho Phu Quoc for Vietnamese.

Tilley’s in Lyneham

And if you are in a cracking rush, the Hughes Takeaway not only promises fast food, but has won enough awards to ensure you try it for superior taste.

If Marg has time for a coffee, you will often find her at one of her popular cafes – A Bite to Eat at Chifley; The Knox, Made in Watson; Ricardo’s in Jamison; Gus’ in the city; or Tilley’s – the latter of which she has been enjoying for more than 30 years.

“I used to meet the girls there every fortnight. I remember turning up for one coffee date very pregnant almost 31 years ago, and the next fortnight I was back again with a baby in a capsule – without skipping a meet-up.”

While Marg is also a frequent visitor to the hatted places around town, she notes that it is the suburban gems which also work hard to maintain quality and consistent standards. They invariably offer very friendly service.

“I think if my book can draw attention to these sorts of places then it is a good thing. These are often family businesses and they work so hard to earn the loyalty of their customers. It may not be as glamorous as the big new restaurant names – but the food is usually always a drawcard and a good reason to get out into the suburbs!”

Canberra Secrets is available in good bookstores around Canberra, as well as the bookshops in many of the national attractions.

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Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author

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