When people think of the best cities for foodies in Australia, the most obvious debate is between Sydney and Melbourne. Yet, I think a much tougher argument is Hobart versus Adelaide. South Australia is the seat of many of the country’s greatest flavours, so it’s no surprise that you have plenty of great choices when searching for the best restaurants in Adelaide.
Much like Hobart, South Australia’s capital city punches well above its weight for food and wine. While there’s nowhere near the level of diversity and genuine multiculturalism you’ll find in Sydney and Melbourne, the ostensible City of Churches has a hell of a lot going for it when you’re feeling peckish.
The following round-up of Adelaide Restaurants will help you make the most of your time, whether you’re just visiting or you’re a local looking for a nice, digestible dining bucket list to work through over the next few months. Whatever the case, I hope that this will help you realise just how much Adelaide has got going for it when it comes to competing with other culinary-centric small cities around the world like Victoria in British Columbia and Portland in Maine.
Best Restaurants In Adelaide – Table Of Contents
- The Best Adelaide Restaurants
- Fugazzi Bar & Dining Room, Adelaide CBD
- Arkhe, Norwood
- Restaurant Botanic, Adelaide CBD
- East End Cellars, Adelaide CBD
- Madame Hanoi, Adelaide CBD
- Nido, Hyde Park
- Press Food & Wine, Adelaide CBD
- Leigh Street Wine Room, Adelaide CBD
- Golden Boy, Adelaide CBD
- Africola, Adelaide CBD
- Herringbone, Adelaide CBD
- The Salopian Inn, McLaren Vale
- Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant, Adelaide Hills
- How Boss Hunting Chose The Best Restaurants In Adelaide
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Best Adelaide Restaurants
Fugazzi Bar & Dining Room, Adelaide CBD
If you’re asking after an Italian restaurant in Adelaide, the most likely answer is Fugazzi. Everyone from Nigella Lawson to The Killers has been through that sleek, seductive dining room in recent years, giving Fugazzi a reputation that extends far beyond South Australia.
And to be frank, aside from the big guns, there are very few restaurants in Adelaide that can boast such national recognition. Much like Nido, Fugazzi’s sister restaurant, the pitch here is very much a classic Italian trattoria written larger and more extravagant by Laura and Max Sharrad who co-own the ambitious restaurant with hospitality stalwart Simon Kardachi.
But where Nido is a bit more modest and homestyle, Fugazzi leans heavier on its New York City influences, framing all that excellent food with what is the most attractive dining room in the city.
Handmade pasta and Italian wines are the obvious choices here. Grab some smoked eel campanelle with braised fennel and guanciale pangratatto and some smoked ricotta occhi with tomato butter, crispy pork sausage and cured egg yolk. Get the sommelier over and work you through the wine list. It’s a typical way to play, of course, but Fugazzi just does it so well.
Jake Kellie made a name for himself as the head chef of Michelin-starred Burnt Ends in Singapore but took a completely different turn in South Australia for this buzzy neighbourhood wine bar. Arkhe shapes a heritage-listed sandstone building in Norwood into one of Adelaide’s favourite restaurants, powered mainly by an open hearth and a ferment wall.
Kellie’s inventive experiments with South Australian produce are best experienced at the 10-person chef’s table. But I haven’t had the pleasure, so can only speak to the a la carte menu which is usually stacked with dishes kissed by fire, from standout duck liver parfait tartlets and Mayura Station brisket on toast to hot roasted duck leg and Dairyman pork chops served with grilled plums and parsley gremolata.
Restaurant Botanic, Adelaide CBD
When chef Justin James took on the role as head chef of Restaurant Botanic in 2021, he clearly did so with the intention to put Adelaide in the running for Australia’s most delicious city. And much like the late, great Jock Zonfrillo did with Restaurant Orana, James has turned Restaurant Botanic into one of Australia’s most anticipated dining experiences.
James, who most notably chopped his way through upscale kitchens like New York State’s Blue Hill and New York City’s Eleven Madison Park, has proven his worth ten times over. Restaurant Botanic was named Australia’s Restaurant of the Year for 2023 and reservations are now next-to-impossible to come across.
Is it, however, all hype? I haven’t had a chance to dine there myself yet but a few industry colleagues and fellow food writers have been through and compared the experience to some of the best in the country, including the likes of Fico and Igni. That’s lavish praise, of course, and it would make sense with James’ studious dedication to illustrating the flora and fauna of Adelaide’s verdant botanic gardens. Expect a lot of native flavours and a hyperlocal approach on the 20-course set menu.
East End Cellars, Adelaide CBD
East End Cellars isn’t quite a restaurant. As per the name, it’s primarily a wine room designed to express the absolute treasure trove that is South Australia. It’s also invariably my first stop when I have some free time in Adelaide. The wine and cheese here are always exceptional but you’d be missing out on the whole experience if you didn’t take advantage of what Executive Chef Josh Lansley is doing in The Tasting Room.
Steak Frites, Berkshire pork chop, curried lamb shoulder, Coorong flounder, spatchcock quail. The food menu is packed with fresh local flavours so if you want a masterclass on Australia’s best produce, you’ll easily get it here. Right alongside some of the best drops in the country.
Madame Hanoi, Adelaide CBD
From Nobu, London to Adelaide City, Head Chef Nic Watt brings almost two decades of worldly experience to this gorgeous fusion restaurant on North Terrace at SkyCity Adelaide. Madame Hanoi marries Vietnamese food with French techniques in interesting, engaging ways that don’t feel exploitative or incongruent. This is surprising, given the kitchen has to appeal to the masses who fling through SkyCity Adelaide at all hours of the day
This is actually one of the better Asian fusion restaurants I’ve eaten at in Australia. As for the food, go straight for the fragrant turmeric kingfish and some classic lemongrass chicken before moving on to larger dishes like beef cheek curry and caramelised barramundi. The range of flavours here reaches far and wide,
Nido, Hyde Park
Laura and Max Sharrad steer their beloved Hyde Park pasta bar towards simple, homestyle classics and in a few short years have turned Nido into one of the most popular dining experiences in Adelaide. At least for locals. A lot of visitors might miss out on the minimalist magic the kitchen turns in day in and day out. And that’s a shame.
This is the kind of modest restaurant you’d think about randomly long after returning from a weekend in Adelaide. Fresh pasta hand-rolled daily is certainly the most popular order, along with the Italo-centric wine list, but I’ve always found the proteins to be just as compelling on my few visits.
Press Food & Wine, Adelaide CBD
A former printing house has been transformed into a thoroughly impressive noise-to-tail kitchen regularly pumping out some of Adelaide’s best food. Press Food & Wine is widely considered an institution for the city, recently refreshed with an upscale new look framing Executive Chef Tom Tilbury’s marvellous grill classics.
Adelaide’s undying love for the signature Press Burger has been well documented; it’s perhaps the finest restaurant burger you’ll find in the entire state. Yet it’s hard to ignore the grilled seafood dishes, which practice restraint and lean heavily on South Australia’s full-flavoured produce.
Leigh Street Wine Room, Adelaide CBD
While I’m always hesitant to peel myself away from East End Cellars when I’m in the mood for wine, the equally iconic Leigh Street Wine Room is nothing to take lightly either. This buzzy, progressive and resourceful wine bar has a passionate national following, with many claiming this as the single best wine bar in Australia.
And while that’s mostly credited to the wine list, of course, the simple snack-style food menu is just as tempting. We’re talking straightforward fare like jamon serrano served with housemade pickles and pickled octopus, preceding even simpler substantials like pork loin and a beautiful wood-fired t-bone. Few can ever go wrong ending the night with the incredible Black Forest brownie either.
Golden Boy, Adelaide CBD
Thai food in Adelaide is synonymous with Golden Boy and a night at this humming local favourite will never go astray. Expect a comprehensive exploration of Thai flavours lifted by South Australian produce, making this energetic kitchen one of the city’s most valuable for when the typical Modern Australian brief is running a bit stale.
Truth be told, Adelaide doesn’t really have the command over the flavours of Asia that are better served by Sydney and Melbourne. That’s more a size and space issue though. Diversity counts for next to nothing when you have just a few restaurants representing well. But between Madame Hanoi handling Vietnamese and Golden Boy taking the reigns of modern Thai, who really needs volume anyway?
As for food, you can almost never go wrong with those woke-tossed mussels served with Thai basil, chilli jam and lime or those deliciously tender eight-hour beef cheeks with tangerine jus.
Africola, Adelaide CBD
For a long time, Africola was considered the best restaurant in Adelaide. Certainly the most interesting. And while I do dining there whenever I’m down in the city, it’s just not as exciting a proposition as it used to be.
That’s not to say Duncan Welgemoed’s East Terrace slam-drunk is to be ignored, however. The South African-influenced restaurant is still a reliable institution and the sight of those fluffy little crispy chicken tea sandwiches will never get old.
Yet I’ve always found Africola is at its best when you’re exploring the daily specials, which of course change all the time, and mixing them up with those classic snacks.
Herringbone, Adelaide CBD
Guided by the season and constantly presenting some of the most innovative dishes in Adelaide, Herringbone is a no-brainer if you’re looking for that cosy backstreet classic with a setting that’s just as eternally satisfying as what’s marched out of the kitchen year-round.
Natural light, an atrium dining space and an arterial living tree make Herringbone one of the most uniquely attractive restaurants in Adelaide. Then you’ve got the food. Generously-plated, expressive options that highlight the best of the state.
The menu follows seasonal produce much too closely for me to list any highlights, but to give a good idea of what’s on offer you should expect creative projects like chicken liver parfait dressed with red wine pear and Sichuan pepper served on fennel crostini, and slow roasted Fleurieu lamb shoulder with red harissa, spiced beets, quince and vincotto.
The Salopian Inn, McLaren Vale
I think my first visit to The Salopian Inn many years ago was akin to a lightbulb moment. It’s what led to me falling deeply in love with the food scene that’s scattered across the wider Adelaide region. This regional institution isn’t exactly in the city, although you’ll only have to drive just under an hour outside of Adelaide CBD to reach it.
Those signature dumplings are always going to win. Acclaimed South Australian chef Karena Armstrong has conjured up the perfect recipe for these moreish parcels of rich, vibrant flavours with fillings like pork with kimchi and Spencer Gulf prawn with roasted chilli. Yet, everything you’ll have in this refurbished 1851 homestead will easily hit the spot so the best approach is to go for the very affordable $70 per person shared menu.
Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant, Adelaide Hills
You’ll find this legendary restaurant up at the luxurious Manor of Mount Lofty House. Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant is a perennial award-winner for Adelaide Hills and is often seen as a destination unto itself. Although you’re really missing the full experience if you don’t have dinner here, back it up with a drink at the classy front bar and then spend a night at either Mount Lofty House or the more modern Sequoia Lodge nearby.
The pitch is fine dining but the portions are almost always generous and hearty, featuring the best of South Australian produce elevated by those million-dollar views scanning one of the most beautiful parts of Australia.
How Boss Hunting Chose The Best Restaurants In Adelaide
I always enjoy spending time in Adelaide. I think Adelaide Central Market is one of the best in the country. I enjoy visiting the wineries of Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale (I haven’t visited the Barossa Valley as much). And I don’t think I could ever tire of staying at the excellent Mount Lofty House. Across several visits, I’ve had the pleasure of dining out extensively in South Australia’s capital so, along with my colleagues at Boss Hunting, I think we have a pretty good grasp on where to eat in Adelaide and where to avoid.
The Adelaide restaurants listed here have been rated on the quality of food, innovation, consistency, service and atmosphere. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if they have a good wine list either. But most of all, if we leave satisfied and would recommend it to our mates at the pub, it’s listed here. It’s as simple as that.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best restaurants in Adelaide?
The best restaurants in Adelaide right now include Restaurant Botanic, Fugazzi and Herringbone.
What is the best restaurant in Adelaide Hills?
The best restaurant in Adelaide Hills is Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant at Mount Lofty House.
What's a good Thai restaurant in Adelaide?
If you’re craving Thai food in Adelaide then your best bet is to go to Golden Boy.