The best gastropubs in Canberra

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BentSpoke owners Richard Watkins and Tracy Morgan

Bentspoke owners Richard Watkins and Tracy Morgan, one of Canberra’s most recommended gastropubs. Photo: Bentspoke.

Ever dreamed of a relaxing drink with more than a just house parmigiana to satisfy the appetite? Well, you are not alone. Surfacing in London in the early 1990’s the first gastropubs pushed boundaries by fusing a pub and restaurant in one.

Fast forward thirty odd years and you will find gastropubs residing in New York to New Delhi and everywhere in between. These fusion establishments are known for their relaxed vibe, refined pub fare, and cold brews dripping from the tap.

And with so many diversions from bistros to wine bars, gastropubs have a familiar sense of mass appeal which makes them so charming. As such, it comes as no surprise that Canberra is home to some of the nation’s finest gastropub establishments. From the southside to the northside Canberrans are embracing gastropubs in droves. Why? Because they are a perfect venue for celebrating a girl’s brunch, family birthday, or footy with the boys. Gastropubs have something for everyone.

Upping the ante from traditional pub grub, Canberra’s gastropubs are known for great drinks, glorious food – all without the pomp! But with so many options, how does one make a selection? Fortunately, we have shortlisted the best beer-laden culinary table tops in town. Read on below for the best gastropubs in Canberra.

What makes a great gastropub?

The best gastropubs fuse drinks and dining so perfectly that even the most astute foodie would be left smiling. They respect their heritage by presenting the best pub-inspired nosh refined for the modern table; and loved by everyone from the minis to our grandparents. If you are looking for a gastropub in the Canberra region keep these things in mind:

  • Relaxed vibe. Stiff white tablecloths be gone! The best gastropubs work hard at making their patrons feel at ease. Be it a casual setting, a blend of indoor and out, and comfort at every turn, a relaxed vibe is key. Look for establishments with friendly front of house staff, brilliant bartenders, and round smiles. After all, if you are enjoying the venue, chances are that it will make for a wonderful experience indeed.
  • Tasty food. The days of dubiously created schnitzels are thankfully far behind us. Today’s gastropubs live up to their namesake with gusto. The best feature a selection of age-old pub classics blended wonderfully with contemporarily spun crowd favourites. Think a la carte, share plates, grazing platters and a speciality dish here or there. As providence is the name of the game, look for gastropubs that feature our regions finest produce leaping gloriously from paddock to plate.
  • Fresh beverages. While craft beer on tap should be a given, great gastropubs cater their drink service to the tastes of their patrons. Variety should extend to cover crisp wines, interesting cocktails, and a top shelf whisky selection. While alcoholic drinks are indeed key, the best gastropubs also offer delightful non-alcoholic beverages beyond just lemon lime and bitters.
  • Point of interest. While a relaxing atmosphere does wonders to tempt the palate, a point of interest adds character. Be it lapping waves; local art; brewing vats; or greenery; a point of interest takes an ordinary gastropub to the extraordinary. Let’s face it; most of us wish to leave a set four white walls at home.
  • Family friendly. A huge part of their appeal, and indeed a driver for their insurgence, has been their mass patronage. Cheeky toddlers, testing teenagers, and adults of all ages, seek solace at gastropubs just as they would at home. Therefore the best establishments recognise this and cater their service accordingly.

The best gastropubs in Canberra

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Frankies at Forde

Quiet and unassuming, Frankies at Forde have built an enviable reputation as one of Canberra’s best suburban gastropub venues. Owned by some of the regions most experienced hospitality aficionados Frankies is sure to please. Open Tuesday to Sunday from breakfast right through to after dinner drinks, this local venue has something for everyone. Featuring an impressive cocktail selection, craft beers and great wines, Frankies is also home to fantastic food.

Frankies at Forde

Courtney Walsh shared this great review on Google, This is my local. The staff here are always amazing. The food, coffee and cocktails are fantastic. Great pricing. Dog friendly. If I could give more than 5 stars I would.”


Nestled in inner-city Braddon, Hopscotch resides in an expansive indoor-outdoor space that pays homage to décor of the 1930’s era. Boasting the largest range of whiskies in Canberra, Hopscotch also offers a variety of wines and of course craft beers. Hopscotch is also known for its new take on the ultimate pub classics and its delicious wood-fired pizza. For a casual dinner for a two or large group affair, Hopscotch makes for an excellent choice.

Declan Lynch wrote on Google, Amazing food, great service and a superb beer garden.”


Situated in the leafy Manuka, Public is a local gem in pub gastronomy. Featuring a mixture of quirky share plates and contemporary pub-inspired food, it sits comfortably and confidently in Canberra’s dining scene. Public’s warm and welcoming interior provides space a plenty. With a large selection of spirits, crisp cocktails, and a lengthy wine list it is the perfect venue to come together over good drinks and even better food.

Janet O’Dell-Teys had this to say about Public on Google, Nice atmosphere, friendly staff, good range of food and drinks.”

BentSpoke Brewing Co.

Since first opening its doors in 2014, BentSpoke Brewing Co. have built a gleaming reputation for their craft beer and delectable cuisine. Home to a plethora of home brewed concoctions and a wide range of beer styles you are sure to find a beverage to your liking.

As for the food, relish in a modern interpretation of classic pub fare featuring beer incorporated dished that let regions local produce shine. Spanning two levels with a glorious outdoor space; it is no surprise that BentSpoke Brewing Co. is one of the regions most loved gastropubs.

Heath Dennelly had this to say about the venue on Google, This is the third time I've eaten at bent spoke and each time the menu has been different and each time delicious. All of their staff were super friendly and knowledgeable. I can't recommend this place more highly.”

The Dock

Many Canberran’s would know this local institution well. Residing amongst the gleaming waters of the Kingston Foreshore, the dock has built a great reputation for high calibre food, fresh beverages and the chance to watch a game or two. Offering a tempting range of beers, ciders, and wines, The Dock’s casual sharing menu perfectly compliments its sunny waterside disposition.

As Jean Pike shared on Google, “Great place overlooking the lake with a good vibe and really good food.”

If you’re looking for more relaxed dining options in Canberra, you might like our article on the best pubs, the best steakhouses, the best bistros and the best casual dining restaurants Canberra has to offer. For more sparkle our articles on the best restaurants and the best fine dining in Canberra may help. And, should you fancy a tipple perhaps the best cocktail bars or the best wine bars may also be of interest.

Your experience with gastropubs in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any of the gastropubs listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a gastropub?

The term gastropub first coined in the early 1990’s, fuses the words pub and gastronomy to emphasise the significance of both food and beverages at this type of establishment. As such, a gastropub focuses not only on a good alcohol selection, but on great food as well.

Gastropub versus pub, what is the difference?

While a gastropubs hallmark is the combination of alcohol and great food; a pubs speciality is more focused in the serving of alcohol. While many pubs today offer both alcoholic beverages and food, gastropubs swing closer to the style of restaurants in their service and food offering.

What type of meal can I expect from a gastropub?

Gastropub fare is the upmarket version of traditional hearty and generous pub food. Many gastropubs offer a la carte menus featuring food to be shared, with a little more refinement and a creative twist.

Are the regions gastropubs child friendly?

They most certainly are. The regions gastropubs are known for their relaxed and casual atmosphere, coupled with their family friendly menus. Day time sittings are generally best for those with young families as some venues may specify times that under-age children cannot attend, such as evenings. If in doubt, please contact the venue directly.

Do Canberra’s gastropubs require reservations?

Canberra’s gastropubs welcome both walk-ins and reservations. As with any good restaurant, bookings are advised to ensure your seat at the table.

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