Who doesn’t love a night out for dinner? Whether you’re celebrating with loved ones, exploring the city, or you just don’t feel like cooking tonight, heading out to a restaurant for dinner can be a fantastic way to spend an evening.
Canberra boasts an incredible foodie landscape, with popular restaurants and hidden gems in all corners of the capital, and all as amazing and delicious as the next. But with such an overwhelming array of restaurants to choose from, how can you possibly decide on the perfect one?
In this article, we’ll help you do just that. We’ve put together a list of some of the things you should keep in mind when looking for a great restaurant, as well as a guide to just a handful of Canberra’s absolute favourite restaurants.
What makes a great restaurant?
There’s a lot that goes into a quality dining experience. Look out for these traits in the restaurants you visit to decide if they’re really the best:
- Atmosphere. Atmosphere encompasses many things, but really it comes down to how good you feel being at the restaurant! From the interior design, the comfort of the furniture, music & ambience, crowd and hygiene, the atmosphere of a restaurant can really make or break your experience.
- Service. The service is the face of the restaurant, and truly great venues know that proper service can be the key difference between a happy customer and an unhappy one. By being helpful, friendly and accommodating, waitstaff can guide you through your evening and make sure your experience is memorable.
- Quality ingredients. Menus can be anything the owners and chefs want – they can be simple, traditional, classic or experimental, but the dishes are nothing if the ingredients aren’t high-quality. The best restaurants source their ingredients from trusted local suppliers to make sure that the food they serve is the best it can possibly be.
- Drinks. The drinks that a restaurant serves are just as important as the food itself. Whether it’s comprehensive wine list, a few interesting house cocktails, or a good selection of teas and other non-alcoholic options, great restaurants know that a tasty drink can truly elevate the entire dining experience.
- Value. Restaurants vary in terms of price range, but “expensive” does not always mean “better” anymore than “cheap” means “worse” – it’s all about value. The price you pay for your evening should reflect the quality everything we’ve already listed. No one wants to pay top dollar for less-than-excellent food or service!
The best restaurants 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.
Les Bistronomes serves up a gorgeous menu showcasing the very best of local produce and modern French cuisine. Situated in the heart of Campbell shops, the fine dining restaurant offers all the delicious classics, including escargots, bouillabaisse, and their chef’s take on crème brûlée. Perfect for an intimate dinner, birthday celebration, or work function, Les Bistronomes is a must-visit for those that adore French food.
Dion Warnock wrote the following Google review after their recent visit to Les Bistronomes, “Stunning French bistro. Excellent service. Great atmosphere. We will be back.”
Ottoman Cuisine brings Istanbul to Canberra as the most awarded restaurant in town, having served Canberra for over 28 years. In an elegant art deco pavilion with large windows surrounded by gardens and water features, an amazing menu of traditional Turkish cuisine all at an affordable price, as well as packages available for large functions, Ottoman Cuisine is the perfect destination for couples and parties alike.
As happy customer Aspasia Markakis writes in their Google review, “The food was mouth-watering. The staff were amazing especially our head waitress Gabbi. The setting was beautiful and peaceful. I would highly recommend either a meal or like us a party at the restaurant. All my guests could not speak more highly of the food and service.”
Pilot is all about pushing boundaries, and yet always keeps it simple. In their small and stylish dining room Pilot serves a regularly changing set degustation menu of pared-back yet complex dishes and produce that the team is as excited about as you are, plus a wine and spirits list featuring only Australian bottles.
Google reviewer Alexandra DeWitt left this review for Pilot, “Did the 8-course degustation and it was truly magical. The staff were so attentive, and the food just blew our minds. Highly recommended, everyone needs to try this place!”
A true hidden gem and local favourite, White Chaco is mastering the art of Asian fusion cuisine and cosy dining, all at an affordable price. Their unique blend of Taiwanese, Japanese and Chinese cuisine yields one of the most intriguing and undeniably delectable menus in Canberra right now, featuring ramen, soup dumplings and bao like you’ve never had them before.
As Google reviewer Nat writes, “Amazing food and lovely service. Would 100% recommend the visit to white Chaco. It’s a perfect mix of Japanese and Taiwanese foods. Loved the popcorn chicken and ramen”.
If you’re looking for a classic, pared-back, comforting atmosphere, delicious Italian food, and passionate and friendly service, look no further than The Italian Place. Run by hospitality veteran Tony Lo Terzo and head chef Francesco Petrillo, this cosy and inviting bistro specialises in rustic classic Italian dishes from regions all over Italy, made with handmade pasta and locally sourced ingredients.
As Google reviewer Mazine Ambler writes, “Absolutely love The Italian Place. Fabulous location. Spectacular food and wonderful service. I can’t recommend this place enough.”
For more relaxed dining options in Canberra, you might like our article on the best pubs, the best gastropubs, and the best steakhouses Canberra has to offer. And, should you fancy a tipple perhaps the best cocktail bars or the best wine bars may also be of interest.
Your experience with restaurants 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 restaurants listed above? Have we missed your favourite? If so, please share your feedback in the comments below!