Everyone loves a night out for dinner! Whether it’s a special occasion or you don’t feel like cooking, a trip to a restaurant can be a lovely way to spend an evening.
Canberra is lucky enough to be home to many of delicious restaurants, but believe it or not, they can be found elsewhere than the city centre! As South Canberra expands and grows, more and more amazing restaurants will continue to open, and it might not be entirely convenient for you to make the journey across the lake.
Which is why we’ve put together this article! We’ll give you a few things to look out for in a great restaurant, as well as a guide to the best South Canberra has to offer.
What makes a great restaurant?
If you’re planning a night out, you want everything to be perfect across the whole experience. Here’s what to look for in a great restaurant:
- Atmosphere. From the décor to the furniture to the music playing, the atmosphere of the restaurant truly makes the difference between an enjoyable night and an average one. Great restaurants put as much care into the way you feel in their space as they do into the food they serve.
- Excellent service. Prompt, attentive and considerate service is key to making you feel welcome in a restaurant! Plus, the enthusiasm of the restaurant’s staff is usually a good indicator of the quality of the restaurant itself.
- Reasonable prices. Whether it’s fine dining or casual, no one wants to feel ripped off – you want to feel like your dinner was money well spent! Keep an eye out for restaurants with reasonably priced menus without sacrificing quality for cash.
- Quality ingredients. Any home cook knows that the food is only ever as good as its ingredients. Great restaurants who care about their food – and your health – use fresh ingredients, locally sourced where possible, and practice good food safety.
- Good location. You shouldn’t have to drive halfway across town for a good meal. A good location means the restaurant is centrally located, has ample parking, and is easily accessible.
The best restaurants in South 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.
Hidden away in the Narrabundah shops, XO is a restaurant specialising in Asian fusion dishes with a modern approach to traditional south east Asian cuisine. The interior is fitted with blonde wood panelling, pendant lamps and white-painted brick walls for a classy finish. With a focus on the communal share plate culture of Asian dining, the experience at XO is honest and unpretentious, classy, and guarantees the highest standards of service possible.
As Joshua Evers writes on Google, "The tasting menus that XO have curated are bold, modern, delicious and still traditional south east Asian cuisine. The staff are so friendly, relaxed and more then happy to accommodate patrons needs. Definitely a must dine-in for the dine-out crowd."
Headed up by Carlo Tosolini and his team, Molto Italian boasts attractive interiors, delicious food and amazing service, and celebrates fresh produce and Italian food and culture. Designed to look like a modern seaside trattoria with Lake Burley Griffin as its backdrop, featuring a woodfire pizza oven and open kitchen, traditionally prepared dishes and plenty of options to share in a large group, Molto Italian is an authentic experience best enjoyed with family and friends.
On Facebook, happy customer Justine Smith writes, "The wait staff are super friendly and attentive and the food is just divine. An enjoyable experience".
Chairman & Yip
As one of the Canberra's iconic dining institutions, Chairman & Yip have been serving modern Pan-Asian cuisine for over twenty years. Centrally located in the Hotel Realm precinct in Barton, their elegant surrounds offer glorious spaces including a private dining room and balcony garden. Well regarded for pioneering Asian cuisine in Australia, the team are known to introducing new tastes and elevating traditional fare to fine dining cuisine. For delectable, flavour packed Asian led dining, look no further than Chairman & Yip.
As happy customer Dan Crane writes on Google, "Had an excellent evening at Chairman and Yip with superb service from our waiter Zach. He was very knowledgeable and even introduced us to one of the chefs who has been there for 30 years. Amazing food and a lovely atmosphere, couldn't recommend highly enough."
Pomegranate Restaurant is a smart, casual venue with a terrace, offering modern Australian food with a Mediterranean twist. Located in the heart of old Kingston, Pomegranate offers a classic, sophisticated dining experience, with an emphasis on quality regional produce, fresh ingredients and superb technique. The beautifully plated dishes and exceptional wine list are matched with expert, considerate service.
On Google, 'Local Guide' Trent Shepherd writes, "Enjoyed our meal and the service. We had the banquet. The selection of plates were balanced and delicious. My highlight was the consistency and flavour of the icecream. Thank you for a lovely evening."
Ondine European Brasserie
Having successfully weathered the pandemic closures that prevented them from opening their doors last year, Ondine European Brasserie has entered the Canberran landscape to great success. With a delicious menu of French classics including escargot Provençale and steak tartare for entrées, boeuf Bourguignon among the mains and, of course, traditional crème brulée, Ondine Restaurant is a perfect destination in South Canberra for classic French dining in a warm and welcoming environment.
On Google, Dean Apolloni writes, "Had a great night for our wedding anniversary. Was seated at the bar which had a great atmosphere, had great service from the staff and the head chef! Ordered the banquet which was very well priced for the amount of food we had. Awesome beer on tap too! Will be going back there again!"
Can’t decide where to go for dinner? Check out our articles on the best Italian restaurants, the best Chinese restaurants and the best restaurants and bars on the Kingston Foreshore for some great recommendations. And if you’re feeling like you’re up for venturing to Northside, try our list of the best restaurants in North Canberra for some handy information.
Your experience with restaurants in South Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you been to any of the South Canberra restaurants listed above? Did we miss your favourite? Share your thoughts and feedback below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Canberra have a restaurant district?
Canberra is lucky enough to have so many restaurants all over town that there is no singular restaurant district. That being said, areas like the CBD and the suburbs in the Inner South (Barton, Manuka and Kingston, for example) have a relatively high concentration of restaurants.
Can any restaurant cater to my dietary requirements?
Usually, yes! If, for example, you're gluten free, dairy free, or vegetarian, most restaurants will have a few options for you. It's probably a good idea to call ahead of your booking just to make sure, and also to inform them of your dietary requirements so that they don't have to improvise something for you when you arrive, and can instead make sure you enjoy your meal as much as possible.
How long can I expect to stay at my table in a restaurant?
Depending on the venue, most restaurants will expect to turnover a table at least twice a night, which should give you a maximum of two hours to finish your meal. When you make your booking, ask the restaurant about seating times to find out how much time you have for your meal.
Can I order takeaway from restaurants in Canberra?
Not every restaurant offers takeaway, but some absolutely do. Before calling and asking, check the restaurant's website or social media and find out if takeaway is available
Do I have to make a reservation before going to a restaurant?
While most restaurants try to leave a few tables available for walk-ins, it's good restaurant etiquette for you to book at least 12 hours ahead of time - not only does this make it easier for you to plan out your evening, but the restaurant will also be able to guarantee you a table. If you turn up to a restaurant without a booking, there's no guarantee that you will be seated, especially if you're out on a busy night.