Escape Canberra’s sub-zero winter nights and enjoy a warm meal or stiff drink at one of the capital’s many diverse bars and restaurants.
From cosy Indo-fusion night cafes and classic English pubs to gritty underground Parisian wine caves and everything in between.
Here are some old favourites and hidden gems to cosy up in with your friends, family or colleagues this chilly season.
Opening hours: daily, 11:30 am to 3:00 pm (lunch menu), 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (drinks menu)
Where: Lerida Estate Winery, 87 The Vineyards Road, Lake George, NSW, book here.
Nestled behind the grapevines and overlooking Lake George is Lerida Estate’s renowned architect-designed cellar door building. Guests can keep warm inside surrounded by stacks of wine barrels and other reminders of the winemaking process. Opt for a full tasting of 10 wines and a chef-prepared three-course lunch, stop for a quick coffee and snack or graze and sip the afternoon away.
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 11.30 am to 12 am
Where: 30 Woolley Street, Dickson, 2602, book here.
Dickson Taphouse bills itself as a classic corner pub to suit everyone’s tastes. Patrons can sample 18 different tap beers from the comfort of a cosy lounge area, while families can book in to the restaurant and enjoy homemade pasta (half price on Mondays) or free-range pork schnitzel. Plus, there’s live music on Fridays and Sundays, a live DJ on Saturdays and trivia on Wednesdays.
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday (12 pm to 10 pm) and Friday and Saturday (12 pm to late)
Where: The Old Canberra Inn, 195 Mouat Street, Lyneham, book here.
This family-friendly pub in Lyneham is well known for its craft beers, with its ten taps exclusively serving craft drops. But what you might not know is that The Old Canberra Inn is also one of the earliest licensed pubs in Canberra and the building itself is older than the city. Built in 1857 as a coach stop on the Yass to Queanbeyan run, you’ll be dining in a piece of living history.
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, dinner from Thursday to Saturday, various times
Where: Tilley’s Devine Cafe Gallery, Brigalow Street and Wattle Street, Lyneham, book here.
Tilley’s’ moody atmosphere has been described as reminiscent of a Hollywood film noir, with its dark wood fittings, deep red colour scheme and old-fashioned booths. The cafe has hosted an array of Australian and international artists since opening in 1984 and continues in this tradition to this day, with weekly Saturday night (from 6 pm) jazz featuring the Wayne Kelly Trio.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 5:30 pm to late
Where: 11e cave, corner of Eyre and Kennedy streets, Kingston, walk-ins only.
Behind a red door and down a flight of stairs is the underground wine bar, 11e cave. Built inside an old bank vault underneath Kingston’s Onzieme restaurant, the bar was inspired by French cellar bars that serve charcuterie and cheese, wines and seasonal house cocktails. “We wanted to channel that gritty vibe,” manager Tom Blakely told Region’s resident wine connoisseur.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday (11 am to late) and weekends (8 am to late)
Where: Walt and Burley, 70/17 Eastlake Parade, Kingston, book here.
Taking its name from Canberra’s architect Walter Burley Griffin, this Kingston Foreshore pub features expansive views across the lake that also shares his namesake. The gastropub also promises to serve up quality pub food to those who dine in its intimate dining room, or an expansive beer, wine and cocktail offering to those who choose to perch at its casual Canal Bar.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, from 5:30 pm, Wednesday to Friday, from 12 pm
Where: Italian and Sons, 7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, book here.
This one-hat Italian restaurant describes its ever-changing seasonal menu as a reinterpretation of the Italian classics, including antipasti and hand-cut pasta. Granted one-hat status in the 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, the Braddon restaurant was also a finalist in Australia’s 2023 Wine List of the Year awards, receiving a three-glass rating.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 6 pm to 6 am
Where: Kita, 59 Boolimba Crescent, Narrabundah, walk-ins only.
Canberra’s only after-hours cafe boasts an all-night Indo-fusion menu, with old favourites including nasi goreng and the curry of the week plus some new dishes such as pandan crepes. Co-owner Zac Young told Region the menu was personal, with Zac’s mum and chef Evi Young bringing flavours of her hometown in South Sumatra to Canberra with the addition of pembek lenjer, a fish cake dish.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Thursday, 4:30 pm to 11:30 pm, Friday to Saturday, 4:30 pm to late
Where: Wine Room, 24 Mort Street, Braddon, book here.
Wine takes centre stage at this intimate, moody restaurant and wine bar. Co-director Paolo Sossi told Region that the selection of Australian and international wines was all based on what the staff liked to drink, with Paolo himself contributing some wines from his home in Italy. The philosophy behind the restaurant is to inspire ritual and remind people to stop and pause.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 5 pm to late
Where: Bar Rochford, 1st/65 London Circuit, Canberra, book here.
Tucked away in the iconic Melbourne Building, the wine and cocktail bar is known for its stellar food, exciting wines and smooth atmosphere. The food and wine menu are changed regularly by a dedicated team, including owner and general manager Nick Smith and bartender Olivia Kelly, who are passionate about using in-season produce to develop unique culinary creations.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, from midday
Where: Parlour, 16 Kendall Lane, Acton, book here.
Based in the historic former Hotel Acton, whose first guests arrived to celebrate the opening of Parliament House in 1927, the NewActon Precinct building is now home to a bar and restaurant. Take a seat in the art deco dining room and choose from a selection of wine, tapas, cocktails and larger plates of modern Australian food, coupled with an array of cocktails, beers and wines.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 5 pm
Where: Volstead Repeal, Shop 7/32 Mort Street, Braddon, book here.
Volstead Repeal is a nod to the years that followed the Repeal of the Volstead Act, which prohibited the production and sale of alcohol in the US. The post-prohibition-themed bar is complete with dark timber and deep green Chesterfield couches and a New York-inspired bar, where patrons can take a seat and choose from more than 400 whiskies, as well as cocktails, pizzas and more.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11 am to 10 pm
Where: The George Harcourt Inn, 3 Gold Creek Road, Nicholls, book here.
The George Harcourt Inn is a classic English pub that prides itself on its comprehensive pub menu, selection of UK tap beers and its unique ‘unplugged’ atmosphere which foregoes poker machines and TV screens for a regular live music program. You’ll also be kept warm in winter with a cosy open fireplace at one end and heaters in the Queen Pergola space at the other end.