In the early ‘90s, Cheong Liew, Phillip Searle, Christine Manfield and Tim Pak Poy took the great produce on Adelaide’s doorstep and laid the foundation for the innovative restaurant scene Australia enjoys today. Then all except Cheong moved east to continue the adventure and the local scene dwindled to excellent yum cha, great coffee and Australia’s best food market. But in the last decade there’s been an exciting influx of new chefs, restaurants and bars all keen to showcase what a great food (and wine) city Adelaide can be. So what are you waiting for? Here’s five of my favourite eats to get you started.
I love skewers of anything grilled over charcoal. Throw in the best gyozas, charry shallot bread, seared salmon with wasabi and citrus, and a great wine list, and I’m in heaven. Best of all, grab some friends and take over the 8-seater yakitori bar with Suntory highballs on tap.
Jordan Theodoros worked in Sydney and abroad before returning home to open this casual diner where bold flavours meet piles of fresh herbs in dishes like raw snapper, kohlrabi, cucumber, soy, ginger & wasabi; coconut-poached chicken, banana blossom & chilli jam; and beef crudo, fior di latte, broad beans, chilli & mint.
Magill Estate Restaurant
As much a showcase for some of Australia’s most iconic wines, as for great produce, this is an outstanding dining experience. A glowing planetarium above echoes the distant Adelaide lights, while complex, balanced dishes show Grange, Yattarna, and other Penfold greats, at their best.
The best Peking duck I’ve ever had is at Ming’s on Gouger Street. It’s the house-made sauce that does it for me, and of course Ming himself deftly carving it tableside. He learnt his craft in Hong Kong before coming to Adelaide to teach at Regency College alongside Cheong. For yum cha it’s worth the 10-minute drive to Empress in the suburb of Toorak Garden (bookings recommended as it’s much smaller than Sydney’s huge yum cha venues).
It’s big, noisy and bustling with simply-prepared fresh produce, just like an osteria in Italy. The smoked scamorza with grilled orange and cumquat is sensational, the tripe’s pretty good too if that’s your thing. Great wines and I love the amaro selection and front counter seating.
Updated 23 March 2023