Every city has its eat streets and Darwin is no exception. Thanks to its continuing foodie culture explosion, you can spread your edible adventures right across the Top End’s spectacular landscape, from the city to the sea.
It’s a city named after the father of evolution, but even Charles Darwin may have been gobsmacked by the sheer rate at which our northern capital’s foodie scene has evolved. This melting pot of a city has had ingredients thrown in that could have clashed terribly; sitting as it does on the cusp of Asia, yet squarely in the cradle of Aboriginal home lands. And with a fascinating heritage of European settlement to boot.
Yet somehow it all blends rather wondrously. You can have a breakfast laksa at the Parap Village Markets, and a classic lunch of wild barra and local bush pepper by the sea. Then, end the day with tropical cocktails and haute cuisine lit by the city’s famously vibrant sunsets. The choices are almost endless, but these restaurants in Darwin will give you good taste test.
Best restaurants in Darwin for water views
Darwin’s favourite playground has that resort feeling, yet it’s open to all – just across the Skybridge from Smith Street. Catch the breeze in the Wave Lagoon until 6pm then stroll along the boardwalk to choose a spot to eat. Or spread out your evening into a moveable feast.
Local favourites include the always full-to-heaving CHOW! – ostensibly Vietnamese, but spanning a raft of Asian flavours – or the more formal, special-occasion-friendly Antiquity Greek eatery. Hot Tamale has a popular tequila bar full of colourful tipples and an impressively lengthy Mexican menu. The more sedate and stylish Oyster Bar has become something of a tradition here, to pair with sundowner drinks either before or as a meal.
Darwin’s coolest cafes
The steamy weather doesn’t preclude a steaming cup of coffee (or local chai). The city’s coffee culture is just about to boil over with hipster-grade cafes popping up in alleyways through town. Don’t feel self-conscious about ordering your morning joe just the way you like it, but keep an open mind to gain a cool new favourite. Many cafes offer iced lattes, short blacks or macchiatos on ice and a dozen other ways to caffeinate in the heat.
Visit Alley Cats Patisserie to see their cold-drip coffee set-up. Or try an iced tea made with local berries and plants. Pair it with waffles topped with Japanese fried chicken and sriracha. Another day, head to The Rabbit Hole for a beautiful fresh salmon breakfast bowl.
Restaurants on the wharf
Stokes Hill Wharf is easily accessible via a walk around the wide, arcing bay next to the Waterfront precinct. It’s Darwin’s main jumping-off point for cruising the coast. You can shell out (pun intended) for the pearl lugger sunset cruise or be thriftier and try a super-fun fish-and-chips sunset cruise.
But don’t ignore the wharf itself. Every day and night, alongside the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s visitor centre, an incredibly casual, alfresco dining area catches the through-breeze from the open water. Here, you’ll find two arcades’ worth of walk-up food stores, including a bar and two fancier seafood restaurant options; Crustaceans on the Wharf and The Jetty.
Beach markets in Darwin
The wildlife of Darwin’s beaches might make swimming a dicey option, between the crocs and the stingers, but that keeps this stretch of coastline pristine for locals and visitors to enjoy the stunning vistas. Mindil Beach hosts its sunset markets on Thursdays and Sundays. You’ll find around 60 stalls selling food and drinks from all over the culinary globe.
The Sandbar at nearby SKYCITY casino does a mean cocktail, if that’s what your kind of sunset requires. Up the coast, the much-loved Darwin Trailer Boat Club serves a mean pub lunch. In the evening, Pee Wee’s at East Point gets a gold star as the city’s best-known special-occasion fine dining.
Restaurants in Darwin CBD
The central area of Darwin shouldn’t be overlooked. Its arcades and alleys now feature some hideaways more than worth their salt. Little Miss Korea has got urban chic down to perfection, using its spot in a well-known graffitied alleyway as a feature rather than a detraction. Celeb chef Chung Jae Lee’s expertise more than matches the décor in terms of style.
Just around the corner, PM Eat & Drink also keeps it hip. This the place to sample Darwin’s famed fish, simply prepared in share plates and best enjoyed with a glass of wine or two.
Looking for ways to burn of those delicious Darwin delicacies? We’ll give you a few ideas here.