Dining out and experiencing different cuisines is a wonderful way to get to know another country. Even when you have relocated to a country that isn’t your own, it can be fascinating to discover what the locals eat. Australia is different to other nations around the world though because our multicultural population has blessed us with almost limitless international cuisine options.
Through Australia’s history, generations of different nationalities have migrated to our shores. But let’s start with the original Australians and what food modern restaurant patrons can enjoy today.
When you go out to eat ‘bush tucker’, you’ll be introduced to some strange and tasty foods. At Tukka Restaurant in Brisbane, you can try emu carpaccio (thinly sliced, raw emu) served with a raspberry vinaigrette or strawberry gum cured crocodile ceviche served with a finger lime dressing.
If you’re dining out in South Australia, try Red Ochre in North Adelaide, where you can devour kangaroo fillet, or house made wattle seed and bush tomato pasta with blue swimmer crab. Inspired by the foods eaten by our native Australians, bush tucker is a modern version, made with authentic, outback-sourced ingredients.
When the First Fleet arrived in Sydney in 1788, they brought with them the standard dishes they were used to in England.
Still today, Australians enjoy a regular diet of ‘meat-and-three-veg’ dinners, even if made fancier by chefs in professional kitchens.
The gold rush of the 1800s brought with it eager Chinese prospectors who missed the familiar flavours and textures of food from their homeland. Many abandoned the search for gold and established eateries. At the very least, they planted their preferred vegetables in their home gardens.
From the 1980s when a larger Asian influx occurred, Chinese restaurants became very popular. Now, if you have a craving for Asian food, you can easily find multiple choices.
Most cities and towns will have at least one Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese or Korean option on offer. Sushi trains, teppanyaki, yum cha, Korean barbecues and Vietnamese kitchens are practically everywhere.
Mass migration of Italians into Australia in the 1950s and 1960s brought a rich culture of home-grown foods and imported ingredients. Australians fell in love with spaghetti Bolognese, antipasto and cannolis.
Lygon Street in Melbourne became something of a Little Italy and mostly remains that way today. In the vicinity, you’ll find Brunetti, an iconic Roman pasticceria that shows off exquisite pastries, cakes, biscuits and desserts in sparkling glass display cabinets. Enjoy a pizza, pasta or risotto dish first but always leave room for sweets!
Greek migrants established restaurants as far back as the mid-1800s and in the twentieth century, were well known as owners of fish and chip shops or Greek diners where the food was so good, you wouldn’t want to eat at home anymore. Perth has a thriving Greek restaurant scene with the likes of George’s Meze and Brika. For those who feel like indulging in Lebanese food, Abla’s Lebanese Kitchen in
Melbourne has been serving up authentic baba ghannouj, tabouleh and meat dishes since 1979. Brisbane’s first Turkish restaurant, Efes One has been dishing out traditional pide, dolma, mussaka and kebabs for nearly thirty years and features belly dancers on weekend evenings.
French, Dutch, German, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Hungarian, Swiss … Australia can satisfy longings for most European cuisines when dining out. It all depends on where you are and what’s available there.
You’ll find Swiss fondue restaurants, German and Dutch clubs and of course, many French dining rooms. A simple Internet search will help you decide where to go for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
If you want to try traditional Israeli/Jewish food, then Melbourne is your best bet. Visit D-Lish for authentic chicken soup with matzo balls, chicken schnitzels, the famous Reuben sandwich or pastrami on rye.
For fine Persian cuisine, make a reservation at Saffron in Perth or The Persian Room in Sydney.
The good ol’ U.S. of A. has been making itself much more obvious in recent years with southern cuisine, New York deli-style eateries, Californian health foods and Cajun and creole influences finding their way onto menus in Australia. It could be American barbecue in Brisbane, southern fried chicken in Sydney or jambalaya and gumbo in Cairns; it’s all over the place.
Food from south of the border is huge in Australia right now. Brazilian churrascarias have popped up with their all-you-can-eat meat feasts and tacos and burritos have become the must-have dining out experience for those who like a little more spice in their life. Look at national chain, Mad Mex, for instance.
Or how about a taste of two cuisines literally rolled into one at Brisbane’s IndiMex, where the similarities between Indian and Mexican dishes are presented in curry-filled burritos, among others.
And then there’s African food of all kinds such as at Ethiopia Down Under in Canberra and South African Leopard Lodge in Western Australia.
The Internet has made it so easy to decide where to go for meals. Here are some websites you should bookmark so that next time you feel like dining out, you’ll be ready to search according to what you feel like eating.
Dining out in Australia offers so much variety that you could have a meal out every night of the week and ‘visit’ seven different countries via your tastebuds!