A foodie guide to Adelaide
Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, has always been known by many as the city of churches. Rather ironically, these days there are more bars and pubs than churches in the CBD, largely thanks to recent changes in small bar licensing.
The food scene in Adelaide has evolved drastically over the last five years; the entire CBD is now adorned with food trucks, small bars, tuck shops, cafes, burger joints and farmers markets. Adelaide is quickly rising as the next must-visit foodie destination. Expedia’s Aussie travellers spend 2-3 nights in the CBD, so that’s plenty of time to squeeze in 3 meals a day and about 5 snacks a day!
To really experience what this city has to offer, I pack nothing but an empty stomach. Adelaide, I am ready to chow you down.
Food on the go
Say bye bye to BLAT and the ham cheese sandwich, and hello to Vietnamese banh mi (baguette) and Taiwanese bao (steamed bun). Too busy for a sit down lunch? Grab a Soonta’s banh mi from one of their three stores across city and munch away. The crusty French-style baguette is pillowy soft on the inside, filled with fresh herbs, pickled vegetables and protein of your choice; go for the karaage chicken and roast pork with crackling.
Gua Bao is a popular Tawainese street food but made famous by chef David Chang who serves up a mean and meaty BBQ pork bun at his Momofuku restaurant in New York. Mamachau is where you can try this cheap and cheerful steamed bun that comes in four flavours – eel, Korean fried chicken, master stock braised pork belly and fried silken tofu for the vegans. They cost as little as $3.50 each (eel is $0.50 extra), you can easily smash a few of these buns in one sitting. Oh, and don’t forget the Sriracha hot sauce.
Dude food heaven
Looking for something more substantial, more meaty? No problem. Burger war is feisty here in Adelaide, with lots of to the best burger in town. The food truck pioneers from Burger Theory now have a permanent brick-and-mortar space at Union St where you can enjoy a juicy burger inside the shop instead of kerbside. Their addictive ‘truck sauce’ is a secret recipe no one knows. I amped the burger up with crispy pancetta and doused it in Adelaide Blue cheese sauce.
If you’re in the Norwood area, drop in to Nordburger. There are a lot more burger options here than at Burger Theory, but whichever you choose, you’ll come out satisfied and with a greasy grin on your face.
Unleash the carnivore within and pounce on the ribs and wings at Street ADL. in fact, anything meaty here is good. Be ready to get messy and eat with your hands – the twice cooked (braised then fried) ribs glazed with smokey BBQ sauce will have you swooning in ecstasy. The hot wings are indeed HOT, make sure to order a pint from the tap (local beer, of course) or from the extensive beer and wine lists to keep the fiery wings at bay.
Modern Asian Fusion
Gouger Street near Chinatown is where you can get your Asian food fix. In the mean time, some cool kids in ‘Radelaide’ have also tszujed up the oriental flavours with a modern twist and given the Asian cuisines a new identity. Golden Boy at the far east of Rundle Street is serving Thai food with a modern edge on a menu designed to share (don’t they all these days?). The highlights are massaman curry with beef brisket that is falls-off-the-bone tender, caramelised pork hock with nam jim salad that will send you to porky heaven and the humble Pad Thai that is smokey from the ‘wok breath’ and not at all greasy. If you can’t decide, simply call out ‘tuk-tuk’ and let the chefs decide. They’ll spoil you with a scrumptious banquet.
Gin Long Canteen in North Adelaide is same same, but different; they focus on modernised Asian street food with Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysian influences. I highly recommend the bite-size grilled betel leaf cigar with rolled beef as a starter. Then the must-order is their signature ‘Nom Nom’ Barramundi where a whole fish is skillfully filleted and wickedly presented as though it’s leaping out of water. The fillets are deep fried until crispy while the white flesh inside remains soft and succulent; served with a side of lime chili sauce which you can add to the dish according to one’s tolerance for spicy food. Don’t forget to try their Asian-inspired cocktails, especially the house cocktail ‘Gin Long’, a delicious concoction of pandan or tamarind-orange infused gin that is served in a bubble tea cup.
To market, to market
Adelaide definitely has some of the best farmers’ market in Australia. Adelaide Central Market in the town centre is a must-visit. It’s not only a tourist attraction, but also South Australia’s principal food hub – locals have been coming here to source fresh produce for the last 140 years. Don’t plan your trip to Adelaide on Sunday as the Central Market will be closed. Having said that, there are other farmers’ markets around Adelaide that you can visit on a Sunday.
Adelaide Farmers’ Market at the showground is the largest farmers’ market in South Australia, with a strong focus on South Australian produce. From fresh produce to locally made food and products, everything you see, smell, touch and taste here is proudly South Australian. If you’re lucky enough, you might catch ex-MasterChef finalist Poh Ling Yeow minding her Jam Face stall, trying to tempt you with some of her tasty baked goods, pasties and fried pizzas.
Tucked in a laneway, the Market Shed on Holland St is a new market that celebrates everything organic. Launched in Nov 2013, the Market Shed already has a strong contingent of followers and is packed with Sunday shoppers. It’s within walking distance from town centre, which makes this market a lot more accessible for out-of-towners.
For some reason, Adelaideans seem to be obsessed with desserts. There are enough dessert bars to keep the whole city on a constant sugar high. The Aviary Dessert Kitchen in Norwood feels like a life size doll’s house, their beautifully presented desserts are generous in portion and will send you into a sweet coma. The Devour Dessert Bar has recently moved from Prospect to Richmond, still serving delightful sweet treats in whimsical arrangements. Now there’s also a cafe and patisserie serving a small lunch menu, offering a much needed break from everything sweet.
As for the chocoholics, you simply can’t come to Adelaide without visiting Haigh’s chocolates flagship store in Rundle Mall. Haighs is an Adelaide institution and celebrates its 100th anniversary in May next year. However, if you like exquisite chocolate truffles and seductive gateaux, then you must pay Steven Ter Horst Chocolatier a visit. Their store front looks a little bleak, but walk inside and you’ll have face planted on the glass cabinet in minutes. The beautiful colourful chocolates and gateaux are mesmerising. Piece of advice, bring along a friend and order a few to share. Diet can wait.
Small bars, big personalities
Since the new class of liquor license became active in April 2013, small bars have been popping up everywhere around the Leigh-Peel street precinct, transforming forgotten laneways into a vibrant dining and wining hub.
If you have a liver that can only take on one bar, make it The Clever Little Tailor. A cosy and intimate bar with many of the original fittings, this bar has a great beer and wine selection that’s constantly evolving. The martini is worth a try too – concocted using Causes and Cures semi dry vermouth from Yarra Valley, it’s as smooth as baby’s bottom. Right opposite is BarBushka, a tiny vodka bar that attracts a younger crowd. There are lounges and chairs upstairs, but beware the music tends to get a little too loud for relaxed conversation.
A stone’s throw away in Leigh Street is where you’ll find a few more fashionable bars. Udaberri (means ‘spring’ in the Basque language) was one of the first wine bars that redefined the drinking scene in Adelaide. This forever heaving bar will tantalise your taste buds with Basque-style bite-size pintxos and melt-in-the-mouth aged jamon; wash it down with fine Spanish and Portuguese wines. Then there’s Casablabla, a spacious cocktail bar with vibrant red walls and exotic decor drawing inspirations from Morocco, Turkey, Bali and Cambodia. Delicious cocktails, live music, what more could you ask for?
Where to stay
There are plenty of hotels in Adelaide – from big brand names to boutique beauties. The Mercure Grosvenor Hotel on North Terrace and the Hotel Grand Chancellor Adelaide on Hindley are popular with Aussie travellers.
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