Restaurant Reviews

The best restaurants in Darwin and Northern Territory

There's plenty of eating and drinking to do in the Top End.

By Sam McCue
Pee Wee's at The Point, Darwin
If you think the Northern Territory has little to offer beyond crocs and rocks, you have probably a) never been there or b) read too much NT News online.
Sure, the northern frontier hasn't yet produced a Michelin star but it's possible to eat very well if you know where and, importantly, when to look.
The capital, Darwin, is highly seasonal. In what passes for winter (the Dry Season, around May to September), the city and her visitors come out to play and, naturally, eat. And why not, when the weather is this sublime – warm days, cool nights and virtually cloud-free skies.
Along the city's meandering coast, pop-ups include the local produce focused Needle in a Haystack Street Bistro (Casuarina Dr, 0401 190 481), Salty Plum Café (Alec Fong Lim Dr, East Point Reserve) and Box Jellyfish Cafe (Chapman Rd, 0478 408 370).
The Dry Season also brings outdoor events like Graze, Territory Taste and Darwin Festival, at which local venues showcase their best – think Indian curries from Hanuman (93 Mitchell St, 08 8941 3500), dumplings and fried chicken from Little Miss Korea (Austin La, 08 8981 7092), star caterers Pony and Sid's arancini – and Darwin's renowned Mindil Beach Markets (Thursday and Sunday nights) and Malak Marketplace Organic Farmers Markets (Saturdays).
Social media has details of seasonal pop-ups and events.

Year-round venues worth visiting include newbies Smith St Social (22 Smith St, 08 8989 2111) for pimped-up pub food, The Loading Bay (Austin La, 08 8981 7092) for cocktails with Korean bar snacks, Snapper Rocks (7 Kitchener Dr, 08 8900 6928) for seafood, Kalidonis Taverna (87 Woods St, 08 8988 0488) for great Greek food, and Ray's Patisserie and Café (66 Smith St, 08 7978 8679) for excellent breakfasts and lunches.

Don't overlook stalwarts like Pee Wee's at the Point (Alec Fong Lim Dr, East Point Reserve, 08 8981 6868) for fine food by the water's edge, Moorish Café (37 Knuckey St, 08 8981 0010) for tapas and tagines, PM Eat & Drink (cnr Knuckey St & Austin La, 08 8941 3925) for simple grilled fare, or Yots Greek Taverna (54 Marina Blvd, 08 8981 4433) and Manoli's Greek Taverna (64 Smith St, 08 8981 9120).
Spice hounds, check out Chow (19 Kitchener Dr, 08 8941 7625), Lazy Susan's (21 Cavenagh St, 08 8981 0735) and Saffrron (34 Parap Rd, 08 8981 2383); meat lovers, go to Char (70 The Esplanade, 08 8981 4544), Wharf One (3/19 Kitchener Dr, 08 8941 0033) or The Cav (12 Cavenagh St, 08 8941 6383). For pizza and pasta, head to Cucina Sotto Le Stelle (Chapman Rd, 0449 731 490), Alfonsinos (20/69 Mitchell St, 08 8942 1586) or Frankies Pizza Joint (Smith St Mall, 08 7970 0799).
Brunchers and lunchers love the Roma Bar (9 Cavenagh St, 08 8981 6729), Sweet Brew & Co (45 Stuart Hwy, 08 7978 8638), Besser Kitchen and Brew Bar (6/116 Coonawarra Rd, 08 8984 3254), Laneway Specialty Coffee (4/1 Vickers St, 08 8941 4511) and Lucky Bat (3/7 Pavonia Pl, 0447 585 505)
In Katherine, south of Darwin, there's the new Maiden's Lane (5/19 Crawford St, 0409 475 115), sister venue to The Black Russian Caravan Bar (23 Chambers Dr), Finch Café (10 Katherine Tce, 08 8972 1990) and the seasonal Pop Rocket Café (Katherine Hot Springs, 0427 348 915). For a special night, book into Cicada Lodge (Gorge Rd, Katherine, 1300 146 743) to experience the sure-bet chef's choice dinner.

But special nights don't get much more special than Tali Wiru (Yulara, 1300 134 044) in the central Australian desert, where you can feast on four inventive courses featuring native ingredients – and views of Kata Tjuta and Uluru.
In Alice Springs, you can't go wrong with dinner at the Hanuman (82 Barrett Dr, 08 8953 7188) or tapas style share plates at Epilogue Lounge (58 Todd St, 0429 003 874).

For daytime eating, grab the sandwich or pie of your dreams from The Bakery (4/11 Todd St, 0437 038 041), cannoli from Café Uccello (1/54 Todd Mall), dumplings from Tea Shrine (113 Todd St, 08 8952 4339) or a hearty egg or avo number from Watertank Café (16B Wilkinson St, 0408 854 472) or Bean Tree Café (Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Tuncks Rd, 08 8952 0190)