Restaurant Reviews

The best restaurants in South Australia

A CBD favourite with a new fit-out, a restaurant that doubles as charity, and some must-visits out of town. Here's where to eat in South Australia, according to our 2022 Restaurant Guide.

Chef Justin James at Adelaide's Restaurant Botanic. Photo: Jonathan van der Knaap.
RESTAURANT BOTANIC
GT 2022 SA Restaurant of the Year
Clam jam? Well, yes please. It's like a sweet fermented chilli paste. But it's complicated. Complex. It comes with a duck fat scone. The Country Women's Association would be shocked, but it's perfectly salty and crunchy and sits next to a plump lemon-myrtle marron, which in turn sits next to a marron shell stuffed with native herbs grown in Adelaide's tranquil Botanic Gardens. The lake outside ripples, ducks waddle, and on request a ridiculously large truffle is showcased, not long after its shavings have been delivered. The restaurant here has always been perfectly situated, and has now been injected with wild new life. A new fitout: sage and cream, pendant lighting and wraparound windows into nature. A new chef and a new menu that would be jarring in its surprises if everything didn't work perfectly. Which it does. The sommelier waxes lyrical about very small-batch wines that frame the food perfectly. A cooking fire blazes in the corner, while an extraordinary palate cleanser of Davidson plum leather wrapped around sorbet with a sprinkle of lemon myrtle does its job with forensic precision. There's no menu given, just a well-scripted delivery of surprising juxtapositions, sure to thrill.
Plane Tree Dr, Adelaide, SA, restaurantbotanic.com.au
Africola is rock 'n' roll. The eclectic interior, once dominated by vibrant blues, greens and yellows but now filled with more muted tones, plays host to a rollicking roll call of local chefs, visiting celebrities and impossibly cool youngsters nursing cocktails. The cool continues outside, shrouded in greenery. A few years ago, Africola shifted the hero ingredients more to the plant side of the scale, which has only amped up the sense of exploration. There's much at Africola that few will have seen before – their motto declaring: "Bringing our skills van die plaas centre stage, keeping our mantra, Bokkies, braai, dop and chop" – but nothing that will leave you bewildered. Because even if the staff weren't there to deftly steer you through the menu and the adventurous wine list, you can be confident that there won't be a single wrong note. Rock on.
4 East Tce, Adelaide, SA, africola.com.au
Aurora is more than a fabulous newcomer to the Adelaide restaurant scene. Sweep in past the open kitchen to a dining space of rooms within rooms, divided by light and texture. A wrong turn and you'll end up in a performance space – there might be live music, or a DJ. As the hospitality scene is racked by accusations of severe underpayment, Aurora – set within the broader Light ADL project – is a registered charity dedicated to innovation and treating people fairly. Wessels (formerly of d'Arenburg Cube) isn't one for dull-but-worthy, though. This arts precinct bypasses the bohemian to deliver top-notch food full of twists and tales, seasons and sustainability. A custom-made braai brings the char. Gin cocktails and South Australian seafood are heroes. Keen staff, paid properly while they learn on the job. Great wines, to follow the gin, and indulgent desserts that you can dance off next door, if you have to.
63 Light Sq, Adelaide, SA, auroraadl.com.au
A peek into the dining room at Aurora. Photo: Jack Fenby
The drive to Fino gives a hint of what's to come. Sweeping streets lined by swaying palms. Old bluestone. Topiary and water features. You could call it glamorous if it wasn't so full of authentic country charm. Days spent exploring the cellar, the grounds, the artist studios. Or just find a spot on the sun-drenched terrace and wait for the joys of the area to be brought to you. Fino is entrenched in the South Australian culinary scene. The original in McLaren Vale swiftly become an institution – as has newest offshoot, Fino Vino in Adelaide's CBD. But it's in Seppeltsfield that it shines the brightest, under David Swain and Sharon Romeo's guidance, bolstered by that Barossa magic. If it's asparagus season, expect perfectly cooked asparagus. Oyster season? Expect perfect slurps of salt and sea. The wine list showcases the best of the region, with a few interstate varietals dotted throughout. Don't hold back.
730 Seppeltsfield Rd, Seppeltsfield, SA, fino.net.au
When it comes to what makes Gather at Coriole so special, it's hard to know where to start. Perhaps at the end: where delicate squares of rich salted caramel come topped with the sweet-yet-savoury surprise of Koroneiki olives. It's a perfect showcase of the unexpected pairings and unique ingredients that define a meal at Gather. From beginning to end it's a thoughtful experience, peppered with creative surprises. Born in McLaren Vale, chef Tom Tilbury's homecoming brought his sustainable food and dining philosophy to Coriole in 2018. Since then, he's introduced a guided menu that's proudly local, ethically harvested and designed to bring people together. The dishes are ever-changing – ours featured kangaroo with native karkalla, muntries and hay emulsion; and a dessert of caramel sunchoke with citrus and vanilla – and match seamlessly with Coriole's enviable wine list. Clever, attentive staff ensure there are no missteps. Add to that views across Coriole's vines and it beckons for long lunches with friends and family. Come together.
79 Chaffeys Rd, McLaren Vale, SA, coriole.com
From beginning to end, a meal at Gather at Coriole is a thoughtful experience. Photo: Kate Bowman
Magill Estate Restaurant would be the grande dame of South Australia's hospitality scene, if she wasn't prone to giving the odd cheeky surprise. The first is that, as you while away a long lunch or celebratory dinner gazing out over the vineyards, you're only 15 minutes from the city. A choice of two tasting menus allows you to sit back and enjoy the view while utterly professional staff waltz you through the courses – they'll tell you anything you need to know about what's in front of you, but only as much as you want to know. The snacks are tiny, perfect plates popping with flavour and colour. A single oyster with tiny mushroom heads and dainty lilac-hued flowers. A layered chicken broth as an amuse-bouche. Spectacular dry ice made from fermented tomato drifting over lobster. Delicate petits fours. And, of course, the wine. The legendary Penfolds wines, chosen or matched. You won't be bombarded with heart-starting shiraz (unless that's what you want). It's a refined-yet-lengthy, jaw-dropping list, delivered with experience and expertise. Everything here gets better with age.
78 Penfold Rd, Magill, SA, magillestaterestaurant.com
Nature and vineyards surround the atrium dining space at this Barossa Valley winery restaurant. Floor-to-ceiling windows let natural light in and keep the elements out. Executive chef Clare Falzon is inspired by Mother Nature's bounty and spends much of her time in the Hentley Farm kitchen garden, foraging local turf and meeting with farmers to source the hyper-local produce used in the ever-changing Lunch Discovery Experience. Wild garlic plucked from a nearby creek, pine mushrooms and Port Lincoln's Gazander oysters are some of the seasonal ingredients championed in the six- or seven-course set menu. This is a serious long lunch. Allow approximately three hours. The optional pairing showcases Hentley Farm wines and an impressive offering of international drops. There's a Chef's Table option too, where a seat in the bustling kitchen means you're in the thick of the culinary action.
Cnr of Gerald Roberts and Jenke Rds, Seppeltsfield, SA, hentleyfarm.com.au
Sink into a booth under trailing plants and talk intimately while easy, breezy, super-smart staff bring you a succession of pretty plates. Radishes and ruby grapefruit with cured swordfish, perhaps, or delicately-pink beef carpaccio, maybe the Parmigiano flan that is cloud-like in texture, with a whiff of ragù for substance. Or pull up at a communal table and prepare to be plied with (always) perfectly cooked pasta and gnocchi, made in-house and always served with a twist. Like the smoked egg in the carbonara, for example. The seating at the bar here – which in other places can leave you feeling like a ring-in at the kids' table – is more like the cool corner. And outside is a perfect spot for people-watching with a glass and snacks to hand. The ever-shifting wine list is adventurous in the best way – Italian varietals, of course, backed up with small-batch finds that someone's mate in the Adelaide Hills made, or a keen eye spotted on their travels. Like all the best Italian, it starts with the best – and that includes the staff, the sommelier and the attitude, as well as the produce.
76 Pirie St, Adelaide, SA, osteriaoggi.com.au
Osteria Oggi, Adelaide. Photo: Duy Dash
This bright, buzzing place hasn't faltered for a second since opening in 2013. The fitout is industrial but warm. The staff relaxed but efficient. And it's always bustling, but rarely raucous. The giant chalkboard menu shifts around the seasons and a selection of trusted favourites and surprising newcomers. Asian pork and prawn piled high with fresh herbs, or chicken hidden under banana blossom with the zest of makrut lime. Middle Eastern lamb with sumac, labneh and pomegranate. A Mediterranean salad. Colour and big flavours throughout, always elegantly arranged into a whole. That description will do for the wine list, as well. And on both scores, the staff know exactly what's on offer, introducing you to things you didn't even know you wanted. On a given evening, you might find corporate highflyers in a booth, a rowdy group of mates on the bench tables, and couples sitting outside, people-watching in one of Adelaide's most established laneways. Peel St offers a friendly, generous welcome to everyone, every single time.
9 Peel St, Adelaide, SA, peelst.com.au
Under Tokyo's railways there is a jumble of cheap grills and thrills. Tiny bars and festoon lights inhabit the night time, with flashes of neon and snatches of music. Shōbōsho channels some of that energy, with a dash of Korea and kitsch. Smoke from the yakitori bar at the front lures people to the little shopfront, where they jostle whiskey and fine wine glasses and order tasty snacks on sticks. Inside, there's blond wood and backlighting. The most Zen spots are the sidelining booths, for chaotic fun pick the stools at the bar. The main menu is full of all things grilled, smoked, raw and fermented – heavy on umami. Standout dumplings earn their place alongside local Smoky Bay oysters, fire-roasted leek, and of course, wagyu. Chefs call to each other, staff are happy to chat, and no one minds if you pop in for a drink or hang about for a lazy dégustation. The only hassle is trying to decide whether to go here, or sister restaurant ShoSho.
17 Leigh St, Adelaide, SA, shobosho.com.au